Rewatching the Gamera movies! Gamera returns to Earth in Gamera vs. Jiger (1970), with a powerful new enemy and a look deep inside Gamera. As in, really deep inside.
Here’s what happens: It’s time for Expo 70, a type of high-tech World’s Fair. Archeologists want to unearth a mysterious statue found on an island near the equator to display it at the Expo. Wouldn’t you know it, the statue is cursed. Moving it awakens the giant monster Jiger. Gamera tries to stop Jiger from attacking the Expo, but he fails. The humans, including a couple kids of course, race against time to revive Gamera.
Nice gams: Once again, Gamera can somehow sense when humanity (not just children this time) is in danger, and he flies in from parts unknown to save the day. Gamera attacks Jiger on first sight. Because we know the Earthbound kaiju have all been hibernating since ancient times, can we assume that Gamera and Jiger battled each other before, back in the days of old Atlantis?
Turtle power: After Gamera is partially paralyzed by Jiger’s darts, there’s an extended scene of him figuring out how to use the environment to his advantage to get back on his feet.
Later, to save Gamera, the two kids must pilot a minisub into Gamera’s lungs (!) to fight off some larvae that Jiger implanted there. It turns into family-friendly Alien during this part, and it’s wild.
Big baddie: Jiger has got quite the power set. She has paralyzing darts, a disintegration ray, nifty suction cup paws, and rockets like Gamera’s. The Gamera larvae fight the kids by shooting a glue-like substance at them.
Kid stuff: One kid is with the science-types at the Expo, while his friend is globe-trotting with the archeologists, giving both storylines a kid POV. Once they’re reunited, the kids are the ones who deduce Jiger’s connection to the statue, and then they save the day by reviving Gamera during their minisub adventure. A precocious little sister tags along for some comic relief.
Hapless humans: A scientist at the Expo argues that all ancient statues are connected somehow. Another, who is father figure to the kids, has built the mini-sub (this franchise loves mini-subs). All the archeologists don’t believe Gamera is the good guy, and the open fire on him. They all later get mysteriously ill on the boat ride back to Japan, slightly reminiscent of the Demeter scene from Dracula.
Thoughts on this viewing: While the previous two outer space movies were fun romps, this feels more like a real movie with real dramatic stakes. Also, it’s a faster pace and Gamera gets a lot of screen time, so the audience isn’t sitting around wondering when Gamera will show up.
Next: From A to Zig.
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