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Film / Gorgo

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A.K.A. British Godzilla.

Some British treasure hunters, headed by Captain Joe Ryan (Bill Travers) and first officer, Sam Slade (William Sylvester), are salvaging around Nara Island off the coast of Ireland when the region is rocked by an underwater volcanic eruption. Their ship is forced to dock for repairs. Ryan and Slade meet with the harbour master and learn that two divers in his employ have disappeared. One such diver is then found having died from fright. That night, the eponymous Gorgo emerges from the sea and trashes the harbour. Ryan offers to capture the creature, and succeeds in doing so. Gorgo is taken to London where he is put on display in a circus, against the wishes of the scientists who insist this could be dangerous. And yes, sure enough, said scientists are right. For it turns out the 65-foot tall Gorgo is just a baby. His fully-grown and very angry mother then emerges, and she wants her darling baby back...

This 1961 film was featured on the ninth episode of the ninth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, being one of the better films showcased on the show.

Also had a Comic-Book Adaptation published by Charlton Comics, some of which had art done by Steve Ditko (digital version here), and a Novelization by Carson Bingham.

This film contains examples of:

  • Always a Bigger Fish: The titular monster is just a baby. Its even more gigantic unnamed mother is the one that wrecks all of London's shit once she comes to save her baby.
  • Anti-Villain: Gorgo's mom is the film's main threat, but she's neither evil nor malicious. Had humans let her baby go free from the moment they knew she was coming to save it, or just not kidnapped it in the first place, she wouldn't have caused any destruction at all as she was content to live away from civilization in the seas.
  • Artistic License Military: Each wave of military equipment used against Gorgo's mother is actually weaker than the wave before it. They go from 114mm guns to 75 and 105mm guns to 20mm cannons, and the torpedoes and rockets used get accordingly smaller as well. Since all the military equipment was Stock Footage, there's really no excuse.
  • Benevolent Monsters: Unlike his more destructive mother, Gorgo is a Gentle Giant who harms no one and is in fact the victim of humanity's greed.
  • Bring It Back Alive: Gorgo gets captured by Sam and Joe and is brought to London as an attraction.
  • Chromosome Casting: There are no women in the film, except as background characters. This is lampshaded in the MST3K episode. (If it's any small comfort, the main monster is a female...)
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Illustrated by Steve Ditko starring Gorgo in various new adventures.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: A reporter repeatedly gives speeches of this nature during the film's climax.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Needless to say, the human cast didn't expect for the 60 foot tall kaiju they caught to be a baby and his 200 foot tall mother to come on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, nor did they expect said Kaiju to plow through all of the military's firepower unscathed.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Complete with people trampling it during the mad mob rush in London.
  • Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies: Gorgo is about a tenth the size of his mommy. That said, he's still over 60 ft tall, while Ogra towers over 200 feet.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters:
    • Gorgo's mom levels London and very likely killed many innocent people while at it, but the only reason she went to London in the first place was because people kidnapped her baby and turned him into a circus attraction, and stubbornly refused to do the sensible thing and let the baby go free even when they knew the mother was coming or even evacuate the citizens, purely out of arrogance that they could easily take her down when she arrived. The only human to actually try to do the right thing was young Sean who tries to convince everyone to set Gorgo free even before they know that there's a giant angry mom coming to save him, who gets ignored by the greedy and arrogant adults.
    • The movie was made with the intention to make you root for the monster. Apparently, director Eugène Lourié's daughter cried when she saw his earlier movie The Giant Behemoth, when the monster in that film died, and she even scolded her father for "killing the nice beast." He made this film as an apology to her, seeing as how the monster survives and how Sean has a tender relationship with Gorgo.
  • Kaiju: Gorgo's mother. Gorgo himself, too, though he's only an infant, though already larger than a T.rex even at his young age.
  • Mama Bear: Gorgo's mother is fiercely protective of her baby and leaves her underwater home to rescue her baby from captivity.
  • Monster Has A Mommy: And a very angry mommy at that.
  • Monumental Damage: London Bridge/Tower Bridge, the Big Ben and Piccadilly Circus (and it's marquee advertisements) all get destroyed by Gorgo's mom in her rampage.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • One of the scientists insists that the ship's crew continually hose down Gorgo while transporting him to London. We find out later that this creates a trail, which Mama Gorgo uses to find her baby right away.
    • Also, one of the rockets fired at Gorgo's mother goes astray and hits Big Ben through the clock face, destroying as much as Gorgo's mother did.
    • The military doesn't evacuate London because they're absolutely sure they'll be able to kill Gorgo's mother. Because of this, they end up with probably millions of innocent people dead.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Neither Gorgo nor his mother are out to destroy civilization or cause death for the sake of it, Gorgo's mother rampage is solely motivated by her desire to save her child from captivity, and once she is reunited with him, they both leave peacefully. Even before, they both seemed content with living far away from civilization without causing trouble for anyone.
  • Novelization Published by Monarch Books, it features some deleted scenes from the film such as a scene where Sam and Joe fight a giant octopus and a killer whale underwater while searching for the treasure. It also adds some sex scenes. How, you may ask, with no major female characters aside from Gorgo's mother? Simple. Author Carson Bingham writes in a daughter for McCartin who falls in love with Sam.
  • Oh, Crap!: Gorgo's mom continues to inspire these from the human cast from the moment she shows up and continues to rip through literally everything the military throws at her.
  • Product Placement: A Coca-Cola marquee is visible before and during Gorgo's mom's rampage through downtown London. Although the shot is Piccadilly Circus, which has had a Coca-Cola sign as a permanent fixture of its advertising hoardings for decades, so Truth in Television. It's destroyed off-screen when Gorgo's mom destroys the square and all of the advertisements on it with the Gorgo advertisement being shown collapsing first.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Literally defines the climax of the film involving Gorgo's mom, who isn't happy at her baby being turned into a circus attraction and tormented and makes sure mankind suffers for it.
  • Shout-Out: Nara Island is named after a city in southern Honshu, Japan, in honor of Godzilla. The movie was originally to be set in Japan, too, where the island's name would make sense, though amusingly, it still works in an Irish context, as Nara is an obvious anagram of Aran, the three islands of which are Ireland's most famous.
  • Shown Their Work: All the Irish spoken by the islanders is real Irish and correct in context. (Indeed, if anything it's too good — it's very proper, educated Dublin Irish and not Connacht island dialect.)
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the comic adaptation, McCartin survives his encounter with Gorgo's mother.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: The military is entirely confident they'll be able to kill Gorgo's mother. It's for this reason that London wasn't evacuated despite them knowing she's coming. Needless to say, they fail and many innocents die as a result, with Gorgo's mother coming out entirely unscathed from everything.
  • The Juggernaut: Gorgo's mother is completely unstoppable, plowing through everything the military throws at her.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Several bystanders get roasted alive when they decide to go down to the dock and watch as the military fills the river with petrol and lights it in an attempt to burn Gorgo's mother.
    • The military isn't much better: It doesn't occur to any of them to give Gorgo back until Mama Gorgo has trashed most of the Royal Navy and a good chunk of London. To make matters worse, they refused to send an evacuation signal to get civilians out of the battlefield simply because they wrongfully believed that they could take down Gorgo's mother.
    • A guy with a sign around his neck goes around screaming "REPENT" in the middle of a panicking crowd, and is promptly trampled to death by said crowd.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In the film itself, the fact that Gorgo's a baby and his mother goes on the warpath to get him back is a plot twist that is meant to change the whole perception of the plot. However, the trailers flat out show the scene revealing that.
  • Underestimating Badassery: The military thinks that Gorgo's mother is just another animal they'll put down quickly. They are very wrong and all of London pays for their arrogance.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Gorgo gets trapped in a net, drugged with tranquilizers and paraded around London, and then put on display in a grimy, gray pool. Also, his mommy loses her son. She just wants him back. Wouldn't you be angry if someone did this to your son?
  • Worf Barrage: The military spends the last 40 minutes of the movie throwing everything at Gorgo's mother, confident in their ability to kill her...and absolutely none of it does so much as slow her down.