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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: GORGO (1961)

As many of you know, my son and I are watching 70+ kaiju/tokusatsu films in preparation for the new Godzilla film, due in May. We’ve made our way down the big list to the Brits’ attempt at a kaiju film, Gorgo (1961).

I’ll give my thoughts first:
We’re coming into a period of films where the mood begins to lighten. The kaiju, as we’ll see, are being made into the heroes of the movies and there’s a greater sense of fun. Since Gorgo isn’t a part of the Toho family, it’s unaware of this tonal shift and maintains a dreary and grim tone. 
TL;DR: Gorgo isn’t much fun. 
The attack on London is extended and fairly brutal. We see hundreds of people die in falling rubble, a flooded underground tube, and so on. One of the lead characters, feeling guilty over what’s happened, loses himself in alcohol. If you want to see Gorgo in a fun light, watch the ninth season episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that features it (see below). 
Grim isn’t a bad mood for a monster movie to have (see 1954’s Gojira) but it helps if there’s a point for it. In Gojira, there was a message about nuclear testing, proliferation, war, etc. In Gorgo, … um. Don’t put animals on display? The standard “hubris of man” thing? Leave nature alone? It’s hard to say. 
When Dr. Heywood Floyd isn’t drowning his troubles, there’s a lengthy bit near the middle when stock footage assaults the mother Gorgo. Oddly, most of the footage depicts American planes and ships despite the efforts supposedly being British. 
All that being said, the effects in Gorgo are among the best of this era. The myriad scenes of debris falling on people, bodies being flung from London Bridge, the destruction of Big Ben and Picadilly Circus … It all looks good. Unfortunately, the monster itself and the suit isn’t so hot. And the performer inside … there are a few times it seems as though he’s posing or moving in an odd way so that he can see his way out of the eyeholes. 
Gorgo … much of the death and destruction could have been avoided if they just let the stupid kid monster go. 3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
And here’s James:
I thought it was good,and it reminded me of JAWS 3, with the baby at the beginning, and the parent picking up the kid at the end. 
But everyone was killing themselves trying to run away, people falling down stairs, people throwing people out of windows, everything was just chaos! 
And it all so reminded me of The Valley Of Gwangi because they, you know what, just watch the movie yourself!! So, i’ll give it 4.2 atomic breaths of awesomeness!!!
The trailer:

A selection of moments from the MST3K episode:

Up next, Konga.

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