From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Gorgo

For this second update of my “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” Kaiju Month, we will be traveling to jolly old England to take a look at their giant monster named Gorgo! This is one of those Horror Movies I grew up watching on TV as TBS use to show it all the time, and I can always remember being glued to the screen when it was on. Many fans of giant monster movies seem to forget about Gorgo as he is always over shadowed by the likes of Godzilla and King Kong, but today he and his Momma will be getting the respect they deserve and it will be lots of fun to talk about them. So if you’re ready to find some shelter as Gorgo goes on the destruction city stomp, let’s talk about him and the film he’s from.

So first let’s see what Gorgo brings to the table when it comes to his destruction ability and his way to dispatch humans who are unfortunate enough to be in his way. Gorgo stands at 200 feet and has a reptilian appearance and an aggressive attitude. Gorgo hates humans and will not only use his massive size to stomp and smash but will also use his sharp teeth and claws to dispatch human lives. He also can use his appearance and roar to scare humans into being in frenzy, leaving themselves open for panic and leading to accidents that could cause death. Gorgo not only is a threat on land, he is also very dangerous in water as he can swim and breath underwater for long periods of time. What makes Gogro a big threat to mankind is the fact his mother Ogra is over 250 feet tall and is even more pissed and can cause way more damage. While Gorgo is a massive creature, he can be hurt as he hates fire, and even explosions and firepower can cause some damage. He can also be captured and by large nets and be kept as a prisoner by mankind. So while Gorgo might not have any special fire breath nor any other powerful abilities, he and his mother do have the tools to bring mankind to their knees if they truly go on a rampage.

So that’s what Gorgo brings to the table when it comes to his path of destruction and his way to deal with pesky humans. We should now take a look at the 1961 film Gorgo that this Kaiju appears in. As always, the film’s write up will be taken from our pals at IMDB and I will talk briefly afterwards about the film’s production as well as my thoughts on the film. So if you’re ready, I am ready to take a look at Gorgo!

Gorgo (1961)

A salvage vessel is nearly sunk off the Irish coast by an undersea earthquake. A few nights later, a walking sea monster tangles with the fishing boats and enters the town. The salvage vessel captures Gorgo and takes it to London for display. Gorgo’s mother, who is upset and significantly larger follows his trail to London leaving a wake of destruction in her path.”

Gorgo is a British giant monster horror movie that was released by MGM in America and British Lion-Columbia in England. The film was directed by Eugene Lourie and cast such actors as Bill Travers, William Sylvester and Mick Dillon as the man in the Gorgo suit. The film had a pretty normal production for this type of movie at the time and MGM was hoping that this film would be a mega hit for them and would be their Godzilla at the Box Office and usher in a new monster icon. Gorgo was released in 1961 alongside such other frightful shockers like Konga, The Curse Of The Werewolf, Reptilicus, Brainiac, Doctor Blood’s Coffin, The Pit And The Pendulum, The Beast Of Yucca Flats and Mr. Sardonicus to name a few. And the film ended up doing pretty well and built up the world of Giant Monsters at the cinema that was sparked by the success of Godzilla in 1954. There’s not much special about this production besides at one point the film was going to be set in Japan first and then was changed to France, Australia and finally was settled on England. And the film for the time was also praised very highly for its monster special effects.

Much like King Kong and Godzilla, the mighty Gorgo has always seemed to be a part of my life as I have seen this film so many times on TV as well as home media like VHS and DVD, and I have seen this film over a dozen times…in fact even while writing this update I re-watched the film again on DVD! And while I really enjoy Gorgo as a film, I have talked to many other Horror Fans of Kaiju films and one phrase always seems to come up and that’s, “It’s good but it’s kind of bland” or some phrase like it, and I think I know what they mean as the film is a little slow moving in spots and has a very British slow paced feel until the amazing climax. And I get what they mean for the most part as the film itself is a great giant monster film that showcases two massive and cool monsters, but it does have a very slow pace like many of the Hammer Horror films released in the 60’s and 70’s. But for me, the pacing and slow build are kind of what makes this film special as the over all runtime is pretty short at only 78 minutes long. The film also spawned not only the comic book series but also had a novel adaptation of the film, model kits, shirts, posters and many more merchandise items showing that Gorgo does have his own cult following. There’s not much more to say about Gorgo besides it’s a fun Kaiju film that delivers monster mayhem and shows just how popular these giant monster movies were back in the 60’s.

So now that we have taken a look at Gorgo as a Kaiju as well as the film he is from, I think it’s now time we take a look at the comic book adaptation of the film that was released by Charlton Comics! I want to send a big thank you to the Ebay seller that had this comic in stock and made this update possible. I want to also remind you all that I grade this comic on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready let’s see just how monstrous Gorgo really is when it comes to the world of Horror Comic Books.

Gorgo # 1  ***
Released in 1961    Cover Price .10    Charlton Comics   # 1 of 24

Sam Slade and Joe Ryan are business partners who search the sea for hidden treasure when a massive storm hits that is so bad that fish from the bottom of the sea are coming to the top. And after the storm they return to a small port that as well has been hit hard by the storm and are run off by Professor McCartin who is searching the sea for something. They soon follow one of McCartin’s ships, and they send a diver down who later comes back with a fist full of Viking gold but also dies of fright before their eyes! Sam and Joe dive next as Joe wants the gold and Sam wants to make sure his greedy partner comes back alive, and while down in the ocean they soon come face to face with a giant monster that makes them flee. Once back at the island they watch as the townspeople do a ritual and then watch as a massive creature Gorgo comes from the water and is forced back by fire by Joe and Sam who have figured our the creatures weakness. The villagers praise the pair as they Joe comes up with an idea to capture the massive creature with a steel shark net and the idea works and they take their massive find to London and are making tons of money showing it to the world. But Professor McCartin warns them that Gorgo is just a baby and that his mother is on her way to get him back, and she does show up and rampages across London until she gets her son back! The army, fire, electricity and everything is useless against the mother who grabs her offspring and heads back to the water ending her terror.

Gorgo was made for comic books and that’s why he lasted 24 issues even though the final issue was renamed Fantastic Giant as he is a cool monster that has an amazing look to him. This comic follows the plot of the film pretty well and has humans capturing Gorgo and turning him into a paid attraction and by kidnapping him they unleash his even more massive mothers rage on the city to get him back. Our hero is Sam Slade, who is a man who co-owns a company that finds treasures at the bottom of the oceans and also is the one who don’t like the idea of capturing a massive Kaiju when all around him warn of dangers and bring it to a city…he and they were wise for their fears! Joe Ryan is a sleazy conman who allows money to rule his life and seem to not even care about other peoples lives and safety if money is involved, in fact even when everything goes to hell he is still willing to wait it out in order to see if he can come out ahead. Ogra is Gorgo’s Mother and she is one massive creature of the sea who can not be stopped once she starts and her child is involved, she brings down the military with ease and even shrugs off fire like its nothing…in other words she is really unstoppable! Gorgo while just a baby as well is a creature of destruction and if not for his fear of fire he could have crushed the small island and all those on it! Gorgo, just like his mother, seems to always be in a destructive mood and always in a bad one. While this comic does a good job capturing the film, it does feel a little rush and some characters from the movie seem to take more of a back seat in the comic like the Professor and the young boy who is his assistant. The comic is bloodless but does have death, injury and destruction in it and has a real classic Horror Comic feel to it. The cover is very eye catching and fans of the movie I am sure flocked to get a copy of the comic just based on it! The interior art is done by the amazing Steve Ditko and is top notch stuff and shows that his art and giant monsters go hand and hand. Over all this is a great adaptation of a solid Kaiju film and is one that you should check out if you like Gorgo and other giant monsters like him. Check out the art below to see what Ditko brought to the table.

Gorgo is a Kaiju that I think the world seems to be gaining more respect for over time as his design, movie and legacy is pretty great, and he deserves to find his cult following. Now that we have survived the rampage of Gorgo and Ogra and before that we barely got out of the way of Reptilicus’, it’s time for the main destruction event as our final Kaiju for this month long themes updates is the one and only Godzilla from the 2014 film and the graphic novel Awakening that was spawned from it! So be ready for that as it will be a massive good time. Until then, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! I hope you’re prepared for the Kaiju that is Godzilla!

Horror Host Icon: Chiller Theatre Six-Fingered Hand

The year is 1971, and it’s Saturday night at 8pm. You have your Mello Yellow drink in hand and a small bowl of potato chips as your favorite show is on air.  We are talking Chiller Theatre, and your blood turns cold as the Six-Fingered Claymation Hand comes out of the ground and spells out Chiller from growing twisted weeds! This Horror Host Icon update is a tribute to that Claymation Hand as well as the legacy that Chiller Theatre has spread around not only the Horror Host Community but also the world of Horror in general! Now I am sure many of you are saying, “Hey wait a minute – that hand is not a fully fledged Horror Host,” but to me just like the voice on USA Saturday Nightmares that Claymation hand brought terror to the hearts of viewers and also acted as their guide and source of nightmares so indeed that Six-Fingered Claymation Hand is a Horror Host! So it’s with great honor that I bring to you readers Horror Host Icon: Six-Fingered Claymation Hand of Chiller Theatre.

Six-Fingered Hand took over Chiller Theatre in 1971 and creeped out viewers with its awkward movements and billowing voice that would announce CHILLER as it made letters emerge from the swampy land that it lives in. The letters spell out CHILLER, and the Hand would then grab the letters, slowly sink back into the swamp and say chilllllleeerrrrrr as it disappeared back into the bloody looking water. The Six-Fingered Hand is a mystery, and not much is known about its origin or where it comes from. But the one thing that is known about this hand is that it creeped out viewers and left them with chills before the horror movie even started. The Six-Fingered Hand would be the “Host” of Chiller Theatre from 1971-2011, and even when other hosts would be on the show, the hand would always follow before or after commercial breaks. The Six-Fingered Hand was a creature of few words; besides saying Chiller it would also say “Hoo…” and sound as if it was in pain. Another thing that makes Six-Fingered Hand so scary for viewers was the weird music that was played during its appearance that sounded straight out of one of the horror movies shown on the program. While simple, the Six-Fingered Hand is a true titan of fright and remains very popular with fans who grew up watching it emerge from the bloody swamp to usher them into their favorite late night fright program.

Now here are some fun and cool facts about Chiller Theatre from over the years. Chiller Theatre started in 1961. 1963 was when Zacherley was the host of the show, and he is the Godfather of Horror Hosting and was and still is one of the most beloved Hosts of all time. Chiller was first canceled in 1982 but was brought back for one night in 2008 as well as in 2009 where they had Elvira Mistress Of The Dark as the host, and she proved to be a major hit for her one time appearance. Also 2009 marked the first time WPIX would make merchandise for the show allowing fans to collect things based on their beloved Horror Host program. For Halloween like the years before, they let Chiller Theatre once more hit the airwaves in 2010 and 2011 allowing The Six-Fingered Hand and their evening newscasters to host the final airing of Chiller. Another very cool thing about Chiller is that it sparked many creative minds in the New York area to become filmmakers, comic book makers, musicians, writers and artists and even helped spawn the Chiller Theater Convention that was founded in 1990 and is still running to this day. Say what you will, but Chiller Theater is one of the biggest Horror Host shows in the nation and is one that still has a major following to this day even though at this point it has not been seen in seven years.

I first heard about Chiller Theatre in the pages of old horror movie magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and always seemed to know it was something special for the viewers of New York. I can even remember being at Horror Conventions here in Ohio and people wore shirts of Chiller Theatre showing that its influence runs deep in the world of Horror. We are now at the point of this update where I will take a look at the one episode of Chiller Theatre featuring The Six-Fingered Hand, and I want to think my brother Bryan for getting me this episode for this update! So if you’re ready to hit the swamps of Chiller lets travel back to one of NY’s top Horror Host shows!

CHILLER Theatre: Gorgo
Starring – Bill Travers & William Sylvester      Unrated       1961

Host: The six-fingered hand shows up in second clips and does his thing.

Movie: A salvage vessle is nearly sunk off the Irish coast by an undersea earthquake. A few nights later, a walking sea monster tangles with the fishing boats and enters the town. The salvage vessel captures Gorgo and takes it to London for display. Gorgo’s mother, who is upset and significantly larger follows his trail to London leaving a wake of destruction in her path.

Note From Matt: Sadly most the bumpers and commercials are cut out from this episode, but this was the only episode I could find with only The Six Fingered Hand as the host.

WPIX, in my opinion, have really dropped the ball as they should make CHILLER Theatre at least a Halloween night tradition year after year and do a double feature of frightful horror features to entertain and scare the viewers of late night New York television. And you know that Six-Fingered Claymation Hand is ready for his return to TV! I know that this was a really quick Horror Host Icon update and that the Six-Fingered Hand might not have a back story or skits like most classic Horror Hosts, but I really do feel that it needed to have a Icon update. As you have read this update I hope that you yourself thought back to watching Chiller Theatre or even to your own hometown host. For our next update, we will be leaving the world of Horror Hosting and be kicking off our countdown to Halloween with a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic that will showcase the Horror Comedy I Sell The Dead. So until next time, watch a horror movie or two and support your local Horror Host! See you next update for an undead good time!