Gorgo (film)

Gorgo (film)

1961 Movie poster
Directed by Eugène Lourié
Produced by Wilfred Eades
Herman King
Written by Robert L. Richards
Daniel James
Eugène Lourié
Starring Bill Travers
William Sylvester
Vincent Winter
Music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
Cinematography Freddie Young
Editing by Eric Boyd-Perkins
Distributed by United States:
United Kingdom:
British Lion-Columbia Ltd
Release date(s) United States:
March 29, 1961
United Kingdom:
October 27, 1961
Running time 72 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English, Irish

Gorgo is a 1961 British Giant monster movie. Directed by Eugène Lourié, it tells the story of an underwater monster's capture off the coast of Ireland. The monster is taken to London to be featured as a circus attraction. The film borrows elements from other monster movies, such as Godzilla and King Kong. It was also featured in an episode of the cult movie-mocking television show Mystery Science Theater 3000.



Captain Joe Ryan is salvaging for treasure off the coast of Ireland, when a volcano erupts, nearly sinking his ship. Ryan and his first officer, Sam Slade, take the ship to Nara Island for repairs. As they enter harbour, they discover the floating carcasses of marine animals, the first hint that something dangerous was awakened by the volcano eruption.

Ryan and Slade consult the harbour master, who also has archeological pretensions: he has been salvaging a Viking longship in the harbour. Some of his men have disappeared mysteriously; it turns out that one has died of fear. After dark, a monstrous creature surfaces, attacks a group of fishermen, then comes ashore to wreak havoc on the island. This dinosaur-like creature is described as being 65 feet tall. The people of the island finally drive it off.

Ryan and his crew manage to capture the monster and haul it aboard their ship, tying it to the deck. Soon, university scientists arrive on Nara, hoping to collect the monster for study, but Ryan has been offered a better deal by the owner of a circus in London. When the ship arrives in London, the circus owner names it "Gorgo", after the Gorgons of Classical mythology. (A dinosaur called Gorgosaurus that has a strong similarity to the Gorgo creature in this film had been previously described as well; whether or not this dinosaur is related to the naming of the film or the monster in it is uncertain). It is exhibited to the public in Battersea Park.

The scientists examine Gorgo, and conclude that he is not yet an adult, and that his mother must be nearly 200 feet tall. On that note of foreboding, we cut to Nara Island as Gorgo's mother ("Ogra") attacks. Ogra trashes the island, sinks a Royal Navy destroyer, and resists attack from other warships. Later, Ogra comes ashore in London, still looking for her son, and destroys Tower Bridge and Big Ben, despite being bombarded by tanks and infantry. Royal Air Force jets attack Ogra, but with no effect. Having demolished much of London, Ogra rescues Gorgo, and both mother and son return to the sea.



The film was originally set to take place in Japan; this was then changed to France, and then finally changed to the UK. According to Bill Warren's film book Keep Watching the Skies, Australia was also considered for a locale, but the producers supposedly decided that audiences "wouldn't care" if a monster attacked Australia; Australia's alleged lack of worldwide recognizable landmarks for Gorgo to destroy was also cited as a consideration.

The location where Gorgo first appears, the fictional Nara Island, is likely a tribute to the Godzilla series; Nara being a historical period of Japan: alternatively, it may be an anagram for the Aran Islands, off Ireland's west coast. The exterior scenes set in Ireland were filmed at Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbour, both near the County Dublin town of Dalkey. Other scenes were filmed at the MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood in Hertfordshire.[1]

Scenes where Gorgo is driven through the streets of London were shot on a Sunday morning when there was no traffic. The film studio wanted Gorgo to fight the military despite director Eugène Lourié's objections. Later, Lourié would acquire a print of the film and remove the footage.

Gorgo's special effects were achieved by suitmation and miniaturization, a technique pioneered in the Godzilla films. The younger Gorgo was smaller than usual giant monsters so the sets around him were built to a larger scale leading to a greater sense of realism and believability. The creatures were also shot with then-pricey slow-motion cameras to create a sense of scale. The effects were complex and are well respected by special effects artists and fans. The film is also sometimes praised for its innovative ending, which seems to have an environmentalist moral. Unusually for such films, the monsters, which are presented as innocent victims of human interference, survive and prevail.

Novel and comic

Gorgo battles "The Venusian Terror". From issue #10 of the Gorgo comic published by Charlton Comics.

A novelization of the film was released in paperback at the time of its original release (Gorgo by Carson Bingham (Monarch, 1960)).

From 1961 to 1965 Charlton Comics published 23 issues of the comic Gorgo[2]. It included work by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko. The series was renamed Fantastic Giants with issue #24[3] which turned out to be the last issue of the series.

Gorgo also appeared in a three issue mini-series that started off as Gorgo's Revenge[4], before it was renamed The Return of Gorgo with issue #2[5]. The series ran from 1962-1964.

Some of these issues were reprinted (in black and white) in a trade paperback in 2011 called Angry Apes n' Leapin Lizards.[6]

Popular Culture

In 1998 the film was featured on the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, but the rights quickly expired and the episode only had two airings.

Gorgo was used by rock band Ash (band) for the promo video for Ichiban. It was the seventh release of their A to Z singles series, a year long twenty six single subscription. Using a copy of the DVD and free movie editing software allegedly the video only cost eight dollars to produce.

A snippet from the movie can also be seen in the Robin Williams movie, Flubber. The same scene also shows snippets from the original versions of The Blob and The Fly.

In 2010, a short comedy film, Waiting for Gorgo, was produced by Cinemagine. The film was directed by Benjamin Craig and written by M. J. Simpson. The plot focusses on the D.M.O.A, fictitious British government agency charged with preventing the return of the monster, Gorgo.

A clip from the movie can be seen in one episode of the t.v series Everybody Hates Chris.


External links

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