Saturday Afternoon Kaiju: Gorath (1962)
Right off the bat, I have to admit that Gorath barely meets the criteria of a Kaiju film. Does it have a man in suit monster? Well, yes, depending on the version of the movie you watch. Even then, when it does appear it’s barely on screen for more than a few minutes. That’s okay, though, because it is worth the wait.
The Japanese send a crew of 32(!) men into space on a nine month trek to explore Saturn. On the way to the ringed planet, they are told to change course and investigate this giant star that has suddenly appeared in the galaxy. This red star, Gorath, is on a collision course with Earth so the powers that be want the ship to send them as much data as possible before they all die a terrible death. Needless to say, the men are pissed off but they are told they lives won’t be lost in vain because the information they send back to Earth might save it from destruction.
Back on Earth, the United Nations are scrambling to figure out how to stop Gorath from destroying the planet. It’s decided that the best course of action would be to… stay with me here people… build dozens of giant rocket thruster engines on the South Pole so that the entire planet can move its orbit. Say what?!
While they are building those massive engines, Japan sends another crew up into space to get more information of Gorath. Apparently, the rogue star is smaller than Earth but the gravity is 6,000 times that of Earth. This second ship does get more data on Gorath but not before one brave pilot narrowly escapes the star and in the process, loses all of his memory. Here’s where the subplot that I’m not going to describe comes in.
The people of Earth have been told Gorath is hurtling towards them and everyone seems to take it pretty well. There isn’t any kind of panic. It’s like “Hey, either those rockets are going to move the Earth out of its current orbit and no lasting consequences are going to occur or the entire planet is going to be destroyed. No big whoop.”
While blasting giant holes down in the South Pole to build their rockets thrusters, the international crews unexpectedly unearth a giant prehistoric walrus-type creature named Maguma. That’s right, the Kaiju stuck into the movie at the last minute, is a massive walrus. He puts his flipper through some buildings and kind of just lumbers around for a bit. Because he’s down in the South Pole, there isn’t much for him to destroy. Poor Maguma!
Gorath continues to approach the Earth. Miraculously, the rockets work and the Earth is moved out of orbit but the moon isn’t spared and is destroyed. Surely, you’ll have as many questions as my husband and I did about all the “scientific” things going on in the film. Does moving the Earth 100 miles out of its orbit have any consequences? Without the moon, what happens to oceans, tides, etc? Are more Maguma hidden under the ice? The mind reels!
There are a lot of themes going on in this one. Some of them rather heavy. So unlike, say Godzilla vs. Megalon where it’s just jam packed full of fun, this one has a much more serious tone. As I stated earlier, it is clear Maguma was thrown in at that last minute but I’m glad he was because he is awesome. I just wish he was in it for longer than like 3 minutes. It stars the usual Toho actors you find in many other Honda directed films. Toho never scrimps on their miniatures and they are put to good use here.
Try and seek Gorath out, if you can. It is available on YouTube, uploaded into 20 minute sections. Look for the Japanese version because it is there you’ll be able to see Maguma in all his glory.