In Your Humble Reviewer’s opinion, one of the most underappreciated reissue programs of last year in the DVD world was Shout Factory’s line of remastered Gamera films. They offered anamorphic, high-definition transfers of film that were previously available only in cropped, fuzzy-looking editions from grey market video companies. Only the first two releases had extras but they all looked and sounded great, finally doing justice to this least respected of kaiju-eiga series.
This series comes to close with this disc, which pairs the last of the original films – Gamera Vs. Zigra and Gamera: Super Monster – on one disc. Both are presented in new transfers that recreate their respective ratios – 2.35:1 for Zigra, 1.78:1 for Super. Each looks nice and offers a big improvement over the washed-out, pan-and-scan versions fans are used to see in the U.S. The results aren’t as arresting in terms of color or detail as earlier releases in this series but the diminished budgets of each film probably have a lot to do with that (in this remastering, the shot-on-video,transferred-to-film effects in the new sections of Gamera: Super Monster really jump out at the viewer because the film-only parts look so much better).
As for audio options, both Japanese and English soundtracks are offered. The Japanese tracks have a nice smooth sound and easy-to-read English subs are provided for each. The English tracks sport suitably goofball dubbing that will entertain the viewers who became acquainted with these films via Mystery Science Theater 3000. The English dub on Gamera: Super Monster unfortunately has a muffled, noisy quality to it. It’s unfortunate a better source couldn’t be found but it’s nice to have it included nonetheless.
Extras for both films are limited to brief publicity and behind-the-scenes image galleries. It would have been nice to have a trailer or maybe even a commentary like the info-packed August Ragone commentaries on Shout! Factory’s first two Gamera discs. However, the image galleries look good and offer some interesting viewing material for series fans.
To sum up, this disc of Gamera Vs. Zigra/Gamera: Super Monster offers a nice upgrade for both these titles. While more extras would have been nice, having two solid transfers on one disc is a nice extra in itself – and it offers a worthwhile finale to this DVD series.