Tuesday, July 1, 2008

London Calling: Gorgo(1960)

Older fans of giant monster movies are no doubt familiar with the various films starring these giant creatures, and without familiar Japanese "kaiju" like Godzilla and Gamera. Movies like 1967's The X From Outer Space and Gappa(aka "Monster From A Prehistoric Planet"), Mothra(1961) and Varan The Unbelievable(1958) immediately come to mind. One such giant movie that may not be as familiar to young(er) fans of the genre is Gorgo(1960), a movie produced by Frank and Maurice King and directed by Eugene Lourie. Like other films of the genre the monsters in this feature are rendered through the use of suit actors.
The film's story is fairly straightforward: a salvage vessel and her crew manage to capture a sixty foot tall marine reptilian like creature off the coast of Ireland. The creature is brought back to London and put on display at a local circus for profit. Unbeknownst to all but a pair of scientists, the captive marine monster is not fully grown and is actually an infant. Subsequently, the creature's parent, a 250 foot tall leviathan, appears at the island where it's "baby" was captured, then makes its way to London, where it proceeds to demolish the famous city in search of it's offspring.
Many of the special effects in this film are dated and would not impress by the standards, and technology today regarding visuals. Still, and like many other movies in this genre, Gorgo possesses a certain charm. The opening score for the movie is very majestic. The roars of the monsters are also unique and sound quite reasonable given the nature, and marine environment in which these creatures apparently lived.
To add some credibility to this film, established actors William Sylvester and Bill Travers were signed on, portraying "Sam Slade" ad "Joe Ryan", respectively.
The first region 1 DVD of this movie, released by VCI Entertainment, presented the film in a 1:66.1 aspect ratio, prompting some complaints of image compression(especially the opening credits). A newer edition R1 DVD was released by VCI that "corrects"(so to speak) the aspect ratio to 1:78.1 and includes improved audio and a few more DVD extras. The movie can be purchased at a very affordable price either directly from VCI's website or from internet vendors like DeepDiscount or Amazon.
The movie debuted theatrically in Japan in December of 1960 and would later arrive in American and British theaters in 1961.
The trailer for Gorgo(1960):