Monday, July 25, 2011

Movie Monday: Gog

This week's Movie Monday is the sci-fi film Gog!

Gog was one of those 50s sci-fi movies I had heard of years ago, but never got around to seeing, even though the title really intrigued me. In an age where you had to have a real grabber of a title like "Invasion of the Brain Eaters" or some such, just calling your movie "Gog" seemed positively artsy.
Anyway, Gog was produced by Ivan Tors, who considered this film the third of his informal "OSI" trilogy, following The Magnetic Monster and Rider To The Stars: each film featured an entity known as the Office of Scientific Investigation. Shot in color and 3D (though released in 2D, more about that shortly), Gog looks great right from the get-go.

In some super secret lab, two scientists are performing an experiment on a monkey where they attempt to freeze it, put it into suspended animation, and then revive it (hey, Captain America totally ripped Gog off!).
It appears to work, sort of, but then something goes wrong: the main scientist finds himself trapped in the chamber, and suddenly the room starts to fill with the freezing gas! With the other scientist having stepped out for a moment, our brainiac is left to pound the glass as he succumbs to the gas:
When the other scientist returns, she discovers her partner on the floor, presumably dead (we don't see what she sees). Then the chamber door closes behind her, and locks! The gas fills the room again, killer her as well.

These two deaths are part of a string of mysterious mishaps, so the man in charge of the installation, Dr. Van Ness (the great Herbert Marshall, who I'm familiar with from The Razor's Edge and The Fly) calls in the OSI to get to the bottom of this!

An agent named David Sheppard (Richard Egan) arrives, teaming with another OSI agent named Joanna Merritt (
Constance Dowling) who is already at the base. After a lot of talky scenes, Sheppard determines its due to sabotage committed on NOVAC, the giant computer that runs the base.

The computer also runs two robots, Gog and Magog:
More and more of the scientists are put at risk thanks to the computer. One female scientist is almost crispy-friend thanks to a high-powered solar lens, and she is chased around her lab and the computer tries to set her on fire:
The computer instructs Magog to go into the center's nuclear reactor and pull the safety rod, causing a chain reaction that will blow the whole place up. Sheppard and some of the scientists try to stop it, the robots are pretty strong:
As I mentioned above, this film was originally shot in 3D, but wasn't released until the 3D "fad" was ending, so Gog was mostly shown in 2D. But there's still a lot of shots meant to capitalize on 3D, like when Sheppard tries to blast Gog with a flamethrower:
Just as it looks as though Gog is about to kill Shepard, it suddenly stops and becomes inert. Our heroes wonder why, and we learn that a US fighter jet patrolling above shot down a secret enemy jet had sneaked into American airspace and was controlling NOVAC remotely.

Merritt faints, and when she wakes up its in a hospital bed with Sheppard at her side. They reveal their feelings for one another, and embrace.

This is where we'd normally see "The End" scrawled across the screen, but Gog still has one scene to go: a talky exchange between Van Ness and the Secretary of Defense, where Van Ness explains that a working space station is about to be blasted into orbit (you'd think the Secretary of Defense would, you know, know about this already!):
This station will be equipped with cameras that will see all, preventing any future sabotage, ever. The SecDef is thrilled, announcing "We will never be taken by surprise again!" And with that, we have our ending, complete with cool sci-fi background:
...everything's gonna be great, from now on! The End!

After last week's review of Brideshead Revisited, I promised I would do something "trasy" this week. But of course, Gog is not trashy at all--if anything, its a very high-minded, if at times silly, sci-fi movie that is so in love with science (Science!) that it was probably too brainy for the average drive-in moviegoer. This movie believes science can accomplish pretty much anything, even after it just spent eighty-plus minutes showing us how wrong it could all go.

The final scene reminds me of the one from Psycho, where a bunch of characters explain what just happened. Its generally unnecessary, but I enjoyed it because of its sheer oddness: I totally expected the film to end with Egan and Dowling's clinch, and to see it keep going made me chuckle. Clearly, producer Tors' fascination was more on science than the gushy romance stuff, which feels pretty pro-forma.

As I mentioned, Gog is a bit talky, and the two robots--who are supposed to be imposing--are pretty rickety looking. When it approaches one of the scientists, we see the actor actually grab one of Magog's claws and sort of place it around his neck, Bela Lugosi-and-the-rubber-octopus style. But all that can be forgiven; Gog is still a lot of fun and it does have a slightly different, more brainy feel than a lot of other 50s sci-fi.

1 comment:

Robert M. Lindsey said...

God and Magog are Biblical references. They are enemies of God's people (Israel in the Old Testament and Christians in the New Testament book of Revelation.)

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