The Mighty Gorga
Anthony Eisley as Mark Remington
Megan Timothy as April Adams
Scott Brady as Dan Morgan
Kent Taylor as Tonga Jack Adams
Bruce Kimball as The Witch Doctor/Mort the Clown
Lee Parrish as George
Greydon Clark as Charlie the Elephant ticket seller
Directed by David L. Hewitt
One of the worst rip-offs of King Kong ever, even worse than Queen Kong (which is an epic chore to sit through itself), this masterpiece of horrible filmmaking sinks below the chum of the crap, a benchmark that is not easily passed by those trying to create a worse giant gorilla film. Sure, that genre has some terrible entries: the aforementioned Queen Kong, King Kong Escapes (though I like this one), the Mighty Joe Young remake, A*P*E, the upcoming Kinky Kong, and the classic porn masterpiece King Dong. Giant ape movies will be with us forever, and some of them go on forever like the Peter Jackson version of King Kong. The Mighty Gorga is mercifully short, the best feature of the entire film.
A woman is chained as sacrifice because she is the next victim of the Mighty Gorgo! As we all know how this works from the various King Kong films, the movie doesn’t even bother to explain what is going on. They then jump right into a circus, as lion taming happens during the opening credits, something every version of King Kong can’t claim to have, so that’s one point for The Mighty Gorga.
Mark Remington is the boss of the local circus, which is in money trouble. Charlie the Elephant ticket seller (and Hobgoblins director Greydon Clark? Wow!) discusses this with Mort the Clown, you see, so we find out. I’m guessing they are broke because they pay someone to take tickets for each individual animal, instead of having all the animals grouped together for more efficiency. Also, Mr. Shye from the Consolidated Circus Consortium (CCC) is there, he is going to make Mr. Remington another offer to try to buy up his circus. You know it’s an evil corporation because it has both Consolidated and Consortium in its name. Mark refuses, and his brother Dan comes into the office just as Mr. Shye tells them that the CCC bought up their loan from the bank, and will try to squeeze them out. Shye points out they have no main attraction and thus will be broke in three months, and the entire loan is due in six months. Someone needs to learn about refinancing, or not accepting balloon mortgages. Mark Remington kicks Shye out of his office, and then tells his brother he’ll find a new main attraction. He has a lead from an animal dealer in the Congo, who has information about an oversized gorilla. He’ll finance an expedition to go get it. This brings up one of the main problems with all these films, crazy businessmen who want to put the giant gorilla on display. The worst offender is the original King Kong, whose entire Broadway show seems to be having a big ape chained up for two hours, which would have gotten boring after three minutes had he not escaped and ate some people. At least in a circus setting it makes sense to have animals running around, as it adds to the atmosphere and there is lots of other things to do after five minutes of watching Mighty Gorga sleep, like lose $20 on a rigged ring toss game as a one-eyed carnie tries to pick up your girlfriend by crushing beer cans in his gut.
Mark Remington also mentions King Kong in his explanation, so the film acknowledges its roots. Good for it. Another bonus point. Mark flies to Africa in a small plane that is producing an awful lot of black smoke as exhaust, I’ll make the required joke about someone burning some oil. In addition, this is back when you could smoke on planes, so both inside or out is filled with black, disgusting air. The second Mark arrives in Africa, he is greeted by tribal drum music on the soundtrack. Always a good choice when representing Africa, if you want to get angry letters. Mark calls Bill the Zookeeper, an animal catcher, to arrange to meet at his zoo. That way, they can just go to the local zoo, pad the film with a bunch of shots of captive animals, and say it’s all the African Zoo in Africa City, Africa. It’s also cheaper than buying stock film! Mark spends an awful lot of time looking at a gorilla play around, and finally Bill shows up, taking him to the compound of Tonga Jack Adams. Mark tries to speak African to a black worker, who surprises him by speaking perfect English back. His name is George, and as the tribal drums have stopped, this film might actually be done with the embarrassing ethnic problems. George takes Mark to where the boss is, and at this point Bill has vanished forever. I like to think one of the animals in the Animal Capturing Place they are at just up and ate him, probably a zebra. My theory is zebras are secretly carnivorous, but eat only plants when people are around, so they have a better chance of sneaking up on us. Zebras are just a subspecies of tigers, that’s why they got the stripes. Stupid zebras, I’m on to you!!
The current boss is named April Adams, and she is arguing with the Great White Hunter Morgan. April is the animal catcher, and Morgan owns the loan on the animal capturing place. This film’s entire reason of existence is to rail against the practice of banks selling loans! After Morgan walks off in a huff, April Adams uses her British accent to talk to Mark. Mark explains that he’s looking for a hunter named Tonga Jack. It just so happens that he is her father, and has been missing for several months. So Mark fails to find Gorga and the movie ends with bankruptcy for all! Wait, no, not yet. Mark says he’ll go back to America the next day, but first Mark and April bond while talking about their business troubles. This happens as it is day outside, but simultaneously it is night just a few feet away (because it’s Africa, you see…), as someone is setting a fire on her place. I wonder who that could be? Smokey the Bear, you naughty grizzly! April says that three years earlier her father found a wounded native who told of an Ape God, and drew a map of an area that no white man had ever been to. April has a copy of the map, because if she didn’t the movie would be over. The native also had a gold medallion in the same shape as the Ape God (ape shaped), which is how they know it wasn’t some local drunk ranting and raving. Unless it was one of those drunks with a lot of bling. George alerts April to the fire, but it’s too late. April has no insurance, and Morgan shows up suspiciously quickly trying to buy her out. She tells him to take a hike, but Mark pays off the note April owes, as a down payment on an ape hunt. That’s pretty generous and innovative of him, plus it allows them to kick Morgan out. Mark truly wants to go on the ape hunt, despite April’s warnings, so they will leave the next day.
Mark, April, and George go to meet the luggage bearers at the river outpost as stock shot of flamingos in the zoo–I mean flamingos in Africa are shown. Also, exotic African mallard ducks are also present. The tribal drums return as the jeep drives to the outpost, to remind us that we are in Africa, and not California. Only two of the people at the outpost will go with them on the journey, as they are all afraid. None of the afraid people are shown, because then they’d have to hire more than two extras, you see! Cheap filmmaking at its finest. The expedition will drive until they can’t, then they start walking after they run into a dead end in the forests of Californ– I mean Africa. After some walking, the luggage bearers stop and refuse to go on further, they almost drop the luggage as they put it down to sit on. The group is at the gateway to the unexplored area, complete with three skulls on sticks placed as warnings. They make camp for the night, and more jungle drums play, these are the signal drums now. George tells that the drums are giving news of their safari, and that a second group of white hunters is coming after them. They figure it is probably Morgan hoping they will lead him to the lost treasure of Solomon, which is supposed to be in the same area. Keep in mind the drums are playing on a continuous loop with no pattern. No pattern a white man can hear!
We cut to some people dressed up as a cross between American Indians and Africans, as the Witch Doctor (Ting tang walla walla bing bang) speaks “They come for treasure, like all white men. You friend. This time they feel the wrath of Gorga.” Stellar dialogue, to be sure. Witch Doctor bangs a gong, and that calls out Gorga. Witch Doctor makes a deal with the silent Gorga, asking him for help to get the white men, but will sacrifice a maiden to him first. Gorga then leaves, like he understood. We should also note that the actor playing the Witch Doctor (Bruce Kimball) also played Mort the Clown back at the circus. He is the Eddie Murphy of Gorga! Back down below, Mark and April are still talking, and a romance is blooming. We then cut to the sounds of a woman panting loudly. Gorga kicks it up a notch!! No, wait, it’s not some dirty dirty sex, but just a struggling native girl being put on a sacrificial altar to Gorga. The Witch Doctor (Ting tang walla walla bing bang) yells at her for not being thrilled to become monkey din-din. Gorga comes, and we finally get a scale-shot on how big Gorga is supposed to be, as he picks up the girl, who becomes a Barbie doll in the long shots.
During the night, the two luggage bearers take off, and steal all the supplies as they go. Mark will continue on, with April, and they leave George to hold camp and get food from the jungle. Poor George is the best character, and they’re just leaving him. Lame. Mark puts on his jungle overcoat, and we have long scenes of Mark and April walking and walking. The pair spots the initials JA – April’s father’s initials. They are headed the right direction, or Ja Rule has been carving his name on trees again.
Meanwhile, Mighty Gorga wanders into the village and rips a hole in the roof of the Witch Doctor’s house. Witch Doctor tells Gorga he can drink the blood of more maidens after the white invaders are eaten. Mark and April must now climb up the side of a cliff to go up. And climb. And climb. And climb. Rock climbing, Joel! If there is a sandstorm, I quit. A small break happens as we cut back to the Witch Doctor (Ting tang walla walla bing bang), who complains about white people again. Freaking Whitey! We cut back and Mark and April are asleep on a plateu with giant roses and giant mushrooms all around them. That means it’s “prehistoric”. Odd they didn’t notice the giant vegetation, but they were probably tired from all the rock climbing. There is also more evidence of it being prehistoric, with Mark saying “Don’t forget those noises last night!” What noises? Did someone lose a scene? Let me guess, the director dropped it in a puddle in the zoo and they had to cut it. They explore a bit, finding her father’s knife. It’s not rusty, so it must have been dropped recently. Mark then theorizes volcanic eruptions pushed the plateau up higher than the surrounding region. Ummm….yeah, don’t quit your circus job, Mark. “You mean like mammoths in Siberia?” asks April. “Exactly!” replies Mark. “Exactly Wrong!” replies Tars Tarkas, just before I bang my head into the table repeatedly. I bang so hard, I almost miss the boom mike slip that happens right then. Quality all the way.
Quick! Zoom to Mighty Gorga’s Eyes! He’s the Eye-ty Gorga!! MuHahahaha!! Okay, I should stop writing these at 3am. Why do they zoom to Gorga’s eyes? Why the Hell not? It’s not like anything else has made much sense lately in this flick! Mark picks up a skull he finds on the ground, and declares that it’s Indian, some sort of ancient man. Now Mark, the circus owner, is a paleoanthropologist as well as a geologist. At least they acknowledge that their natives aren’t Black, and try to make an excuse. But you’ve already lost all your bonus points with that rock climbing sequence, and the idiocy from the mammoths in Siberia being related to volcanic plates. You’re on thin ice, movie.
The two find a large nest with big eggs in them. Giant purple eggs. Mmmmm….Barney omelets. Before Dino hatches out of them, Mommy comes home! Mommy is a T-Rex. Mommy is supposed to be a T-Rex. Mommy is really a sock puppet. Mommy is a sock puppet sub-par to the T-Rexes in Future War. Mommy is so bad a looking sock puppet, the actual socks I am wearing would be more convincing. It’s just terrible. One of the worst I’ve ever seen. The heroes shoot at the puppet, which is immune to bullets. It’s also immune to purple eggs, as they toss some of those at the T-Rex as well. That certainly won’t tick her off any further! Mighty Gorga then comes out and fights the hand puppet. Only one crappy special effect can survive, who will it be? Who has the title? Mighty Gorga wins, but hurts his finger in the process.
Mark and April then stumble towards Gorga as the ape looks at his finger. Mark then says he will shoot Gorga with drugs to knock him out. Then we jump into the same problem every giant ape film ever has: How do they get the huge ape back to the ship? In this case, it’s even more impossible, since there is only two people, and you have to drag Gorga down the impossibly high cliff. Mark isn’t a man to actually plan things, so he just arms a drug dart to take down Gorga. The gun jams and Gorga sees him, but this is all pointless padding, as Mark just shoots him anyway, and Gorga collapses almost instantly. Mark actually mentions he needs to figure out how to get the ape down, so the film regains a bonus point. While Gorga is knocked out, April pulls a splinter out of his finger and bandages it, but we don’t actually see this, as building a giant gorilla hand is expensive. Gorga begins to awaken, so they make a break for cover. Gorga notices his fixed finger, so us, the audience, will remember it, as it becomes important in a few minutes. But first, April and Mark must be captured by the natives, and thus they are.
The natives surprise them, thanks to the excellent native camouflage of bright red clothes. They take the pair to see the Witch Doctor (Ting tang walla walla bing bang). After some talk about the Old One who speaks in two tongues, they throw them in a hut. Someone is about to enter, and Mark is all ready to bash their brains in, but as we’ve seen coming since Jesus’s birth, the guy entering the hut is April’s dad, Mr. April. I mean Mr. Jack Adams, known as Tonga Jack. Tonga Jack isn’t dead and with shrunken head because he saved the Chief’s favorite wife from malaria, so now he’s guarded by a guy named Kabula. Tonga Jack also knows of secret underground passages (“A natural volcanic chimney!”) that leads to ancient burial grounds that also contain the Treasure of Solomon. This is different from the Mines of Solomon, which are still guarded by evil grey apes, but this treasure just employs a single brown ape. It’s discrimination! Just wait until Gorga v. Board of Education.
The guards come to take April and Mark away, but then Gorga returns to the village! He returns using the exact same footage of his previous saunter to the village, ripping open the roof of the Witch Doctor’s hut in the exact same footage. A reaction shot or two of Mark and April also fleeing is peppered in as a failed attempt to fool the viewer into not recognizing the reuse. In actuality, the producers were probably hoping that all the teenagers in the drive-in theater were too busy making out to have noticed this or the prior scene. “Oh, Bill, the dinosaur is sooo scary!” “Don’t worry, Becky, I am here!” ::Smooch smooch:: ::premarital intercourse premarital intercourse::
Where were we? Ah, yes, the three white people use the attacking giant ape to escape the village, but guard Kabula is in hot pursuit. They instead capture Kabula, and threaten to kill him if he doesn’t show them where the passage is. Kabula speaks some English because Tonga Jack taught him. Odd, since the Witch Doctor also speaks English when conversing with Gorga. Maybe Tonga Jack was so Great White Hunter-ish that he didn’t even notice the natives were already speaking English. Kabula leads them to a chamber/cave, and “spooky” music plays as they go in.
The cave is full of plastic skeletons! And beads! They must be left over from the last Mardi Gras, washed up here during Hurricane Katrina. The three load up on treasure as Kabula hits Mark in the head and runs. The three then try to look for the exit, only to encounter first more skeletons and then a stop motion dragon in footage “borrowed” from Goliath and the Dragon. It’s the Beast from 3 1/2 Fathoms. Just then, the volcano begins to erupt due to all the excitement, I guess. As stock shots stolen from National Geographic are used, the trio finds their escape. The volcano erupts, and the three are safe, but the volcano killed everything up top; natives, dinosaurs, Mighty Gorga, the whole nine yards. We don’t actually see any of the carnage…
Down at the bottom (which they get to in record speed…) the trio gets back to camp where George is waiting, only to be confronted by the evil Morgan. Morgan and his goon Brandon rob the three of all the treasure, then threatens to kill all of them, and starts by shooting George dead. NOOOOO!!! Not George, he was the best character! This freaking movie!! George was trying to pull a knife, but got wasted. Morgan threatens the rest with the same, even though he already threatened them, and then suddenly gets distracted by his goon Brandon, and shoots him when he won’t drop his gun. Such ADD is the death of Morgan, as the delay allows the Mighty Gorga to make a surprising reappearance and grab Morgan, giving him the old Gorilla Squeeze. Morgan is now goo, and Mark gives the ending line “How do you thank a gorilla for saving your life?” To conclude, Gorga wanders off, the end. It’s no “‘Twas beauty killed the beast.”
That’s the end? The gorilla just wanders away? LAME! Does Mark save his circus? I guess he probably does with all the gold he retrieves out of the pile of nasty goo that used to be Morgan. Now that Gorga is wandering around down below, he’s also probably much easier to capture, and gets snatched up as well by the next expedition in. Plus, Mark and April get married, because she has nothing left in Africa, and she becomes a circus performer who tames lions and is mauled on the job. Her horrible scarring cannot be healed, and a drunken Mark leaves her for Lulu, the bearded lady. Heartbroken, April turns to heroin, but that only works to dull the pain, and the periods where she isn’t high become even more miserable. Finally, in a last act, she guns down Mark, Lulu, Andy the seal boy, Mort the clown, and three midgets before turning the gun on herself. During this time, the Mighty Gorga has been locked in a cage so small he can’t move correctly, his legs atrophy to nothing, and one night he vomits, but cannot even move his head aside, and drowns in his own fluids. A tragic end for the Mighty Gorga. Back in Africa, it is revealed the T-Rex survived the volcano, and George returns from the dead thanks to African Tribal Magic. The two of them team up to fight crime all across Nigeria, and become known and George and the Claw. George is elected President of the Congo and ushers in a new golden age of Africa, after he and the T-Rex take down an evil diamond megaconglomerate.
In closing, let’s ponder how DO you thank a gorilla for saving your life? A Banana? Two bananas? A hundred bananas? A blonde woman tied to a pole? Some Gorilla Munch cereal? I hope a gorilla DOESN’T save my life, as the gift-giving faux pas that may result could end up with my arm torn from my socket. I already learned the hard way not to give a chimpanzee a Big Wheels racer. You want to see this for some odd reason? Well, it just so happens to be on a dual DVD with One Million AC/DC, a caveman sex film, thanks to those awesome people at Something Weird Video. Yes, The Mighty Gorga is the better of the two films!
Rated 3/10 (Greydon Clark, Elephant Poster, Ducks of Africa!)
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