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Gamera Vs. Zigra/Gamera: Super Monster

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    Ian Jane
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  • Gamera Vs. Zigra/Gamera: Super Monster



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: 3/15/2011
    Director: Noriaki Yuasa
    Cast: Yasushi Sakagami, Arlene Zoellner/Mach Fumiake, Yaeko Kojima
    Year: 1971/1980
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    Shout! Factory finishes up their run of Gamera releases with the last two films in the original Showa run of the series.

    GAMERA VS. ZIGRA

    Made on a noticeably smaller budget than the Gamera movies that came before it, this film starts off when a giant space monster named Zigra lays waste to a moon base on his way to Japan where he intends to wreak havoc on Tokyo. At a theme park called Kamogawa Sea World, a kid named Kenichi (Yasushi Sakagami) and his friend Helen (Arlene Zoellner) live with their fathers, Dr. Yosuke Ishikawa (Isamu Saeki) and Dr. Tom Wallace (Koji Fujiyama), who are employed there as scientists. When Zigra lands in the ocean near where they live, the scientists rush out to investigate where they meet Woman X (Eiko Yanami), a stone cold fox who is basically Zigra's mouth piece. They learn that the nefarious space monster instead to take over the planet and eat people.

    After Zigra causes an earthquake, the kids decide it's up to them to stop the monster and so they get Gamera to help and a bunch of rad monster battles ensue.

    About as goofy a they come, Gamera Vs. Zigra was obviously intended for a children's audience and director Noriaki Yuasa plays to what kids want out of a film - light action, lots of monsters and rubber suit stomp outs, corny comedic moments and heroes their own age who they can relate to. On that level, the movie works just fine and when watched with a few younger viewers around it becomes obvious that kids will have no problem enjoying this picture. As far as adult viewers go, well, there are moments where the whole thing comes off as a glorified commercial for Kamogawa Sea World and it's probably not a coincidence that the park is featured so prominently in the movie. The effects, however, are just as cool here as they are in Gamera movies past and if it feels toned down a bit, it's still entertaining if you're in the right mood for it.

    GAMERA: SUPER MONSTER

    Made nine years later, Gamera: Super Monster was once again directed by Noriaki Yuasa. Daiei had gone out of business at this point but the company that owned the rights to the Gamera series wasn't going to let a good thing go to waste so easily and so this film, essentially a greatest hits reel, was put together to cash in on the series' fan base. They did, however, at least write a new story on which to hang all the recycled footage.

    Giruge (Keiko Kudo) leads a group of his fellow aliens towards Earth in a spaceship intent on conquering the planet with some help from a group of evil monsters made up of Barugon, Gyaos, Viras, Giron, Jiger, and Zigra. What they don't count on is the presence of Kilara (Mahha Fumiake - a wrestler who appeared alongside Etsuko Shiomi in The Great Chase), an alien woman who runs a pet shop and keeps her true origins a secret. She's not alone, either - she's got two alien lady pals around to help her: Marsha (Yaeko Kojima) and Mitan (Yoko Komatsu).

    When the monsters attack, Kilara will have to enlist the aid of a kid named Keiichi (Koichi Maeda) to get Gamera back in action - just in time to save the planet from certain doom!

    With all of the actual footage of the monsters duking it out culled from other Gamera movies, there aren't a whole lot of surprises here. At least the story aspect of the film is original and some new effects bits show up in the form of footage of spaceships flying around and what not. The whole thing is put together rather poorly, however, and while the new story is obviously a good thing at this point the writers were simply going through the motions. It's all very predictable and hokey to a fault but at least the alien ladies are interesting and stocky Fumiake is a blast to watch.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Shout! Factory presents both films on DVD in good anamorphic widescreen color transfers, the first film in 2.35.1 and the second at 1.85.1. Though these transfers are a big improvement over the lousy fullframe transfer that Alpha and a few other 'public domain' outfits offered up of the American versions, they're not perfect. The images here are very clean, with some noticeable grain but no real heavy-duty print damage to complain about, though some of the footage recycled in the later film has been blown up from 2.35.1 to 1.85.1 and looks a bit worse for it. Contrast levels are solid, with deep blacks and color reproduction looks appropriately bold and garish - just as they should. There aren't any major compression artifacts nor is there any pesky edge enhancement though some heavy aliasing and combing effects are noticeable throughout both films.

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital Mono tracks, which come with optional subtitles in English only, sound okay. The song in Gamera: Super Monster isn't subtitled, which is a bit irritating. Range is obviously limited, this is an older mono track after all, but the levels are well balanced and there are no problems with hiss or distortion to note. For those who want the English audio options, they're here as well though the quality is noticeably less than the Japanese tracks for whatever reason, particularly on Super Monster where there's some really bizarre echoing present.

    Aside from some static menus, each disc gets a still gallery of promotional materials and that's it. It's a shame the later films in the series didn't get the love that the first two did in this department, but on the flip side of that coin, here you get two films for the price of one. An insert inside the keepcase contains chapter listings for both films on one side and an advertisement for other Shout! Factory releases on the other.

    The Final Word:

    The last entry in Shout! Factory's Gamera run isn't their best but neither are the two films it includes, even if they are fun if you're in the right frame of mind. Both pictures are worth seeing for fans of the series but these are more kid-friendly films so keep that in mind. The disc could have used more extras and the lack of the trailers is a downer, but the quality of the image and the audio is decent enough that completists will want it.





















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