Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Grace Arnold, George Barrows, Nicholas Bennett, Herman Cohen (II), Jess Conrad
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Horror
Lost in the African jungles for over a year, Dr. Charles Decker (Michael Gough, Horror Hospital) has returned to England with Konga, a baby chimpanzee. Disappearing into his lab, the mad botanist begins work on what he bel... more »
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Part of Kong-mania - it's finally on DVD
joseph Corey | Raleigh, NC United States | 10/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was originally put out on VHS as part of the Midnite Movie series, but in order to cash in on Kong-mania, Sony is putting it out as a solo release.
Dr. Decker comes back from Africa with a secret way of growing plants and animals to huge sizes. He decides to make a chimp huge so that he can take care of his enemies. Konga becomes enormous and attacks London. That's right - giant ape rampages in London.
If you're going to go Big Ape crazy on DVD in the season of the Kong, this is essential for your collection."
"What you have done will startle the world!"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 01/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the last of the successful co-productions between American International Pictures (AIP) and producer Herman Cohen comes Konga (1961), which Herman not only co-producer, but also shared in the writing credits. Some of their most famous collaborations included I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957), neither of which, as I write this, are available as of yet on DVD, but should be (Konga was produced with the working title I Was a Teenage Gorilla)...anyway, directed by John Lemont (The Frightened City), the film stars Michael Gough, who appeared in a number of Cohen's features including Horrors of the Black Museum (1959), Black Zoo (1963), Berserk! (1968), but many movie goers will probably recognize him from some of his later films, including his appearances in the various Batman films as Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred Pennyworth. Also appearing is Margo Johns (This Is My Street), Jess Conrad (The Assassination Bureau), Claire Gordon (Beat Girl), and George Barrows, as Konga...interestingly enough this wasn't George's first (or last) time donning a big, hairy gorilla suit, as he appeared in Robot Monster (1953), as Ro-Man, the alien with a gorilla body and a diver's helmet for a head, along with Gorilla at Large (1954), as Goliath the Gorilla, Black Zoo (1963), as The Ape, and finally in Hillbillys (sic) in a Haunted House (1967), as Anatole the gorilla...
As the film begins we see a small plane crashing into the African jungle, one carrying famed, English botanist Dr. Charles Decker (Gough), thought to have perished in the accident. Well, turns out Decker didn't die, and has spent the last year in Uganda, assisted by friendly natives, making some incredible discoveries (plants with human characteristics and growth properties), ones which he is now bringing back to England, along with a chimpanzee monkey named Konga. Decker returns home, finding his affairs still in order thanks to his assistant/secretary/housekeeper (I wonder if three jobs means three paychecks?) Margaret (Johns), who obviously has a bad case of unrequited love for the professor. Anyway, Decker begins growing his own, meat eating, mutant plants, extracting their juices, which he laces with some obedience seeds, and then injects into the pint-sized Konga causing him to grow from a small ape to a slightly larger ape, and then later into a full size gorilla...more aptly, a full sized man in a gorilla suit, obedient to Decker's commands. Decker has a bit of a falling out with the dean of the school where he teaches, to which he let's the hulking Konga settle the dispute, along with later instructing Konga to deal with a scientific rival, whom Decker, the glory hog, feared would beat him to the punch with his own findings. Also, Decker seems to have taken an unhealthy, lecherous interest in one of his students, Sandra (Gordon), much to the chagrin of her boyfriend Bob (Conrad). Things get out of hand, a scorned woman exacts her revenge (at terrible cost), and soon a 50 foot man in a gorilla suit is terrorizing London, destroying a few miniature sets along the way, leading to mayhem of the wackiest kind as the Brits find themselves up a ginormous monkey creek without a banana paddle...
All in all I thought Konga was a blast...yeah, it tended to get a bit talky at times, but there was enough of the insano to keep me interested. My favorite aspect was seeing Michael Gough, a normally reserved British actor, taking it over the top, an opportunity which he seemed to relish when appearing in numerous Cohen features. His character here was intriguing in that he first appeared the altruistic sort, interested in the advancement of knowledge for the betterment of all mankind, but this was soon polluted with dreams of self aggrandizement along with his wanton desires towards his comely student Sandra, a naïve blondie with a huge rack. He's condescending, misogynistic (a common theme in Cohen's films), manipulative, and completely unsympathetic, perfectly illustrated in the scene where his cat gets into his serum, resulting in a swift dispatch of the feline for fear the affected animal would tip his scientific hand before he was ready. As far as the rest of the cast, they do well enough, but all seem background players against Gough's character. The story itself is fun, albeit containing a number of rather large plot holes including the aspect of the serum turning a chimpanzee monkey into a gorilla, especially since it seemed the only properties it was supposed to have were to embiggen creatures, not transmute them into different species. Another element that stood out was Konga's subservience to Decker...did the serum also allow for the primate to understand the English language? In terms of the special effects, some were quite good, like near the end when the giant Konga was roaming the city streets, while some quite ridiculous, specifically Konga himself. The ape suit wasn't the worst I've seen, but it did look pretty funky, and was very droopy in the drawers, often appearing as if Konga sported a perpetual load in his furry pants. The unintentionally funniest scenes are near the end, as Konga grows to a staggering degree, almost as tall as Big Ben. At first, when people on the street witness the behemoth their demeanor hardly changes, but then the expected, uncontrolled panic finally comes, as does the trigger happy army, who begin blasting away despite the very obvious fact that Konga is carrying Decker in his shaggy mitt. Oh well, what's the life of one compared to many? Well, perhaps they saw as I did, that Konga did, in fact, have only a poor looking doll, made up to look like a person, in his paw rather than a real human being. Another really goofy part is Konga just stops at Big Ben, and stands there for about five minutes, allowing for the military to get set up. The ending sequence is hardly a battle, but more so target practice as Konga seemed to have little will for retaliation.
The fullscreen (1.66:1) picture on this DVD is excellent, looking very sharp and clean, looking better than any video release I've previously seen, and the mono audio comes through very clear. There are no extras included, except for a couple of previews for the films Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) and MirrorMask (2005).
If you're interested in some other, cheaply made, good for laughs, giant simian films I'd suggest the following...The Mighty Gorga (1969), Ape (1976), Queen Kong (1976), Mighty Peking Man (1980), and King Kong Lives (1986)...all are available on DVD in some form or another.
Two Movies In One.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 11/06/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Leave it to B movie mogul Herman Cohen (I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF) to give us two movies for the price of one low budget effort and that's what KONGA is. The first hour of the film is remarkably well done with an intelligent script (under the circumstances) and a creative use of color for the background sets. The unique carnivorous plants are cleverly done and the movie is professionally shot by celebrated cameraman Desmond Dickinson (HORROR HOTEL/CITY OF THE DEAD). Add to that an increasingly demented performance by Michael Gough as the mad doctor and a study in feminine frustration from Margo Johns as his assistant and you had the makings of a true classic. However once the "gorilla" enters the picture it, as the Brits would say, "goes straight into the crapper".
I don't have any qualms about them using a guy in a gorilla suit but this is the worst gorilla suit I have ever seen. It was borrowed from celebrated "apeman" George Barrows who should have been hired because whoever they got had no idea how to act like a monkey. Once KONGA was introduced , it's as if the filmmakers knew the jig was up and they just threw in the towel. The special effects become increasingly substandard and there isn't even a pretense of disguising how bad they are. The last fifteen minutes of the film left the audience in hysterics according to people who saw it in 1961 and it's easy to see why. That's what makes KONGA such a guilty pleasure. Adding to the fun is the fact that the cast plays it with an incredibly straight face with no hint of camp. The final shot of the poor little chimp lying dead in the street has to be seen to be believed.
The remarkable thing about this DVD (as mentioned in an earlier review) is how good it looks. I had never seen KONGA in color before much less in widescreen. The color is very important as the first half of the film (as mentioned earlier) seems to have a psychological basis for its color scheme. The widescreen actually makes it looks more expensive than it is until it falls apart at the end. There's no way that they couldn't know how bad it looked and I think they deliberately made it that way. Either way KONGA is one of those movies that is so bad that it's good and they just don't make em like that anymore. Although this single DVD is out of print, there are plenty to go around and if you love old style bad movies than you can't afford to pass this one up especially at these prices."
Interesting Low Budget British Horror Effort With It's Own U
Simon Davis | 12/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've long wanted to see this 1961 Herman Cohen production that seems to be forever being labelled as a poor British imitation of King Kong. Infact its story is totally different from that earlier classic and was one that I found rather interesting. Combined with a fine British cast headed by the always fascinating Michael Gough in the lead "Konga", was a most enjoyable effort that was low on the expected special effects and placed more emphasis on the human side of this doctor's quest to find and manipulate the secrets of evolution for his own benefit. While "Konga", admittedly did have a premise very typical of the "Mad Doctor" efforts that often starred the likes of Bela Lugosi and George Zucco in the 1940's, it in many ways was a product of the 1960's with its college student element very present in the story complete with rock and roll music and busty young female students. Konga himself is an interesting creature, and creates quite a creepy presense when he begins to grow in size and especially when he becomes the tool of Michael Gough's twisted character.
As the story opens we see a plane crash land in the jungles of Uganda, on board is Dr. Charles Decker (Michael Gough), a highly successful botanist who somehow survives the crash and spends the next year living with some of the local tribes. While there Dr. Decker stumbles across some of the amazing secrets in acclerated animal growth practised by one of the local witch doctors. Returning to civilization after a year Dr. Decker begins his own experiments based on the theory of there being a link between the growth patterns of plant sand animals. Decker uses a baby chimpanzee "baby Konga", as a guinea pig. Raising strange looking carnivorous plants brought back from Uganda in a hot house Dr. Decker injects some of the plants serum into the chimp which results in Konga beginning to grow in size at an amazing rate. However Dr. Decker begins to develop very unstable character patterns and very soon Konga is being used by him in a murderous killing spree against anyone who either stands in his way or opposes his research. His first victim is the Dean of his University (Austin trevor), who thinks Decker's research is madness and he has his neck broken by Konga who is hypnotised to follow on decker's commands. Next victim is fellow researcher Prof. Tagore (George Pastell), who is close to uncovering the same findings as Decker and is removed in the same brutal manner by the rapidly growing Konga. As Decker's mind becomes more warped and unstable he even develops a strange fantasy for one of his research students Sandra (Claire Gordon), and has Konga kill her boyfiend when he starts to become suspicious of Decker's intentions toward Sandra. Decker's long suffering assistant and wife Margaret (Margo Johns),becomes aware of Decker's murderous activites and keeps quiet about it until she overhears Decker's plans to get rid of her in favour of Sandra and she injects Konga with a hug edose of the serum and in an act of revenge against Decker she commands him to follow her orders however Konga grows to an amazing size and destroys the house and escapes into the country. He captures Decker and carries him through his rampage which takes him into Central London. Right beside Big Ben Konga becomes trapped as the military close in on him and the story ends in tragedy for the unfortunate beast.
Thankfully changed from its pre release title of "I Was a Teenage Gorilla", "Konga", was of course the brain child of lengendary "B" producer Herman Cohen who I remember best for his two collaborations with veteran Hollywood star Joan Crawford in the late 1960's in "Berserk", and "Trog". Like most of Cohen's efforts "Konga" manages to have quite a polished look to it despite the very obvious use of miniatures and dolls standing in for humans at various times when Konga has grown to a huge size. Often strangely called a rip off of the classic "King Kong",really the only thing that the two stories have in common is a giant gorilla. "Konga", of course abounds with scientific absurdities which the viewer needs to put into the right perspective when viewing a film of this kind, the biggest error being of course how a small baby chimpanzee suddenly turns into a different species, namely a gorilla when it is injected with the growth serum. Those faux pas aside the story is an intriguing one of greed and madness and the lengths one admittedly gifted individual will go to achieve success and recognition in his field. Actor Michael Gough is really the whole film in his admittedly very colourful performance as the mad scientist who will not let anyone stand in his way on the road to success. Compared to Michael Gough's character the supporting cast are a rather colourless group especially Margo Johns as Decker's long suffering wife, and Claire Gordon as Decker's young student who he develops a rather unhealthy attraction to. George Pastell who was superb as the villianous high priest in Hammer Studios classic horror tale "The Mummy", in 1959 however does make the most of his small role as Decker's rival researcher who meets a grizzly end thanks to Konga's crushing grip. Like all Cohen productions "Konga", is for the most part good at hiding alot of its low budget origins with its rich colour and at times quite good production values. The scenes of where Konga grows to gigantic size and goes on his rampage through London are reasonably well done for the early 1960's and the carnivorous plants in Decker's hothouse are especially great fun to look at as well.
Konga for the most part may be only a man in a rather fake looking monkey suit however the off centre logic in much of "Konga" is definately compensated for by Michael Gough's handling of his decidely unstable character. Long a respected villian in many British productions Gough really lifts "Konga", up a notch or two from this type of usual matinee fare and its a joy that this hard to find film has finally been given a first class DVD treatment so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come. Early filmmakers often worked wonders with very little money and "Konga", still entertains even in the light of our more modern special effects wonders in films of today. Enjoy a deranged Michael Gough going all out to remove anyone seeking to interfere with his lifes work in Herman Cohen's fun Gorilla picture "Konga", soon.