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1961 Movie poster
|Directed by||Eugène Lourié|
|Produced by||Wilfred Eades
|Written by||Robert L. Richards
|Music by||Angelo Francesco Lavagnino|
|Editing by||Eric Boyd-Perkins|
|Distributed by||United States:
British Lion-Columbia Ltd
|Release dates||United States:
29 March 1961
27 October 1961
|Running time||72 min.|
Gorgo is a 1961 British science fiction giant monster film. 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.
As the film commences, 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 awoken by the volcano eruption.
Ryan and Slade consult the harbour master, who also has archaeological pretensions: he has been salvaging 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 supposedly 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 a name in Classical mythology. 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, and resists attack from other warships. Later, Ogra comes ashore in London, still looking for her son, goes on a rampage and, despite being bombarded by tanks and infantry it continues. Jets attack Ogra, but with no effect. Having demolished much of London, Ogra rescues Gorgo, and both mother and son return to the sea.
- Bill Travers as Joe Ryan
- William Sylvester as Sam Slade
- Vincent Winter as Sean
- Christopher Rhodes as McCartin
- Joseph O'Conor as Professor Hendricks
- Bruce Seton as Professor Flaherty
- Martin Benson as Mr. Dorkin
- Maurice Kaufmann as Radio Reporter
- Basil Dignam as Admiral Brooks
- Mick Dillon as Gorgo
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 recognisable 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.
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 miniaturisation, 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.
|Publication date||vol. 1:
1960 – Sep. 1965
Vol. 2 Gorgo's Revenge:
Vol. 3 Gorgo's Return:
Summer 1963 – Fall 1964
|Number of issues||Vol.1:
Novel and comic
A novelisation 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. It included work by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko. The series was renamed Fantastic Giants with issue #24 which turned out to be the last issue of the series.
In 1990, Steve Ditko illustrated a back up story in Web of Spider-Man annual #6 called Child Star. In this story Captain Universe creates huge versions of toys based on Gorgo and Konga to battle giant monsters that are attacking the neighbourhood. For copyright reasons Gorgo's name was altered to "Gorga". This sequence was Ditko paying homage to his earlier work with these characters from the 1960s Charlton Comics comic books.
In 1991, A-Plus Comics reprinted issues No. 1 and No. 3 in the one-shot comic Attack of the Mutant Monsters. Due to copyright issues Gorgo's name was changed to Kegor.
Some of these issues were reprinted (in black and white) in a trade paperback in 2011 called Angry Apes n' Leapin Lizards.
In March 2013, IDW Publishing reprinted all the issues that artist Steve Ditko worked on (issues 1–3,11,13–16 and The Return of Gorgo 2–3) as a deluxe hardcover collection called Steve Ditkos Monsters: Gorgo.
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, along with episodes of Bill Nye The Science Guy and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
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.
The 2011 movie 'The Hole' the main characters are watching this movie on their television.
The movie is also referenced in Season one – Episode 6 of the SyFy channel's reality TV show 'Monster Man'.
- "GORGO". Irish Film & TV Research Online – Trinity College Dublin. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
- Mistaken monster, The Bollard, 17 September 2012
- Gorgo at the Internet Movie Database
- Gorgo at allmovie
- Gorgo as a cartoon
- Gorgo – The Irish Connection at Where's Grandad?