Gorgo (1961) A Kaiju classic…from ENGLAND???

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Yes, that is Big Ben in the poster. Totally rips off Gamera, Godzilla, and other kaiju films from Japan. But Gorgo is a British classic and capitalized on the “dino craze” before Jurassic Park. So there.

Underwhelmed by Jurassic World’s blockbuster success, I found myself hungering for a true blue, n0-frills kinda Kaiju movie. From England. Because…why not? (Wasn’t in the mood for subtitles, if I’m being entirely honest)

Enter Gorgo (1961) or Britain’s rather lame equivalent to the Gamera franchise.

Director: Eugene Lorie

Writers: Robert L. Richards and Daniel James

Starring: Bill Travers, William Sylvester, and Vincent Winter

The story starts on an Irish island where two British treasure hunters, Sam (Sylvester) and Joe (Travers), discover a baby monster that killed two divers. While they strategize to capture the beast, they meet an incomprehensible Irish orphan named Sean (Winter), who, I shit you not, speaks gibberish for the entire film. Maybe that’s my Stupid American™ showing, but I thought I DIDN’T need subtitles for this film. Like Kenny in Gamera, Sean tries to set Gorgo free and generally gets in the military’s way and is forced to be rescued many annoying times.

Every Kaiju movie needs a monster-obsessed kid who puts everyone’s lives in danger by freeing the kaiju at the last second!

Once Sam and Joe make it to England , they sell the creature, who Sean calls “Gorgo,” to a London circus. And surprise, surprise, discover the creature’s mother has destroyed Ireland while they were away. What follows next is an incredibly long montage of bombers, tanks, guns, explosions, and mass hysteria as British forces fight Gorgo’s mother. She somehow makes it all the way to London, destroying the city and mostly everyone in it. These scenes were enjoyable for their kitsch factor, alone. The movie was done in 1961 and had no real special effects to speak of, save for cheesy puppets and model scales, but I thought they were well done.

The circus people lock Gorgo in an electric fenced cage but Gorgo’s mother breaks through and both escape back to the sea. The End.

What baffled me most was how easily Gorgo was caught. He’s impervious to bullets, fire, and other human weapons, but is somehow defenseless against rope nets. He allows himself (without aid of tranquilizers) to be ferreted across the sea to London and does not try to kill Sean when the kid gets close to him. Gorgo is a typical kaiju monster flick with a lot of action scenes.

Giving it a “B.”

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The Fascinating “Freaks”

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[CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!]

Now this is a classic gem that everyone should enjoy! It centers around a group of circus freaks and the bond they share with each other. But when Cleopatra(Olga Baclanova) and her lover, Hercules(Henry Victor), plot to kill the owner of the circus(who happens to be a midget) and take his fortune, the rest of the circus freaks plan their own form of justice.

Now why am I talking about this film. I think this film is an important part of horror film history. This film had real circus freaks in it and was actually banned in most parts of the United States and has been cut and re-cut. This film was made in 1932, so there was a certain standard to be held for audiences.  In the original version of the film the Freaks castrate Hercules so he becomes a castrato and they also disfigure a helpless Cleopatra and turn her into a human duck. Apparently this was took much for some audiences to handle because one woman threatened to sue MGM for causing a miscarriage. Yikes!

That goes to show  how big a grip audiences have on a film. So instead of the horrifying mutilations of Hercules and Cleopatra, we get a happier ending with Hans the midget(played by Harry Earles) reunites with his former fiancee and lives happily ever after. We still see Cleopatra as the human duck but we don’t see how she got that way.

 We also see, what could be called, real circus freaks. Frances O’Connor played the armless woman and she was born without arms. Daisy and Violet Hilton were real conjoined twins, and Prince Randian played the human torso; he was born without arms or legs. That adds to the horror, knowing that the freaks were real. Don’t you think?

Some references:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freaks

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022913/

Crucible of Horror (1970) REVIEW

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Classic British horror at its finest. I must say, I really enjoyed this movie! This cult-classic flick was directed by Viktor Ritelis and stars Michael Gough, Yvonne Mitchell, and Sharon Gurney.  John Hotchkins provides a deliciously eerie score, and the music reminded me very much of the wailing theremin in Dark Shadows. Is the story supernatural or a crime-mystery? Not quite sure. But I won’t spoil the surprise ending by revealing too much, here.

First five minutes: Not much dialogue, moody camera closeups while patriarch, Walter Eastwood, incessantly washes his hands and stares at his blinking cat. All of this would have bored me to tears if not for the odd camera angles and the characters’ stifled movements. Right away the audience feels a sense of veiled oppression, which is fully-realized once Walter’s daughter, Jane,  kisses a business associate and is savagely beaten with a switch. The camera immediately snaps back to Walter washing his hands again. His wife, Edith, listens to disembodied voices in the attic while Jane sobs from her wounds. There isn’t much dialogue and we’re still not sure what’s going on , but the absence of information only adds to the mounting suspense. We learn Walter is as meticulous as he is cruel. He coddles his son, Rupert, while terrorizing his wife and daughter with physical violence. He seems fixated on his daughter (and her sexuality) most of all.

When she receives a letter at breakfast the next morning, Walter snatches it away and tells his family he will go to the family cottage by himself. Once his back is turned, Edith casually suggests that she and Jane should kill him. Only she’s not joking. The mother-daughter kill-team show up at the cottage that night with poison and a loaded rifle.

I’m not going to write what happens next–but, oh, dear! Things for Walter go downhill from there!

It’s easy to see why Crucible of Horror is a cult-classic. The family is horrifying because audience can relate to them. And the twist ending…you will NOT see it coming! It is strange. Open-ended. And leaves unsettling questions in your mind long after the credits have finished. I didn’t expect to like the movie so much, but I will certainly add it to my collection. I recommend this movie for folks who like mysteries, family horror, British actors, and psychological surrealism. I’m giving this movie an A+ for creeping me out!

Repo! The Genetic Opera: A Review

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Cast: Anthony Head, Sarah Brightman, Alexa Vega, Paul Sorvino, Paris Hilton, Ogre

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Oh how I LOVE this movie! The music, the gore, the horror, it’s amazing. Anyway, this film is about a futuristic society where this company, GeneCo, gives out organs for people who need it. But if you can’t make the payments, the Repoman comes and removes your organs. Nathan(Anthony Head) is the Repoman who is haunted by the death of his wife and desperately tries to keep his secret from his daughter, Shilo(Alexa Vega).

Here’s a fun fact about: Michael Rooker actually played The Repoman a 10 minute short for the movie. Also this was originally a stage play.

Anyway, the thing I love the most about this movie is the music. It just catches your attention, it’s fun, and it’s disturbing. I thought the story was great about this tortured man who blames himself for his wife’s death and desperately clings to his only child. He holds on to her so much that she never goes outside and didn’t even know that she had a godmother. I think he took overprotective parent to the next level. You’ll understand the extent of his madness by the end of the film.

The part of Shilo was also pretty cool because she is this sick seventeen-year-old who just wants to be like every other kid. Even if it means disobeying her father and hanging out with the low-lives of the city. Which is where The Graverobber comes in. He is the fun scoundrel who knows everybody worth knowing, hears every bit of gossip and news, and is the main supplier for Zydrate. Now Zydrate is a drug extracted from dead bodies and is mainly used as a painkiller for surgery, however it’s always being abused by drug addicts.

One of the things that I really hate about this movie, it that Paris Hilton is in it. Paris Hilton…really? I’m just thankful she didn’t have that big of a part. But whatever, the story, the music, and all the other actors make up for Hilton’s presence. Now that I think about it, she was really playing herself. Her character, Amber Sweet, felt like Paris Hilton when she spends money.

I’d give this movie and “A”!