Konga (1961)(MGM)

Written By: Ken Hulsey

I think that I may have just watched the worst monster movie of all time, the 1961 UK monster mess called "Konga".

Now, I know that is a really a bold statement, because there are a lot of very bad monster movies out there. You may ask, "Hey Ken, what about "Reptilicus", or "The Giant Claw" or even "Robot Monster", those were all pretty bad?" True, those all are terrible monster movies, but I can say one thing about all of those films, at least they were interesting, and at least sometimes, unintentionally funny. "Konga", on the other hand, is neither of those things.

In the case of "Konga" the advertising art and images (pictured above and below) are actually more exciting to look at than the actual movie, and also very misleading.

To look at the movies poster, or publicity stills, you would be lead to believe that "Konga" is nothing more than the UK's answer to "King Kong". You would also probably assume that like "Kong", the giant ape in the movie was in love the buxom blond in the images and that he runs amok to get to her in the typical "Beauty and the Beast" scenario played out over-and-over again in countless monster movies. You would obviously think that, and you would be dead wrong.

Despite what you would be lead to believe, "Konga" and the lovely blond student actually never come into contact with each other in the film. Well, okay, she does see the big ape when he busts through the roof of a greenhouse to get at the evil scientist who created him, but the monster runs off with the guy, not the girl. Meanwhile she is left behind with her arm in mouth of a carnivorous plant, and oddly enough, we never learn if she continued to be plant food or made it out alive.

"Konga" really is science fiction, that is to say that there are so many far-fetched bits of pseudo-science being bantered about in the film that are just so far beyond belief for anyone to possibly swallow. Granted, anytime you watch a sci fi or monster movie, the viewer generally has to take some sort of a 'leap of faith' to believe that giant monsters could rise out of the sea, or that aliens could be living amongst us. This works if the movie is interesting, or action packed, but in a dud like this, the made up science stuff really sticks out like a sore thumb.

Okay lets try and sort all this out, and please try to keep the snoring and "WTF" comments till after I'm done.

A Doctor Charles Decker, played by Michael Gough (Yes, the guy who played Alfred in the "Batman" movies) has discovered a way to manipulate plant cells in such a way that they can cause Animals to grow to gigantic size. Decker uses a chimpanzee that he brought back with him from an expedition in Africa as his guinea pig, injecting him with his growth serum. Oddly enough when the primate begins to grow he also changes species, becoming a human-sized guerrilla.

Are you still following along?

While being a human sized ape, "Konga" does the doctor's dirty work, killing three of his rivals. Decker actually uses a flashlight to hypnotize the ape into becoming his pawn. This is actually the most interesting part of the movie.

Soon after "Konga" has removed all of Decker's competition from the picture, the loony scientist turns his attentions to the buxom blond, Sandra, played by Claire Gordon. Of,course this doesn't sit too well with his wife, played by Margo Johns, who decides to get her revenge by injecting "Konga" with a massive dose of plant extract causing the guerrilla to grow to 60 feet or more.

The now gigantic ape, crashes in on the scientist while he is trying to have his way with Sandra, and takes him on a walk through downtown London. While taking his stroll, "Konga" swipes at a few pedestrians, but doesn't manage to hurt anyone or do any property damage. All the while Decker is screaming, "Konga put me down!" from the apes right mitt.

Eventually the army shows up and confronts the giant ape in the shadow of Big Ben. Somehow the same army that held off the Nazis, found it hard to hit a 60-foot-tall guerrilla that was standing right in front of them with machine gun fire. "Konga" finally gets tired of being shot at, and hurls the screaming scientist at them.

This is when you think the giant ape may go nuts and start wrecking stuff......but he doesn't.

After what seems like an awfully long time, the British army manages to pump enough lead into "Konga" to cause him to finally fall down dead.

In a strange ending, to a strange film, "Konga's" corpse reverts back to a normal sized chimpanzee right next to the splattered body of his former owner.

I actually went and did a little research on the making of "Konga" and discovered a couple of interesting facts.

The film's producer, Herman Cohen, payed RKO $25,000 to use the name "King Kong" in the films advertising. This also aided in getting around the similar, "Konga" sounds like "Kong", name issues.

Cohen also bribed the Croydon police chief with a brand new TV, and the local residents with candy and flowers, so that he could film the ending of "Konga" in their neighborhood.

I don't know about you, but it would take a lot of M&M's and roses to get me to ignore machine gun fire at 2 in the morning.

Oh, and before I forget, if you are one of those people who subscribe to the belief that there are equal positive and negative forces at work in the universe, then you may find it interesting that "Gorgo", another giant monster film from the UK, which is actually one of the genre's better films, was also released in 1961. Therefore creating a cosmic balance in the universal flow of monster cinema.

Comments

  1. Love KONGA! Gough chews the scenery like it's made of taffy, and the Konga suit is just unrealistic enough to give it personality and charm. If you can forgive the lack of the sort of cataclysmic thrills the poster promises and just enjoy the sleazy melodrama, you'll love this flick!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Sounds like a legitimate train wreck.

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  3. And as far as being "the worst monster movie of all time", KONGA isn't even the worst giant gorilla movie. THE MIGHTY GORGA is one you should seek out if you're looking for a movie pretty much devoid of quality or entertainment value.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Even at 8 years old I realized this truly was a dreadful movie. I do, however have a soft spot for the the great monster designs of Reptilicus and The Giant Claw! They're like Dr. Seuss creations on acid! lol

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ha Ha Ha! That's Great! Dr. Seuss creations on acid!

    I know that there are some truly awful flicks out there, nut when it came to "Konga" I had expectations of something better.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! You weren't kidding about GORGA! lol

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk3jUxjfKKg&feature=player_embedded#

    ReplyDelete

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