Zeiram

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For the Nephite spy in the Book of Mormon, see Zeram (Book of Mormon).
Zeiram
Zeiram.jpg
Directed by Keita Amemiya
Produced by Hiroshi Ichida
Shigeki Takeuchi
Written by Keita Amemiya
Hajime Matsumoto
Starring Yûko Moriyama
Kunihiro Ida
Yukijiro Hotaru
Music by Hirokazu Ohta
Cinematography Hiroshi Kidokoro
Distributed by Toho Company
Release dates
  • February 21, 1991 (1991-02-21)

Zeiram (ゼイラム Zeiramu?) also known as Zeram, is a 1991 Japanese live-action movie in which the bounty hunter from another planet named Iria (Yūko Moriyama) comes to Earth to do battle with Zeiram, an immortal alien creature with a strangely shaped head which resembles a wide-brimmed hat. Along with two ordinary Japanese electricians, she and Zeiram become trapped in an artificial dimension called the Zone, and have only a limited amount of time to finish their battle. The film Zeiram was followed by a live-action sequel, Zeiram 2, as well as an OVA prequel miniseries called Iria: Zeiram the Animation and two videogames, Hyper Iria and Zeiram Zone.

The Zeiram series was created by Keita Amemiya, known for his work as both a director and an illustrator. Zeiram, like many of Amemiya's other works such as Mirai Ninja and Hagane, has a very distinctive visual style that incorporates traditional Eastern motifs and symbolism with science-fiction concepts. Amemiya has himself said that Zeiram's rather striking appearance was inspired by the image of a lone traveler in a straw hat and cloak that was common in the Japanese period dramas he watched as a child. He was also inspired by The Terminator to create an unstoppable villain which changes its form but never dies.

Plot summary[edit]

Zeiram (Mizuho Yoshida) is an alien of unknown origin. It appears to be a very large, imposing humanoid wearing a wide, circular hat and a ragged cloak, and its appearance is usually accompanied by an eerie chant. However, its true form is actually the small Noh-like face on its hat. This face is its only weak point; the rest of the body is almost indestructible and regenerates quickly as long as Zeiram is able to feed, which it does by extending the little face on the end of a fleshy tentacle to take bites out of people. By doing this, it also absorbs the genetic material of its victims, which it uses to generate smaller, weaker monsters to do its bidding. These monsters seem to be partial clones of whoever's genetic material was used in their creation (in Zeiram 2, a dog is killed by Zeiram and the resulting monster looks vaguely like a weird dog alien). Zeiram itself is able to change its own form to a large degree, and appears in many different forms throughout the series. It can produce many different weapons such as guns and swords from its body, although these are probably weapons taken from its victims and stored inside itself. In addition to consuming organic tissue through its core, if it sustains enough damage, Zeiram is able to ingest a victim's entire body, keeping that person alive for some time inside itself while it digests them, regenerating itself and drawing on their genetic material and even their memories to create more advanced clones.

Although the core face is Zeiram's only weak point, even that may be impossible to permanently destroy. In Zeiram 2, the creature's core, which was presumed dead, is recovered by a shadowy organisation which installs it as the organic core of a robotic supersoldier. This new cyborg Zeiram starts out bearing a mild resemblance to its precursor, before it lost the hat and cloak in favour of an appearance patterned after a classic Japanese fox-spirit, or kitsune. The actual core of Zeiram is visible on the robot's stomach. Naturally, even in an artificial body Zeiram cannot be controlled, and it goes on a killing spree. It is possible that Zeiram itself is partly biomechanical, since even in IRIA it is shown to be able to infect and control computers.

Although Zeiram is usually referred to as a male, the face which serves as its core seems to be female. Indeed, some of its mutations quite visibly possess female breasts. Its partially regenerated appearance in Zeiram 2 might suggest that its original form was that of a miniature female humanoid.

Zeiram is reasonably intelligent although it doesn't seem to be able to speak or understand human language. Just how intelligent is up for debate, since it spends most of its time mindlessly killing everything in sight.

English Dub release[edit]

The English dubbed release of the film titled it Zeram and simplified the pronunciation of the name, for the North American release. It was produced by Streamline Pictures for Fox Lorber Video, and atypically, placed a card at the end of the film identifying the members of the dubbing cast. It was retroactively added to the Mondo Pop label, though it was not packaged as such. Both Zeiram movies and the Iria OVA are currently available (in the original Japanese) on DVD from Media Blasters.

Cast[edit]

Role Japan Actor (Original) United States English Dubbing
Iria Yûko Moriyama Edie Mirman
Tepphei Kunihiro Ida Unknown
Kamiya Yukijiro Hotaru Robert Axelrod
Bob Masakazu Handa Jeff Winkless
Murata Yukitomo Tochino Steve Kramer
Store Manager Naomi Enami Jeff Winkless

English dubbing staff[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]