GORGO: A British Spin On Giant Monster Movies

Featuring one of the cutest shots of the genre.

We're incredibly excited to partner with Fandor, a streaming service with the biggest handpicked collection of the most-talked-about indie films from around the world. With a catalogue this diverse and provocative, it was both easy and very, very hard to choose a handful of titles to discuss here on BMD. First up: Gorgo.

Not every movie taken to task by Mystery Science Theater 3000 deserves it. The goofy, killer worm movie, Squirm, is pretty good, for instance. And Gamera vs. Guiron is one of my all time favorites. On that same monster movie front, they also picked an unworthy target with the British giant monster movie Gorgo (in an episode most people probably didn’t see since it only aired twice - in the same day - due to how quickly the rights expired).

Gorgo is a little silly, but these 1960s giant monster movies have to be judged by different standards. And as a 1960s giant monster movie, Gorgo presents a refreshing and curious new skin on the genre thanks mostly to its country of origin.

We’ve seen this sort of thing before. A giant monster attacks a city and the military fires ineffective weapons at it while people flee and buildings crumble. You know what you’re in for with these films. But it’s nice to see one of these beasts march through Piccadilly Circus and knock down London Bridge as opposed to a series of Tokyo landmarks. When the military come to do their useless nonsense, they bark orders with thick accents and stiff upper lips. In one scene, people running from the monster trample a repent-signed doomsayer. You don’t see that sort of thing very often in these films, and it grants Gorgo a unique flavor.

The plot is also a bit different since it doesn’t feature any monster on monster action. A volcano eruption awakens a big-ass monster, one so scary just the sight of him frightens one poor guy to death. Scientists want to study him, but a London bigwig is like “Fuck that, let’s put him on display!” So, in a move that recalls King Kong more than Godzilla, the poor guy is shipped to London to be an amusement attraction. Of course, this is an awful idea, not because the monster will break free and cause havoc like we might expect, but rather because his much bigger mother wakes up and raises hell to get her kid back. There isn’t a ton of story here, and - typical of the genre - a lot of the film gets padded by human stuff no one cares about. But it fills seventy-three minutes well.

As for the actual monster, Gorgo isn’t really the big dog here. At 65-feet tall, he’s just a baby. This is actually kind of nice, if only for the amazing scene in which islanders try to take him down by pelting him with flaming sticks. After a million movies of people shooting these things with guns and missiles, there’s something both hilarious and awesome about just throwing sticks at one.

But the real hero is Ogra, Gorgo’s mom. At 200-feet tall, she represents a much more standard sizing and gets to have the most fun destroying London. Ogra also appears to be invincible. Humanity’s big gambit at the end is to surround her baby with a ring of electrical wires packing 2 million volts of electricity. She’s just like “nah,” and breaks right through that shit. No big deal. Then she and her baby walk away, and it’s totally adorable.

There are so many Japanese giant monster movies, it’s nice to see how others do it. The differences here are represented more on human side, but they matter. Monster-wise, it really doesn’t seem all that different from what everyone else offered during the era. So if you like old school, man-in-suit giant monster movies but want one with a little added novelty going, Gorgo should scratch that itch.

Fandor makes it easy for you to find the right film to watch. With the biggest handpicked collection of the most-talked-about indie films from around the world, there’s always something great to watch, whatever your mood, on almost any device.