Poffy The Cucumber


Cirque du Tortue

When children ran the Japanese military.

We can pretty much guess the quality of this Japanese debacle as soon as the opening titles are accompanied by that cringeworthy “Gamera” theme song performed by schoolkids. (All I can think of are the MST3K lyrics, “Gam-e-ra is really neat / He is filled with turtle meat / We all love you Gam-eh-raaaaa!” or Mike Nelson at the piano doing the jazz version, “It sort of sneaks up on you, boo, it says…”) Accompanied by visuals of Gamera battling other rubber suits in a monster mash montage.

The plot is quickly dispensed, to get to the monsters quicksmart: Japan Expo 1970 (“I feel like I’m in the future!”) and a mysterious statue is unearthed to serve as icon. Some witch doctor is pissed about that, exhorting in Schoolyard Blackface accent not to touch the statue. Meanwhile, the military is airlifting the statue from its sacred resting place, whereupon Gamera the giant flying turtle arrives and tries to stop them.

The tropes are all here: the Scientist, the Military, the Annoying Kids, who really get a good workout in this installment, as there are two token British kids lumped in with the Japanese kid, for cross-pond appeal. Turns out Gamera – whom it is well-known is “friend to children” – knew that moving the statue would awaken the fearsome monster Jiger (aka Monster X), who erupts from beneath the rocks.

Gamera is pissed because Jiger’s rubber suit vaguely resembles a triceratops more than Gamera’s rubber suit vaguely resembles a turtle. (They’ve at last done justice to the hind leg design on this quadruped animal – unlike Godzilla’s ridiculous ankylosaur friend Anguirus, who looks like a guy on his knees, Jiger’s back legs bend like a real dinosaur’s!)

The usual daikaiju stomp through town ensues, with only the Annoying Kids canny enough to perceive that the statue is the cause of all the ruckus and that Jiger only wants it back.

In some of the most ridiculous, badly-staged daikaiju fight sequences ever filmed, Gamera is stabbed in the neck with Jiger’s tail-spike – gruesome! Scientist ascertains Jiger has laid eggs in Gamera with no evidence. Annoying Kids steal tiny sub and go on a Fantastic Voyage inside Gamera to extract eggs. Find a baby Jiger already hatched! All these plot points by themselves are reasonable action movie funtime, but laden with so many breathtaking stupidities they topple the whole story over. Not least the Annoying Kids giving orders to the military and undertaking missions while military soldiers stand by uttering not a single word of protest.

Yeah, and keep shouting orders at Gamera, kids; remember, he can understand badly-dubbed English.


GameraVsJiger_title1GAMERA VS. JIGER (Mar 1970) | Not Rated
Director: Noriaki Yuasa.
Writer: Nisan Takahashi.
Starring: Tsutomu Takakuwa, Kelly Varis, Katherine Murphy, Kon Ohmura, Ryô Hayami, Akira Natsuki, Corinne Orr.
Version: Japanese, with English dubbing.
Word Count: 440      No. 1,098
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