Gamera Vs. Jiger (Japan 1970)

Rating: **
Review Date: 11/7/10
Alternate Title: Gamera Vs. Monster X

This movie made an incredible impact on me as a child, due to its horrific and outlandish imagery. The 1970 World Fair is taking place in Japan, and a mysterious statue from Wester Island is being flown in as part of a cultural exhibit. Gamera doesn't like the statue being moved and tries to prevent the scientists from taking it away, but is miraculously repelled by small arms fire. Huh? Since when are Japanese monsters affected by firearms? Anyway, moving the statue wakes up a monster called Jiger, who can shoot spikes out of its head, has suction feet, has rocket engines in its neck, and can fire a deadly ultrasonic ray. However, its most deadly attack is a spike in its tail, which pierces Gamera and injects him with a blood sucking parasitic larva! I found this particularly horrifying as a child, and the scene is punctuated by some disgusting stock footage of an elephant's trunk being infected by a bunch of worms. Ick! Since the adults in the movie are all idiots, a young Japanese boy named Hiroshi and his American friend Tommy steal a mini-submarine and enter the partially submerged body of Gamera in an attempt to heal him. Having two little boys running around inside of Gamera's body also freaked me out as a child, especially when they run into the baby Jiger!

By this time in the series, Gamera is a "good" monster and a "friend of the children." As a result, the movie is often goofy and juvenile, but no more than some of the goofier "Godzilla" films. The effects work is decent and there is a good amount of monster combat and urban destruction. The story and characters are all shallow and inconsequential, and the actors spend most of their time watching Gamera fight and cheering him on. What amazes me most is how after thirty years, I still have some of the imagery from this film vividly burned into my memory. That's some pretty strong stuff for an impressionable young child to take in, and it really fueled my imagination.