Newly restored in HD and 3-D! In a remote, underground research laboratory two scientists, engaged in space travel research, are frozen to death in a cold chamber when their instruments comes under the control of an unknown power. A security agent, Dr. David Sheppard (Richard Egan, The 300 Spartans) arrives at the secret space research base, home of two experimental robots to investigate the possible sabotage. Early in his investigation, Sheppard finds that the underground laboratory under the control of the Supercomputer NOVAC and experimental robots GOG and MAGOG. Herbert L. Strock (The Crawling Hand) directed this Sci-Fi/Horror classic with a stellar cast that includes Constance Dowling (Black Angel), Herbert Marshall (The Letter) and William Schallert (TV's The Patty Duke Show).
Early, pre-space-age science fiction movies are among my favorites of the genre. from the 1940s through the 1950s, films having to deal with this wild and advancing age of computers and space exploration had to rely on known science and then when that failed to create a cohesive plot, the filmmakers were forced to fill the gaps of their stories with pseudo-science. If the characters were written intelligently and the actor's playing their respective roles sounded like they knew their stuff, the audience was rarely ever the wiser. Herbert L. Strock's 1954 3D opus 'GOG' from a screenplay by Tom Taggert based on a short story by Ivan Tors is just that sort of science fiction. 'GOG' is a silly movie that sounds smart as it works to create a murder mystery thriller showcasing the slim grasp man actually has on science and technology.
Man is going to the stars. As nations work around the clock putting their best scientists to work, the competition to be the first to put man into space has become fierce, even deadly. After the mysterious deaths of two scientists in their laboratories conducting tests on cryogenics, a full-fledged investigation begins. The top security command has called in Dr. David Sheppard (Richard Egan) to investigate everything about the secret underground facility. Upon his arrival, he is met by an old flame Joanna Merritt (Constance Dowling) and Dr. Van Ness (Herbert Marshall) who runs the facility.
As Joanna and Dr. Van Ness show Dr. Sheppard the top secret facility and introduce him to the various faculty members, strange acts of sabotage begin happening. As one innocent person meets their untimely death, it becomes clear that the facilities state-of-the-art control computer NOVAC and its twin disciple robots MAGOG and GOG are at the center of the mystery. But who is controlling NOVAC? As the computer's primary operator Dr. Zeitman (John Wengraf) informs them, NOVAC simply can not act on its own. Or can it? Is there an outside force sending orders to NOVAC instructing MAGOG and GOG to kill and commit acts of sabotage? Or has NOVAC become so powerfully intelligent that it is now giving orders to its robot minions?
'GOG' is a delightfully silly movie that hinges on a terrifying premise that resonates over sixty years after its release. While the film's story is largely made up of gobbledegook pseudo-science, the theme and the premise of man's overreach into unknown territories leading to our own downfall strikes a cord. Here we are today in an age where man plays a smaller and smaller role in day-to-day operations that humans just aren't even involved. Even intelligence gathering and military operations are being run with a smaller and smaller human core leaving much of the decision-making up to a piece of programming. This is where 'GOG' really hits home. The monsters of the film aren't humans but the creations of humans that can be controlled by outside means or potentially even learn to control themselves.
While the themes and ideas found within 'GOG' are just as important today as they were when the film was made, the vast majority of the film just isn't all that much. After a strong and creepy opening sequence where the two scientists are murdered by an unseen force within their own laboratory, the film decides to take the audience on a tour. Richard Egan as Dr. Sheppard largely serves as the audience exposition dump while everyone else in the film tells him how everything works. The man is already a brilliant scientist in his own right so a baseline knowledge of the facility should have been a given considering he's been sent there to investigate. While a lot of these sequences are fun and showcase a number of cool scientific concepts and effects, the science behind each set piece just doesn't hold up under much scrutiny. But that's okay - especially because so much of the exposition we're given is in fact, a finely laid out blueprint of how some unsuspecting scientist is going to in fact meet their untimely end!
'GOG' as a whole may not be everyone's cup of science fiction tea, but I had a blast with it. When I was a little kid watching movies like 'Forbidden Planet,' 'Journey to the Center of the Earth,' and 'Fantastic Voyage,' I didn't care if what I was watching wasn't always scientifically accurate, I just enjoyed the effects work and the story. That same sense of childish wonder was in full effect watching 'GOG.' On top of enjoying the goofy sci-fi/horror wonder that is 'GOG,' I was absolutely blown away by the 3D effects on display. Everything brought to the screen for this film is a real treat and even more so when you factor in that director Herbert L. Strock, much like 'House of Wax' director André De Toth, couldn't see in three-dimensions! 'GOG' may not be a perfect film, but it's solid entertainment for science-fiction fans of all ages.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'GOG' arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber and their Studio Classics line. Pressed onto a Region A locked BD50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard Blu-ray case. The disc opens directly to the main menu where you are given the option of viewing the film in 2D or 3D, as well as other standard navigation features.
'GOG' is for the first time since it's original release in 1954 presented in its proper color 1.66:1 aspect ratio with a fully restored right and left film strip to create the full 3D effect. As spoken to during one of the bonus features, the left eye strip was feared lost for over fifty years before one heavily faded print turned up in 2001. This transfer is an amazing result of the 3-D Film Archive's dedicated restoration efforts. 3-D Film Archive posted a demonstration video on YouTube which I linked to below so you have a clearer idea of what was involved.
In 2D, 'GOG' looks absolutely spectacular. Fine film grain is apparent throughout the film but doesn't dominate the image in such a way as to leave it noisy looking or too busy. Details are robust and apparent throughout giving the audience a full appreciation of fine facial features, costuming, set design work, as well as the title robot GOG and its twin MAGOG. Colors offer that bright pastel-tinged 50s look while allowing primaries plenty of pop and presence. Black levels and shadows are also very strong and give the image its own sense of natural three-dimensional depth.
In 3D, 'GOG' is a marvel of the modern age! As a fan of vintage 3D, this newly restored version ranks up there as one of the finest restoration efforts I've seen, right beside Warner Bros. 'House of Wax.' It's just beautiful. Colors are robust and aren't hampered by the natural dimming effect of the glasses. Details are striking as ever without the loss of fine film grain, but it's the depth of this image that really sells the film. While most of the sets are confined spaces with limited distance depth along the Z axis, each frame of the film is beautifully layered with plenty of foregrounds, middle, and background objects of varying shapes and size to ensure that 3D depth remains constant. Then there are the showstopper moments were object effortlessly fly out or protrude from the screen without causing any notable issues of ghosting or crosstalk or other eye straining anomalies. Often it feels like you could reach out and grab what you're looking at! Through the smart use of object staging as well as color to ensure each object stands apart from another, 'GOG' is one hell of a 3D production that comes to life in a grand way with this impressive transfer.
Arriving with a solid DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix, 'GOG' earns some strong marks. This track is practically flawless. Dialogue comes through crisp and clear and there aren't any age-related issues of note. Free of any hiss, pop, scratches, or drop outs, the track displaces a very noticeable sense of space to every scene. Even when so many sets within the film are single rooms or a stretch of hallway, there is a notable directionality effect that keeps the audio mix lively and engaging. Sound effects have a special presence as each room is filled with some sort of computer beep or other science sound effect giving the audio a nice layered feel and doesn't collide with the dialogue or the film's score by Harry Sukman. As much of the track keeps to the midranges, the sound effects and the score keep the lower registers and the higher pitches engaged. This is especially true during the sonic attack sequence. All around, there isn't much to complain about with this audio mix.
Audio Commentary: Film Historians Tom Weaver, Bob Furmanek, and David Schecter provide a fun, informative, and engaging commentary for this release. It's a lot of fun hearing the various production details they were able to uncover but it's also very apparent these three are fans of the film so there's a nice bit of wonder in the topics they talk about.
Restoration Demo: (HD 6:49) This is a solid and very interesting look at the condition of the film and the amount of effort that went into restoring and preserving 'GOG.'
2003 Interview with Director Hebert L. Strock: (SD 8:26) This is a pretty great interview with the director done just a couple years before he passed. This was conducted just before it was going to be shown in 2003 in 3D fro the first time in over 50 years. Strock shows a genuine appreciation for the film and he looks pleased to see that it's coming back to screens where it belonged.
3D and Gog: (SD 19:02) This is a fantastic and very interesting interview with director of photography of 'GOG' and co-creator of the Natural Vision 3-D film process Lothrop B. Worth. if you are a 3D movie enthusiast, this is an absolutely must watch extra feature.
'GOG' Trailer: (HD 1:51) This is a fun trailer but in it's current state, it makes you appreciate how great the film looks after its restoration.
'Mask' Trailer: (HD 2:47)
'The Bubble' Trailer: (HD 1:41)
'Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth' Trailer: (HD 1:12)
'GOG' is one of those movies that made me feel like a kid again. It's a movie that hit home with all of the science fiction and horror movies that I spent my childhood watching on a near daily basis. The film may be a bit silly at times, but it does offer up a number of themes about the responsibility or science and technology that is just as important today as it was over 60 years ago. Kino Lorber and 3-D Film Archive have done an incredible job bringing 'GOG' to Blu-ray. With an absolutely first rate image transfer and a spectacular audio mix, this Blu-ray comes packed with a number of amazing extra features. If you're a 3D enthusiast, consider this a must own, otherwise, for everyone else I'm calling this Blu-ray release of 'GOG' highly recommended.