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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: GAMERA VS. JIGER (1970)

A few months ago, I decided that my son and I should watch as many kaiju movies as we could before the new Godzilla film opens in May, 2014.  The list (HERE) I compiled contains nearly eighty films.  Today's movie is just about the halfway done mark.

It's Gamera vs. Jiger (aka Gamera vs. Monster X; 1970).

My son, James, will go first:
Well, this one is almost indescribable. it shoots horns, it comes from a line of rainbow gods, he's Jiger!!! There was worm surgery GROSS! Needle horns STAB! and Gamera goes hardcore and stabs the whistle statue in jiger's face. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 2.5 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
My turn:
I'll say it up front: this is easily the best of the Gamera series since the first one.  The second (Gamera vs. Barugon) was pretty good, but it got too bogged down on the people side of things. 
What has killed this franchise for me since film three is the bewildering reliance on children as central characters and as heroes to the plot.  The last film, Gamera vs. Guiron, is the worst offender thus far. 
Jiger does the same thing, but the children in question are older than in previous films.  By having the protagonists be young teens, it somehow makes their self-insinuation in these events more acceptable.  It's a small change, but a welcome one.  (They're not shrill, either.  Bonus.) 
Here's the basic plot: in preparation for the 1970 World's Fair in Osaka, workers have uncovered an ancient statue from a Pacific island and brought it to Japan.  Natives call it "Devil's Whistle" and by removing it, the crews have unwittingly unleashed an ancient monster named Jiger.  (The "Whistle" emitted a frequency that kept the beast dormant.) 
Jiger looks like a sort of bear-dog-thing ...  It's a quadruped with a small fin on its back.  It has multiple horns, most of which can be fired like quills powerfully enough to pierce Gamera's limbs.  In its tail, there's an ovipositor which it uses to stab Gamera's shoulder and leave baby Jigers.  It also has a glowing wart or something on its nose that can vaporize a wide area.  Oh, I almost forgot the rockets embedded in its jowls. 
Sounds f-ing ridiculous, huh?  It pretty much is.  For some reason, though, it works for me.  There's a break in the standard Gamera plot formula when the kids go into Gamera's body (a la Fantastic Voyage) to remove the Jiger babies ... it was new enough for me to like it. 
Battle-wise, everything's cool.  Jiger's barbs wreck Gamera's day for a stretch, but in the end, the turtle takes the Devil's Whistle and stabs Jiger through the head with it.  Hardcore, indeed. 
Gamera vs. Jiger ... better than most of the series.  3 out of five atomic breath blasts.
(This is one of the few Gamera films not riffed on by MST3K back in the day, so there's no video of that to share.)

Here's the trailer:

Up next, Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster.

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