Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

KONGA


KONGA (1961). Director: John Lemont.

"If there's one thing I can't abide, it's hysterics!"

Producer Herman Cohen and star Michael Gough teamed for three British horror films in the sixties: Black Zoo, Horrors of the Black Museum and Konga, all of which are zesty fun. Konga is probably the weakest of the three, but it's still quite entertaining in its zany way. Gough plays Dr. Decker, who returns from an African expedition with weird plants that he's convinced will provide the link between vegetable and human life! He also develops a serum that turns his adorable pet chimp Konga into -- bizarrely -- a gorilla, and then [at the climax] a giant Kong-like monster that struts through downtown London with Decker in his paw. The vivid Gough is great fun as the gleefully sociopathic Decker, and Margo Johns is almost as vivid as his secretary/assistant/lover Margaret. Jess Conrad scores as the jealous boyfriend of a buxom student (an acceptable Claire Gordon) whom Decker takes a shine to. The effects may be cheesy but the climax is effective enough, and the strange plant life Decker puts in his greenhouse with their eternally snapping mouths look creepy. With its comical illogic and all-over-the-map plot line Konga resembles nothing so much as an old-time cliffhanger serial, and was even turned into a comic book by Charlton Publications in the sixties which ran for a couple of years. Gerard Shurmann's excellent score is probably superior to the material. Read more about this film and others like it in Creature Features.

Verdict: A Big Ape in London! **1/2.

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