How Mark Hamill Made the Trippy Sci-Fi Superhero Movie of the ’90s

The early 90s were a strange time for superhero cinema.

Yes, Batman was a huge hit in 1989. But despite the relatively dark tone of this outlier, the superhero movies of the time were far from the serious seriousness of Marvel’s. X Men or DC The Black Knight. Instead, the audience had to choose between a camp bag (Superman iii), shit (Superman IV: The Quest for Peace) and pure and simple weirdness (Joel Schumacher’s Batman films). How’s that for a mid-90s identity crisis?

In the shadow of these superhero heavyweights, however, the ’80s and’ 90s saw comic book aliens succeed on the big screen by leaning into the kind of nonsense that had plagued their better-known counterparts. at Wes Craven Swamp thing unfortunately offered “monsters and dwarves” in its wacky 1982 trailer, but the shady gorefest of Troma The poisonous avenger (1984) became a cult classic from the midnight film. the years 1989 The punisher, with Dolph Lundgren, was a B movie nonsense with no substance, but the years 1994 The crow was a grungy visual feast that made history as the first independent comic book superhero film to launch a franchise.

And then there is The Guyver.

Lost among this mix of traditional chess and more niche cult classics is The Guyver, a 1991 B-movie full of hammy actors, cheesy jokes and the most hoki soundtrack ever. The Guyver embodied the era’s mistaken view of the comic book genre; but in doing so, he delivered one of the most entertaining superhero installments of his time.

A perfect marriage of whimsical screen icons and cult horror stars – with legendary special effects artists and wacky Japanese sources – the film bombed upon release and was quickly relegated to the rental business of VHS. But on the occasion of its 30 years this year, it is time to question The Guyver.

From an unnecessarily bloated text dump opening, a bizarre premise takes shape. At the beginning of time, we read, aliens came to Earth to create the ultimate organic weapon: humanity. But they also created humans who could transform into monstrous super-soldiers at will: zoanoids.

Eons later, their mighty alien leader, the Zoalord, runs the infamous Chronos Corporation, whose development of Zoanoid technology could spell the end of civilization. With world domination as their mission, only one thing can stand in their way: bio-boosted alien armor that multiplies the natural powers of its human wearer by a hundred. The wearer of said device becomes the Power Ranger-esque hero of the film’s title. There is the myth, the legend: The Guyver.

The incumbent Guyver.New Line Cinema

The Japanese origins of the film are no more convincing than this synopsis. 25-year-old manga artist Yoshiki Takaya was best known for his works in the field of erotica hentai manga (titles like Blizzard old man pervert and Whirlwind of love in the heart of darkness) before hitting gold with Guyver Armor Bio-Booster – this last franchise, to date, has spanned 32 volumes over 25 years.

Less than a year after its first publication, Guyver Bio-Booster Armor was adapted into a 55 minute anime (1986’s Guyver: Out of control), which delivered confusing colors, sexualized female nudity, and bizarre visual jokes. When the pitch of a Hollywood adaptation of The Guyver landed as a result of Akiraworldwide success, it definitely seemed like a hot ticket.

And apparently it was. As the deceptive movie poster indicates, none other than Luke Skywalker himself – Mark Hamill – would star in this live-action adaptation. (In reality, Hamill plays an important supporting role as a CIA agent, while the Guyver is played by Jack Armstrong).

Star Wars The actor, by the way, had only played three acting roles in film in the decade since the release of Return of the Jedi (his legendary vocal performances as the Joker in the Batman: The Animated Series would not start until a year later). In The Guyver, Hamill finds himself in the gloriously strange company of Re-animatorby Jeffrey Combs and David Gale, with horror icon Michael Berryman (from The hills Have Eyes and The devil’s rejections) among the bizarre cast members accompanying this inappropriate performance.

Mark Hamill plays a major supporting role, while sporting an epic mustache.New cinema line

With cult horror producer Brian Yuzna (Re-Animator, Society, Beyond) involved, and a former director by the name of Screaming Mad George attached (alongside his companion, Steve Wang), perhaps the film’s biggest asset was behind the camera. George’s work in makeup and special effects has allowed him to accumulate an impressive resume, with credits on Predator, the Freddy John Carpenter’s series and action classic Big problem in little China.

And with body horror transformations, practical magic, and warehouse brawls between warring alien monsters, The Guyver doesn’t disappoint when it comes to visual thrills. The practical effects remain a spectacle to be seen to this day.

The fins tear the skin of a fleeing scientist as he becomes a mighty fishman in the Los Angeles River. A beating in an alleyway turns sour when the Guyver finds himself engulfed by waving tentacles. a Indiana Jones-The background style segment prefaces a pantomime showdown with a giant beetle monster.

Then there are the Gremlins-like the Zoanoids themselves: a tusked troll demon, a bipedal crocodile, an elephant-nosed amphibian, and a bat-eared goofball henchman. All of them endlessly engage in an ultra-violent battle royale, with martial arts showdowns and unique quotes that refer to the most popular films of the time (“Okay, Mr. Robocop, you’re going to fall. ! ”). It all lasts almost an hour and a half, and it’s absolutely an endorsement.

The Gremlins type Zoanoids.New Line Cinema

The 90s would soon become saturated with CGI experiences, jurassic park To Toy story, corn The Guyver is a reminder that the decade began when the physical effects and design of creatures reached their peak.

As Marvel prepares for its next list of superhero movies, we may be forgetting the true three-part essence of the superhero genre: Bam. Thwok. And absurd visual splendor. Frankly, who needs Angelina Jolie and Eternals at the movies when you have the Guyver and a clan of Zoanoids at home?

The reverse Superhero problem challenges the most dominant idea in our culture today.

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