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"I first saw "Gorgo" as a kid, when it was released theatrically in 1961--in fact, I went to see it several times. To this day, it is one of my favourite "giant monster on the loose" films. I suppose the quickest way to describe "Gorgo" is to say that this was Britain's answer to Godzilla, Japan's iconic creature of destruction. However, I still find "Gorgo" several cuts above most films of this type.
Two rather unscrupulous divers/salvagers (Bill Travers and William Sylvester) capture a huge, prehistoric beast (it looks like an over-sized, aquatic T-Rex) off the coast of Ireland. Ignoring pleas from the Irish government and scientists who want to study this amazing animal, our two "heroes" are more interested in someone who will "show me the money !" That "someone" is a circus-owner in London, where the creature is put on display for the ticket-buying public. However, when scientists do their homework, they conclude that this "huge" animal is really just a baby ! Could there be a parent somewhere ? You bet ! "Mom" appears--all 200 feet of her--mad as hell, and headed straight for London. Can the Royal Navy stop her ? Fuggedaboutit ! The Airforce ? Just like swatting flies ! The Army ? They might as well use pea-shooters ! "Mom" reaches London--trashes the Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus etc. before rescuing junior. Memo to Man--don't mess with Mother Nature !
One reason that "Gorgo" is superior to similar films is the cast. Travers and Sylvester are both good actors, although child-star, Vincent Winter, steals every scene he is in. Eagle-eyed film buffs will also spot Nigel Green for about five seconds. For 1961, I would rate the special effects as well above average. While both creatures are "men in suits", careful editing ensures that your sense of belief can still be suspended. The model work is particularly good--the scenes of destruction are very effective for a 45-year old film. The cinematography is top-notch, hardly surprising when you see that Freddie Young was responsible. Angelo Lavagnino's music score is also to be praised.
"Gorgo" was directed by Eugene Lourie, the third of his "giant lizard trilogy". In 1953, Mr. Lourie unleashed the first film in this genre, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" (with a lot of help from the king of stop-motion animation, Ray Harryhausen), and in 1958 he attacked us with "The Giant Behemoth". "Gorgo", however, was the only one in colour.
The quality of this DVD is excellent--widescreen, nice colour. For years I had to suffer with an awful VHS tape--even two different laserdiscs were not a major improvement. The DVD also includes an interesting behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the film, a photo gallery and several biographies. Kudos to VCI also for the cute menu--I will not spoil it for would-be purchasers--let's just say that the scene of London has been "updated" !
For reasons of personal nostalgia, I would give this DVD 4 1/2 stars. Younger viewers, used to CGI wizardry, may find the title monsters a bit quaint, but this is a handsome film, well acted and the finale is refreshingly different to many such movies. If you like "creature features", "Gorgo" belongs in your collection. Recommended. "
GORGO: a review of the VCI DVD only
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Like many of you, I first saw GORGO as a child at the neighborhood theater back in 1961. I was impressed by "this towering apparition from before the dawn of history". The years have not erased that impression. But various video releases have not been so kind. This VCI release is the best of them all! Having said that, I regret to add, it could have been better. THE CASE admirably reproduces the US movie poster, although it looks a bit dark. Compare it to the halfsheet poster presented in the "photo gallery" section of the "special features". Why they didn't use the distinctive logotype on the spine instead of that blobby font is a mystery. The back could use some design makeover, but that's just me....THE INSERT is a single fold affair with the front cover reproduced in case you missed it on the cover. Inside is the printed narration from the "behind-the-scene short" in case you want to read it. The back lists the chapter stops. Nice insert, though I wish there was a diffrent graphic on it's cover.THE DISK itself reproduces, in dark green, a portion of the poster with the GORGO logotype. Well done.THE MOVIE. VCI does present this film in its original theatrical aspect ratio -- stated on the back cover as 1.66:1 though it does look a bit wider. The color is good and the sound is clear. There are a few scratches but they don't distract. Grain is evident. Although it's not stated anywhere, VCI reportedly made their transfer from a pristine 35mm print. It may be the same transfer used for an earlier laserdisc release. I don't get the feeling it was made for the DVD. Unfortunately, the image is not as sharp as it could be. I would assume the pristine 35mm print was sharp -- the image on this DVD is not. Perhaps that's my only major complaint on this release. But, at least for me, it's a big one. GORGO is only 78 minutes in length. The bitrate rarely rises above 5Mbps -- there's LOTS of room on this disk for future anamorphic enhancement. Even with the extras. MOTION MENUS. There is an animated menu screen that's vaguely reminiscent of the Emmerich GODZILLA animated menu screen insofar as it shakes a bit and an animated big Gorgo walks behind some traffic lights and skyscraper-type blocky office buildings with a roar you'd give good money to shut up every time you need to use the menu. Looks cheap and cutesy.CHAPTER SEARCH. This is a series of three cutesy billboards. Navigation's a bit awkward but I've seen worse.PHOTO GALLERY. About a dozen images including the aforementioned halfsheet repro and stills mounted on more cutesy billboards. I wished they'd skip the billborads and make the photos bigger!BEHIND-THE-SCENE SHORT. Ten minutes of interesting, informative background information regarding the film's genesis. The text is reproduced in the liner notes.ORIGINAL THEATRICAL TRAILER. In widescreen! Though the colors are faded it's great to see. Since the film was first released in Japan, it would have been interesting to see that one. Unfortunately, there are three -- totally non-related -- trailers that should not have been included on this disk.NOTABLY ABSENT. No subtitles, in any language. No closed-captioning.BOTTOM LINE. Right now, if you want the best-looking currently available GORGO, this is it. I only wish it were better. I hope MGM does an anamorphic release from the original elements with lots of extras. But I'm not holding my breath."
Picture restored but sound destroyed!
Kevin Huart | 12/27/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Gorgo when it was first released in the movies in 1960 and I'm probably the movie's biggest fan. This 'Destruction Edition' release by VCI is the first serious print of the movie to be sold. The bonfire scene on Nara Island where Gorgo makes his first appearance is restored to visual perfection. It looks like it was actually printed from the negative as do many other scenes in this release. It seems like all the criticism heaped on VCI for releasing the atrocious previous version with its near black scenes paid off. The fans of Gorgo , which are many, deserved and got this restoration. Unfortunately the glee I felt initially with seeing Gorgo finally restored was short lived when the most bizarre thing occurred. I began to notice the soundtrack was cheaply tampered with in an attempt to guess 'enhance it'. Now mind you I have seen probably ten different video releases of Gorgo all of which had awful print quality but the movie's soundtrack was never ruined or doctored in any way. Now finally we have a decent restoration of the print and what happens some genius at VCI instead of just enhancing the volume of Gorgo which has one of the greatest soundtracks in monster movie history , they decide instead to do the unthinkable and tamper with it by adding the tinny lifeless roar used in the DVD screensaver and drowning out the masterful original monster sounds in the movie. They also add echoes and assorted sirens and machine gun fire. So you hear machine guns in a scene where three guys are shooting with rifles. These baffling alterations undo much of the great visual restoration VCI made an admirable effort to attain and I have to say ruin the outcome making many key scenes seem to fall out of synch. It's an annoying distraction that sabotages the robust power and flow the movie's sound is known for. A classic is a a classic because of it's special unique qualities that the public loves about them, the best we can do is preserve them not change them. Not to mention the violations of artistic ethics and integrity. Imagine changing King Kong's roar or Fay Wray's scream. Oh well,maybe this will set up the release of a VCI corrected version. We'll buy it."
Fun Monster Flick
Loring Ivanick | Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Japan | 02/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I remember this film showing on TV in NY, well, it seemed like every Saturday when I was a kid. It came with one of the funniest typical TV Guide blurbs I remember from those days, something like: "Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to bring that prehistoric monster back to London. Now its mother is coming looking for it." And that was it. And that IS it. That's the plot. Ambitious get-rich-quick guys find monster, bring it back to London over the objections of local boy who is wiser than all the adults in the picture, put it on display a la King Kong or Mighty Joe Young, and find something two or three times larger marching up the Thames Estuary soon after looking for its offspring. Plenty of mayhem ensues, of course. This is not quite up there with the classic Japanese monster films, but it will entertain you. The extras on the DVD are good too."
Edited Print, Defective Audio
Michael W. Dean | Columbus, Ohio | 09/29/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The first thing you should know about VCI's "Gorgo-Widescreen Destruction Edition" is that it is missing about 2 or 3 minutes of footage, confirmed by the fact that its running time has been reduced to 73 minutes, although the box lists the full 76 minute version. The first problem you will encounter when watching the films is during Angelo Lavagnino's excellent opening score when there seems to be an echo effect, as if the stereo tracks where out of sync with each other, resulting in the music becoming a garbled mess. Such audio problems occur throughout the feature. Strangely, there seems to have been some additional sound effects added over the original soundtrack. Except for the missing footage, the MGM Technicolor print used for the transfer is in excellent condidtion. As a bonus there is a "behnd the scenes" documentary that, although it runs only about 10 minutes, it is very authoritative and informative. The label on the container is an excellent reproduction of MGM's original poster art. This is one of the worst DVD releases I have yet encounted. It makes me wonder if anyone at VCI bothered to insure that a complete print was being used and that picture and sound are transfered properly. Someone at the company should have at least watched one of the discs before they started shipping them out. Save your money and wait for a better release."