Pam here. I'm doing my first review of the year on a movie I've wanted to review for a long time: Gorath. It was made by Toho in 1962 and as you may know, tells the story of a small runaway planet, or possibly the core of a collapsed star, that's on a collision course with Earth. An edited version was released in the United States in 1964, apparently wasn't very popular, and sank out of sight. After Million Monkey Theater revived my interest in kaiju movies, I tried to find a copy of it. For some time, the best I could do was a used VHS tape I found on Amazon. I still have a VCR player (I'm a dinosaur, I know), but of course I couldn't get screenshots from that. Gorath has been released on DVD, but most of the readily available DVDs won't play on DVD players sold in the United States. However, I managed to find a DVD that does play on my computer and has both the original Japanese version and the edited American version, so Gorath will now be added to MMT's library of kaiju movie reviews. Gorath was made by Toho Studios, and we'll be seeing many familiar faces from various Toho kaiju movies, although sadly most of them are gone now.

The movie opens with two pretty girls in a snazzy red convertible.

Two cute girls, trust me

Sorry for the poor quality, the action is happening at night. You probably can't tell, but the girl on the left is the stunning Kumi Mizuno, who has appeared in several other MMT reviews. The other girl is Yumi Shirakawa, who played Kenji Sahara's love interest in Rodan . The two girls are at a beach, planning a midnight swim, and they are just starting to undress when a blinding flash of light distracts them. The light vanishes to reveal a spaceship taking off.

Into the wild blue yonder

The girls happen to have a portable radio in the car, which tells us that this is the rocket ship JX-1. This, as it happens, is of special significance for the girls. The father of the girl played by Yumi Shirakawa, whose character's name is Tomiko Sonoda, is the Captain of this spaceship. Takiko Nomura, the character played by Kumi Mizuno, is engaged to the First Officer of the JX-1.

We switch to the interior of the spaceship, which is rather odd-looking.

Interesting design

I've never seen a movie or TV spaceship control room laid out like this one, but it seems that the JX-1'ss mission is to gather data, which may explain all of the desk-like work stations. The Captain and the First Officer are seated at the top of those stairs. I suppose, now that I think about it, there's no particular reason for the control room of a spaceship to be laid out like the bridge of a surface ship. The crew seem to be all scientists, but they are also members of a military organization.

A closeup of the JX-1

Something else is a little odd.

Are we on a spaceship or a submarine?

The Captain is using something that looks like a submarine periscope to raise a small dish to gather some sort of information. The Captain, incidentally, is played by Jun Tazaki, the same actor who played the Captain in Atragon . By the way, it appears that whoever designed the JX-1 had more common sense than the Enterprise's designer. The JX-1 has seatbelts for its crewmembers! I have no idea what the purpose of the white gloves is.

This still looks like a submarine

According to the subtitles, the current mission of the JX-1 is to investigate a "star." The trip to the star is supposed to last about 136 days, and the mass of the star is said to be 6000 times that of the Earth. The star has been named Gorath, and its path is projected to take it very close to Earth, which is causing some concern. The JX-I must be traveling quite fast, as it's shown passing Saturn only a few minutes after it departed from Earth. In fact, it appears that the ship was originally scheduled to explore Saturn, and the diversion to inspect Gorath is news to the crew.

It seems, though, that the JX-1 is having some trouble locating Gorath. Finally it does, and the Captain orders the ship's engines shut down, has the ship reverse its direction so it's pointed away from Gorath, then orders the engines re-started. The First Officer assumes that the Captain did this so they could catch up to Gorath (huh?), but the Captain says that he's just trying to keep pace with it. However, he looks worried.

Pretty soon the rest of the crew is worried, too, because even with full power to the engines, the ship is getting pulled closer to Gorath. The Captain gruffly tries to reassure them by telling that he would certainly tell them if they were going to die. He says that he received a report from an observatory on Earth that said the Sun is having an adverse effect on this star (mistake on the part of whoever wrote the subtitles?) and nobody on Earth knows what to do. He is going to investigate this effect from the JX-1. The crew still looks unhappy, but they return to their work stations. Meanwhile, the First Officer now looks worried, and a closeup of the Captain shows a tear trickling down his cheek.

Trouble's coming

The JX-1 is drawn closer and closer to Gorath, and finally the Captain confirms what everybody has been thinking. He announces to the crew that they can't escape the pull of Gorath, but since the data they are gathering may be useful in helping the Earth avert the coming impact with Gorath, everyone is to continue collecting data and relaying it back to Earth as long as they can. The crew grit their teeth, shout "Banzai" three times, and get back to work. (The "banzais" are omitted from the American version.)


But there is no happy ending. The JX-1 gets closer and closer to Gorath and finally explodes as it crashes into the surface.

This was genuinely a very moving scene, and I can't snark at it. The next scene, however, is a complete contrast. We switch to a dancing joyous crowd with Tomoko and Takiko walking through it. "Jingle Bells" is playing, and the girls are wearing coats, so it's probably around Christmas. This is confirmed when we see a robot lumbering through the crowd, sporting a sign that says "Merry Christmas." He stands in front of the girls and won't let them pass, and when the girls protest, he opens up the front of his head to reveal


Toho fans may recognize Akira Kubo here. His character's name is Kanai, and a little conversation between the girls reveals that he and Takiko went to school together. Takiko tells her friend that Kanai wants to be a space pilot, but he's having trouble with "artificial satellites," whatever that means. I suspect that it was a mistake on the part of whoever wrote the subtitles and referred to Gorath as a star. It appears from what Takiko says that Kanai's the sort of person who thinks it's fun to dress up as a robot and annoy girls.

Fun turns to sadness when Tomoko enters a building to be confronted with a hall lined with elaborate floral arrangements and several reporters who begin snapping pictures of her. She's asking what's going on when she enters a room filled with people dressed in black and a large photo of her father draped with black ribbons. It appears very much as though nobody told her that her father and the rest of the crew of the JX-1 had been killed. Why is this? It's all the more baffling, since her grandfather is at the memorial service, and apparently he didn't see fit to break the news to her in advance. Either that, or she was able to forget her sorrow completely while she was with her friend, but she looked as though she had no idea what was happening when she walked into the room. Grandfather is played by the celebrated actor Takashi Shimura, and he attempts to give her a little belated consolation.


Among the mourners are two more Toho veterans, Ryo Ikebe and Ken Uehara, who will have a part in the action to come.

Smartyhead scientists

After the funeral, there is a discussion among what are presumably Japanese government officials about what to do about Gorath. Most seem to feel that Gorath should be ignored in favor of exploring Saturn, but the discussion comes to a stop when Dr. Kono (Ken Uehara) and Dr. Tazawa (Ryo Ikebe) show up with the glad tidings that Gorath isn't just a threat to spaceships that get too close to it, it's on a collision course with Earth.

Luckily for Earth, the United Nations agrees to forget about Saturn and work with Japan to come up with a solution for Gorath. All of the work seems to be going on in Japan, and the astronauts, who now include the perpetually-smiling Kanai, also seem to be all Japanese, but what did you expect?

I think Toho re-used this model in later movies

Kanai and the other astronaut trainees don't seem to be taking their mission as seriously as the Earth might want, and they take a few minutes to help themselves to a helicopter and go for a joyride. During the flight, they sing an inspiring song. This little interlude lasts several minutes and seems to have no purpose in advancing the plot. Could this be some Japanese Happy Warrior trope from World War II? Otherwise I can't imagine why it's in here, and it was deleted from the American version.

All is not happiness for the singing astronauts, however. It appears that they were being trained to go on a mission to observe Gorath, and they barge into the Project Director's office to complain that they heard that this mission is being canceled for lack of funding. (By the way, Takiko is the Project Director"s secretary.) The director is quick to reassure them and us that the mission is still on. For a minute there, it was looking as though this was going to be a short movie. The only trouble is that while it may be useful to observe Gorath, nobody knows how to stop it from hitting Earth.

As I'm sure you'll all agree, this is not a good situation to be in. What is the Earth going to do? Dr. Tazawa has an idea that is elegant in its simplicity: move the Earth out of Gorath"s path. How to do it? Nuke it. He estimates that it'll take 6.6 hundred million megatons to move it away from Gorath.

I'm pretty sure they just scribbled a bunch of random equations on the blackboard

This proposal is commented upon by representatives of many countries, some of which seem to be imaginary.

Anybody know where Crenion is located?

They want to know where all this energy is going to come from. So do I, but Dr. Tazawa has planned this out carefully. He's planning to use fissionable material from existing nuclear reactors. I guess he means that he's going to make bombs out of it and set them off at chosen sites to move the Earth where he wants it to go, sort of like a very large rocket ship. One killjoy wants to know if this isn't going to produce a lot of radioactivity, but again, Dr. Tazawa has an answer: The Japanese have figured out a way to decontaminate the affected areas. The honorable representative from Crenion seems skeptical that this can actually be done, and I'm with him there, but the secertary of the committee says loftily that the nations of the world must join hands and work together, and basically no negativity is allowed. He also reveals that the South Pole is where the blasting is going to be done.

I'm sure we all have a lot of questions on the feasibility of this plan, but it is what it is. Oh, no, I just had a terrible thought. Does this mean that Kanai and his buddies will be denied their trip to explore Gorath? Apparently not. They're celebrating their upcoming trip at a party which seems to include square dancing (!), when Kanai slips out to visit Takiko. She is busy when he arrives.

For the male readers

Kanai keeps ringing the doorbell until Takiko lets him in. It turns out to be worth her while - he presents her with an expensive necklace. However, as you'll recall, we learned in the very first scene that she was engaged to the First Officer of the JX-1, and she isn't over his death. She tells him that and refuses the necklace, and the gallant Kanai retaliates by grabbing her photo of her late fiance and throwing it out the window. He then storms out.

We next see Kanai and the boys in their spaceship, which looks exactly like the JX-1 and is in fact called the JX-2. They mention that the fear of Gorath has served to bring all races of the world to work together. In the next scene, we see that this is true.


We hear some English being spoken, and we get a few more details about the plan to move the Earth. Dr. Tazawa says that all of that fissionable material will be put into pipes that extend 500 meters into the ground. There will be rockets that fire simultaneously, thus turning the area into one big fusion reactor, which will produce enough energy to move the Earth out of Gorath's path. I won't comment upon this, because the science here is no worse than in most science fiction movies. If you can come up with a better plan to save the Earth from Gorath, let Toho know.

Next comes a lot of fairly bad model work, showing the South Pole base being built, with ships of many nations conveying materials there.

The command center at the South Pole

The project forges ahead, but runs into an unexpected snag when a large stretch of land caves in and destoys enough of the underground complex that the project will have to be relocated. Meanwhile, Gorath draws ever closer. But have you forgotten about Kanai's spaceship?

Kanai and his gallant comrades are drawing closer to Gorath, only to find that they're facing the same problem that destroyed the JX-1: Gorath's gravitational pull is stronger than expected, and they won't be able to get close enough to it to complete their mission. By the way, the captain of this spaceship is played by another Toho regular, Akihiko Hirata. The explanation offered is that Gorath picked up debris on its journey, so it's now larger and its gravitational pull is stronger. That must have been an awful lot of debris.

However, the crew is undaunted, and Kanai is dispatched in a small spacecraft to collect more information, with the Captain's direction that he is to be careful to stay far enough away from Gorath so he won't be pulled into it.

And it's off!

Kanai isn't having much luck. The small spacecraft can't get close enough to get accurate readings. However, something is happening on Gorath. It seems to be shooting out fire, and the instruments on the small craft are going haywire. It looks as though Kanai is a goner, but he manages to pull the craft away from Gorath. He makes it back to the JX-2, but he doesn't seem to be able to get it back into the ship. Two of the crew are sent out to see what's up, to find that Kanai is alive but does nothing but stare at them blankly. (The two crewmembers aren't tethered to anything as they float from the JX-2 to the small craft - very unsafe!) The crewmembers connect lines to the craft and winch it back into the JX-2.

Back on the JX-2, Kanai is conscious, but he doesn't say anything and doesn't seem to recognize anybody. He manages to stammer out a few words that make it clear that he can't even remember his own name.

Meanwhile, back in the Antarctic, the scientists are getting ready to set off the bombs. Apparently the caved-in areas have been repaired.

These people are going to save us

Everyone is in place, the countdown begins, and when "zero" is called, the buttons are pressed, and...

This is what happens

Believe it or not, it works. The Earth moves out of Gorath's path. So all is well? Dr. Tazawa is afraid not. He feels that since Gorath's mass is steadily growing (must be a lot of debris out there), more jets need to be added to keep the Earth far enough away from Gorath. Dr. Kono tells him the the United Nations feels that everything is going well and more jets are an unnecessary expense. But Dr. Kono is worried himself, as it seems that Gorath's approach is drawing water out of the Earth's atmosphere. This conversation is taking place in the home of Dr. Sonoda, father of the late Captain Sonoda and grandfather of Tomoko Sonoda, and played by Takashi Shimura, who so far has made only a brief appearance in the movie. Dr. Kono and Dr. Tazawa appear to be either family friends or colleagues of Dr. Sonoda. Dr. Kono confides to Dr. Sonoda that Earth's situation is in fact hopeless.

On that cheery note, we switch back to Kanai's astronaut pals. He seems to be still hors de combat, but his comrades are being dispatched on the JX-2 to investigate Gorath further. They set forth, but back at the South Pole, an unexpected complication has arisen.

Look who's here

Curse the luck, it's a giant walrus!

This gives you a better idea of the scale of the walrus

Earth just cannot catch a break. But Earth's scientists are conferring, and we see that possibly this movie is set somewhat in the future.

Communications in 1962(?)

Dr. Kono and Dr. Sonoda head to the South Pole, where they join Dr. Tazawa to figure out what's going on. Do they know what the animal was? No, but they do have an explanation as to why an enormous unknown animal suddenly appeared: the heat of the jets melted the ice and released it. Fans of kaiju movies will remember that this has happened before, so there's no need to doubt these eminent scientists. So what are they going to do? Kill it? Dr. Sonoda says not to, because the poor creature is just trying to get warm. Instead, using more technology unknown to our 1962, they fly in a strange-looking aircraft that fires a beam of unknown energy that breaks down rock and earth, causing the creature to be penned up away from the area where the jets are being fired. Of course this may mean that the poor thing may starve, but at least they tried to be humane. They order the aircraft to be landed so they can investigate a little.


Just an aside, the mysterious aircraft is even more advanced that it first appears, because it can land and take off like a helicopter. Those cylinders on the ends of its wings are horizontal when the aircraft is flying, and rotate to a vertical position when the aircraft lands or takes off. Can anybody doubt that the science that created this aircraft can move the Earth with some atomic jets?

The three scientists leave the the aircraft and approach the place where the creature was last seen. In fact, it seems that at all the attempt at mercy did was bury the giant walrus under a pile of boulders. It surely must be dead, but...no, wait! It's getting up and shaking off the boulders as though they're so much colored papier-mache, and it looks mad! Back the scientists run to the aircraft, and are pretty prompt about it too, and as soon as they're inside the aircraft takes off. This time they don't fool around, and the energy beam hits the creature directly. As the aircraft leaves, a parting look reveals that the creature appears to be dead. Like Manda in Atragon, it wasn't around long. (This sequence about the giant walrus was almost entirely eliminated from the American version. All we see is the ceiling of the control room fall in, with the explanation that one of the jet pipes collapsed. The three scientists fly in the aircraft and fire a few beams to seal off the collapsed area. No giant walrus at all.) Now back to the JX-2, where the lads have finally reached Gorath. Its power is awesome, because it's actually sucking away Saturn's rings!

A sad sight

On Earth, concern is rising, and so are water levels. Tomoko and Takiko, who seem to be roommates, are listening to a radio broadcast that warns that water levels are going to rise even more as Gorath gets closer. All listeners are advised to take shelter. Tomoko is calmly packing, but Takiko seems to have given up and says that everybody is going to die. Not only is this bad enough, but it's going to get a little worse. Kanai, along with two of his fellow astronauts, knock on their apartment door. Kanai can't say anything, but his comrades inform the two girls that Kanai has amnesia. One of the astronauts says that they brought Kanai to see them in hopes that this would trigger his memory. It isn't working, though. Kanai manages to mumble "I'm sorry," but it's clear he doesn't recognize either one. Tomoko offers to take him along with them to her grandfather's house, and everybody agrees that this is a good idea.

So...the South Pole jets are blasting, the sea levels are rising, Gorath is getting closer, and there's ten minutes left in the movie. Will the Earth survive? Will Kanai recover? It's not looking real good right now, because on its path to the Earth Gorath collided with the Moon, and the Moon lost. Water levels continue to rise, causing considerable destruction (more less-than-stellar model work here).

However, it appears that for now, at least, Dr. Sonoda's house is being spared. A storm is raging outside, and the noise draws Kanai outside, although Takiko grabs him and begs him not to go out, suggesting that she does have feelings for him despite the cavalier way he treated her late fiance's photo.

Unfortunately, water levels are rising high enough so they're beginning to reach the jet tubes and some of the flames are going out. Is all lost? Gorath will be at its closest to Earth in two minutes! Can the Earth hold out? Then just now, something good happens. Kanai, the girls, and Dr. Sonoda are watching the approach of Gorath on TV, and the sight of Gorath jolts Kanai back to normal and restores his memories. But Gorath keeps coming.

And...Gorath passes by. The Earth has been spared. Of course there's a lot of damage to be repaired, not to mention that Earth needs to be put back on its course. But everybody is confident that this can be done, and I have to agree. If we can move the Earth out of Gorath's path, we can do anything! Of course, the poor giant walrus is dead. And the Moon is gone. And here we end.

Really, if you ignore the impossible science, this is a good movie. The acting, the writing, and the pacing are all good. Unlike so many B movies, there was just enough run time to tell the story well. The was no filler to stretch an inadequate plot to make up the allotted time, and a complicated plot wasn't crammed into too short a time. The dubbed American version isn't too different from the Japanese version. About 10 minutes was cut out here and there, and some exposition was added at the beginning to explain the JX-1's mission. I've already mentioned that the giant walrus was cut out, but I understand that the only reason he was put into the movie in the first place is so there would be some sort of kaiju in the movie. He isn't missed.

As I mentioned at the start, most of the actors in this movie are gone, with only a handful of exceptions. I'm glad to say that Akira Kubo and Kumi Mizuno are not only stll alive, but still acting.

For those who want to see Gorath for themselves, Bradley, my associate-in-bad-movie-reviews, says that Gorath is available on the Internet Archive.

Written by Pam Burda in April, 2021.

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