The Mighty Gorga
U.S.A. / 1969
Directed by David L. Hewitt
Starring
Anthony Eisley
Megan Timothy
Scott Brady
Color / 85 Minutes / Not Rated
Format: DVD
Double Feature Disc / R1 - NTSC
Something Weird Video
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Review by
Brian Lindsey
 
4
    6   10 = Highest Rating  
Could it be? The Worst Movie of All Time?
    I don't make the accusation lightly, having suffered through The Creeping Terror and Manos: The Hands of Fate. Mighty Gorga definitely belongs in that infamous league. It's stupendously, mind-numbingly awful, a flick that prompts the viewer to not only question the sanity of the filmmakers but one's own psychological state as well. Unless you consider yourself a die-hard lover of Industrial Strength Cheese it should be avoided at all costs the pain would be unbearable. (I suspect the film's effect on the "average" person would be akin to that of some deadly nerve agent.) For those made of stronger stuff, who gleefully expose their brain to I.Q.-sapping atrocities like this as a test of their movie-watching mettle (the cinematic equivalent of firewalking through hot coals), then Mighty Gorga should prove an unforgettable experience. Yes, you'll laugh, all right the flick offers some choice moments of unintentional humor. But at what price to one's psyche?
    Bargain rate leading man Anthony Eisley (Dracula vs. Frankenstein, The Doll Squad) stars as Mark Remington, a chain-smoking, cash-strapped entrepreneur who's desperate to save his struggling circus from going under. He reasons that only a spectacular new attraction, unlike anything the public has ever seen, can get his company ledgers back in the black. Gambling everything, he scrapes up enough money for a trip to Africa. He hopes to contact "Tonga Jack" Adams, an animal trapper who wrote to him about the legend of a giant ape creature living in an unexplored region of the Congo. If true, Mark plans to capture the beast and take it back with him to America. A real-life "King Kong" would have the kiddies lined up for miles to buy tickets to his circus.
DVD Viewing Tip SKIP CHAPTER 3 ENTIRELY. It chronicles Mark's flight to and arrival in "Africa". So we get some stock footage of a jetliner taking off, flying and landing. And where does Mark go as soon as he touches down in the mysterious Dark Continent? A zoo. (Obviously in California.) He wanders around a bit while we get a look at the animals. No black folks are anywhere to be seen (...it's Africa, remember?). He meets an old pal, the zoo director (a white guy with an American accent), who tells him how to find Tonga Jack's place. That's it the entire chapter. This section of the movie serves absolutely no purpose other than to pointlessly pad the running time, not to mention rob you of 5 minutes of your life. So skip it! (Sorry to interrupt for the Public Service Announcement; we now return you to our regularly scheduled review...)
    Mark arrives at Tonga Jack's compound to learn that the trapper has been missing for many months, ever since setting out on an ill-fated safari. Jack's snooty daughter April (Brit brunette Megan Timothy) has been running the business ever since. Like Mark she's under severe financial pressure. A rival trapper, the unscrupulous Morgan (Hell's Bloody Devils' Scott Brady), covets the compound but April won't sell. When Morgan torches her animals (I did say he was unscrupulous!) April is left with little choice but to team up with Mark. He offers to share the wealth if the giant gorilla can be captured and brought back to civilization. The promise of a fabulous treasure guarded by the legendary ape adds luster to the proposition. She also hopes to learn the fate of her missing father. Accompanied by April's trusty manservant George and two native bearers the only three black people seen in a film almost entirely set in Africa she and Mark head out into the jungle. (Actually a patch of woods in Simi Valley, CA.) A sketch map made by Tonga Jack during an earlier expedition points the way. Unknown to the group, the unscrupulous Morgan is tailing them on their trek.
    And trek they do, for what seems a bleedin' eternity. Mark smokes a lot; April acts all haughty and stuff. Skulls stuck on poles frighten away the bearers. But just when you think you simply can't take it anymore the movie gets deliriously goofy. Leaving trusty George to guard their campsite, our matching khaki duo forges on to the slopes of a towering plateau. They climb around a dreadful matte shot (into which the top of Mark's head has a tendency to disappear) with occasional stops on the way for April to flip her hair. At the summit they discover a lost prehistoric world, so indicated by a handful of colorful fake flowers strategically placed here and there. Upon stumbling across a clutch of basketball-sized eggs, Mark and April are attacked by a dinosaur
and I must admit I had to back up the disc to make sure of what I was seeing. Eisley gamely works his bolt action rifle on one side of a split screen, while on the other a plastic toy dinosaur is wiggled back and forth in the foreground. I am not making this up. (When your special effects make the notorious "carpet monster" of Creeping Terror fame look good, you know you're in trouble.) Fortunately for Mark and April the Mighty Gorga himself intervenes, wrestling the rubber T-Rex while they make their escape.
    Ah, yes... It seems I've neglected poor Gorga. Since the invention of the medium schlock films have suffered from less-than-convincing ape suits, but this one just may take the cake. For one thing, he's never shown from the chest down. (They probably didn't have a full costume.) The ratty fur would look more appropriate adorning a yak's hump. And the fixed, staring eyeballs are permanently stuck looking to the left
it's a wonder the poor beast can walk a straight line. But regardless of his not-so-fearsome appearance Gorga is worshipped as a god by the plateau's human denizens, a prehistoric tribe who periodically sacrifice maidens to appease him. The tribe is led by a beefy witchdoctor (Bruce Kimball) who's constantly inveighing against the intrusion of the greedy White Man... even though he and all the Stone Age villagers are themselves white. (The witchdoctor, by the way, provides a good many of the laughs. Some of his dialog is absolutely hysterical; Something Weird even uses a snippet of it for the disc's Main Menu screen.)
    This cliffhanging adventure thriller (yeah... right) is eventually resolved with a revelation about April's dad, a detour to Ro-Man's cave in Bronson Canyon, some stock footage of a volcanic eruption, and a confrontation with the unscrupulous Morgan. Not that you'll care one bit, of course. Poor Anthony Eisley... He actually attempts to deliver a performance most of the time, oblivious of the future ignominy of having this crapfest listed on his filmography. Such dedication to one's craft is commendable, though sadly
in this case a thoroughly pointless exercise. He couldn't have been paid very much; perhaps they chucked in a few cartons of smokes on top of his fee. In salute to his indomitable spirit I'm adding 2 whole points to my film rating. (Besides, I'm an Eisley fan from all those guest-starring roles on Dragnet. And just when is Navy vs. the Night Monsters going to make it to DVD, anyway?) Combined with an additional point for the movie's "I Can't Believe This Was Actually Made!" factor, Mighty Gorga distinguishes itself by miraculously not qualifying for EC's 1-Point Cinematic Shit List. But you have been warned.

The Mighty Gorga comes to DVD as part of a Something Weird double feature disc pairing the not-so-epic ape adventure with One Million AC/DC, a 1969 softcore caveman farce written by none other than Ed "Plan 9 from Outer Space" Wood himself. Sorry Ed, but I couldn't get through even the first 10 minutes of it despite the plethora of naked females on display. (Thus earning the DVD a "Bare Flesh" icon.) Completely removed from the G-rated antics of its co-feature, One Million AC/DC is nothing but wall-to-wall nudity that's anything but sexy, held together with little bits of dried excrement that are supposed to be "jokes". The flick is so bad I'm not even bothering to review it here. Hey...like I'm not that desperate to see titties, okay? Best now we skip right along to the A/V specs and a description of the extras.
    No one is actually trying to digitally restore films like this why bother? so in that regard, Gorga doesn't look half bad. Though blighted with occasional print damage the fullframe video transfer boasts vibrant color. Sound quality was pretty good considering the wretched equipment used to make the film in the first place. (During a discussion between Mark and April at the compound the camera is clattering so loudly it almost drowns out the live dialog.) From what I saw of One Million AC/DC I'd rate its technical qualities about the same, i.e. acceptable.

    Since this is a Something Weird DVD you can expect a bunch of extras. There are three short subjects: Nightmare, a dumb amateur film made by a teenager in the 1970s with a home movie camera (and which features a claymation dinosaur, presumably its reason for being included here); Diane the Jungle Girl and Her Gorilla of Love, a lame B&W clip of a stripper (who doesn't get naked) and a guy in a Gorga-quality ape suit; and Prehistoric Daze, a "nudie cutie" romp from the '60s showcasing the fleshy charms of some comely, skinny dipping cavegirls. On top of these are a whopping 9 trailers, among them such "big dumb monster" pics as Bert I. Gordon's The Cyclops, Lippert's Lost Continent, Valley of the Dragons, The Loch Ness Terror, Equinox, and the Spanish-language La Isla de los Dinosaurios. Inexplicably, trailers for the Mexican kids' fantasy Tom Thumb and a Eurohorror import about invisible demons, The Sound of Horror, are thrown in as well. Alas no trailer for Mighty Gorga though the promo for One Million AC/DC is included. (All of 'em look pretty ragged.) The disc also boasts another edition of the always amusing Gallery of Amazing Trash-O-Rama Exploitation Art & Radio Spot Rarites. (Note: You can find a cute, ape-themed easter egg hidden to the upper right of the Main Menu screen.) 8/14/02
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