Konga [1961]

Horror producer Herman Cohen, the genius behind Trog, Berserk, and the immortal I Was a Teenage Werewolf, here brings the world giant-ape action with a British twist. Konga is, of course, a King Kong rip-off, but the filmmakers are so refreshingly brazen about it that it's hard to mind. Botanist Dr. Charles Decker returns from Africa with some brand-new plants and an adorable chimpanzee buddy named Konga. Decker has some revolutionary ideas about "finding the first link in modern evolution between plant and animal life," but don't think about them too much, they'll just give you a headache. The upshot is that Decker develops a serum that makes Konga grow really big. (Primatology fans will be interested to note that Decker's serum also mysteriously turns Konga from a chimpanzee into a gorilla. The wonders of science are myriad.) Alas, like so many of his horror-movie-scientist brethren, Decker is a cold-hearted, ruthless creep who soon has the superstrong Konga doing his evil bidding. In addition to its guy-in-a-gorilla-suit pleasures, Konga offers poorly scaled dolls of the lead characters, fetching giant Venus flytrap puppets, and a genuinely good performance by Michael Gough as the ever more evil Dr. Decker. --Ali Davis

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