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Gorgo (1961) - Blu-ray Review

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Gorgo (1961) - Blu-ray Review

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3 stars

Monster movies often get a bad reputation – especially cheaply made knock-offs – but, like this multi-cultural production of cheese and carnivores, what works about them is often overlooked.    It’s a shame.  It’s also to be expected from a genre not known for its nuances.  Buried beneath its rubber suit and in between all the moments of stock war footage, Gorgo’s brains and intentions are found.  The King Brothers, who produced the movie, were on to an exciting premise in 1961 – one where the monster is simply misunderstood – but somewhere along the way the message gets a little fumbled by cheap effects and a misalignment of logic.  Regardless, Gorgo is still an entertaining and, warts and all, intelligent film.

When deep sea treasure divers – Captain Joe Ryan (Bill Travers) and first officer Sam Slade (William Sylvester) – survive the blast from an underwater volcano off the coast of Ireland, they discover a 65-foot tall surprise has been unearthed.  It is (and isn’t) Gorgo.  Fans of the movie know why.  If you’re new here, just wait.  The two men and their teams are frightened of this creature but – after overcoming their fears – decide that the creature must be seen.  It is inexplicably captured and brought to Great Britain where the creature who is (and isn’t) Gorgo is put on display for a paying public to gawk at.

If you’ve seen the original King Kong then you already know situations like this one never end well BUT it’s not the creature who is (and isn’t) Gorgo who you should expect to cause the destruction.  It’s the creature’s mother … who IS the real Gorgo.  She’s 200-feet tall and pissed that her child has gone missing.  And Great Britain is in her path as she marches toward Battersea Park to go and fetch him and bring him back home.

Director Eugene Lourie presents a kinder and gentler creature with Gorgo.  That’s a lie, of course.  Lourie’s monster is just as mayhem causing as Godzilla and King Kong but – unlike those two towers of terror – Gorgo is a misunderstood mother that walks through one explosion after another to bring her offspring back to her.  Certainly, that’s worthy of some sympathy.  No, the movie is never dramatic but it is engaging in spite of its loopy and often illogical moments concerning volcanos and ship’s propellers.

The rubber-suited destruction of Tower Bridge and Big Ben are unusual in that we – as audience members – almost never get to see these landmarks reduced to rubble.  Oh, with grainy stock footage and obviously model usages, the European destruction is never – not even for a minute – believable but there’s plenty of fun to be had as each pad of Gorgo’s rubber feet bounces as it hits the ground.

Clocking in at a brisk 76 minutes, Gorgo won’t waste your time and avoids the mistake most monster films make - the one of overkill.  Gorgo isn’t a breakthrough in the genre either; that’s a rarity in a format that feeds on monster movies inspiring other monster movies inspiring others and so on.  What is obvious, especially with this release, is that this is a definite labor of love for the fine folks over at VCI who have reportedly worked on this print for over a year before issuing it on blu-ray.

If you’re a fan of the film, this is a must own.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Gorgo (1961) - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: This title has not been rated by the MPAA.
Runtime:
78 mins.
Director
: Eugène Lourié
Writer: Robert L. Richards, Daniel James
Cast: Bill Travers, William Sylvester, Vincent Winter
Genre: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline:
Like nothing you've ever seen before!
Memorable Movie Quote: "I don't know. But whatever it was, I never want to see it again."
Theatrical Distributor:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Home Video Distributor: VCI Entertainment
Official Website:
Release Date: March 29, 1961
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 19, 2013

Synopsis: Greedy sailors capture a giant lizard off the coast of Ireland and sell it to a London circus. Then its mother shows up.

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Gorgo (1961) - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

5 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 19, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English and French
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

Gorgo stomps onto Blu-ray for the first time ever with this 1080p transfer.  The newly restored print – especially when compared with the washed out print used for the DVD release years ago – is vibrant.  There is some graininess still to be found, some stock footage shots that simply cannot be improved upon by the magic of HD; we are talking about a 50 year old Technicolor creature feature, after all. The vividness of the nighttime scenes are when VCI’s restoration truly standout. The title credits practically pop off the screen and the first time Gorgo head emerges from the water it is truly a sight to behold.  Audio is PCM 2.0 -- dialog is always understandable, the score sounds great and the sound effects are good for their time. Just don't expect thrill a minute clarity or THX thunderiffic resonance.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

VCI reportedly spent a year restoring Gorgo and went the extra mile assembling an array of extras to load the disc with.    The first featurette is the best and most mouth-watering for fans of the film who want to know everything they never knew about the production of Gorgo.   Daniel Griffith’s “Ninth Wonder of the World” documentary crams nearly everything you ever wanted to know into thirty-one rather rushed minutes.  From Eugene Lourie’s career to the film’s inception, production, and reception, Griffith’s work covers most of Gorgo’s two-year production history. There is a side-by-side comparison highlighting the restoration of the original film that runs three minutes.  Along with five different video slide presentations showcasing lobby cards and posters, pages from the original pressbook, the movie’s production notes, a gallery of production photos, and series of Gorgo action figures and model kits from then and now, there are two bonus featurettes that give fans a chance to enjoy Gorgo in comic book format plus two non-Gorgo mini-stories.  Highly interesting and, clocking in at about 40-minutes, it’s pretty graphically fantastic.

  • Ninth Wonder Of The World: The Making Of Gorgo (31 min)
  • Star Ciné Cosmos Comic Book (40 min)
  • Restoration Video Before & After (3 min)
  • 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

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