Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Mighty Gorga (1969)

Talking of bad movies - and if we weren't, then we should have been - it is to my great regret that I've never been able to get my hands on a complete version of The Mighty Gorga.  The various clips I've come across indicate that it is undoubtedly a highly entertaining slice of low budget movie making.  Indeed, the above set of clips (not a 'trailer', despite what the You Tube poster's title might claim), highlight the movie's two greatest special effects: the dinosaur and Gorga himself.  A micro-budgeted King Kong rip off from the late sixties, I do know a little bit about the film's production, courtesy of an article about producer/director David L Hewitt in one of the Shock Xpress paperbacks.

Whilst the dinosaur is clearly a (pretty poor) puppet, the budget didn't run to hiring an ape costume, so Gorga was instead created by sticking hair onto a car suit, whilst the head was a hollowed out foam novelty gorilla head, (the eyes are clearly plastic and unblinking).  Hewitt himself was inside the 'costume' and, judging by the fit of wheezing Gorga has after fighting the dinosaur, suffered badly from asthma.  Hewitt supervised the effects himself and, to be fair, despite their general shoddiness, he did at least use some process work to integrate the creatures with the live actors - I've seen many other low budget films of this type (some of them studio backed productions) which instead rely on poor back projection to achieve this or, worse, don't make any attempt to include their monsters in the same shot as the  actors.  After watching the clip, it will probably come as no surprise to anyone that Hewitt was also responsible for some of the effects work on Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

In order to pad the film out, Hewitt filmed several of the actors getting on and off of an airliner and walking around San Diego zoo (all without permission from the venues).  Amongst the actors involved were such low budget stalwarts as Anthony Eisley, Scott Brady and Kent Taylor - the name of any one of this trio on the cast list of a film is usually a guarantee of low budget schlockiness.   From what I've seen and from what I know about The Mighty Gorga, it is clearly one of those low budget movies which you can't help but admire - a film made by people who are professional film makers, but who inhabit the hinterlands of commercial movie making, where they simply don't have the resources to realise their ambitions.  But that doesn't stop them trying to emulate big budget studio pictures on shoestring budgets.  All power to them, I say: at least they can maintain some semblance of independence in an industry dominated by accountants and executives who see films simply as 'products' and can't see beyond the potential for profitable spin offs when it comes to green lighting projects.

But best of all about this kind of film is that it rekindles that crazy belief that all of us who have ever shot a home movie have: that we could actually produce a commercial feature.  I mean, even I could manage special effects on a par with The Mighty Gorga (green screen effects are actually very straightforward to create on your laptop nowadays if you have the right editing software - much easier than they were to achieve on film back in the sixties).   Damn it, I'll have to get my great nieces to work making a dinosaur puppet - they could probably build something along the lines of the one in the clip.  They'd probably even operate it for me...



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