"Fantastic! There's a huge, monster gorilla, that's constantly growing to outlandish proportions loose in the streets. It's heading towards the embankment area." This line is delivered in a completely flat, emotionless, British way towards the end of 1961's Konga starring Michael Gough.
Michael Gough is an actor I'm beginning to like a lot. Like a lot of people, I was only familiar with his roles in the first 4 Batman movies (he was way better than Michael Caine, btw). He is actually comparable to Peter Cushing in a role like this though, they are both strong, commanding, and play into these B movies like they genuinely care about them.
Konga is a very British King Kong ripoff that was not trying to break any rules or establish anything new, it was just taking a story like King Kong and adapting it into sort of a more "realistic" storyline. It's basically King Kong meets Frankenstein. Rather than having a giant ape exist outside of normal society, this story is about a man who creates a giant ape.
Michael Gough comes back from Africa in the beginning of this movie, intent on a new experiment that will link animals to plants. He has found strange varieties of African wild plants that feast on flesh and somehow he is going to link those to animals. He sets up his greenhouse with the plants, which look like giant Venus fly traps and pitcher plants - except they are a lot more dangerous and silly looking. He is helped by his assistant, Margaret. He is also a professor at a local university, where he is interested in a young student named Sandra.
He develops a green liquid from the plants, and this liquid he injects into his monkey friend Konga. Konga is a chimpanzee that saved his life in Africa apparently, and to reward this monkey he becomes his experimentation subject. So the green liquid makes the monkey grow, and turn into a different type of monkey. A while later round two comes and then the monkey grows into an ape (or, a dude in an ape costume). Gough's character then hypnotizes Konga and instructs her to follow his commands.
There is a definite point here, in the movie now, where the "line" is crossed. Gough uses his power over Konga to make Konga start killing people. First, it's a different scientist who is in the same field as him, and Gough is afraid of this scientist taking his glory. Then, it's another person and another.... Gough is clearly off the deep end. He also makes moves on Sandra which pisses off his old assistant Margaret. She then takes over Konga, grows Konga into a King Kong sized gorilla, and sets Konga loose upon England.
There, plot done with. I watched this movie not expecting too much, and realized I had actually seen it about 3 years ago. It was okay enough though, I had given it 3 stars on Netflix, so I thought I'd rewatch the rest for this review. And I enjoyed it again, but must complain:
1) too much talking. There's like, endless explanations and character development and plots, and it's a fucking giant ape movie! Get to the action!
2) No transition in Gough from ambitious scientist to madman. Although we believe in the character because of the actor, there is no lead up. It's just, bam, he's evil.
3) Of course, the obligatory no-giant-ape-until-the-last-10-minutes cliche, so we have to wait 80 minutes just to see the damn thing
Even those things aside, the movie is still fun. It's definitely weird and wacky, riffable, and a lot of fun. The pacing is okay even with the heavy dialogue. We do see plenty of the monkey in it's other forms (other than giant) and that makes for comedy since at times the costume is so stupid looking.
And like I said, Michael Gough does a great job selling the movie and his character, he is a great actor.
That leads me to a final rating, of again, 3 out of 5.