‘The greatest horror monster alive’
The Mighty Gorga is a 1969 US science fiction/fantasy film and the brainchild of David L. Hewitt (Gallery of Horror; Monsters Crash the Pajama Party), who stars, produces, directs and wrote the screenplay.
The storyline concerns a couple hunting for a giant gorilla (The Mighty Gorga, natch) in Africa for financial gain. Filmed on a minuscule budget, it has become notorious for its poor special effects.
Financially crippled circus owner, Mark Remington (Anthony Eisley, The Wasp Woman, Dracula vs. Frankenstein) sees the answers to his money woes in an almost mythical African beast, Gorga, a giant gorilla whom he sets off to capture. Once in the jungle, the hunter (Tonga Jack (!) played by B-movie standby Kent Taylor, Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, The Crawling Hand; Brain of Blood) who reported the sighting is missing in action and Remington sets off with his daughter, April (Megan Timothy) to find him and hopefully the big monkey. Accidentally stumbling upon a secret prehistoric world, which consists of four plants, a few giant mushrooms and some suspicious-looking giant purple eggs, they find themselves fending off first a dinosaur, then the fabled Gorga. Discovering a local tribe (and Tonga Jack who has made himself at home) they find treasure in the caves around the village but an erupting volcano and a far more human presence who has been following the trail to the gems, threaten both Gorga’s world and their own.
The stupefyingly unconvincing gorilla costume – blinking eyes would at least have been a start – and even more tragic dinosaur are huge fun but despite the obviously joyous limitations, Hewitt elects to minimise their time onscreen, instead plodding around one of cinema’s sparsest jungles with a dislikeable male and female couple in an attempt to justify what should be comedy gold. Eisley, who does more for the tobacco industry during the running time than any amount of TV advertising (try a drinking game every time he lights up and you’ll be unconscious after half an hour) is a rotten hero but worse is yet to come as we have to suffer him slowly arriving in Africa (shot of a plane taking off, in case you’re struggling with the concept), then visiting a zoo, giving him just enough time for some casual racism whilst the cast shiftily check their watches and shuffle their feet.
Rather like a competitive dad, Hewitt saves the best role for himself, that of the gorilla, the lowest point of primate design in film. This is quickly beaten by a handheld T. Rex, which waggles threateningly backwards and forwards but sadly completely out of sync with the projected human actors who are looking in a completely different direction. Attempts are made at a love connection between April and Gorga when she thoughtfully removes a splinter from his finger. It doesn’t progress to a second date.
Shoehorned in are some shots of wild animals (in a clearly different environment), a volcano which would decimate everything in sight but doesn’t even bring the actors out in a sweat and, more jarringly, footage of a relatively decent dinosaur borrowed from peplum pic Goliath and the Dragon, only serving to exaggerate the woefulness of the other beasts.
Released on DVD by Something Weird Video as a double bill with One Million AC/DC, The Mighty Gorga is too long to be genuine fun and not consistently bad enough to be so bad it’s good. The last laugh is Hewitt’s; rather than being laughed out of town, he went on to provide the special effects for the likes of Shocker; Kindred; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
Daz Lawrence, moviesandmania