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Case Number 20780

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Gamera Vs. Zigra / Gamera: Super Monster

Gamera Vs. Zigra
1971 // 87 Minutes // Not Rated
Gamera: Super Monster
1980 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Released by Shout! Factory
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // February 25th, 2011

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart takes two more spins through Gamera's Japan.

Editor's Note

Our review of Gamera: Ultimate Collection, Volume 2 (Blu-ray), published June 8th, 2014, is also available.

The Charge

"The enemy from space was about to cause a series of great disasters."

Opening Statement

Giant turtle Gamera takes two more spins through the Japanese landscape in this Gamera Double Feature.

Facts of the Case

The two movies share one disc:

• Gamera vs. Zigra
Kids stow away on dad's boat as he goes on a marine research mission. They soon find themselves on a Zigra starship to witness "Zigra's high scientific culture" of earthquakes and destruction on a view screen. Dad and his colleague are hypnotized by a spacewoman, but the kids manage an escape, since they're too short for the spacewoman's eye level. On Earth, the spacewoman chases the kids around Sea World. Gamera puts in a couple of appearances.

• Gamera: Super Monster
Spacewoman sleeper agents (including wrestler Mach Fumiake) on Earth encounter a boy who has a psychic rapport with Gamera, the evil Zanon's spacewoman agent, and a zapping ray. Gamera battles some of the worst monsters he's ever faced.

The Evidence

Gamera vs. Zigra is pretty much what you'd expect: kids outwitting a monster's henchwoman while Gamera takes on the monster itself. There are high stakes, since Zigra wants to blow up cities and dine on earthlings, but the movie's harmless enough that even kids aren't likely to take that seriously. Kids are warned about polluting the oceans. There's an amusing scene near the end as Gamera uses the defeated Zigra as a xylophone.

You might be encouraged in the opening moments of Gamera: Super Monster if you notice that the evil alien spaceship looks a little less cheesy than in past Gamera films. That would only set you up for disappointment, since the movie turns out to be recycling footage from past Gamera films, including that xylophone scene from Zigra. Mach Fumiake gets two moments of heroism, but the spacewomen mostly end up transforming into spacewomen only to quickly zap themselves back into human guise to avoid getting zapped by the Zanon ship; they're generally there to introduce scenes of Gamera in action on some kind of telescreen and create some illusion of a new story. The lack of new material and the fact that the spacewomen don't actually do much make it tedious.

I noticed on the English translation of Zigra that the year changed from 1971 to 1985, and the kids were visiting Japan from New York. The acting seems to be overdone more than in the Japanese soundtrack, so I'd give a nod toward watching with subtitles. The voices on Super Monster were actually English; in one scene, the heroic spacewoman's stiff upper lip speech is a little more dramatic than the one in the subtitles.

Aside from some generally cheap effects, I didn't see any problems with the picture. There are a few photo bonus features: publicity galleries for both movies, and behind-the-scenes photos for Zigra showing the rather human scale of the monsters, making them the most interesting feature. All three photo galleries are brief; fans will want more. The case contains a nice bio of Gamera, though.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

At least there's a fresh-sounding arrangement of the "Gamera March," if only on an electric organ, in Gamera: Super Monster.

If you really just wanted a highlights reel of Gamera in battle and have a high tolerance for silliness, you could like Super Monster.

Closing Statement

The Gamera series sticks closely to formula, but these double features show that the execution varied. Neither is a cinema classic, but Zigra meets the typical expectations of the formula better. It's a good deal for Gamera fans if you get a good price.

The Verdict

Gamera's guilty of uneven performances, but forgiven.

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• Action
• Foreign
• Science Fiction

Scales of Justice, Gamera Vs. Zigra

Video: 86
Audio: 83
Extras: 70
Acting: 80
Story: 80
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Gamera Vs. Zigra

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
• English
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 1971
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Gamera Vs. Zigra

• Image Galleries

Scales of Justice, Gamera: Super Monster

Video: 87
Audio: 82
Extras: 50
Acting: 75
Story: 60
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile, Gamera: Super Monster

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
• English
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Gamera: Super Monster

• Image Gallery

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