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Entry updated 20 June 2022. Tagged: Film.

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Film (1961; vt I Was a Teenage Gorilla). Anglo Amalgamated American International Pictures. Produced by Herman Cohen, Nathan Cohen and Stuart Levy (uncredited). Directed by John Lemont. Written by Herman Cohen and Aben Kandel from their original idea. Cast includes Jess Conrad, Claire Gordon, Michael Gough and Margo Johns. 90 minutes. Colour.

Botanist Dr Charles Decker (Gough) is discovered alive after disappearing in an aeroplane crash in Africa. Returning to a warm welcome in London, he is accompanied by Konga, a young chimpanzee he befriended while lost in the jungle. Unfortunately Decker was driven insane by his ordeal. He has developed a serum which makes animals and plants grow to enormous proportions (see Great and Small), and takes to injecting Konga with this and sending him out under Hypnosis to dispose of people he considers enemies. Somehow nobody notices a forty-foot tall gorilla wandering about committing murders (Konga reverts to normal size after a time). Decker is strongly attracted to Sandra (Gordon), one of his university students, and has Konga kill her boyfriend Bob (Conrad). Sandra remains hesitant about Decker's advances; a further complication is his assistant Margaret (Johns), whom he was to marry before his accident. Choosing a bad time to visit, Sandra falls prey to one of the huge carnivorous plants Decker also brought home with him. Meanwhile Margaret, increasingly jealous, revenges herself on Decker by injecting Konga with a massive dose of the serum, enlarging him to well over a hundred feet tall. This Monster predictably goes on a rampage through the City, killing both Margaret and Decker before finally being shot dead by the British Army; Konga reverts to normal size in death.

Despite such absurdities as having a chimpanzee turn into a giant gorilla, Konga proved popular, playing in a US double bill with Master of the World (1961). Herman Cohen reportedly paid RKO Pictures $25,000 for the right to use the King Kong name in publicity for the film: "Not since 'King Kong' has the screen exploded with such mighty fury and spectacle!" There were two spinoff Comics series from Charlton Comics, drawn by artist Steve Ditko shortly before he co-created Spider-Man with Stan Lee. The novelization, Konga (1961) by Dean Owen, includes some gratuitous soft-core pornographic material. Along with Gorgo (1961), this is one of the rare examples of a Monster Movie in which a giant creature attacks London. [GSt]


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