Set in 1980 and made in 1962, this colorful space romp from Toho features a terrific score by Kan Ishii, a somewhat familiar plot about an impending celestial collision with earth, spaceships and rockets, nice miniatures, one funky monster “Maguma” (a giant subterranean walrus) designed by Eiji Tsuburaya, and capable direction by Ishirō Honda. I like Gorath a lot and it’s a shame a decent print isn’t available. Until then I’ll watch a crappy bootleg copied from a laserdisc print. Ah, monster cons.
Gorath is a mysterious star 6,000 times the mass of the Earth. Japanese rocket ship JX-1 investigates and confirms that the sun is adversely affecting Gorath, and it is increasing in velocity and is on a collision course with Earth. The crew is consumed by the immense mass of Gorath and die Kamikaze-style. But inhabitants of the Earth have a plan to save the Earth. First, another spacecraft, the JX-2 is launched to study Gorath. Meanwhile, on Earth, the United Nations and a group of scientists decide to move the Earth away from Gorath’s collision course. They devise a plan where atomic energy is channeled to monstrous jet thrusters located at the South Pole. Along the way we see flooding, cave-ins, rock slides, and the unleashing of the giant walrus Maguma. Gorath is a lot of fun and one of my favorite “asteroid” impact films.
Several planetary collision films appeared after Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision was published by Macmillan in 1950. The book was a huge success and stayed number one on the NY Times best seller list for 11 weeks. Basically, Velikovsky postulated that around the 15th Century BCE, the planet Venus was ejected from Jupiter as a comet that passed near Earth, causing several catastrophies recorded in history. The book caused quite a controversy and is still available today: http://www.amazon.com/Worlds-Collision-Immanuel-Velikovsky/dp/1906833117. Oddly, Worlds in Collision was the one book found open on Albert Einstein desk at the time of his death in 1955.
The film that initially capitalized on Worlds in Collision was George Pal’s When World’s Collide (1951)(based on a novel from 1932). Later, several films with similar themes emerged, including:
The Day the Sky Exploded (1961)
Crack in the World (1965)
Island of the Burning Damned (1967)
Night of the Comet (1984)
Deep Impact (1998)
I’m sure there are others. Keep an eye out for Gorath. This is perfect fodder for a lazy Saturday afternoon.
They don’t make ’em like they used to.