Dr. Decker comes back from Africa after a year, presumed dead. During that year, he came across a way of growing plants and animals to an enormous size. He brings back a baby chimpanzee to test out his theory.
During the early 1950s, America was awash with giant monster movies such as Gordon Douglas’s Them! and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, which then inspired Japanese studio Toho to kick start their kaiju-eiga with Gorjira in 1954 before moving on to movies such as Rodan, Varan, Mothra and (to some extent) The Mysterians. However, the UK didn’t really have a giant monster movie to write home about.
Which brings us to today’s DVD release of Konga – a 1961 British b-movie directed by John Lemont starring Michael Gough (Batman’s Alfred). Gough plays Dr Deckard, a brilliant scientist who shows up back in London after being missing for a full year. During this time, he discovered a link between plant, human and animal cells that means he can speed up growth and therefore evoultion. He tests this experiment out on a chimpanzee named Konga who grows to be giant size. But when people start to get in his way, he uses Konga to dispatch of them.
So, the plot is typical b-movie affair, the acting is beyond silly and the effects are not up to the standard of its US and Japanese counterparts, but do you know what? I loved this movie.
Mainly due to Michael Gough’s Dr. Deckard. The character is an interesting one anyway as the mad scientist who gets drunk on power, but Gough’s ham and cheese sandwich performance just takes his madness to a whole new level. He chews the scenery with such glee and delight that you can’t help but love every frame of film he’s in. Sadly he is not supported by a cast who can match his ‘up to 11’ levels which often means he’s too over-the-top, but it is a brilliant ‘so bad it’s good’ performance that really deserves to be seen.
Despite the movie being really, really fun, it is often dimissed by film lovers for it’s poor effects. As I noted earlier, Konga is not on par with the suitmation of Gojira nor the stop motion of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, and at times it can look very silly. The animatronics on Konga’s face are pretty decent and some of the minature work is okay, but a lot of the time it looks ridiculous – especially when he is “holding” people. If you don’t fancy buying the movie, there is a video on Youtube that demonstrates some of the lousy effects.
On top of that, it’s sad to say that once Konga gets oversized, the film does become a little placid. All the build up of Dr. Deckard getting his commpance for trying to play God takes a backseat for pure spectacle that often makes Konga feel like a poor man’s King Kong. The final scene features far too much padding which makes Konga’s conculsion a little repetitive and boring which is such a shame as this should have been the great payoff.
But who cares if the acting is lame? Or that the story is standard? Or that the effects are a little naff? I loved Konga and I don’t care who knows it. Unless you’re a massive fan of giant monster movies or b-movie cinema, you’ll find nothing here but a silly little movie to laugh at. But if you’re into this sort of thing, I recommend it whole heartidly.