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BUDGET BIOMORPHS: THE MAKING OF THE GUYVER FILMS Review: Dom O’Brien’s Tantalising Tokusatsu Tome

BUDGET BIOMORPHS: THE MAKING OF THE GUYVER FILMS Review: Dom O'Brien's Tantalising Tokusatsu Tome

“It was a long time ago, you know,” chuckles Joji Tani (aka Screaming Mad George). “I really had the greatest experience directing The Guyver.” Steve Wang however… “I apologize for the first Guyver. I mean, we didn’t know what the hell we were doing, we just did our best.”

But what is The Guyver? For the uninitiated, The Guyver (aka Mutronics: The Movie) is a 1991 American sci-fi tokusatsu adaptation of Yoshiki Takaya’s Japanese manga Bio-Booster Armor Guyver, co-directed by Screaming Mad George and Steve Wang. Imagine if manga artist Go Nagai (Devilman, Kekko Kamen) consulted on the Japanese tokusatsu television series Ultraman (1966-67) or Kamen Rider (1971-73)! The result may have been something more…macabre! A violent tokusatsu mutation… The Guyver is Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-95) oozing Zoanoid slime! But what is a Zoanoid? Don’t worry ’bout it! Author and live-action Guyver expert Dom O’Brien will explain everything – from creature feature SFX mastery to post-release woes to DTV sequel redemption – in Budget Biomorphs: The Making of The Guyver Films.

“It all started with a video shop poster! That is what I tell people when they ask how my love affair with the Guyver films started; a single image that ignited my young imagination.”

Structured in two halves documenting the origins, production and release of both The Guyver and its direct-to-video sequel Guyver: Dark Hero (aka Guyver 2: Dark Hero), Budget Biomorphs is lovingly crafted by O’Brien from over 40 interviews with key members of the Guyver films cast and crew, including the aforementioned Screaming Mad George (SFX; Big Trouble in Little China, Society, Bride of Re-Animator) and Steve Wang (SFX; Predator, The Monster Squad, Gremlins 2: The New Batch), plus producer Brian Yuzna (Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead 3), creature FX artists Ted Smith and Wyatt Weed, and actor David Hayter; later known as the English-language voice actor for Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid (1998), and as the screenwriter for X-Men (2000), based on characters created by Marvel Comics. Hayter would also provide O’Brien with the book’s foreword:

“I’d come to Hollywood to be a movie star. An action hero… And then one day, my manager sent me to an audition for a sci-fi action film called Guyver: Dark Hero… This was everything I’d come to Hollywood to do.”

BUDGET BIOMORPHS: THE MAKING OF THE GUYVER FILMS Review: Dom O'Brien's Tantalising Tokusatsu Tome

With over 200 never-before-seen archival photographs covering every aspect of production, discover in O’Brien’s remarkable book how two SFX legends were selected to bring Bio-Booster Armor Guyver to life, how initial audiences rejected its tonally inconsistent – far removed from its source material – combination of comedy and body-horror, and how the legacy of live-Guyver-action would be redeemed with the home video release of its grotesque, action-orientated sequel. Throughout Budget Biomorphs – just like Carl Gottlieb’s The Jaws Log, Bill Warren’s The Evil Dead Companion, et al – O’Brien’s enthusiastic, informative prose provides readers with an insightful BTS exploration of two underrated DTV creature features; endearing to fanatics and aspiring filmmakers alike.

As a neurodivergent writer like myself, O’Brien’s commitment to writing a non-fiction book was a challenging, yet rewarding endeavour. For the Guyver fanatics now (or soon to be) in possession of this hardcover/paperback, I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have in reading and reviewing it. Just look at that fantastic cover designed – with the Guyver films 90s aesthetic in mind – by Si Heard! Even if you have no prior knowledge of the Guyver films, Budget Biomorphs is worth your time; a tantalising tome not only for the tokusatsu enthusiasts. This is a book for everyone; for those interested in low-budget filmmaking and how internet fandom – like O’Brien’s own online musings – can re-evaluate and re-introduce underrated passion projects to the next generation. Forgive the imperfections. For the filmmakers, Guyver was their Ultraman…their Kamen Rider…their legacy. As Steve Wang mentions in the book’s afterword:

“Out of inexperience, we proceeded to break every rule in Hollywood…a lot of trial and error… I loved every minute of making Guyver: Dark Hero, no matter how hard some days would get. It was a labour of love for me, and I was incredibly fortunate to have a project that fuelled my intense passion for tokusatsu filmmaking.”

Ken Wynne

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