61 Days of Halloween: Gorgo (1961)
This is another selection that came to me by way of Stephen King’s list of horror films in Danse Macabre. I have to admit, I chuckled a bit and had some trepidation when I saw that this was a monster movie. After all I’m fairly sure that during the period from which King curated the list (1950-1980) there were other, more well-known giant-monster-attacks-city films; most notably the Japanese brood. So what makes Gorgo special?
I soon realized what it was and it’s not really about the fact that this species of prehistoric beast is discovered off the coast of an Irish isle, but rather the thing the film does in just 78 minutes. There’s a period of time wherein the film is like a proto-Jaws. There is a threat identified and a mostly unseen enemy. There is a plan to try and take it down.
What occurs then is a spin on King Kong, which has also been done. One notable example I viewed, that didn’t really work out, was Jurassic Park: The Lost World. However, here it does work because that second twist on the average monster film isn’t the last.
The last one is given away by this poster here. The beast that’s captured and taken to a London circus is a baby. Big, angry momma is coming for him and that’s where all the tense, well-wrought and choreographed chaos ensues.
I won’t say there aren’t period clichés and touches of cheese, both eternal and due to dating in the film, but it really is well done. There’s the especially disheartening note that the kid assistant, if he had only been listened to, could’ve saved everyone a lot of trouble.
One of the great things about going down this list is discovering titles you should have seen by now. An even better one is watching films you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and this film qualifies in that regard.