MGM // 1960 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // December 6th, 2005
Not since King Kong...has the screen exploded with such mighty fury and spectacle!
Photographed in SpectraMation and Eastman Color. Whatever the hell that means.
A plane carrying scientist Charles Decker (Michael Gough, Batman Returns) crashes into the African jungle. Although he is quickly given up for dead, Dr. Decker returns to London a year later, an infant chimpanzee named Konga in tow. Determined to prove there is a link between the evolutions of animal and plant life, Decker injects the chimp with a growth serum he has extracted from carnivorous flora. The chimp begins growing rapidly, and Dr. Decker realizes he can use Konga as an instrument to rid himself of anyone who stands in the way of his scientific breakthrough. Three people are soon found dead, and Scotland Yard is baffled as to why a murderous monkey is terrorizing the people of London.
This movie is just damned silly. I cannot think of any other way to describe it.
I knew I was in for a grand time right from the get-go. The engine on Dr. Decker's plane sputters and conks out, but the propeller never stops turning. When the plane finally crashes into the jungle, a large canned-gasoline explosion fills the screen. This is followed by a scene of Dr. Decker exiting a commercial airline flight, a young chimpanzee clinging to his arm. Can you really get away with that? Are chimps considered carry-on luggage?
It gets better. Decker and his assistant Margaret (Margo Johns, Meet Sexton Blake) begin tending to the plants Decker has brought back from Africa. Some of these plants resemble Venus flytraps, while others look like large eggplants to which protruding tongues have been attached. (One scene shows a pair of these eggplant-things in the midst of some kind of aberrant form of foreplay. I would try to describe it in more detail, but mere words cannot do it justice.) Decker extracts a growth serum from the plants. Margaret's cat laps up some of the serum. Decker put two bullets into the cat because he thinks it would be impolite to allow a leopard-sized tabby to roam the streets of London. Decker later injects the serum into Konga's ass. The screen gets all blurry; when it clears up, Konga has become an adult chimp. (Remember to eat your vegetables, kids!) The dean of Decker's college doesn't think too highly of Decker's research. Decker injects more serum into Konga's ass. The screen gets all blurry; when it clears up, the chimp has morphed into a man in a cheap gorilla suit. Decker whips out his trusty penlight and hypnotizes Konga into becoming his hitman. He then loads Konga into a van, drives over to the dean's house, and sics Konga on the poor chap. The next morning Margaret reads about the attack in the local paper. How does she react to finding out Decker is a murderer? She begs him to marry her, of course.
Decker later meets another scientist who is working on similar animal/plant experiments. Decker thinks they should join forces, but the other man rebuffs him. Decker then loads Konga into the van, drives over to the man's home, and sics Konga on the poor chap. Despite agreeing to marry Margaret, Decker becomes obsessed with one of his students, a big-breasted blonde named Sandra (Claire Gordon, Sex Farm). Bob, another of Decker's students, also has his eye on Sandra. Bob thinks Decker is attempting to brainwash Sandra, so he roughs Decker up. On the night Bob and Sandra are to have their first date, Decker loads Konga into his van and drives over to Bob's house. Bob comes out, hops on his Vespa, and is strangled by Konga, who was hiding in some nearby bushes. Margaret wants to know why Decker killed Bob. She soon finds out, as Decker invites Sandra over to his home and asks her to be his new assistant. Margaret gets pissed and injects more serum into Konga (although she at least has the decency to shoot it into his arm), uses the penlight to make the chimp her slave, and sets him loose. Konga grows another thirty feet and suddenly develops a mind of his own. He picks up Margaret, squeezes the life out of her, and tosses her to the ground. He then tears up the house and grabs Decker. Meanwhile, Sandra is attacked and consumed by Decker's man-eating plants.
Konga wanders the streets of London, ignoring Decker's pleas to release him. Reports of the rampage reach the police. The police call in the military. Konga stops by Big Ben to check the time. The military shows up and opens fire. Konga drops Decker, who dies when he hits the asphalt. Despite the fact that not a single shot appears to strike him, Konga eventually is killed. He falls to the ground and reverts to his infant chimp state.
Silly, huh? But that's what you would expect from producer Herman Cohen, the man responsible for such camp classics as I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and I Was a Teenage Werewolf. (Cohen also had a hand in writing the script for Konga, working here with Trog scribe Aben Kandel.) The visual effects live up to Cohen's exacting standards. In addition to the aforementioned exploding plane and blurred-out growth sequences, you also get some laughable miniatures work. When Konga grabs Margaret, the doll used to represent her is the spitting image of that doll that looks like George's mother in that episode of Seinfeld. (I tried to find a link to a photo of this doll, but was unsuccessful.) When Konga tears apart Decker's home, it's quite obvious the inner walls of the home are made of cardboard. And you should see Michael Gough's head superimposed over the head of the doll that's meant to be him during Konga's final rampage. The poor bastard. Speaking of the finale...heh-heh. Thousands of rounds are fired at Konga. Tracers -- represented by scratches on the negative -- fly up at him before arcing over his head and falling harmlessly behind him. Grenades are fired at him, only to explode in ineffectual puffs of smoke. Konga swats at the hail of bullets, swinging wildly but never making contact with any of the projectiles headed his way. The poor bastard. (Man, that's some good stuff.)
Although the video quality of this release isn't perfect, it's nevertheless light years beyond what I was expecting. There's some artifacting in a few scenes, but that is the only transfer-related defect to be found. The real problem is print damage, most notably a fair amount of nicks and speckling. The audio doesn't fare quite as well. Despite the fact the volume has to be cranked for anything at all to be heard, dialogue comes through fine, but the score sounds creaky and shrill. The only extras on the disc are previews for Godzilla: Final Wars and MirrorMask, which is somewhat disappointing, as I was hoping to see the original theatrical trailer for Konga (you just know it has to rule).
Darling, don't you monkey with the monkey.
Man in suit notwithstanding, this thing is guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.66:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1960
MPAA Rating: Not Rated