DVD Review | Konga | The kitsch 1960s British ape movie that deserves cult status

Konga DVD Cover

‘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*), 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.

Michael Gough and Claire Gordon in Konga

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 (out on DVD 24 June from Network), 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.

Jess Conrad and Claire Gordon in Konga

The Network 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.

Released on DVD 13 May 2013 in the UK from Network

George Burrows, whose suit was heavily damaged when it was loaned out for 1961’s Konga. 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.

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