“Gamera tai Shinkai kaijû Jigura/Gamera vs. Zigra”

So I’ve got this old VHS tape in the VCR. No label on it, so I figure I’d check it out, see what marvels I might have recorded and forgotten about. Just the other day, I found a tape that I had recorded Sleepaway Camp Massacre 2: Unhappy Campers off of Showtime or some such, and here it was waiting for me to watch.

And it’s still waiting for me to watch.

It might be waiting for sometime more, actually.

Shocking, I know. I mean, after the classic Open House, how could I possible resist another slasher flick?

Back on a slightly more interesting subject, I stumbled over the tail end of this Kaijû anti-classic. Someone had “cruelly” put an episode of The X-Files over the bulk of it, thus depriving me of the opportunity of rewatching it for review. However, I can summarize the plot from memory. An advanced alien civilization has journeyed to Earth with a scheme so diabolical that only a pair of preschool children can stop it. Meanwhile, mighty Gamera gets his butt handed to him by a bizarre looking monster. Everyone thinks he’s dead until the last instant when he comes back to life, charges the monster and… Well, I wouldn’t want to ruin the end.

By this stage in the Giant Turtle’s career the stories just weren’t up to the standard of the previous movies in the series. Which is pretty damning criticism, all things considered. Even at its best (Daikaijû kessen: Gamera tai Barugon/War of the Monsters) the Showa series was a pale copy of Toho’s King of the Monsters. It would be close to a quarter of a century after this film before Gamera would ever have a film comparable to the best Godzilla movies.

This one in particular was incredibly dull. Long, long stretches of dullness that even campy remarks like “Use the flamethrower, Gamera!” can’t quite cover.

One could try and lessen the sternest of these remarks by pointing out that maybe, just maybe, I’m no longer the audience for this work. That might well be the case. Thing is, I can watch Showa Godzillas and enjoy them for what they are. I couldn’t do that with this picture.

Take this as an example: A large portion of the final battle between Zigra and Gamera takes place underwater. Zigra, a Goblin Shark type Kaijû, swims around our hero like a jet flying through air. The turtle makes his distinctive battle cry clear as a bell despite the volume of liquid around him. Even his flaming jets are undiminished by the environment.

All of which I might be able to accept. With some effort.

But there are moments were the film gives us close up of Gamera bleeding. His blood clouds out his wound, billowing in the water.

Which means someone gave a damn about those money shots and nothing for any other moment in the scene.

This shouldn’t bother me. But it does. It bothers the hell of me. It’s a “good enough” sort of thing. The whole movie reeks of it. “This is good enough for the kids. Why bother do more?”

Bottom line, if you’re in the mood for Showa Gamera, avoid this one.

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3 Replies to ““Gamera tai Shinkai kaijû Jigura/Gamera vs. Zigra””

  1. Was that the monster that looked like a knife, and had (when the plot called for it) ninja stars on his nose?

    I wrote a huge review of that one, somewhere. The best shot was when Gamera jumped in the air and broke the alien spaceship in half. Other than that, dull, dull, dull.

    I do remember Sgt. Borntregar’s words of wisdom: “If you want to wake someone up, punch them in the head.”

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