Gog (1954)

Flame thrower versus killer robot!
Flame thrower versus killer robot!

Dr. David Sheppard (Richard Egan), from the Office of Scientific Investigation, is called in to investigate mysterious deaths happening at a top-secret government facility located beneath the New Mexico desert. David teams-up with Joanna Merritt (Constance Dowling), who is another OSI agent working undercover at this facility, which is being used to construct a space station.

UK quad poster
UK quad poster

The facility’s super-brain computer NOVAC (Nuclear Operative Variable Automatic Computer) oversees and co-ordinates all the equipment in the underground facility and the OSI agents eventually realise that a rocket-like enemy plane, invisible to radar, has been sending radio signals to NOVAC, causing it to murder scientists in a variety of ways. The computer controls two robots, called Gog and Magog, and these mobile devices are also eventually used to attack the facility’s staff. These machines are finally ordered to go to the nuclear reactor control room to trigger a chain reaction that will create a nuclear explosion, but David intervenes and goes on the offensive with a flame thrower!

Magog starts to smoke after David attacks it with a flame thrower
Magog starts to smoke after David blasts it with a flame thrower

GOG was the final part of the trilogy of Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI) movies. The previous two films were THE MAGNETIC MONSTER (1953) and RIDERS TO THE STARS (1954). They were all produced by Ivan Tors, who wanted these scientific OSI movies to be a little more fact-based than normal, eschewing stories that were more typical in this era, such as invading aliens and giant monsters.

David is shown a scale model of the space station by head scientist Dr. Van Ness (Herbert Marshall)

This focus on trying to make the story more ‘realistic’ is to be commended, though it does mean there are rather too many scenes in GOG where scientists talk at length about the experiments they are working on. To add some zip to the tale, however, a series of mysterious attacks on scientists punctuate the film, involving such menaces as a sabotaged centrifuge, a deep-freeze room, deadly tuning forks that kill via sound, a berserk solar projection mirror and a radioactive isotope hidden in a plant pot.

A hapless scientist is trapped in his own freezer room
A hapless scientist is trapped in his own freezer room
The test subjects on the sabotaged centrifuge are killed
The test subjects on the sabotaged centrifuge are killed
Lobby card
Lobby card
Dr. Zeitman  (John Wengraf) shows off one of the robots in his computer room
Dr. Zeitman  (John Wengraf) shows off one of the robots in his computer room

Herbert L. Strock’s direction is workmanlike at best, but the film perks up considerably when Gog and Magog finally go on the rampage. These robots, each equipped with multiple arms and a priapic flame-producing tube, are taken on by hero David, who torches Magog with a flame thrower and, once he is out of fuel, batters Gog with the nozzle of the flame thrower! The overall threat is eventually extinguished when American military jets (stock footage) shoot down the mysterious rocket plane. The identity of the enemy state responsible for the sabotage is never revealed but, as this is a Cold War era story, I assume it was the Russians.

Gog and Magog!
Gog and Magog!

Though made on a low budget, GOG is a good-looking, colourful production. I liked the location the film was set in: a secret underground laboratory with its different security-graded levels, I thought Richard Egan was a decent, no-nonsense, stoic lead and Constance Dowling was fine as his OSI partner and love interest.

Richard Egan and Constance Dowling
Richard Egan and Constance Dowling

GOG was shot in 3D, but the craze was already on the wane when the film was released, which perhaps added to the movie’s lacklustre box office. Tor would go on to focus on animal-themed film and TV productions like FLIPPER, DAKTARI and GENTLE BEN, plus adventure series like SEA HUNT, THE AQUANAUTS and RIPCORD.

This Italian poster focuses on the death-by-tuning-forks moment
This Italian poster focuses on the death-by-tuning-forks moment
'It became a Frankenstein!'
US poster: ‘It became a Frankenstein!’
Lobby card
Lobby card
After GOG was finished, producer Ivan Tors married Constance Dowling and brought one of the movie's robots back to his home
After GOG was finished, producer Ivan Tors married Constance Dowling and brought one of the movie’s robots back to his home!
The robots like to wave their arms about!
The robots like to wave their arms about!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: