Gorath (1962) - Ishiro Honda

Director: Ishirō Honda
Producers: Tomoyuki Tanaka
Writer: Jojiro Okami
Starring: Ryo Ikebe, Yumi Shirakawa, Takashi Shimura, and Kumi Mizuno
Country: Japan
MPAA Rating: Passed
Studio: Toho Studios
Budget: ¥126 million
Release: March 21st, 1962
Did Ya Know: Magma is one of the few monsters in the Toho menagerie to not appear in any films in the Godzilla series. Interestingly, there were plans to have the monster appear in Destroy All Monsters (1968) but it was decided not to include him.


GORATH (1962) - 47/100

A Japanese tokusatsu film from Toho Pictures. It was directed by Ishirō Honda and written by Jojiro Okami, the creative mind behind The Mysterians, Battle in Outer Space, and Dogora. This movie was released on March 21st, 1962. And stars, Ryo Ikebe, Yumi Shirakawa, Takashi Shimura, and Kumi Mizuno.


In 1980, a giant planetoid named Gorath is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth. Even though it is smaller than Earth, its mass is huge enough to crush the Earth and destroy it. A mission sent to observe Gorath is destroyed after all the orbiting ships are drawn into the planetoid. A later mission is sent to observe and the crew barely leaves before suffering the same fate. However Astronaut Tatsuo Kanai is left in a catatonic state due to his near death experience. The Earth's scientists then come up with a desperate plan to build giant rockets at the South Pole to move Earth out of Gorath's path before it is too late.


This is a welcome change to the usual creatures we get in Ishirō Honda’s work. Instead of a giant creature (nevermind the giant walrus) we get an out-of-control planet. Sweet. This is a far more epic tale than some of Honda’s previous work. It’s a story set on a larger scale. Even larger than 1954’s Godzilla. And while the story may be epic in nature, it sure is dry and bloated. In typical Ishirō Honda fashion, there tend to be a lot of scenes focusing on the Japanese government discussing strategy and their efforts to move Earth out of the way of this runaway star.

The special effects work is definitely a high-point in this feature. Eiji Tsuburaya is a genius when it comes to cutting edge visuals for the time. I’ve always been quite fond of his miniature work and we get to see a good deal of it here. However, the same cannot be said for Magma the Giant Walrus. It seemed shoe-horned into the picture and was very poor looking. It’s inclusion was forgettable. As Magma is easily dispatched by the humans.


Gorath is a different take on the Tokusatsu genre. It was a pretty light take on an Earth ending catastrophe. Definitely not a depressing tale, but still, the drama and bureaucratic activity keep it stoic albeit corny. If you have gotten familiar with Godzilla, or other types of Japanese Sci-Fi, then please check this one out too. It’s not long and it will at least keep you entertained.