Gorgo (1961) – Eugene Lourie

What would happen if England got in on the Godzilla craze? Well, I found out as I explored DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies book and came across Gorgo as I continue to explore the chapters on dragons and dinosaurs.

When a group of sailors capture a strange beast off the coast of Ireland and bring it back to England for a pretty penny to be featured in a London circus, they didn’t expect mom to come looking for her wayward kid.

William Sylvester, best known to sci-fi film fans as the original Heywood Floyd in 2001: A Space Odyssey is Sam, a member of a salvage vessel that has a strange encounter at sea and recovers a strange beast. A creature that some of the locals on a nearby remote Irish island seem to know about, but refuse to speak of.

The island plays a bit more into the plot than one would have initially thought (especially considering the short runtime), but also serves as the literal stomping grounds for Gorgo’s first major appearance (brought to us by rotoscope and a man in a suit of course.


Once Sam an the crew get Gorgo tranquillised and contained they ship him to London where fanfare is the order of the day until an overeager member of the paparazzi snaps a flashbulb to close to the beast, rousing him, and sending him on his rampage!

But that’s just the beginning. While Gorgo is causing problems, and contained, and then causing more problems…mom, who is considerably larger (but still just a man in a suit) is on her way to England to reclaim your youngster.

The Royal Navy with its battleships and subs are sent out to deal with the issue (and eventually the RAF), but if they thought the little guy was a problem…

It’s an interesting creature design, obviously built around the need to be a man in a suit, but it doesn’t look like much of a dinosaur or a dragon for that matter. It’s definitely a kaiju,but this close to England, you’d figure they would be able to stop it with a good cuppa.

A fun watch, and it’s cool to see how other countries tried to jump on the Godzilla band wagon by creating their own versions, and giving the beasts their own unique abilities, in this families case glowing red eyes, and a loud roar,and a variety of sizes, depending on landmarks.

The special effects are on the cheap, and this one was definitely made for no one other than the English kiddos who could suspend their disbelief, and be terrified as they saw their beloved London, and its suburbs smashed to rubble – having typed that, one wonders if a parallel is meant to be drawn between Gorgo’s attack and the bombing of London, but it’s definitely made as a popcorn matinee feature and not much more.

Check it out for yourself, or pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find something monstrous to watch tonight!

big ben

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