Konga is a 1961 British/American international co-production science fiction horror film directed by John Lemont and starring Michael Gough, Margo Johns and Austin Trevor. It was shot at Merton Park Studios and in Croydon for Anglo Amalgamated then distributed in the United States by American International Pictures (AIP) as a double feature with Master of the World. Anglo Amalgamated and AIP each provided half the funding for the US$500,000 film with each studio receiving distribution rights in their respective hemispheres.
Konga was the basis for a comic-book series published by Charlton Comics and initially drawn by Steve Ditko (prior to Ditko's co-creation of Spider-Man) in the 1960s.
British botanist Dr. Charles Decker (Michael Gough) comes back from Africa after a year, presumed dead. During that year, he came across a way of growing plants and animals to an enormous size. He brings back a baby chimpanzee, Konga, to test out his theory. Decker goes insane after he discovers a serum that turns his chimpanzee subject into a ferocious gorilla-sized ape. To further his hideous experiments, he mesmerizes the chimp and sends it to London to kill all his enemies who want more credit in the scientific community than he already has. Among his targets is Dean Foster (Austin Trevor) Professor Tagore (George Pastell) and Bob Kenton (Jess Conrad), the lover of Sandra Banks (Claire Gordon), the woman the doctor wants for himself.
After Konga strangles Bob Kenton to death, Decker attempts to make Sandra his own. This doesn't sit well with Margaret (Margo Johns), the botanist's assistant and current girlfriend, who attempts to get even by giving Konga an enormous amount of the strange serum and turns him into an enormous monster, although she becomes his first victim.
Just before going on a rampage, the super-sized ape grabs Decker in one of his enormous hands, while Sandra's arm is eaten by Decker's carnivorous plants. His rampage comes to a stop when he and Decker are killed by the British army. Upon his death, Konga reverts back to a baby chimpanzee.
- Michael Gough as Dr. Charles Decker
- Margo Johns as Margaret
- Jess Conrad as Bob Kenton
- Claire Gordon as Sandra Banks
- Austin Trevor as Dean Foster
- Jack Watson as Superintendent Brown
- George Pastell as Professor Tagore
- Vanda Godsell as Bob's Mother
- Stanley Morgan as Inspector Lawson
- Grace Arnold as Miss Barnesdell
- Leonard Sachs as Bob's Father
- Nicholas Bennett as Daniel
- Kim Tracy as Mary
- Rupert Osborne as Eric Kenton
- Waveney Lee as Janet Kenton
- John Welsh as Commissioner Garland
- Paul Stockman as Konga
List of deaths Edit
List of deaths in Konga.
|Name||Cause of Death||Killer||On Screen||[Collapse] Notes|
|British Pilot||Plane Crash||N/A||Yes||Accident|
|Margaret's Cat||Shot||Dr. Charles Decker||Yes|
|Margaret||Thrown onto fire||Konga||Yes|
|Sandra Banks||Eaten||Carnivorous Plants||Partially|
|Dr. Charles Decker||Thrown||Konga||Yes|
Following the incredible success of Herman Cohen's previous British made film Horrors of the Black Museum that also featured Michael Gough, Nat Cohen (who was no relation to Herman) of Anglo-Amalgamated asked Cohen for another exploitation film.
As Cohen had long admired King Kong he thought of a giant ape film shot in colour. Due to Cohen's success with his I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), AIP used "I Was a Teenage Gorilla" as the working title Cohen paid RKO Pictures $25,000 for the rights to the name of Kong for exploitation purposes. Cohen recalled that the special effects for the film that was one of the first giant monster movies shot in colour (Eastmancolor) took 18 months to complete. The climatic scene in London streets was possible when the producer was able to convince a police precinct captain that the scenes could be effectively staged late at night on essentially empty streets. [Note 1] A combination of miniature sets, an actor in a gorilla suit and use of studio mattes also made the technical aspects of the production look better than its meagre budget would allow.
Konga appeared as part of a program double-bill with Master of the World (1961). The film was reviewed in The New York Times, where the film critic Eugene Archer noted it played to "misplaced guffaws" and was further described as: "... the British 'Konga' is nothing more than an overblown 'King Kong,' hammily played by Michael Gough and an improbable-looking ape."
In a later Time Out film review, Konga was considered: "Inept, silly, and ludicrously enjoyable monster movie, with Gough as the mad boffin who injects a chimp with a growth serum, only to see it turn into an uncredited actor in a gorilla suit. Thereafter the ape grabs a Michael Gough doll and heads for Big Ben. Deeply political.