DVD Review: KONGA (1961)

PrintE-mail Written by Paul Mount

Review: Konga / Cert: PG / Director: John Lemont / Screenplay: Herman Cohen, Aben Kandel / Starring: Michael Gough, Margo Johns, Jess Conrad, Claire Gordon / Release Date: May 13th

Fans of giant ape movies will go bananas at the arrival on DVD in the UK of Konga, one of the most inept and clumsy monster movies in the history of monkey men. Konga is so stupefying incompetent that even the back-handed ‘so bad it’s good’ compliment doesn’t even begin to do it injustice. The truth is that Konga is so bad it’s absolutely brilliant.

Deliciously deadpan Michael Gough plays Dr Charles Decker, returned to England following a year stranded in the jungle after an aeroplane crash and with a cute chimpanzee called Konga clasped to his breast. The former passionate botanist ruthlessly abandons his experiments with pretty plants and replaces them with quick growing – and embarrassing looking – carnivorous plants from which he extracts a remarkable new growth serum. Before long Konga is growing to enormous proportions! In fact, so remarkable is Decker’s serum that poor Konga turns from a cuddly chimpanzee into… er… a man in a threadbare gorilla costume. Explain that one, David Attenborough. Decker’s gone completely round the bend by now and is, in fact, half way back again. He uses Konga to bump off his enemies and love-rivals until his loyal assistant Margaret (Johns) gives Konga one injection too many after catching sight of Decker’s clumsy, if hilarious, romantic advances towards busty student Sandra (the dire Sandra Gordon). Konga rampages (slowly) around London before finally meeting his maker in front of a model of Big Ben after throwing a doll of Michael Gough to the ground in a tantrum.

Alongside special effects – said to have taken a year to complete – which are beyond appalling, acting which is generally atrocious (apart from the magnificent Gough who is gloriously sleazy as the demented Decker), there’s dialogue to cherish. “Even those few drops could have made Tabby swell up to huge proportions… the world’s not ready for a cat the size of a leopard wandering the streets of London,” says Decker just after shooting his cat which has lapped up a few drops of spilt serum. Later, an aghast police officer reports that, “There’s a huge monster gorilla that’s constantly growing to outlandish proportions loose in the streets!” Priceless.

You may have thought that King Kong or Mighty Joe Young were your favourite big screen killer gorillas but once you’ve fallen for the charms of this extraordinarily entertaining 1961 British creature feature, you’ll surely agree that Konga is your new preferred primate.  

Extras: Jess Conrad intro / Trailer / Gallery

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