Gamera rewatch – Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)

Rewatching the Gamera movies! The series goes green for some eco-friendly messages among the monster carnage in 1971’s Gamera vs. Zigra.

Here’s what happens: It’s fifteen years into the future, setting this in an alternative 1985 or 1986, when aliens called Zigrans attack mankind’s first functioning moonbase. They then arrive on Earth. They destroyed their own planet with the technology, and now want Earth to be their new home. After some business with a Zigran infiltrating the human world, it all comes to a watery battle between a big Zigra and Gamera.

Nice gams: There’s no new information about Gamera in this one. When the kids are in trouble, he flies down from the sky to save them. When he’s unconscious at the bottom of the ocean at one point, a surprise electrical storm manages to revive him.

Turtle power: Gamera can breathe fire underwater. (Hey, if the Human Torch can do it…) I like the bit where he holds up a giant boulder as a shield to block lasers. Later, once Zigra is knocked down, Gamera shows his sense of humor by playing the ridges on Zigra’s back like a big xylophone.

Big baddie: Just what is Zigra? At first, it’s a spaceship, then an intelligent alien aboard the spaceship, but then the ship transforms into gigantic shark-like Zigra. Zigra makes some big moves in his conquest of Earth, causing mostly unseen earthquakes all over the planet. He’s weak out of the water, though, and Gamera is able to bring the pain once he gets Zigra onto land.

The real villain, though, is the woman doing all the speaking on Zigra’s behalf, whom the wiki identifies only as “Woman X.” She abducts the human characters to lay out the plot, and she makes threats to all the Earth governments. In a baffling twist, it’s revealed that she’s a human from the moonbase, brainwashed to do Zigra’s bidding. Why?

Kid stuff: Although Woman X pursues the children because they know about Zigra, the kids this time are mostly a Greek chorus. The movie cuts to them for reaction shots and exposition as needed.

Hapless humans: The kids’ parents are oceanographers at Sea World (!) investigating strange goings-on affecting sea life. They argue on behalf of saving the environment throughout. Our comic relief is a goofy dolphin trainer who comes with an idea to use sonar against Zigra. The usual soldiers and bureaucrats fill out the cast.

Thoughts upon this viewing: This is more serious and plot-heavy Gamera movie, with a lot of time devoted to the aliens-hiding-among-us intrigue, and the save-the-environment messaging. It takes a long time before Gamera does any Gamera-ing. The final battle is mostly underwater, and it doesn’t have as many fun gags as the previous movies. They tried their best, but this is a lesser entry in the series.

Next: When returns diminish.

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About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH.
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