Thursday, January 23, 2014

Turtle vs Body Horror: Gamera vs Jiger

After the poor performance of All Monsters Attack, Toho took a year to consider the Godzilla franchise. Gamera, however, continued on, and 1970 was the year of the International Exposition in Japan. Giant monsters and the International Esposition were perhaps a strange alliance, but Gamera vs Viras partnered with the Boy Scouts, so this isn’t completely unexpected.


Like Reptilicus, which took time to discuss the brilliance of Copenhagen, Gamera vs Jiger spends a few minutes ‘explaining’ the Japan World Exposition 1970 and its themes. The audience is shown several of the exposition buildings. The Expo looks fo the future, congratulates itself on the prosperous and science-tastic present, but it also also features some of the past, contrasting scientific progress with the belief in the continent of Mu. Among the mysteries of the past to be displayed is a thirty-three foot statue from Wester Island, referred to as the Devil’s Whistle. What could possibly go wrong?

I am not sinister.

The Wester Island representative, Mr. Gimbo, warns of a curse should the statue be moved, snarling the word ‘Jiger’ as he departs. On Wester Island, as the jet-assisted (!) helicopters pull the statue up, it emits a strange tone. But before anyone can really consider the consequences, Gamera appears.

Why only one jet-assisted helicopter

Hiroshi and Tommy area bit older that the kids from the previous films, and not quite so suicidally stupid. In addition they have slightly more to do than just be rescued by their giant turtle buddy. Like Gamers vs Viras, the kid spend a certain amount of time in a yellow submarine. The film also starts off with a bit of discussion of science versus superstition, emphasizing the progress demonstrated by the expo. This is undermined by having the expo trashed by two gigantic monsters.

The Jiger suit design is less creative than previous Gamera opponents, based somewhat on triceratops. It’s got spikey horns, a lizard-like body, and a back fin. It can command rocks, has a pair of jets under its head frill, allowing it to fly, or at least as reasonably as Gamera. It also has some sort of cone of destruction it can project from its top horn, which devastates entire areas.

Does Jiger have a skin condition?

In the initial fight, Gamera seems to get the upper hand at first, immediately, but Jiger blows darts from its horns, impaling each of Gamera’s knees, and Jiger gains the advantage, and escapes. Gamera, in the first film was able to get off his back by activating his jets, can't withdraw his limbs, and therefore has to struggle to get back on his feet.

The end of the first fight--Gamera down, Jiger takes off.

Jiger has a quick scene taken directly from the 1954 Godzilla, where Jiger approaches a tower filled with reporters.

Were you here when Godzilla did the same thing?

The first rematch happens early, about halfway through the film, and this is when it all goes horribly wrong. Jiger reveals yet another spine, this one at the end of its tail. This causes Gamera such pain that he abandons the fight, and wanders through Osaka, bellowing his agony. Morose music plays in the background. On a close-up, we can see Gamera's got some serious swelling around the wound. What is it? Was it a poisonous stinger? The flesh on his left arm and head become pale and translucent. Surely some terrible virus or toxin is responsible?

Jiger forcibly impregnates Gamera. Should we be watching this?

The science boffins X-ray Gamera,and determine that there's a mass, possibly cancer, in the wound. Cancer? Is Gamera going to need chemo? Isn't this a little dark for a kids' film? Science guy goes on to talk about larvae that can infest an elephant's trunk, and then shows us film of cutting the larvae out in all its body-horror glory.

When a mommy work and a daddy work love each other very much in an elephant's nose...

Thanks, science guy!

And the audience's reaction

This revolting lecture gives the boys the idea to enter Gamera's body with a minisub Fantastic Voyage style. The alveoli look suspiciously like clear garbage bags. Jiger's larva/baby is already fully formed and mobile. And like every baby everywhere, it emits unspeakably horrible goo from its nose.

EEEEW!  Baby snot

By a stroke of good luck, the boys discover that the baby is averse to the sound of static. They stick the staticy radio to the baby's head, and it goes down, convulsing. It's not quite as bad as Yonggary's anal-bleeding death, but it's more grisly than I was expecting from a Gamera film.

In the still image, you can't see the twitching.

While Jiger sleeps. Gamera is hooked up to high-voltage wires to reawaken him. After seven million volts are put through his heart, with only a nominal reaction from the giant turtle, the voltage it turned up. As with Mothra vs Godzilla, the system breaks down when it is pushed too hard. fortunately, it's enough, and Gamera blasts off to fight Jiger a third time. Gamera dodges the spines, resists the disintigration ray, but for some reason has to put telephone poles in its earholes.

And Gamera makes his saving throw!

Distance weapons ineffective, there's nothing left but for a colossal wrestling match. It's OK, the intercuts with the kids shoutng encouragment are annoying as always. Gamera triumphs by grabbing the Devil's Whistle and throwing it into Jiger's head.

Are you not entertained?

And that's how Gamera saved the 1970 Japan World Exposition. He also politely hauls Jiger's corpse away from the site.

I'll be glad with this era of Gamera films is over. Gamera vs Jiger is a lot less annoying that many of the previous entries in the series, but having watched a lot of them in two months, the repetitive plots and and child actors cheering Gamera on have become very tiring. Next week, giant cuttlefish!

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