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Gorgo (Blu-ray)

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Gorgo (Blu-ray)Bill Travers, William Sylvester, Vincent Winter, Christopher Rhodes, Joseph O’Conor

Directed by Eugene Lourie

Distributed by VCI Entertainment


London Bridge is falling down. So is Big Ben and most of downtown London when Gorgo comes to town.

Despite the tagline “LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER SEEN BEFORE”, odds are you have seen Gorgo before even if you haven’t actually seen it. King Kong inspired The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms inspired Godzilla. Godzilla inspired Gorgo. Gorgo inspired both Son of Godzilla and Gappa, The Triphibian Monster AKA Monster from a Prehistoric Planet. Such is the giant monster circle of life.

Fishermen capture a giant sea monster off the Irish coast and sell it to a London circus owner who immediately puts it on display as “Gorgo – The Ninth Wonder of the World”. The creature is poised to be a smash until they discover Gorgo is actually a baby and its much larger and quite unhappy momma smashes London to bits in search of her offspring. You could say Gorgo is a little like Taken if Liam Neeson was a 200-foot reptile with glowing red eyes and wiggling ears that destroys every building and crushed nearly every person on his way to saving his offspring.

Mankind’s folly is once again its downfall in Gorgo only this time instead of an allegory about the dangers of atomic radiation the lesson here is the most naturalistic of any creature feature: Never get between a boy and his mother. Countless people are crushed and untold havoc is wreaked as momma Gorgo cuts a path of destruction; a path of destruction that ultimately seems oddly acceptable to the audience once we understand what its motivations are: love.

At barely 76-minutes and barely a second of it wasted, Gorgo doesn’t make the mistake so many monster movies of its time made by getting too bogged down in the human drama, needless romance, scientific mumbo jumbo, or endless exposition. Even when it does, cockney accents lend an extra layer of credibility missing from the stiffness of many American actors appearing in similar films or the hokey English-language dub jobs that have rendered many a Godzilla movie an instant source for mockery. Simple, straightforward, and quite effective, especially during the climactic final half-hour comprised of the greatest giant monster rampage put to film save for the first time Godzilla stomped Tokyo.

By this point in his career French art director turned filmmaker Eugene Lourie had been typecast as maker of monster movies. Not the worst reputation to have when the only four theatrical films on your resume are the classic The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, the criminally underrated The Colossus of New York, the so-so The Giant Behemoth (Not much of a fan of this one), and the great Gorgo. This was Lourie’s final film in the director’s chair before devoting the remainder of his career to art direction and production design. A shame, although no one can argue Lourie didn’t go out on a high note. Except for the unfortunate need to rely on the occasional military stock footage – day footage of actual fighter jets launching missiles at nighttime Gorgo being the biggest continuity error, this has got to be the classiest giant monster movie ever made.

Gorgo stomps onto Blu-ray for the first time ever and the folks at VCI have gone the extra mile to give this British Godzilla its due. You don’t need me to tell you that this is the most vibrant print of the film you’ve probably ever seen since the Blu-ray includes an extra spotlight a side-by-side comparison between older washed-out prints and this newly restored print to prove that very point. There is some graininess still to be found, some stock footage shots that simply cannot be improved upon by the magic of HD; we are talking about a 50 year old Technicolor creature feature, after all. The vividness of the nighttime scenes are when VCI’s restoration truly standout. The title credits practically pop off the screen and the first time Gorgo head emerges from the water it is truly a sight to behold.

VCI reportedly spent a year restoring Gorgo and went the extra mile assembling an array of extras to load the disc with.

The previously mentioned restoration comparison video runs nearly three minutes. The original theatrical trailer must have also been restored because I’ve personally never seen a finer copy of it.

Then we get into some extras that came to be thanks to donations sought out by the project’s supervisor beginning with five different video slide presentations showcasing lobby cards and posters, pages from the original pressbook, the movie’s production notes, a gallery of production photos, and series of Gorgo action figures and model kits from then and now. All together these five videos run close to 15 minutes.

Two really cool bonuses give fans a chance to enjoy Gorgo in comic book format on their Blu-ray. You can read cover-to-cover issue #1 of Charleston Comics’ Gorgo that was brought to life by a guy whose name would go on to become a legend in the industry: Steve Ditko. The protracted retelling of the film, plus two non-Gorgo mini-stories and what I guess was meant to be the educational portion of the comic, a two-page write-up about that mysterious place (to kids in 1960, I presume) we call Iceland, are presented in a pan-and-scan format that first shows you the full page before moving close-up as it slowly pans down to the bottom of each page. This video comic runs about 34-minutes; the last four of which are devoted to covers of other issues of the comic series that ran for about two years.

Presented in the same format is Star Cine Cosmos’ “Fumetto” comic adaptation of the movie. These comic books were different in that instead of artwork they used actual photo frames from the film. Given this was an Italian release there isn’t much in the dialogue bubbles for you to read unless you speak the language. Still makes for an intriguing curiosity, albeit one I suspect you’ll quickly fast forward like I did rather than watch it in its 40-minute entirety.

The crème-de-la-crème of the extras is Daniel Griffith’s “Ninth Wonder of the World” documentary that crams nearly everything you ever wanted to know into thirty-one rather rushed minutes. Or should I say, everything you didn’t know about Gorgo? Not much had been written about the film’s history and making-of up until now. You’ll learn about everything from Eugene Lourie’s career to the film’s inception, production, and reception, and in between you’ll also learn, amongst other things, about how Gorgo was originally going to be set in Japan and then Paris, the two-year delay in its release due to a labor dispute, how the notoriously cheap and shall we say disreputable producers known as the “King Bros” had to cancel production on 30 other films they intended to make due to Gorgo going so far over-budget. Griffith’s doc touches on a whole lot of bases without spending too much time dwelling on any particular aspects – it doesn’t have time to. Heck, the narrator often sounds like he’s racing to get his words out as quickly as possible.

VCI’s Gorgo Blu-ray is a labor of love the likes of which we can only hope the Godzilla movies will receive when they begin making their way more and more to Blu-ray. If you’re a fan of the film, this is a must own. If you’ve never seen it, this is the definitive release.

Special Features

  • Ninth Wonder Of The World: The Making Of Gorgo” a new documentary by Daniel Griffith
  • Gorgo – Video Comic Book and Comic Book Cover Gallery
  • Extensive Lobby Card & Poster Gallery
  • Photo Gallery
  • Gorgo Toys & Collectibles Gallery
  • Production Notes
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Pressbook Gallery
  • Star Ciné Cosmos – French-language “fumetto” (comic book)
  • Restoration Video Before & After

    Film:

    4 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 out of 5

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    Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?

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    Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

    Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas


    While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

    A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

    When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

    Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

    Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

    While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

    • Inside (Remake)
    3.0

    Summary

    Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

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    User Rating 1.67 (3 votes)
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    What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review

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    “Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

    It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

    Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

    Let’s find out…

    For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

    Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

    That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

    You just have to get through all the angst first…

    But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

    MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

    In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

    • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review
    3.5

    Summary

    Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

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    Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch

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    Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

    Directed by Toby Canto


    I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

    Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

    Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

    • Film
    3.0

    Summary

    Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

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