Movie Reviews 275 – Konga (1961)


Konga! King Kong’s British cousin. Well immigrant British cousin anyway since he was brought to London from Uganda by his keeper, Dr. Charles Decker (Michael Gough who most will recognize as Alfred, Batman’s butler in the movies of the 80’s and 90’s). Decker has just returned from the remote jungle after surviving a plane crash and then living with a tribe there for another year. But Decker’s lengthy stay had more to do with research of a particular nature than being lost in the jungle. There he learned secrets from a medicine man that he hopes will put him at the top academia and nobody is going to stop him from fame and fortune. And the key to his secret lies in Konga the little cute chimp he brought back along with a few bizzare plants.

He immediately sets up his old laboratory at home a resumes teaching genetics at the university, but his focus remains primarily on the variety of oversized carnivorous plants that now grow in his greenhouse. Lucky for him his infatuated secretary Margaret (Margo Johns) kept up the lab all this time despite the rest of the world having given up on him when they first learned of the crash with no sign of survivors.

Decker explains to Margaret how he can produce an extract from his new plants to both increase the size of animals and make them subservient to suggestions and commands. He begins injecting Konga who starts to grow before our very eyes.  But Dr. Decker does have a few problems.

The first problem is that the university dean isn’t to happy with Dr. Deckers outlandish claims in a radio interview and no longer wants him around. Since Decker needed to ‘prove’ Konga’s subservience he decides it convenient to sick the now Gorilla sized ape on his ungrateful boss. As luck would have it, Decker suddenly finds himself in this kind of a situation on more than one occasion, each problem being ‘solved’ by Konga. Margaret isn’t to happy with all this but corners Decker into a promise of marriage and she seems to be OK with all the killing after that.

But despite pledging to marry Margaret, the lecherous  Decker also has his sights on a particularly buxom student of his who shows promise both as a future scientist and as bedmate half his age. Konga once again comes to the rescue, disposing of the jealous male student who also had his eyes set on the young wench. But when Margaret learns of Decker’s attempt at the tryst and his true feelings for her she gives Konga one last boost of the growth juice which leads to the inevitable final gargantuan rampage in London with Big Ben substituting for the Empire State Building.

The special effects are laughable, especially the filming of the Konga’s growth spurts, but you’ll get a kick out of the exotic cannibal plant life growing in Decker’s lab. The substitution of dolls in lieu of bodies in Konga’s gigantic hands are ridiculously evident. Couldn’t they have gotten  Barbie and Ken dolls instead of those cheap baby dolls with oversized heads? Seriously, it would have been an improvement. And someone please explain to me how Konga manages to change from a chimpanzee to a gorilla as he grows up.

Throughout all the rampaging and killing, nary a drop of visible blood is spilt as far as the viewing audience is concerned. No, the only bloody scene comes at the expense of Decker’s poor kitty in the most ruthless and ghastliest sequence in the movie.

So kitty lovers beware! Ape lovers only have to worry about lack of good taste.


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