Kong count #12 – The Mighty Gorga

Since the new Mystery Science Theater 3000 series is in production, might I suggest they take 1969’s The Mighty Gorga into consideration? It’s exactly the level of bad movie that frequented the original show – it’s often astonishingly inept, but occasionally flirts with competence, and it’s bad in entertaining ways.

the_mighty_gorga

The film has aspects with potential: the early parts, featuring a struggling circus (that looks suspiciously like a zoo), desperately on the brink of bankruptcy, seems right out of a proper drama. As a gamble to make ends meet, our hero flies to Africa (which appears to be the exact same zoo) to meet a hunter who’s informed him of a giant gorilla. The fact that the movie’s stock hardass big-game hunter character is female is also quite progressive for the 1960s.

Places where the film falls apart are numerous, though. Editing is abrupt, and the background music is intrusive. Scenes that you can tell were scripted to be comedic fall awkwardly flat (even though the actors aren’t bad, they’re usually filmed in long, wide shots that don’t allow for much facial expression), while the tense ones are laughable. There’s a subplot with a rival hunter that lasts about a total of three minutes and is more or less pointless. Then there’s the bizarre casting for the African natives (who the movie calls “Indians”, I guess as a nod to The Lost World?), including a suspiciously Caucasian witch doctor (an actor who had inexplicably appeared earlier in the film as a clown) speaking in syntactically-broken-yet-American-accented English about the “white men” when talking to his fellow natives or to a giant gorilla.

The standout flaw, however, is the special effects. The director of this film did improve, eventually working in effects for Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Superman IV, but this film has a dead-eyed, cross-eyed gorilla suit (they could have gotten the same effect with googly eyes), and an atrocious T-Rex puppet. That puppet was reused for Ed Wood’s One Million AC/DC (which shares a DVD with Mighty Gorga), while Gorga in turn recycled footage from the Italian Hercules flick Goliath and the Dragon for one of its monsters. It’s sort of like a B-movie food chain!

As I mentioned previously, there were briefly plans for a sequel during the mid-70s Kong mania, but I imagine even by then this flick would have been forgotten, so it’s little surprise that it didn’t materialize. I wouldn’t mind seeing a remake, provided they totally call a mulligan on the first one and play up the handful of admitted strengths, though. As it currently stands, the movie we do have is an entertaining mess, worth investigating only after exhausting other options in the genre.

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