Friday, July 20, 2012

Konga (1961) and Trog (1970)

No fancy introduction today. Just a look at two films produced by Herman Cohen and featuring Michael Gough.

First is "Konga." Here, Gough plays Dr, Charles Decker, a botanist who has come back from Africa after being presumed dead. Among the various man-eating plants, he also brought forth a cute little chimp named Konga, which he tests his growth serum on. Once it reaches man-size, he uses it to get murderous revenge on those that have wronged him. When he starts to get the hots for Sandra (Claire Gordon), his girlfriend Margaret (Margo Johns) isn't going to have any of that.

"Konga" is something of a mixed bad. On one hand, the second act really drags, and is too talky for it's own good. It also gets really repetitive, with each murder being the same thing over and over again, and the final few frames are a real eye roller. On the other hand, Gough is a lot of fun here, and the last fifteen minutes deliver the campy goods, with a giant Venus Flytrap biting an arm off and Konga growing to be at least 30 feet tall. Plus, there's something oddly charming about the cheap, unconvincing gorilla suit. As a whole, the thing is 50/50, but fans of schlocky monster movies might enjoy this.

Less enjoyable is "Trog", which was directed by Freddie Francis*, and is the last film to star Joan Crawford. She plays Dr. Brockton, who has made the discovery of a lifetime in when she discovers a prehistoric man, or a troglodyte. She manages to domesticate the hairy fella, but corrupt land developer Sam Murdock (Gough) lets him go, leading to a rampage.

Though there are a few so-bad-they're-good moments, "Trog" is dated even by the standards of the time and mostly boring. Crawford seems drunk off her ass the whole time, slurring her dialogue and not showing any signs of commitment. Not faring any better is Gough, who has to deliver painfully bad dialogue and bad quips to the troglodyte. Even the scenes with the creature are a dull, though seeing once acclaimed actress Joan Crawford chase a man in an unconvincing monster suit with a "hypno-gun" is something of a tragicomic image. Still, this is slog to sit through, and other than the novelty of this being Crawford's last movie, there's no reason to watch it.

Ratings:

Konga: 5/10
Trog: 2.5/10

*Francis was no stranger to British genre films. Among his credits are "Dracula has Risen from the Grave", "The Skull", "Tales From the Crypt", "Tales that Witness Madness" and the underrated "The Creeping Flesh" and "Girly." Needless to say, "Trog" is not a highpoint in his career.

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