Random Film of the Week: KONGA

(thanks, Movie Trailer Graveyard!)

Konga MPWhile it’s not the worst man in a gorilla suit sci-fi/horror hybrid out there (Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla or A*P*E*, anyone?) 1961’s KONGA is nevertheless a terrifyingly bad movie that’s worth a watch for a few reasons. You’ll marvel at the ferocious, scenery chewing by Michael Gough’s mad botanist/scientist Dr. Charles Decker, the kitchen sink plot that tosses in carnivorous plants, terrible, inaccurate science, botany and biology, a love triangle that’s actually a square that gets whittled away corner by corner as the film progresses and some mostly lousy special effects that make this a total howler. I’ll get back to the ape suit later and the man in it, as both are another key to making this film so hysterically funny.

You have to admire a film that wants you to believe that Dr. Decker returns from his year-long trip to Africa (he’s actually missing and presumed dead!) with some strange ideas, some recipes for a serum that can make plants and animals grow to extreme sizes and a cute baby chimpanzee. His plant experiments end up creating a number of oversize man-eating varieties including (eek) some that look like gigantic black rubber penises with green veins a’poppin’ and red tongues hanging out (seriously). Before that rolls around in your head too much, Decker’s real showpiece is Konga, that baby chimpanzee he gives his serum who SOMEHOW changes into a gorilla (Wait, WHAT? Science takes another hit, folks POW!) before using his new “pet” to get revenge on a few of his peers (spoilers inbound, but it doesn’t matter because even if it’s all given away, this one’s worth seeing for the laughs it provides)… Continue reading

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Random Film of the Week: Master of the World

Master of the WorldAh, Master of the World… you’re so well intentioned but when all is said and done you’re just not as good a film as you wanted to be… and that’s too bad. Even the great Vincent Price reading the words of the great Richard Matheson (who reworked elements from two of the great Jules Verne’s books into a screenplay) can’t save you from your crushing mediocrity. Nope, those barrel bottom visual effects work and an unfunny comic relief chef character tossed into the rather serious story can’t keep this Albatross afloat at all. That said, it’s an OK flick if you don’t mind it reminding you of a few better ones it tries so hard to template.

Now, call me crazy… but I think the idea of a war-hating kind of madman flying around the world and waging war against people who wage wars is both nuts and necessary in this day and age. However, this film fails to excite on a few levels other than giving Price his juicy lead role and Charles Bronson a chance to play a rugged-looking 19th century good guy for a change. For all its explosions and shouting, it makes the idea of Price’s bomb-dropping anti-war antihero Robur a pretty dull one and the film wears out its welcome around the halfway point… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: “X”- The Man With The X-Ray Eyes

 

X-TheManWithTheX-RayEyesMPOhhhh-kay... I’m having a SERIOUS case of déjà vu here. I know for a fact that I’d written up a review of this great 1963 Roger Corman “B” flick a few years back and posted it either on the old blog, here or somewhere else, but it’s nowhere to be found as far as I’ve checked. Crazy! Or perhaps I had such a vivid dream about writing this up that I merely THOUGHT that I’d run a review. Hey, it happens. But only to me, it seems…

Anyway, I despise rewriting stuff, so it could be that I did a draft that was close to completion but somehow was deleted or accidentally overwritten thanks to that oddball WordPress flaw where if you have two “Add New Post” tabs open and make the mistake of using them for new posts, you overwrite the first post with the second. Anyway, this is one of those really surprising low-budget films that, thanks to some great casting and some genuinely tight direction, manages to be much better than it should be… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week (Trois): Sisters

Sisters“There was NO body because there was NO murder!”  is a great line, folks. Use it wisely, as it’ll either get you in or out of a lot of trouble depending on when and how it’s spoken.  Anyway, I must be losing my mind because I really thought I did this one as a RFoTW already. But it was either a dream I had about writing it up (hey, it happens every so often!) or perhaps I’d referenced this great 1973 flick in another film article from a while back.

Before we begin, a note (la!): there’s a 2006 remake of this Brian De Palma horror classic that’s a must to avoid, as it reworks too much, has some odd casting choices that don’t work and ends up being more annoying than scary. See it if you must, but not before checking out the original first. Of course, If your eyebrow has locked itself in a stiff “Oh Really?” position (meaning you’ve seen The Black Dahlia), trust me – from the second that incredibly loud (and incredibly brilliant) Bernard Herrmann main theme kicks in, you’ll be shocked into your seat and unable to look away… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week(end)*: Dementia 13

(thanks, drbloodsvideovault!)

dementia 13Sure, it’s a quickly made post-Psycho cash-in with the added shock value of a character getting decapitated on screen (a rather nifty cheap effect if you’ve never seen this flick before), but thanks to a creepier tone and some nicely tense lensing by a young director named Francis Ford Coppola, Dementia 13 manages to be a pretty decent little horror film.

Granted, if you pay enough attention past making popcorn and turning your brain off to watch this one, much of the script and more of the dialogue make about as much sense as a cat driving an oil tanker full of Tater Tots down a freeway on the way to the mall. But on its own merits, it’s a fine directorial debut brought in on a shoestring by the director and enhanced by producer Roger Corman to include the aforementioned head removal and some other elements he thought would punch things up a a bit more…

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Random Film of the Week(end): Reptilicus

(thanks, horrormovieshows!)
 

reptilicus posterAfter the successes of Godzilla and other Japanese and American giant monster movies in the 1950’s it seems that a few other countries wanted to get aboard the money train and come up with their own flicks featuring mutated reptiles or other gigantic beasts. Now, Denmark is the absolute last place I’d think of when I think “giant slimy lizard terrorizing the masses!”, but it seems that a combination of national pride and the over-eagerness of its Danish producers to make a big splash onto the scene brought the world Reptilicus … and TWO versions of it, to boot.

If you were a kid growing up in the US in the late 60’s and 70’s, this one was a staple on a few TV channels across the country, popping up either in the afternoon or evening and sometimes late at night to not scare you at all. In fact, I can recall seeing this as a kid and being baffled, then bored, then amazed at how bad and cheap the movie looked, but still watching it to the very end each time…
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Random Film of the Week: Spirits of the Dead

spirits of the deadI’d only heard of this horror anthology film a few years back thanks to a friend who saw the restored final third and raved about it. Of course, I never got the chance to check that, nor the rest of this film out until recently when the movie popped up on TCM and after a sluggish first segment, had me glued to the couch taking in the assorted sights and sounds.

Spirits of the Dead (or Histoires extraordinaires if you happen to be French and want an alternate title) is an offbeat selection of three Edgar Allan Poe stories that’s best known today for its incredible (and completely bizarre) final chapter directed by the great Federico Fellini that has to be seen to be believed. I’ll get to that below, but I need to bury one corpse and beat a dead horse for a bit… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week(end): The Devil Within Her

the devil within herBad horror movies come in all types, but 1975’s The Devil Within Her (or I Don’t Want to Be Born) gets its own special place in film history for a few reasons. As you’re watching it and being completely baffled, amused and probably annoyed at what’s onscreen, you’ll probably wonder just what the hell got some very talented actors to commit to such an incredibly dumb movie. Just get a good look at that poster to the left and yes, your brain is popping already, right?

Then again, trying to make sense of this complete and utter mess is nothing but futile, as the movie does possibly the worst job at explaining its craziness in the first place. A “possessed” baby with super strength, a killer dwarf (or is it the baby?), a few bizarre murders (some of which are hilarious and/or unexpected), strippers, an exorcism and plenty of baffling dialog make this one an instant classic (provided you’ve got a good sense of humor)…

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Random Film of the Week: The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane


video courtesy of Youtuber rynnjacobs.com – Thanks!
 

While it hasn’t got gallons of blood spilling all over the place nor a high body count to rival later and much more exploitative genre flicks, there’s a constant and nicely weird vibe that runs throughout Nicholas Gessner’s 1976 film The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane that makes it one of those slow burning “horror” flicks that lingers in your brain after the credits have rolled. The movie is more of a mystery/suspense hybrid than an actual horror film, but it’s easy to see it falling into that latter classification because of one particularly sudden death and part of one or two other scenes. Then again, it’s also one of those great oddball movies where the people who do die get their just desserts and probably won’t be missed even by the most pacifistic film fan.

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