Sunday, 29 May 2016

Gorgo (1961)


Gorgo is a rare British excursion into kaiju, the genre usually associated with Godzilla, where huge seemingly indestructible monsters smash up major international cities. The two dimensional human characters are more than made up for by the sympathetic monsters, fast paced script and competent special effects.

A huge volcano erupts off the coast of Ireland, nearly sinking a salvage ship working nearby. While awaiting repairs on a nearby island, Captain Joe Ryan (Bill Travers) and first officer, Sam Slade (William Sylvester of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame) hear tales of a giant monster and mysterious deaths and disappearances amongst the fisherman of the island. When they discover that the monster is all too real, the pair and their crew manage not only to capture it, but also transport the creature to be shown off in a circus, where it is named "Gorgo" - but a group of scientists thing the 65 foot tall Gorgo may only be a youngster, and his mother is three times that size, and wants her child back.

The script with a plot straight from the Toho studios template, with a bit of King Kong thrown in as well is competent if unoriginal. The main point of interest is how unsympathetic the two main characters are, driven by greed, blind to the consequences until it's far too late, although Ryan gets to redeem himself by saving a cute little orphan boy. By contrast Gorgo and his mother, like King Kong are likeable, despite the destruction they cause, because of the treatment they have received from human beings

Director Eugene Lourie keeps things moving along in an entertaining way, and the scenes of panicking crowds as London gets smashed up are full of nervous energy and hysteria, with lots of handheld shots, close-ups and fast cutting. The special effects are also borrowed from Japan, with a man in a rubber suit stomping models of famous landmarks into the ground.

These scenes of destruction are even more interesting when put in an historical context. The film was released 20 years after the Blitz saw Nazi bombs raining down on England and right in the middle of the Cold War, when the end of the world could be around the corner. Filmmakers and film goers were eager to explore any potential apocalypse, are still are, but always seemed to prefer doing so in a fantasy context.


Gorgo (1961) Full Movie by TheCryptoCrew