‘Like nothing you’ve ever seen before!’
Gorgo is a 1961 British giant monster movie directed by Eugène Lourié (The Giant Behemoth; The Colossus of New York; The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms) from a screenplay written by John Loring and Daniel Hyatt. The movie stars Bill Travers and William Sylvester (Devil Doll, Devils of Darkness, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark). Gorgo unashamedly borrows elements from other monster movies, such as Godzilla and King Kong.
A volcanic eruption in the North Atlantic brings to the surface a 65-foot prehistoric monster. Two treasure divers capture the creature and take him to London where he made the star attraction at a circus.
A scientist points out that the sailor’s bonanza is only an infant, and that a full-grown specimen would be over 200 feet in height. Sure enough, Gorgo’s mother comes thundering ashore, reclaims her offspring, and heads back to sea but not before she trashes a generous portion of London…
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.
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.
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.
- Ninth Wonder Of The World: The Making of Gorgo” a new documentary by Daniel Griffith
- Gorgo – Video Comic Book and Comic Book Cover Gallery
- Extensive Lobby Card & Poster Gallery
- Photo Gallery
- Gorgo Toys & Collectibles Gallery
- Production Notes
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Pressbook Gallery
- Star Ciné Cosmos – French-language “fumetto” (comic book)
- Restoration Video Before & After
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“When the invasion of London comes during the film’s last quarter, Lourie pulls off his best effects set-pieces – the demolition of the Tower Bridge; the mother Gorgo standing towering over Big Ben backlit by orange smoke, demolishing the clock as the military fire missiles at her. There is an enormous sense of convincing panic created as the monster starts trampling the crowds and people are forced to take refuge in the subway.” Moria
“Turn off your brain and sit back with a bowl of popcorn and a lemonade and enjoy the nostalgia factor and the epic destruction that only a giant monster movie can deliver and have a good time with it. There isn’t much of a social message or a deeper meaning to any of it, it’s simply a really entertaining movie and on that level it works quite well.” Rock! Shock! Pop!
“The special effects are often inconsistent (many see-through moments, for example) but ultimately successful. The city destruction scenes – especially the trashing of Tower Bridge – are terrific. I don’t know how they made the models, but it sure looks good, better than balsa wood and plastic.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
“Gorgo has a leg up on similarly cash strapped productions: it’s pretty good looking, even when the effects belie that belief. But frankly, the miniature work, rear projection, et al work as well in Gorgo as they do in most any other film from the era; at the end of the day, it’s a guy in a zipped up rubber monster costume, and should be paid the due reverence.” Daily Dead
“At barely 76-minutes and barely a second of it wasted, Gorgo doesn’t make the mistake so many monster movies of its time made by getting too bogged down in the human drama, needless romance, scientific mumbo jumbo, or endless exposition. Even when it does, cockney accents lend an extra layer of credibility missing from the stiffness of many American actors appearing in similar films…” Dread Central
“Director Lourié handles his scenes of crowd panic convincingly and Howard’s special effects of the destruction of London are superb.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction