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Episode guide: K07- Gamera vs. Zigra

Movie: (1971) In the (sigh) seventh outing of the long-running Japanese monster movie series, aliens from a distant planet, called Zigra, send a spaceship, called Zigra, commanded by a strange creature — called Zigra — to Earth with a plan of world domination. Opposing him is a pair of concerned marine biologists, pesky kids Kenny and Helen, and of course giant turtle monster Gamera.

First shown: 1/1/89.
Opening: Crow gets unfrozen.
Host segment 1: Joel gets a call from the Mads. Joel asks when they will bring him back to Earth. They taunt him.
Host segment 2: Joel is depressed so Cambot plays some messages from callers to cheer him up.
Host segment 3: J&TB make their New Year’s wishes, then try to count down to the new year. Movie sign interrupts.
End: J&TB review the movie.
Joe’s notes: This episode contains the first appearance of the Mads as speaking characters. The footage of Josh Weinstein performing stand-up comedy in host segment 1 came from the “KTMA Melon Drop,” a KTMA-produced New Year’s Eve special starring Kevin Murphy (as news reporter Bob Bagadonuts) which aired immediately prior to this episode.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (67 votes, average: 3.79 out of 5)

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References.
• This episode first aired just after midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1988-89.
• Trace is back, Crow is back and all’s right with the premise.
• We get to see the footage of Crow being frozen for the FOURTH time in three episodes.
• Trace is a little quiet during the first hour or so. He must be out of practice. He gets into the swing of riffing a bit the more as the movie goes on.
• Tom’s head is more transparent in the theater in this one.
• Segment 1 is included on the MST3K Scrapbook tape.
• It’s the first transmission from the Mads and they are still being developed. Trace uses a sort of Gregory Peck-ish voice. Josh uses a sinister growl.
• First use of the word “dickweed.”
• Crow’s silent reaction to Zigra’s spandex-clad henchwoman cracks Joel up.
• Did they watch the movie ahead of time? Crow warns henchwoman about the stuff on the arm of the chair just before she knocks it off. Later Joel and Tom foresee the whole fish-fin xylophone thing. This suggests they watched the movie ahead of time.
• Also, have they been watching the other Gamera movies in the library? Twice, Tom Servo sings o/` “We believe in Gamera,” o/` even though that song with those English lyrics will not be heard until the next movie.
• It was actually about 1:30 in the morning on New Year’s Day when segment 3–featuring a New Year’s Eve countdown–happens. Joel covers by saying there’s a “time delay.”
• The first germ of the “Gamera is really neat, he is filled with turtle meat” lyrics, which would be fully fleshed out in Season 3, can be heard here.
• How come that Melon Drop special isn’t on YouTube? I KNOW it exists out there…
• Movie stuff: This is one weird mamajama of a movie, but I will start by saying that I’m guessing most of the weirdness can be blamed on a really bad translation. That said….
• Once again the little kid is named Kenny. What–as was asked in Season 3–is the Japanese fascination with that name?
• I don’t really understand the anti-science message that floats through the movie. Kenny and Helen’s father and his pal are biologists. Doesn’t that make them scientists? And are scientists actively polluting the sea? So why are scientists the problem?
• After discovering that Kenny and Helen have come along on their fishing trip, the biologist guys see Zigra land and express a desire to investigate. One says “What about the kids?” The kids then express a desire to go along. This seems to settle the issue. The adults are, like: “Fine, let’s go.” So no concerns at all for the kids’ safety?
• Gamera now flies straight all the time, no more spinning.
• I have seen this movie a dozen times now and I still cannot make heads or tales out of the weird Zigra monster up on the shelf in the alien spaceship. It looks a little like a skeksis from “The Dark Crystal,” but what’s with the billowing cobwebs?
• How did “your Earth science” pollute a planet 400 light years away? I ran that back and listened to it again and that’s definitely what he says. Doesn’t make any sense.
• At one point the henchwoman runs by a bunch of guys and they all recognize her as “Laura Lee Barrett.” Why do those guys recognize her?
• The appearance of the Japanese version of the Monty Python “It’s!” guy seems to go nowhere.
• Similarly, what was the point of the whole “who gets to buy the fish” subplot?
• Apparently thinking her spandex attire is too outlandish, the henchwoman hypnotizes some bathing beauties and steals a bikini from one of them. This makes her less outlandish as she walks through the busy streets of Tokyo?
• Uh, general guy? You MIGHT want to check with somebody before surrendering the entire planet.
• I love the way Gamera delivers the bath-o-scope–like Lynn Swann scoring a touchdown.
• So they plan to revive the biologists and the kids with electric shock–but later we just see them shaking Helen awake. Did they have second thoughts on the electric shock thing?
• Fave riff: “Nice jammies, babe.” Honorable mention: “Perhaps they should start looking for Allen Funt.”

42 comments to Episode guide: K07- Gamera vs. Zigra

  • 1
    swh1939 says:

    Finally the Crow-getting-frozen footage is retired once and for all. We only have ourselves to blame if we watch it ever again.

       1 likes

  • 2
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    >>>So no concerns at all for the kids’ safety?

    You’ve met the kids, right…?

    >>>what’s with the billowing cobwebs?

    SCIENCE! (alien) SCIENCE!

    >>>a bikini…makes her less outlandish as she walks through the busy streets of Tokyo?

    Comparatively speaking, yeah, I’d think so. Which do you encounter more often in life, people in bathing suits or people in spandex? Mileage may vary, of course…

       0 likes

  • 3
    Joseph Nebus says:

    Bob Bagadonuts … didn’t the Brains reuse that name in some other context?

       0 likes

  • 4
    Alex says:

    I just found it odd why the mads would have different appeareances from the intro theme and the episodes in this season. In the intro they appear to look like nuns, while the episodes they look like some biker dudes. Odd.

    I still find it funny how Joel practically announces what the next film is gonna be, then in the next episode they make a segment as if they’re not even sure what it’s gonna be. XD

    I do like that funky 70′s new-wave music in this film, though. Cool

    “Daddy, I want a coke”. XD

       0 likes

  • 5
    David J says:

    I don’t know about “Kenny”, but “Ken” is a really popular name for movie, TV, and video game characters in Japan. The name is based on a symbol that translates to “Fist”. So it’s a really appropriate name for a hero. I’m not really sure if this is anyway related to “Fisty” being a popular name for whiny child characters.

       0 likes

  • 6
    Jake Ignatowicz says:

    This was the very first episode of MST3k I saw so I’m extremely fond of it. I remember being a little kid ringing in the new year by watching them drop a watermelon off the TV23 studios and my parents telling me I had to go to bed right after. Well of course immediately following the melon drop was this episode and by the time Servo said “And the power of Lego Moon Base”, I was hooked for life.

    Yeah, the show was still figuring itself out and to viewers nowadays it’s probably painful to watch. But to me this episode stands alongside “Rocketship X-M”, “Mitchell”, “Danger: Diabolique” and all the other great cornerstones of the series because I can pop this one into my DVD player and recapture a little of that first time I became a MSTie. Smile

       1 likes

  • 7
    MiqelDotCom says:

    Here’s a surprisingly clean looking vhs transfer on youtube:
    K07 Gamera vs Zigra
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsD8fsW8yXk

    YAY!
    Finally the full cast is back and things develop rapidly – over the next few episodes Joel & the guys really start finding the groove that makes the show so great. Much higher riff frequency than any previous eps. This Gamera film is one of my favorites from the CC era. This version is quite different but still a lot of fun. I wonder how much sponsors paid to have the girl ask for a coke every 5 minutes?

    Host Segs:
    First of the mads!! Great first line .. “In Space No One Can Hear You Laugh”
    Funny bit about russian parallel experiment called “Incredible Movie Experiment Theater 4″ w/ a live clip of josh doing stand-up (shades of the later gags about Russian cosmonauts, etc. )… and the alternate idea of sending a guy to the bottom of the sea to watch Cousteau films. Strong opening for the mad scientist characters.

    Repeating Classic Riff:
    Insert ANY phrase about “Evacuation” here ‘ ___ _____’
    Trace/Crow: “Sounds Painful”
    (for those who may not know, ‘Evacuation’ is the medical procedure to remove a blockage/compaction such as severe constipation. If you dare to know how painful, check here http://www.rancho.org/patient_education/selfcare_manual_bowel.pdf )

    Fave Riffs:
    Servo: “Well that just naturally follows, giant mutant turtle, & friend of all children … yeah”

    Zigra babe: “Celestial body #105″
    Joel: “I’ll say!” (it’s not as funny written, it’s all in his delivery)

    Girl: “daddy what will we do if we can’t get out”
    Crow: (matter of factly) “Die.”

    3 stars on the KTMA comparison scale.

       0 likes

  • 8
    pablum says:

    One of the extremely goofy Gamera films. And for that I love it. Even though the Monster Children in this film are allowed in the upper echelons of military power, they act more like real children rather than naive adults which is usually how they are portrayed in these types of films. Kenny here may be a little brat, but at least he’s not like the original demon-child Kenny.

    This KTMA version? I’ve watched it, but remember nothing from it. I do have the scene of Crow being frozen etched into my memory after watching these episodes, but that’s about it.

    I guess Trace and Josh figured the goofy outfits and expressions they used in the opening for the Mads weren’t good enough for the series, but I still laugh at Trace’s odd grimace in the KTMA intro.

       0 likes

  • 9
    Kouban says:

    Like most Japanese names, there are many kanji that can be read as “Ken” and are used as names. I think Ken and variations thereon (such as Kenji, Ken’ichi, etc.) is one of the more “generic” or at least widely-used given names in Japanese.

       0 likes

  • 10
    Kenneth Morgan says:

    I don’t know if they’re on YouTube, but copies of the Melon Drop specials are available. I have three of them: the three-hour extravagaza hosted by Kevin and featuring a sort-of gust appearance by Servo’s ancestor, the shorter one with the melon theft, and the clip show after BBI had launched. Were there any others?

       0 likes

  • 11
    Sitting Duck says:

    Would anyone happen to know what exactly are the origins of the term dickweed anyway? I can’t recall ever hearing it outside MST3K.

       0 likes

  • 12
    Fart Bargo says:

    I love this episode. J&TB really begin to get ‘smart alecky’ in this one. The mads are also introed.

    Sampo, on the ID of Laura Lee by others, at some point it was explained that she was a model AND a scientist so the photogs (paparrazi) knew who she was.

    You would think by 1985 (when this movie took place) the scientific and military communities would have advanced beyond taking orders from annoying, pesky kids!? Talk about plot convenience scripting this one is chuck full of them from the snap finger trancing, ultrabrite smiling eyes, the cure for the tranced (AAAAAHHHHH-AAAAAAHHHHHHH).

    Really enjoyed the argument between the dolphin wrangler and the business man over the three fish. I guess the dolphin wrangler was an annoying, pesky kid at one time because he came up with the ‘solution’ to the tranced, AAAAAHHHH-AAAAHHHHHHH.

    Zigra is the most confusing monster fish/spaceship/dust bunny. Can anyone explain this?

    One last note, Laura was quite a dish so I was glad she was merely tranced rather than bad.

       1 likes

  • 13
    mataglap says:

    I suppose it’s possible that the planet, the spaceship and the monster can all be named Zigra if they’re all part of a single alien gestalt intelligence?

    This episode seems to show the performers getting more comfortable with the production and getting into something of a rhythm, there’s certainly more riffing (although much of it is not overtly funny). They have definitely watched the movie prior to taping and taken some notes, there are a couple of riffs that are mis-timed with the action, so they knew what they were going to say at least some of the time, they just hadn’t worked out the mechanics of knowing when to say it. Adding the “mads” helps to expand the potential of the host segments and introduces an attempt at internal consistency, which might be more than what they thought they would do when they began this project, but is what ultimately made the show the classic that it is.

    As for the movie, this may be the most illogical of them all. These later Gamera movies seem to have moved on from the “destroy Tokyo” spectacle of the first couple and the early Godzilla movies, but what’s left leaves Gamera without much to do.

    BTW, the clip of Josh from the “melon drop” isn’t at all funny, was that the best clip they could find?

       0 likes

  • 14
    Finnias 'Critter' Jones says:

    Dolphin trainer: “Everyone was told to evacuate.”
    Crow: “Sounds painful.”

    Even with the return of Trace and having 3 riffers in the theater, this one is back to the long periods of no comments we found in Gamera v. Barugon, only here the movie is not as good, so the silence proves deadly. There’s also a lot of clicking sounds during the theater segments, presumably from the robot puppets, which is really distracting. The humor does pick up as it goes on, however. This three part riff late in the movie shows the crew are listening to each other and building a joke together:

    Crow: Smoke IN the Water.
    Servo: Fire in the sky.
    Joel: By Deep Turtle.

    The movie is very silly, with lots of laughs coming from the insipid dialogue and poor dubbing (the “Coke girl” is particularly annoying). We do hear Joel utter his first (I think) “Oh Wow!” as the Zigra girl materializes on the rocky beach before hypnotizing some scantily-clad female pearl-divers to get their swimsuits.

    The thing I’ve never understood about this movie is what is that wispy-shark-thing that speaks in the spaceship. Is that Zigra? Or is Zigra a planet? Confusing mythology here. His portentous speeches about the power of invincible sea-creatures connects him with Season Ten’s amphibious Dr. Z.

    Hey, wait a second… where is the final battle culminating with Gamera playing his theme song on Zigra’s fins? It’s in the Season 3 version, but is missing from my KTMA version. What gives?

    A very generous 2 stars from me, mostly for the Zigra girl looking so fine in her various hip-hugging outfits.

    Servo: “Sayonara, Gameronski!”

       1 likes

  • 15
    Skiptastic says:

    Re: Kouban

    “Like most Japanese names, there are many kanji that can be read as “Ken” and are used as names. I think Ken and variations thereon (such as Kenji, Ken’ichi, etc.) is one of the more “generic” or at least widely-used given names in Japanese.”

    Hello! Thank you! I was going to mention this as well. I think it’s funny that people tend to think that it’s always the fault of the film maker, as opposed to thinking that it’s just lazy dubbers.

    In fact, I bet you can blame most of the confusion on poor dubbing in all of these Sandy Frank movies. I mean, Catherine in Time of the Apes comes over to pick up Johnny at his house…then suddenly she becomes his sister when he’s in the Ape world. In the titles of Gamera vs. Guiron, Sandy Frank says one character’s name is Akira, but then the whole movie, the kid’s name is Akio.

       0 likes

  • 16
    Dr. Shoggoth says:

    Zigra is supposed to be a goblin shark:

    http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sharks/world/images/lagoblin.jpeg

    Deep sea fish that live off the coasts of Japan. No idea about the cobwebs, though.

       0 likes

  • 17
    Sampo says:

    Finneas: Either you dozed off or you have a bad dub. It’s on mine.

       0 likes

  • 18
    Cody Himes says:

    I haven’t seen the Japanese version of Gamera vs. Zigra, but it’s very possible that Sandy Frank dubbed the film so that the main Japanese boy was called Kenny. He did the same thing with the original Gamera movie. In the Japanese version, Kenny was “Toshio”. Actually, SF gave most of the characters in that film English names. Also, there are no English lyrics such as “We believe in Gamera”. I think Josh just picked up on a phrase that sounded like that and sang it. It’s similar to the way Kevin’s Servo would say “‘Senorita Gamera?’” in the third season.

       0 likes

  • 19
    Edge10 says:

    Kenichi Ishikawa is the name of a character in the original version. There is also a Dr. Yosuke Ishikawa and a Mrs Ishikawa, so I imagine that is him.

    You guys need to be careful or I might learn something here…

       0 likes

  • 20

    As always I have a video review of this movie here:
    http://blip.tv/file/3910072

       0 likes

  • 21
    JCC says:

    Did the movie even need to be set in 1985?

    “In the intro they appear to look like nuns, while the episodes they look like some biker dudes.”
    =============================================
    More like Chess King managers on their lunch break.

    The S3 version of this episode is one of my all-time fave’s, so much goofiness to riff on.

       0 likes

  • 22
    pablum says:

    >15

    Given that the episode starts off with a UFO attacking a Moon base, the writers figured a plausible near-future date for a Moon base actually existing would be in the then-future year of 1985. At least that’s all I can figure as to why the movie was set 14 years into the future from its production date.

    I suppose in the year 1971, two years after the first Moon landing, many people had the idea in their heads that humans would have a base on the Moon. The movie 2001 A Space Odyssey might also have pushed that idea along.

       0 likes

  • 23
    Finnias 'Critter' Jones says:

    Sampo @ #17 – No I didn’t doze off (I thought I might have and checked my copy before I posted). The version MiqelDotCom linked to above (#7) is also missing this sequence.

       0 likes

  • 24
    Larry says:

    Despite the fact this was IMO the most painful Gamera movie (for me at least), I liked this episode. For some reason, I found myself quoting Josh’s “Mishi” (or was it “Bishi”? Can’t remember & I only have this on VHS, but currently no VCR hooked up) thing from his stand-up clip; One of those things that inexplicably get stuck in your head, I guess.

    Thank God next week is the last Gamera & the KTMAs IMO start picking up (relatively speaking).

       0 likes

  • 25
    jeems says:

    you say you don’t understand the over use of the name kenny. its a common japanese name and its short for Kenshiro its basically like “steve” over there.

       0 likes

  • 26
    mstgator says:

    I last watched the Gamera episodes (in their season 3 versions) nearly ten years ago, and this is the only one I remember (because of the woman chasing the kids around).

    Favorite riff, after the bathyscope is damaged and begins spraying water inside: “Looks like a shower-yscope.”

    Favorite moment: Crow looking up Laura’s skirt while she’s on the staircase. (Yeah, I love the juvenile humor.) Razz

       0 likes

  • 27
    mstgator says:

    • At one point the henchwoman runs by a bunch of guys and they all recognize her as “Laura Lee Barrett.” Why do those guys recognize her?

    Apparently they’re moonbase-dweller groupies.

       0 likes

  • 28
    Cornjob says:

    I grew up with dickweed as an insult. MST is the first time I heard it said on a TV show though.

       0 likes

  • 29

    Never saw this version, only the later. Actually a pretty decent film.

       0 likes

  • 30
    H says:

    I like this one, if only for Trace being back and the first in-show communication from the mads. We could poke holes into the movie all we want, but in the end it’s a kids’ movie. Doesn’t make it acceptable, but the target audience isn’t going to worry about that sort of stuff.

    Oh, and never mind the Melon Drop- why isn’t there any Bob Bagadonuts on youtube, period?

       0 likes

  • 31
    Bobby 23-Skidoo says:

    Joel: Maybe it’s a gumball machine.
    Tom: I like it already.

       0 likes

  • 32
    Slager says:

    I always thought it was Lorelei (albeit pronounced a little oddly), not “Laura Lee”. I just watched the season 3 G vs. Z so it’s fresh in my mind.

       0 likes

  • 33
    jjb3k says:

    @22: Even though the movie was made in 1971, I don’t think Sandy Frank dubbed it until 1985, which is probably where the year discrepancy came from. Just a dubbing company trying to stay topical.

       0 likes

  • 34
    Danny says:

    @20: Hey Lazlow, just wanted to say I really enjoy your videos. Keep up the good work!

       1 likes

  • 35
    Cornjob says:

    I haven’t seen watched this episode recently because I’ve been busy helping some people on facebook create mostly text based Sci-fi Crossover game. It’s a “What of a Borg Cube fought a Death Star?” kind of thing. My particular contribution relates to MST3K related elements. It’s just now being launched. Come and play if you are on Facebook. I coukld also use some help if anyone wants to contribute. Follow this link to check it out:

    http://apps.facebook.com/scifi-crossed-over/

       0 likes

  • 36
    fathermushroom says:

    I don’t really enjoy the Gamera flicks but for this one I make an exception.

    It’s really because Laura Lee is extremely hot. Is she less obvious in the bathing suit than in the spandex? I can’t hear you, I’m too busy admiring her in the bathing suit.

    From the S3 version: Tom: I see London, I see France….
    Crow: I see Heaven!

       1 likes

  • 37
    Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    If I never see that footage of Crow being cryogenicly frozen, it will be too soon.

    Things move along nicely in this ep. The riffing is steady, only stutters a few times. The host segments were “eh” for me, but very cool to see the Mads at the beginning. Dr. F’s voice is weird and as for Dr. Ernhart….. the jury is still out on that guy.

    Another Gamera movie, but at least it’s a goofy flick with that Laura Lee chick running around in it. I agree with fathermushroom; she’s hot.

    Fave riffs: when a bunch of guys are eating, Joel says “Meanwhile at the dolphin buffet,” which got an audible laugh from me. I just watched that documentary The Cove, so that joke hit me hard.

    Also, during the big final throwdown, when Zigra transforms and gets bigger, I think it’s Crow that says, “This is freaking the turtle out”. Hilarious.

       3 likes

  • 38
    MiqelDotCom says:

    Another weird thing about the KTMA Mads is Trace/Forrester’s HAIR! And the generic lab-coat.
    It’s so much cooler and more ‘mad scientist’ in the CC incarnation with the poofy hair and grey streak in the moustache & day-glo green jacket. glad they got him a stylist!

       0 likes

  • 39
    Creepygirl says:

    I too really enjoyed this episode. I don’t believe I’ve seen the S3 GAMERA’s since about 2007. I’m glad to revisit the movies again with the KTMA versions.

    The plot is very out there and I gave up following a linier storyline about half way through. I have always liked the little girl asking for or just mentioning “Wanting a Coke.” If you notice in the last scene as everyone waves and says goodbye to GAMERA, little CokeGirl is holding a bottle of something. It looks more like a Pale Ale than a Coke though.

    After next week I too am looking forward to the shake up of titles. Grin

       0 likes

  • 40
    rcfagnan says:

    Re: Zigra being the name for multiple things…often in Japanese fiction a aliens have the same name as the planet that they hail from. I don’t know if this is a translation thing or not, but here’s my theory: the leader, in this case Zigra, either takes the name of the planet to seem even more improtant or demands that the planet be named after himself. He further indulges his narccissitic (sp?) vanity by naming his personal spacecraft after himself. Whaddaya think sirs?

       0 likes

  • 41
    Smog Monster says:

    Not very good an episode, despite having alot to work with.

       0 likes

  • 42
    dad1153 says:

    This is easily the worst of the Gamera KTMA movies I’ve seen (how many more are left??!!); this version of Kenny and Helen were supremely-annoying brats that Gamera kept getting out of trouble… uh, why? Even though all these Sandy Frank-distributed movies have horrible English translations the dub in this experiment is particularly atrocious (to me anyway), making the already-laughable ‘alien invaders’ storyline almost too insufferable. And, since watching the movie counts as much (if not more) than the riffs during this gestative period of the show, “Gv.Z” should have bored me as much as K-04 and K-05 did. But a funny thing happened: sparse as it was, a few of the riffs from Joel and the Bots actually made me laugh out loud… really, really hard. I’m talking gut-busting laughs that made my co-workers look into my office to see if I was OK. Personal favorite: Gamera upside down thinking (per Servo’s quips) that he’s hit the ceiling of the Ocean (that cracked me up big time). After Joel’s solo effort two experiments ago and the almost-juvenile joy of Tom ‘Mighty Voice’ Servo the previous week having Trace/Crow back in the theater brings a welcome pacing relief (even though Crow starts slow and doesn’t get in the way of Joel and Servo’s constant quips). Throw in the Mad’s first on-camera taunting of J&TB and, along with the “Gaos” experiment from the week before, it already starts to feel like Season 1 “MST3K.” And the consensus is that the KTMA’s get better from here on. Hooray, KTMA “MST3K” is surpassing my lowered expectations and actually entertains me in its own terms. Me likey.

       0 likes