Saturday Afternoon Kaiju: Gorgo (1961)
This week, we’re taking a trip away from the mighty country of Japan to halfway around the world, to the coast of the British Isles. Yes, they also have a problem with the big ass monsters, too. Let’s take a look, shall we?
A salvage ship is parked off the coast of Ireland. There is some treasure down below and the captain, Joe Ryan (Bill Travers), and his little buddy Sam (William Sylvester) are trying to bring it up. An underwater volcano erupts, nearly killing the two men. Their boat is heavily damaged. Captain Ryan is forced to take his ship to a nearby island for repairs.
As they near the island, they can see all sorts of dead marine animals floating about. If they thought what had happened to them was an isolated incident, they don’t anymore. They find out from the harbormaster that, he too, has had run-ins with something in the water. Even some of his crew have gone missing and one even died from “fright”. Something is playing silly buggers with these men.
That something is a 60-some-odd-foot sea creature that looks rather like a dinosaur. It decides to pay the island a visit by coming up in the harbor. The island folk freak out and end up throwing lighted logs at the monster, driving it back into the sea. Of course, Captain Ryan sees pound signs in his eyes. He tells the harbor master that he and his crew will get rid of the monster for him if they are rewarded with some of the treasure they know he has. Turns out the harbormaster is also a treasure hunter.
Captain Ryan and the crew somehow manage to capture the sea creature and tie it down onto the deck of their ship. The harbormaster believes the monster should be studied and has called in some scientists to come collect the creature. Captain Ryan has other plans. He gets a call from a circus in London, they will pay him handsomely to take the creature off his hands so, of course, he decides to do the deal with the circus. He and his crew set off to deliver the creature to London. Captain Ryan sails his boat right up the Thames where throngs of people are waiting to see this new attraction. The circus has dubbed the creature Gorgo. They put the poor thing on a flat bad truck and drive it through the city to Battersea Park as an advertisement for the circus.
Naturally, the scientific community is upset. They want to do a full study on the creature. They think it could pose a hazard to people. Ryan and the circus decide to let the scientists study Gorgo but only after he’s been on display to the public. Gorgo is pissed off. He’s been tied down for days and then gets put into a giant pit so that people can stare at him. The scientists discover that Gorgo is just a wee baby and that an even bigger creature is out there somewhere. Mummy?
The government gets involved and tries to find Gorgo’s mama, Ogra. Boy, do they find her. All 200+ feet of her. She is more than angry. She wants revenge. Some think they should just set Gorgo free, others say no way, let’s make more of that cash. Ogra just wants her baby back so she sets off for London to rescue Gorgo.
There’s something fun about seeing another major city destroyed instead of Tokyo. Ogra Goes to Parliament has a nice ring. Humans are so greedy. If only Captain Ryan had just been satisfied with a few gold coin. But, no, he’s got to mess with Mother Nature. Sigh. When will people learn?
Yes, of course this is a rip-off (some say homage) to the Godzilla movies. It doesn’t quite have the charm of those pictures but it’s worth a watch nonetheless. No one can match Toho Studios miniature work but the makers of Gorgo give it a good try. The effects are done well. The film does feel a bit plodding and rather dry at times, but you don’t have to wait 45 minutes to see any creature action so that’s a bonus. Again, it’s fun to see England receive the full monster rampage treatment.