1/31/07

909 Gorgo

(1961, Horror-Giant Critter, color)

McRoar! O’Growl!

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

Godzilla’s Gaelic cousin stomps all over London.

Summary:

Godzirra!Ocean salvager Joe works hard to recover something vague from the bottom of the sea while his partner Sam (William Sylvester of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame, in his third MST3K appearance) nervously watches the stormy horizon. Joe makes it back on board just in time to see a volcano form a new island a short distance away. A huge tidal wave bears down on their ship as they frantically struggle to hold the wheel...

...and they all survive, with only minor damage to their vessel. They limp into the harbor at Nara Island, off the coast of Ireland, to make repairs. The shifty harbormaster provides fresh water and demands that they leave immediately. This rouses Joe’s suspicions, so he and Sam spy on the incomprehensible locals while they search for a pair of missing salvage divers. One of the divers surfaces near them, dead with fright; they pry open his hand to find ancient Viking gold.

The locals go out hunting for what they suppose to be a diver-killing shark; one of them throws a harpoon at a likely looking shape in the water only to see it rise, protruding from the head of a huge Japanese trademark violation. The rapacious rubber monster stomps all over their boats until Joe and Sam get the bright idea to throw pieces of bonfire at it. The barrage of burning wood scares it back into the deeps.

The next day, Joe and Sam use the existence of the monster and their knowledge of the illegal treasure salvage operation to blackmail the harbormaster. The harbormaster reluctantly gives a large bribe in gold to pay Sam and Joe for removal of the beast. Joe goes down in a bathysphere to act as a lure. Sam and his crew net the monster and haul it on deck before it can eat Joe.

Ignoring the claims of the Irish government and the dire warnings of their stowaway monster child Sean, Joe and Sam sail to London, where they have been offered a lucrative contract with a provocatively named sideshow entertainer called Dorkin. They name the monster Gorgo and set him up in a giant cage at Battersea Park, where they herd hordes of gawking Londoners past him every day.

Soon, the Irish scientists in charge of studying Gorgo call Sam and Joe to warn them that the creature they’ve captured is only a baby. Sam is perturbed, but Joe refuses to listen. The Royal Admiralty shrugs off the alarming new findings as well, even as Gorgo’s impossibly huge mommy surfaces at Nara Island, crushes the Irish settlement there, and follows a phosphorus trail through the water all the way up the Thames to Battersea. Boats capsize, tanks are crushed, and landmarks are destroyed as people rush madly through the streets to avoid the amphibious monster’s scaly feet. The military makes a last-ditch attempt to fry the enormous intruder with all the voltage available in London. They fail, and Gorgo is rescued. Mother and baby return to the sea.

Introduction:

Nothing to be done...Crow discovers his lacrosse net head is the perfect nesting place for the Spix’s Macaw when one of them has lays an egg on his noggin. Mike wonders how he didn’t notice this before. Quoth Crow, “Well, I was aware of some activity...” A macaw squawks offscreen, and another egg drops into Crow’s head.

Host Segment One:

Crow pulls a gun on a gang of vicious weasels who are trying to steal his eggs. Down in Castle Forrester, Brain Guy and Bobo amuse themselves with arm-wrestling while Pearl is away. Every contest ends with Bobo hurling Brain Guy across the room. Pearl calls from a Los Angeles meeting with noted film critic Leonard Maltin. Quoth Pearl, “What [film] do you recommend, Roger?” Maltin recommends Gorgo, the British version of Godzilla. Up in the Satellite of Love, Crow’s macaw eggs are taken away by Egg Protective Services after he makes an omelet in front of them. The alarm for Movie Sign sounds, and they run to the theater as Tom cries, “Curse you, Maltin!”

Host Segment Two:

Given the harbormaster’s resemblance to absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett, Mike and the ‘Bots decide to lampoon Mr. Beckett’s most famous work by putting on a little play called Waiting for Gorgot. Tom and Servo engage in existential, non sequitur dialogue until Mike (as Gorgo) shows up to eat them both. Cambot lays it on thick at the end with two curtain calls worth of canned applause.

Host Segment Three:

Mike brings out the William Sylvester Edition of Trivial Pursuit. The game quickly ends when both ‘Bots concede. They don’t know anything about William Sylvester (star of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Devil Doll, Riding with Death, and this movie) and they don’t really care to learn.

Host Segment Four:

The nanite circus comes to town! They have a freak show, acrobats who do death-defying feats “a full fifty microns above center ring,” and Nate the Clown!! It only costs a quarter to attend!!! Mike forgets about their difference in scale and accidentally crushes the entire circus with the entrance fee. “Clown killer!” Tom accuses.

Host Segment Five:

Tom and Crow have borrowed a significant sum from The Mob to make a calendar of the babes and beefcakes from the movie Gorgo. They fill the male version of the calendar quite easily, but complete lack of female characters makes the girly version difficult. Mike saves their bacon by guiding them through the various crowd scenes to find a pair of female extras, soon to be (or in the process of being) crushed to death by falling buildings and giant, reptilian feet. Down in Los Angeles, Pearl and Leonard Maltin confer over what film they should send next. Perhaps something that costars Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts.

Stinger:

Quoth the Irish fisherman, “Cad a dhĂ©anfaimid anois!”

Thoughts:

I bet his first name is either 'Peter' or 'Richard'.Note: According to imdb.com, the Gaelic phrase uttered by the fisherman in the stinger means, “What shall we do now?” Apparently, this is what the islanders said every time the director asked them to speak Gaelic on screen, whether it made sense in context or not.

Chalk up another movie in the category of “Not that good but not that bad either.” The film’s main problem is that it’s unoriginal; if you’ve ever seen Godzilla, or any other Japanese monster movie for that matter, you’ve already seen this one. It’s got everything required by the genre: greedy industrialists, island natives, fragile scale models of famous landmarks, military stock footage, a large and easily panicked populace... Ah well, at least it’s in English. There’s even a child named Kenny, er, Sean, who cheers for the monsters even through the worst of their destructive rampage. Sorry kid, I know we took the creature out of its natural habitat, tampered in God’s domain, and all that jazz, but you just can’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy about the monster family reunion after the demolition of Piccadilly Circus, the Tower Bridge, and Big Ben, not to mention the thousands of lives lost in the senseless carnage. Perhaps I’d feel better about it if I was Irish.

You need some prior knowledge of the works of Samuel Beckett to “get” host segment two, but even a passing familiarity with Waiting for Godot ought to be enough to make you laugh your socks off during the Satellite crew’s send-up of that absurdist classic. (If you’ve never heard of Samuel Beckett and cryptic nonsense is your thing, go ahead and look up the rest of his works as well. I dare you.) Film critic Leonard Maltin appears as the second of two celebrity guests to ever appear on the show. He’s not portraying anyone but himself, and hawks his film guide shamelessly, but you can tell he’s having fun, and is a very good sport about being called names like “Siskel” and “Roger.” The Spix’s Macaw sketches and the William Sylvester sketch are decently amusing. The nanite circus is appropriately bizarre, and their ultimate fate is perfect.

The film segments are a lot of fun. Much of the merriment is from songs and references to songs, beginning with Tom’s version of Danny Boy, “Oh, the Gor / the Gor is Going / from Gor to Gor.” After the anticlimactic tidal wave, Crow sings his own version of Lightfoot's Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: “They got into port / Everyone was okay / They went out for lunch and felt better.” Near the end, Tom sings a version of the Barney theme song: “I crush you / You get crushed.” Of course, the name “Dorkin” is good for all kinds of vague innuendo during the circus scenes. It’s a decent movie, well-mocked, with one fantastic host segment and the rest above average. It’s worth multiple viewings.