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Britain's answer to King Kong and Korea's answer to Godzilla together at last!
on 17 May 2012
"There's a huge monster gorilla that's constantly growing to outlandish proportions loose in the streets!"
Konga is probably schlock producer Herman Cohen's best-remembered film after I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, and even began its life intended to round out the series as I Was a Teenage Gorilla before settling for the usual mad scientist formula as Michael Gough's homicidal Dr Dekker returns from a year lost in the jungle with a chimpanzee and the secret of how increase the size of plants and animals. Naturally this leads to growing a greenhouse full of giant carnivorous plants and - after killing the cat - giving little Konga an injection that not only increases his size and strength but it turns him from a chimp into a gorilla who will follow his every command to kill the college dean and the professional rival who stands in the way of his place in the history books as well as the odd student who stands in the way of his star pupil and spectacularly bad actress Claire Gordon. Naturally the mad doctor's faithful assistant isn't too keen on this and gives Konga an injection of her own, but gets the dosage wrong, and Konga finally goes on a rampage through the streets of London. It's not much of a rampage, more of a leisurely stroll through Westminster with Michael Gough playing the Fay Wray part and Konga's size changing from shot to shot, but at least it gave the film's poster artists something to work with before it quickly meets its end aside Big Ben.
While it shares the usual faults of Cohen's "we've got a great title and a great poster, whadda we want with a script?" epics, not least the incredibly awkward use of language that's such a distinctive feature of his British films, it's just not as enjoyable as it should be. Sure there's Claire Gordon's spectacularly bad acting, Jess Conrad's inability to pronounce his `r's and the striking absurdity of the firemen who don't notice the 40ft gorilla in the back garden (but then considering Gough is too busy grappling with Gordon in the greenhouse he doesn't hear him destroy his house that's par for the course), but there's not enough rampant silliness or mindless destruction to make it more than watchable. Still, there's a good score from Gerard Schurmann.
MGM/UA's NTSC DVD offers a decent transfer but no extras.
Yongary - Monster From the Deep, Korea's first grab for a slice of the 60's Godzilla market is no Host. It's very much an example of optimism over experience, but it does at least provide several opportunities to laugh at it rather than laugh with it. The plot is the usual one - atomic testing causes earthquakes that awaken Yongary, an ancient and almost anorexically slim monster whose existence is accepted by the authorities sight unseen without a moment's doubt. Can our workaholic scientist hero save the day? Can the special effects get any worse?
Unlike the Godzilla films, there's no subtext here: this is just a man in a joyfully unconvincing monster suit crushing toy tanks and knocking down balsa wood buildings. While it will make even the most casual viewer reassess the credibility of the Toho films, it's not just a matter of bad special effects. This is pretty inept all round - in one scene a guard repeats his lines twice as if two takes had been used instead of one while in one memorable effects shot people fleeing Yongary are shot so wildly out-of-scale against the model city that they look like they're30 feet tall themselves. Still, in a brain-off, possibly-had-too-much-to-drink way it does offer some entertainment value, and the sight of Yongary bopping away to rock'n'roll on a kid's transistor radio is almost worth the price of admission on its own.
MGM/UA's Midnite Movies double-bill only includes the dubbed US 79-minute version of Yonary with no extras.