Gog (1954)

Gog (1954)‘Built to serve man… it could think think a thousand times faster! Move a thousand times faster! Kill a thousand times faster …Then suddenly it became a Frankenstein of steel!’

Two scientists at a secret government space research facility are found frozen to death in their own lab. A security officer is sent to investigate but there are more deaths after his arrival.

Talky low budget science fiction that was filmed in both 3-D and colour. We open with an experiment that involves freezing a monkey that ends badly when the boffins in charge get shut in the ice box afterwards. Head scientist Herbert Marshall (always good value) calls it in and gets smooth but capable security officer Richard Egan to sort things out. So far, so good.

When he arrives, Egan gets to meet all the scientists under suspicion and gets a grand tour of all their laboratories. Although these characters are mostly ciphers (the grumpy one, the dedicated one, the one who is more interested in young blondes than his wife), the performances of a professional cast ensures they remain interesting. Also some thought has gone into the script in terms of the experiments being conducted and their objectives, even though the science is obviously dated. No, the real problem here is that, by the time all this is over, we’re almost an hour through the film!

Gog (1954)

‘Frankensteins of steel? You don’t say…’

The drama that remains and the resolution of the mystery is fairly perfunctory, even with the introduction of more killings and suspicion falling on Gog and Magog, the house robots. Although they were advertised as ‘Frankensteins of steel’, it doesn’t help their credibility when they flail their mechanical arms in that ‘Danger, Will Robinson’ style perfected by the robot on the ‘Lost in Space’ TV show more than a decade later.

More attention to the development of plot and story and less emphasis on the science aspect could have raised this project to another level. Attempts at serious science fiction were a little thin on the ground in the 1950s; producers preferring to give the public ‘monsters and saucers’, but there were a few other examples: ‘Destination Moon’ (1950) and ‘Riders to the Stars’ (1954) for example. The pity is that most of them are a bit dull. Here the setup is talky but decent enough, the cast is good and there is some budget. But the action, when it comes, is lame and simplistic; a damp squib.

The film was directed by Herbert L Strock, whose subsequent output peaked with the stupidly entertaining ‘I Was A Teenage Frankenstein’ (1958) but mostly featured TV episodes of shows such as ‘Highway Patrol’ and ‘Colt .45’. Producer Ivan Tors also came up with the original story, married lead actress Constance Dowling and was the driving force behind such U.S. TV behemoths as ‘Sea Hunt’ (155 episodes), ‘Flipper’ (88 episodes) and ‘Daktari’ (89 episodes).

Unlike ‘Robby the Robot’ and ‘Tobor The Great’, Gog and his younger(?) brother never really grabbed hold of public attention and are largely forgotten now. It was probably because they looked like less like ‘Frankensteins of steel’ and more like a couple of lame first round casualties from ‘Robot Wars.’ Harsh but true.

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