- English Dubbing
- Publicity Gallery
A giant flying Turtleserpentgod saves Japan from other, less benevolent giant monsters. Mostly by throwing rocks.
Gamera Vs. Zigra:
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa. Acted by Gloria Zoellner, Arlene Zoellner, Koji Fujiyama, Daigo Inoue and Goroo Kudan.
Gamera: The Super Monster
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa. Acted by Mach Fumiake, Yaeko Kojima, Yoko Komatsu, Keiko Kudo and Koichi Maeda.
Gamera (Also known as The Friend Of All Children) a flying turtle giant, saves Japan from a metallic shark monster in one adventure, while the other is mostly a clip show of his previous battles.
Holy shit! Why haven’t I seen any Gamera movies before? I don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to kaiju (Japanese monster) movies and yesterday I was fine with that. Today, I am pissed. The first giant monster movie I saw was Godzilla 1985, which made me not only actively dislike Godzilla but Raymond Burr, as well. Thanks for ruining Perry Mason for me, Japan. The only giant monster movies I’ve ever really liked were Cloverfield, Monsters and The Host (although, I rented Godzilla: Final Wars because it was directed by Ryuhei Kitamura and it had moments of greatness but was certainly no Versus). So, when I sat down to watch a double feature of Gamera movies (the last 2 until his (it’s?) resurgence 15 years later in 1995), I wasn’t really looking forward to it for two main reasons. 1) I wasn’t really in the mood to watch Japan get destroyed. Again. (Although, I watched Hereafter and the tsunami upset me only because the water looked like it was cut and pasted from Final Fantasy X ) And 2) I thought they were going to be as boring as Godzilla 1985 was and make me never want to revisit the genre again. While both movies have their (myriad) of problems, I found myself with a smile on my face for most of both films running times.
Before I get into the specific films, I have to share with you the translated lyrics to the Gamera theme song, which plays about 6 times in Gamera VS. Zigra. The theme is sung by children and has a very fun, playful melody that I found myself humming several times throughout the day while in line at the grocery store or on the phone with my parents. But then I saw the fun, playful melody translated into American and had the piss flavored shit scared from me:
You are mighty, Gamera!
You are mighty, Gamera!
You are mighty, Gamera!
Sun, Moon, Mars Mercury
Juptier, Mars or Venus
Or any planet at all
Come out space monster!
It slashes! It pierces! Go go go!
Use your jet propulshion
And deliver a body blow!
You are mighty, Gamera!
You are mighty, Gamera!
You are mighty, Gamera!”
Now, all slashing and piercing aside, this reads to me as an indoctrination of a very specific nature. I don’t pretend to know the way the human mind works and I certainly know nothing about such five dollar concepts as “logic” or “reason”, but I do know children, and if you promise them jet propulsion followed by body blows, then you’re going to control their hearts and minds. I posit the theory that Japan has a giant fire breathing turtle that they are going to introduce to the world as soon as humanity is ready for it and these movies are serving as pre-conditioning; preparing us for the day that he arrives so everyone doesn’t shit out their hearts and create a trans-oceanic traffic jam of Emmerichian proportions. I could be wrong, however, due to the media failing to play songs like this all the way through. Remember a couple years back when Glenn Beck went apeshit over that video of schoolchildren singing the love song about Obama, only to (never) recant later when the rest of the video was aired and showed the kids singing about other black leaders, as well, due to it being Black History Month? Maybe the translated Gamera lyrics are actually longer and include a coda about Mothra and Mecha-Godzilla, as well. I don’t know, I’m just positing.
Gamera VS. Zigra was my first ever entrance into the multi-layered Gamera mythology and, I have to say, it seemed a perfect place to start. This one follows two families who live and play together at a Japanese Sea World. They reminded me of Team Zissou a little as they go on underwater adventures and have their own bathysphere in which to achieve said adventures. Even the music has that late 70’s electronic vibe that made The Life Aquatic so much fun. The two fathers and their respectful son and daughter (who are fucking obsessed with fruit juice) are out on a little boat in the ocean talking about how shitty mankind is to water, when a ship that looks like an ashtray filled with M&M’s beams them aboard. There’s an asian chick in this weird felt\pleather hybrid outfit who tells them that they are aboard Zigra, who has come to Earth to cause giant earthquakes and call dibs on our oceans. When the kids call bullshit, the lady (and the weird masthead that talks psychically and is a mini Zigra) causes a 10.5 earthquake just to be a dick. That’s when Gamera shows up and starts to kick some Zigrass.
After the kids (and their parents) are safely beamed off of the ship, Gamera and Zigra have a massive underwater battle for supremacy of the oceans. I think here is a good point for me to talk about Gamera’s fighting styles. The thing that amazes me about his skills are how simple, yet effective they are. Naturally, his biggest asset is the jet propulsion which allows him to pick up his ground bound adversaries and fly them up into the jet stream and then drop them again. He uses this tried and true tactic during almost every one of his battles and tends to always get the results he is looking for. He also breathes fire on land or underwater which (my lack of sciences aside) seems awfully impressive. I can’t even breathe regular air underwater, let alone fire. But his shaved knuckle in the hole is rocks. Whenever shit starts getting real, he hurls a rock at his foe and it either knocks them out (allowing for a jet propulsed attack) or gets impaled on their pointy proboscis (allowing for an attack, possibly jet propulsed). Seriously, rocks are to Gamera as utility belts are to Batmen. His defense mechanism is two-fold. His shell repels most anything, so he just swings that fucker around if he’s got a laser beam or a Birdgod headed his way. If the attack is multi-pronged then he retracts his little head and feets into the shell and waits it out, Turtlegod style.
Anyway, Gamera blows fire at the Ashtray Monster which explodes and turns into a metallic, spiny shark monster which I believe is the true face of Zigra. Gamera then gets his ass handed to him by Zigra and spends the next 30 minutes of the film floating upside down at the bottom of the ocean. It’s kind of wonderful because his eyes keep flitting back and forth like “Holy shit, I’m upside down and can’t move at the bottom of the ocean. Are there any kids down here to revive me with their love?” In the last 10 minutes (spoiler?), lightning strikes the ocean and revives Gamera, who climbs out and defeats Zigra by throwing a giant rock at his face and knocking him goofy, flying him up to the sky and then pile driving him to the Earth. As Gamera stands triumphant over Zigra’s writhing frame, he picks up a rock AND PROCEEDS TO PLAY HIS FUCKING THEME SONG ALONG THE POINTS OF ZIGRA’S SPINE. Thank you, Japan.
Gamera: The Super Monster had a tough act to follow and was a bit of a let down in comparison to the wily antics of Gamera VS. Zigra. I have a feeling that the thing I liked the most about Super Monster is going to be what everyone else hates about it. Most of the movie is made out of stock footage of the seven previous Gamera movies, including the one I had just watched. For me it was wonderful because I basically got the Cliff’s Notes version of the Gamera series without having to go back and watch all the children shrieking with glee, which is easily the worst thing about this one.
The main kid in Super Monster is always yelling about how mighty Gamera is or yelling at people to follow him to where Gamera might be so he can gaze longingly up at his jet propelling form. Oh, and he plays the fucking piano and sings Gamera’s theme song whenever he’s not trying to get picked up and banged by Gamera. Seriously, every third word out of this kid’s mouth the entire movie is “Gamera” and he sleeps with Gamera books on his pillow. If Gamera were a less reputable giant turtle monster, he could definitely score with this kid if he wanted. I know that Gamera is A Friend to All Children, but I think the children are getting led on here.
This movie has way more monster fighting than Gamera VS Zigra and a way more ridiculous plot which I won’t get into other than to say that Gamera is aided by Space Women, who shrink themselves down at night and live in a handbag in the back of a van. If you need more than that, then I think we’re speaking different languages and my language is better.
Both films are a lot of fun in a campy, Japanese sort of way. I think that I liked Gamera VS. Zigra better only because I had the novelty effect going for me and the kids in it aren’t even remotely as annoying as the kid from Gamera: The Super Monster. The budgets are low and the acting skill is questionable, but there’s more heart in 30 seconds of these films than Broderick’s Godzilla and Burr’s Godzilla combined. You’re definitely laughing at the films instead of with them, but it’s better than staring at your watch, wondering when the credits will start rolling.
For a Shout! Factory release, the special features are pretty bare bones. There’s some behind the scenes B&W stills of all the miniatures they used in the films (which I didn’t have time to get into in the review but the miniatures are a review unto themselves). Also, you have the choice of watching the films in Japanese with English subtitles or dubbed in English. I recommend the subtitled version for two reasons: 1) The dubbed versions are really poorly transferred and sound like you’re listening to the movie through a colon. 2) If you watch dubbed movies you might be a piece of shit. Not judging, just saying.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars