If you had asked the average moviegoer on the street in 1961 from whence the next giant monster movie would come, their answer would have most likely been "Japan." They would have been wrong; American filmmakers would take to the Isles of Britain to bring us Gorgo. This tale of a giant dino turned circus attraction is not the most finely crafted movie ever made, but if monster fans insisted upon the ultimate in special effects, most of the Godzilla movies would never have been made.
The villains are a bit harder to point out in Gorgo than in the Japanese kaiju films; one can hardly blame the leaders of a salvage crew for trying to capture Gorgo when the critter threatens the entire population of an Irish coastal village. Perhaps they do go a bit overboard in selling the monster to a London circus rather than turning it over to Irish authorities for scientific study. Would you listen to Sean, the young lad who comes to pity Gorgo, when he tells you that it's a "teddible bad thing ye're doin'"?
Whoever the culprit may be, punishment is meted out on all of the people of London when Gorgo's mama comes a-calling. If you thought Tokyo took a beating from Godzilla, you'll be all the more shocked when Ms. Gorgo starts wrecking landmarks that you actually recognize. London hasn't seen this much rubble since the Blitz, and it's refreshing to know that British extras look just as silly running from an imaginary monster as do their Japanese counterparts.
See the full review at Stomp Tokyo.
Internet rumor has it that this film was transferred to disc from a 16-mm print rather than a 35; while I wasn't able to confirm that, the film's details are a bit soft when compared to other movies of the era, like the Bond films. There are also rumors of a future transfer from a 35-mm print, but for the moment those with a soft spot for overgrown dinosaurs in urban environments shouldn't be shy about plunking down the money for this particular DVD.
VCI's menus for the disc, while not particularly imaginative, are at least appropriate and miles better than a static image-based menu. Gorgo stomps behind a simple cityscape until you choose an option (the highlight visual is a set of flames atop each building). Then the dinosaur swoops forward and opens his eye in super-close-up, Godzilla 98-style. It's rather amusing to compare this menu screen to the one used for the Godzilla 2000 disc, which is essentially the same thing.
A trailer is present, but it's a bit overdramatic ("The Most Astonishing Event in Our Lifetime!"), as the trailers for these films tend to be. (See the trailer on Atomic Submarine for another example.) Also included are trailers for other VCI DVDs, like The Devil's Rain and Gargoyles, as well as some bio information on the cast. The real gem on this disc, though, is the gushingly-written featurette about the movie's creation. Although the script praises the film like a star-struck fan, narrator Steve Garfinkel sounds like he's rushing through it in order to get to the end and collect his check. A quick check of the included booklet reveals that Mr. Garfinkel is merely reciting Tom Weaver's liner notes!
Once you finish the featurette, you'll want to take a brief look at the photo gallery, which holds stills from the film and various movie posters. It's a shame that these are presented on a backdrop shaped like a billboard, because they're skewed as a result and rendered half as large as they could be. A definite case of style over substance.
Chris Holland, 4/16/2001