Release Date: January 10th, 1961 (Japan)
Directed by: Eugène Lourié
Written by: Robert L. Richards, Daniel James, Eugène Lourié
Music by: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
Cast: Bill Travers, William Sylvester, Vincent Winter
King Brothers Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, British Lion-Columbia Ltd., 78 Minutes
This is a kaiju film that was released in Japan first. Yet, it isn’t Japanese, it is actually British.
It was also featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, even though it doesn’t really fit their usual mold of bad movies. That is further reflected by the fact that the cast wasn’t miserable after the movie ended and guest star Leonard Maltin admitted that he liked Gorgo.
With the success of Gojira (the original Godzilla), lots of studios around the world were trying to create their own versions of the popular kaiju. Gorgo was Britain’s attempt at cashing in with their own giant city-smashing monster.
The movie sees a small Irish fishing village defeat and conquer a large reptilian beast. They then get really greedy and sell the monster to a London-based carnival. Once there, the creature is put on display to the amusement of the British people. However, the Brits soon find out that the monster is a baby and the much larger parent is on its way to London to save its kid. Next thing you know, pandemonium ensues, as the giant kaiju crushes London landmarks, which is a nice change to seeing big creatures topple Tokyo Tower or the Diet Building.
Gorgo is a well-executed kaiju movie. The creature is really cool looking and isn’t simply a Godzilla ripoff or a generic dinosaur. He is truly menacing but lovable, at the same time.
The miniatures and buildings aren’t as well constructed and realistic as Eiji Tsuburaya’s props in the early Godzilla pictures but they are still passable when compared to other wannabe Godzilla films.
Gorgo is a really good monster movie experience. I kind of wish this would have spawned its own series or some sort of follow-up or modern remake. Well, at least there was a short-lived Gorgo comic book, at one point.