Gorgo (1961)

Gorgo (1961)

Neither Bombs, Bullets, Jets or Rockets Can Stop Gorgo…But This Little Boy Knew His Secret!

Fishermen discover a giant monster off the Irish coast and take it to London where it is to be put on display in a circus. However what no one realises is that the monster is in fact an infant and it’s mother, who is almost ten times bigger, soon comes looking for it, leaving a trail of destruction wherever it goes.

 

In the pantheon of cinematic giant monsters there are some iconic figures. The Americans had King Kong. The Japanese had Godzilla. The British seem to have pulled the short straw with Gorgo. Actually maybe Denmark did with Reptilicus but these two are hardly top-of-the-range monsters. Penned after the popularity of the giant monster phase of the late 50s, Gorgo at least has some decent pedigree. Director Eugène Lourié was no stranger to the giant monster genre, having helmed the successful The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms a few years earlier and then the lesser-known The Giant Behemoth. But even the novelty of seeing London take a beating from a giant monster for a change can’t really disguise the fact that Gorgo is middling entertainment, good for a laugh and chuckle at how things were back in the day.

Looking back on it after a second viewing, Gorgo wasn’t that bad and it could have been a lot worse. The monster scenes are alright but the story seems to lack any sort of urgency. It’s pretty flat, dull and rather un-involving where the human characters aren’t interesting in the slightest and everything goes at a leisurely pace, even Gorgo when she’s wading through London. You could say it’s typically British and I could imagine one of the some stiff upper-lipped character calming saying something like “Dear me, there’s a giant monster destroying London. Whatever should we do, chaps?”

Perhaps Gorgo tries a bit too hard to challenge the likes of Godzilla and copies from it a little too much at times. Interestingly the title creature isn’t just a by-product of atomic testing but simply something which has never been discovered before. Having Gorgo trash London in the search for her baby is a little more touching and heart-rendering than simply having Godzilla smash up Japan because he’s angry. This adds a little ‘humanity’ to the monsters here which is a nice touch.

My pet hate about Gorgo and something which really spoils the film is the awful editing and continuity which hampered many of the Japanese kaiju films and is something I wouldn’t have expected as much from a British production from the 60s. When the camera shows the monster, it’s trashing London at night. But when it switches to the stock footage of the planes flying to attack, it’s day time. Did anyone ever hear of continuity? Plenty of model cars and miniature buildings get wasted and a lot of people run around screaming. You know the drill with big monster films. Instead of Tokyo, it’s London getting wasted this time so it makes a change seeing famous English landmarks being laid waste to as opposed to the Tokyo Tower being destroyed for the tenth time! Gorgo sticks to the drill and doesn’t do anything different in the slightest. The monster suit doesn’t look too bad but it’s so obvious that these are miniature cities getting wasted and no one seemed to try and even make them look remotely realistic. Apparently Lourié tried to recruit Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen to provide stop motion special effects but had to settle for the man-in-a-suit route instead.

 

Gorgo isn’t anything special and is more for kids than Godzilla or King Kong were but at least London finally got a stomping after New York and Tokyo have been smashed for so long. A Saturday afternoon timewaster if there ever was one.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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