Konga (1961) | The kitsch British ape movie that explodes with mighty fury and spectacle!


‘Fantastic! There’s a huge monster gorilla that’s constantly growing to outlandish proportions loose in the streets!’
Batty botanist Dr Charles Decker (Michael Gough) experiments with a growth serum to create giant insectivorous plants and an oversized chimp [actually a man in a gorilla suit – see box below], which he hypnotises and orders to kill his rivals. When Decker hits on a pretty young student in a tight sweater (Claire Gordon), the deranged scientist’s devoted assistant Margaret (Margo Johns) turns green with envy and gives Konga an overdose. Growing to 100ft tall, Konga heads to Big Ben clutching a doll (standing in for Gough’s Decker) for a final showdown on the banks of the Thames.

Konga (1961)

Not since “King Kong”…has the screen exploded with such mighty fury and spectacle!
This daft slice of 1960s British schlock, filmed at the legendary Merton Park Studios in south London – where some 130 films were made between 1939 and 1967 – features the late, great Michael Gough (he was Alfred in Tim Burton’s Batman movies) in his ultimate scenery-chewing role.

Gough made a series of chillers for Konga’s producer Herman Cohen, including Horrors of the Black Museum (also available on DVD from Network Distributing), Black Zoo, Berserk and Trog (Joan Crawford’s last film), but he is so compelling playing the crazed, cold-hearted scientist that he makes the movie read like great drama. His sleazy sexist Decker also gets to utter some eye-wateringly funny dialogue such as: ‘Margaret, I can’t stand hysterics. Especially in the morning.’ Also monkeying around the wonky sets are pop singer Jess Conrad and Steven Berkoff as a couple of hip botany students.

Being the ‘last world in Giant entertainment’, Konga is best experienced with like-minded lovers of retro sci-fi horror. So get your mates around for this gloriously kitsch nonsense.

Konga (1961)

Network Distributing’s 2013 DVD release boasts a fine transfer (I saw this on the big screen and it looked great, even the lame miniature sets and foam rubber giant plants), plus there’s the trailer (featuring great taglines like ‘Not seen King Kong has the screen exploded with such fury and spectacle’) and an OK gallery.

The same core group of actors in Hollywood played gorillas and giant apes in hundreds of film and TV productions between the 1930s and the 1970s because they owned their own gorilla suit. One of them was George Barrows, whose suit loaned out for 1961’s Konga (where it was worn by Paul Stockman). But perhaps the suit’s lowest moment was when Burrows wore it with a silly goldfish bowl helmet in place of a head in the 1953 turkey Robot Monster.

About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on April 30, 2014, in British Film, Cult classic, Horror, Must See, Must-See and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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