Movie Review: The Guyver (1991) – Unearthed 4K/Blu-ray/CD combo

July 5, 2024

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

So dig this; in prehistoric times aliens visited the Earth and created mankind along with a race of monstrous mutants named Zoanoids. They also created a way of destroying the Zoanoids called a Guyver unit; a suit of bio-mechanic armor that encases it’s user from head to toe and gives them amazing ability as well as deadly weaponry.

We learn this via on screen text before we cut to a scientist named Dr. Tetsu Segawa (Greg Joung Paik) haulin’ ass away from the Chronos Corporation, pilfered items in tow… items he hides before turning into a fish monster and battling Chronos’ security goons, who’s ranks include Jimmy “JJ” Walker (from beloved ’70s television sitcom Good Times… and yes, he says “Dy-no-mite” in the film at least once, and raps throughout) and The Hills Have Eyes‘ Michael Berryman.

As if it isn’t strange enough, Berryman’s character Lisker… in truth a Zoanoid, as are all the Chronos cronies… turns into a monster and straight up murders ol’ Innsmouth Segawa, in the process retrieving the stolen case unaware of the Doc’s ruse, as the (former) man of science’s corpse melts.

Anyway this is witnessed by hard-boiled C.I.A. agent Max Reed (Star Wars‘ Mark Hamill) who is investigating Chronos, and was set to receive the stolen item from the doctor… but the object is instead found by young Aikido enthusiast Sean Barker (Jack Armstrong), who just so happens to be the boyfriend of Segawa’s daughter Mizky (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III‘s Vivian Wu), after he trails Max and Mizky to the scene of her father’s murder… and guess what; it’s a Guyver unit and before long Sean is encased in alien armor and whippin’ cartoony gang member buttocks.

Now the armor can come and go on command, which will prove useful considering Chronos have dispatched their Zoanoids to retrieve the missing unit and they’re gunnin’ for Sean’s ass!

All of the above is presented as silly as humanly possible by co-directors/special effects legends Screaming Mad George (Society, which as a fun fact was produced by Brian Yuzna (the Re-Animator series, From Beyond, Stuart Gordon’s Dolls, Faust: Love of the Damned… you know, the stuff yours cruelly absolutely adores) who also produced this film) and Steve Wang (Predator, The Monster Squad), along with screenwriter Jon Purdy (loosely adapting the story from Yoshiki Takaya’s 1985 manga (and subsequent anime adaptations) Bio-Booster Armor Guyver, who’s darker tone is more accurately translated in Steve Wang’s follow up to this film, 1994’s Guyver: Dark Hero), and it’s an absolute psychotronic, comedic, monster-packed delight from start to freaky finish!

The real star of the show here are naturally the creature suits created by S.M. George, Wang, and their teams, each one being a work of art that really bring the flavor of Takaya’s work to life while not being afraid off going of on amazingly creative tangents that just work so damn well (except for the Guyver itself, which is accurate as a mother fucker to the source, in looks if not preposterous proportions… and also works damn well)! There’s also a large number of them, each spectacularly different from the other in various creepy-crawly, completely imaginative, ways!

The whole affair is just a monster kids dream through and through!

Adding to the fun are some game performances from both Hamill, and the primary Zoanoids (Walker, Peter Spellos, and Spice Williams-Crosby)… but for my money nothing beats the interplay between Berryman and Re-Animator‘s David Gale as Chronos CEO Fulton Balcus (who plays his part to scenery-chewing perfection)… a man completely over his incompetent henchman, which amazingly results in Berryman displaying solid slapstick chops!

Also look for cameos from horror royalty Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead) and Jeffrey Combs (parodying his character from the aforementioned Re-Animator).

Speaking of “amazing” things, the restoration utilized here by Unearthed Films is superb and boasts rich blacks and plenty of crystal-clear detail that make the film look better than it ever has… especially compared to the VHS I first viewed it on back in ’92… speaking of which…

In my small town, among the three competing Mom and Pop video shops we had one… count them, one… copy available, at one store… and if it played anywhere theatrically it certainly wasn’t in the one two-screen theater we had… but my lord, if it had played wide (or commanded the ordering of more rental units) this flick could have easily run head-to-head with the undisputed juggernaut of the day; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the comedy mandate applied to this film was a step towards doing just that)… seriously the toys practically make themselves with this one cats n’ creeps…

To make perfection even more… perfect, Unearthed Films have truly delivered with the bonus content available in this release. Let’s break it down disc by disc:

Disc One contains the 4K, newly restored, R-rated cut of the film along with a duo of new audio commentaries featuring co-directors George & Wang (moderated by Dom O’Brien, the author of Budget Biomorphs: The Making of The Guyver Films), and effects technicians/Jack-of-All-Trades ‘Evil’ Ted Smith and Wyatt Weed. Both are filled with details of the film’s production and plenty of first hand anecdotes, but the comradery and pure fun George and Wang display makes their commentary a must-listen!

Disc Two contains a Blu-ray version of the film, along with the above mentioned commentary tracks, plus an absolute ass-load of brand new bonus material featuring: lengthy interviews with Yuzna and Screaming Mad George, collections of suit tests, outtakes, and a gag reel (all with commentary from Screaming Mad George and Steve Wang, with Smith and Weed providing alternate commentary for the suit tests), an alternate opening sequence (presented in three languages), a promotional images gallery, and four trailers for the film from various territories (all displaying the film’s alternate title, Mutronics).

However my personal favorite extra is the production gallery that is absolutely packed with concept art, storyboards, maquettes, and behind-the-scenes images.

Disc Three contains the film’s soundtrack, composed by Matthew Morse, on a CD.

Also included here are a slipcase featuring different art than the case, and a booklet.

If you are into TMNT and Tokusatsu shows (like Kamen Rider) The Guyver is a must-own; it’s jammed to bursting with man-in-suit monster battles, exciting stunts, and a heaping dose of glorious silliness… this release easily gets my highest possible recommendation!




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