Film Review: Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)

Also known as: Gamera tai Shinkai Kaijū Jigura (Japan), Zigrah, O Terror do Planeta (Brazil), Gamera vs. the Deep Sea Monster Zigra
Release Date: July 17th, 1971 (Japan)
Directed by: Noriaki Yuasa
Written by: Fumi Takahashi
Music by: Shunsuke Kikuchi
Cast: Eiko Yanami, Reiko Kasahara, Mikiko Tsubouchi, Koji Fujiyama

Daiei Film Co. Ltd., 87 Minutes


This is the fifth and final Gamera film to be featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. However, it is actually the seventh Gamera film in the franchise and there were five more after it.

None of the Shōwa era Gamera films are that great. Really, they only appeal to those of us who have a dying passion for kaiju movies. Also, as the franchise rolled on, the films got worse and worse. While Gamera vs. Zigra isn’t the worst, it is still a pretty crappy movie overall.

In this film, you guessed it… Gamera fights a monster named Zigra. In a nutshell, Zigra is a gigantic shark with a nose like a swordfish. He follows the design scheme of many of Gamera’s foes in that he is very angular in design. Lots of sharp edges mean lots of weapons to try and pierce the shell of our tortoise-like hero creature.

Zigra starts off as a UFO that looks like an electrically charged candy dish with a dorsal fin. It brainwashes a girl on the moon and uses her to do his evil bidding on Earth, mainly chasing children. Gamera confronts the candy dish and it transforms into shark Zigra. Then it grows to giant shark Zigra. Then we get some killer low budget kaiju action.

The film is entertaining enough for kaiju fans that don’t have a lot of expectations. It certainly doesn’t play as well as the Godzilla films of the era but it isn’t a complete waste. It’s dumb, mindless entertainment but it does its job. Realistically, it suffers from being in a franchise that had already run its course while in a genre that was in rapid decline. Kids in Japan had Ultraman on TV and didn’t need to see big monsters on the big screen anymore, as they got them in their living room every week.

Gamera vs. Zigra isn’t innovative. It didn’t bring anything new to the genre or the series. Also, most of it takes place at a marine park and when has there ever been a good movie that took place at a marine park? Jaws 3-DFree WillyRevenge of the Creature? Okay.. well, I can’t knock the Creature.

If you are a Gamera completist, jump in the pool. If you don’t care about the big lovable goofy turtle, then why are you reading this anyway?

Rating: 4/10