Saving Their Silly Skins

Gorgo is like any other giant monster movie. Director Eugene Lourie did three of them himself, two that became classics: this, and Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. The less said about The Giant Behemoth the better.

Released in 1961, Gorgo has a number of advantages over its contemporaries. Notably, the mean streak running through this script and sustaining that cruelty through the finale. Joe (Bill Travers) and Sam (William Sylvester) lead this story that, rather than nuclear or Cold War fears, is based entirely on pure greed. After Gorgo rises from the water off of Ireland, men die trying to capture it, and Joe and Sam show no sympathy. They abuse a child for nearly losing their profitable animal, and after a near escape in London, write off a worker’s death by offering money; that’s all that matters to them.

Gorgo has a number of advantages over its contemporaries

There’s the brutality on display too. Genre films of this era showed minor body counts, usually military, and even more usual, the deaths go unseen inside tanks or planes. Gorgo devastates London, ensuring every casualty is evident (whether the visual effects work or not). It’s a cruel spectacle, but an alluring one in how effectively Gorgo conveys panic, chaos, and destruction. Full size props, a (mostly) convincing man-in-suit, and stellar miniatures make the scenario work. It’s marvelous cinematic death, and better than many Irwin Allen disaster films that came later.

Notable is the lack of women in this film. That’s not because of any equality/sexism concerns, rather how brash and heartless the cast of men appear. It’s a catastrophe born of a distinctly male mindset, of hubris and invulnerability, even a need to provide (although no one is likely to give Joe and Sam a chance after this fiasco). It’s an interesting decision as Lourie directed this film after his daughter mourned the monster’s death in his previous works, letting the creature live in Gorgo, and subconsciously warning his child about men like them; in that context, Gorgo is the film equivalent of the cliched father showing his girl’s new boyfriend a shotgun collection.

Few screen monsters ever ravaged the European mainlands. Denmark (Reptilicus) and London (Konga, Giant Behemoth) took the brunt, but none ever matched Gorgo for it uniquely textured immorality. Or, the dazzling carnage that captures a mother’s fury, enraged by her child’s confinement, and in a script lacking women characters, the most important woman of all wins the day.


Marvelous. Absolutely marvelous. Never has Gorgo seen a decent home release. This is easily the best of the lot, and that’s apparent immediately. Astonishing color reproduction adds a ridiculous amount of life to this film, making the most of flesh tones and the island scenery. Brilliantly blue waters, eerie orange sunsets, and other hefty primaries bring Gorgo to the modern era. Gorgo itself has a deep green hue that went entirely unseen on previous discs. Occasional wavering due to time can create flicker, skewing the palette slightly yellowed and then back.

Pulled from the original negative, the improvements from that alone greatly benefit this British classic. Vertical scratches remain, the main fault on an otherwise flawless print. Thick grain poses a definite encoding challenge, yet the imagery remains absolutely pure and film-esque. While this level of resolution reveals clear faults in the visual effects, the blue screen outlines aside, they appear crisper than similar shots from many other films of this era. Composited smoke/haze takes its toll on clarity, as does stock footage, but that’s unavoidable.

Impeccable definition shows more texture than ever before, especially on the Gorgo suit. Miniatures look spectacular in their detail. Previous Gorgo discs also lost definition in the shadows and that’s far less an issue now, if still present in the original cinematography. Fires, sparks, and sun-glistened waters make full use of the HDR pass.


English mono joins an isolated effects track in the audio menu. Age is a definite factor to this DTS-HD mix as the score’s drums and horns falter and wobble at their deepest/highest to an obvious if minor degree. Dialog has a natural coarseness expected of something this vintage.


On the Blu-ray, Vinegar Syndrome opens with an older making-of that runs 31-minutes. Another 10-minute featurette from VCI’s prior Blu-ray looks at the behind-the-scenes material, written by Tom Weaver. Historian Stephen Bissett speaks for almost 37-minutes on his appreciation for Gorgo. A short fan film, Waiting for Gorgo, continues the movie’s story, and includes a making-of. In total, that runs for 20-minutes. Vinegar Syndrome also includes motion comics, pressbook materials, posters, and other promo materials that join the trailer.

On both the UHD and Blu-ray, Bissett provides a so-so commentary track.

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Unique only with it’s aggressively cruel characters, Gorgo is often routine, but a grand spectacle about man’s greed.

User Review
3 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 38 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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