Review by Ryan
= Highest Rating
the giant monster movie — what could arguably be called the
pinnacle of cultdom. With their trademark cheesy effects and
preposterous plots, the general public is quick to turn their
nose up at thought of popping such a film into their DVD player.
But for the select few, for those who like their monsters big,
loud and destructive... these are the people for whom Gorgo
a small crew of opportunistic treasure hunters find their latest
salvage mission disturbed by seismic activity off the Irish
coast, it doesn't take them long to realize the local villagers
have more on their mind than a little water damage. It seems
the underwater rumblings have released a prehistoric creature
intent on leveling their quaint little village. But one man's
tragedy is another man's bread and butter; our heroes offer
to take care of the pesky reptile. That is, for a price.
With a little ingenuity
they are able of subdue the beast and dope him up with enough
tranquilizer to keep him cordial for a journey overseas. Gorgo
is then used as a showpiece, paraded though the heart of London
as a tourist attraction. Things are going well; tickets are
being sold and with the exception of only a few naysayers, everyone
seems happy to make Gorgo a permanent fixture in the British
circus. Unfortunately, one of the protesters is more aggressive
about voicing her objections... Gorgo's mother.
You could accuse Gorgo
of being a British rehash of Godzilla
that suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and you wouldn't
exactly be wrong, but at least it's a good British rehash of
Godzilla that suffers from Attention
Deficit Disorder. With a tight running time of under 76 minutes,
we're quickly thrown into the action. Little time is wasted
developing characters or explaining the who, what, when, where
or whys of the plot and really, these are only barely missed.
Gorgo is not a film of logic or
deep purpose — it's a cheap thrill. As such, you could do a
The trailer is not
shy about touting the fact that the special effects are the
work of two-time Academy Award winner Tom Howard, who won Oscar
gold for 1947's Blithe Spirit and
1959's Tom Thumb. I'm sure it cost
the producers a pretty penny to bring Mr. Howard aboard, but
it was money well spent. If ever there were a sci-fi sub-genre
that depended on decent effects to bring an audience into the
theaters and keep them there, it would be the giant monster
There is one glaring
fault in the movie, though, one that cannot go unmentioned.
The film is perpetually anticlimactic. It seems every time Gorgo
gets himself worked up enough to cause some serious damage,
the action is cut short. Not only that but, half the time, we
don't even get to see how the problem was solved. Gorgo just
begins to start some serious trouble and it cuts to a board
meeting, or an otherwise bland environment, where someone says
something like, "It's a good thing we were able to stop
him in time." Perhaps the filmmakers were on damage
control, reserving the real demolition for the finale. This
would make sense but at least give us a punch line. Some sort
of closure to the scene before moving on.
This problem aside,
Gorgo is what it aims to be: a
fairly entertaining, well constructed, tightly knit gargantuan-lizard-on-the-loose
film. Perhaps if you have some friends you've been meaning to
introduce to the genre, this would be a great place to start.
Even if it's not their style, with such a short running time,
they won't be able to voice their objection before it's over.
2005 Destruction Edition of Gorgo
is presented in 1.85:1 (non-anamorphic) widescreen, restoring
it to the scope of its original exhibition. This is a step up
from the fullframe presentation that fans have been limited to
for so long. While source elements leave much to be desired, the
film probably hasn't been seen this clearly since Gorgo
first went rampaging through theaters back in '61. The soundtrack
however, is another matter. Sound is maintained in the original
Mono and the dialogue is clear on both audio tracks (English and
French dubbed). The problem is that when played over a quality
stereo, small arms and automatic gun fire sound more like the
distorted clicking of an antique typewriter than the echoes of
battle. This is perhaps most noticeable and distracting because
the lows translate so well, providing a surprising amount of rumble
for a film nearly fifty years old.
The extras are rather
standard-issue equipment, with animated menus, scene selection
and cast and crew bios/filmographies. Fans will want to check
out the behind-the-scenes mini-documentary which details Gorgo's
conceptual origins and why the ending is unconventionally kinder
to the monsters than expected. Logically, the original theatrical
trailer for Gorgo is included, along
with a bizarre but eclectic mix of trailers for other VCI releases...
Everything from 1964's giallo offering from Mario Bava,
Blood and Black Lace, to the low
budget horrors of a B&W thriller entitled City
of the Dead (AKA Horror Hotel)
from 1960. The third promo looks to be what must have passed for
a Red Band trailer back in 1977, a clearly Exorcist-influenced
flick called Ruby. Interestingly,
the trailer for Horrors
of the Black Museum is offered in "Hypno-vision",
which supposedly "puts you in the picture!"...
Gimmick, anyone? Last but not least we have a trailer for Dario
With the Crystal Plumage (1970).
the DVD may be subpar for this day and age but genre fans will
find it a welcome addition to their collection.
And it's cheap. 7/09/09
In March 2013 VCI will issue a newly restored/remastered
edition of Gorgo on both DVD and
Blu-ray, to include a plethora of bonus material.