Court Jester Kong
Konga never acknowledges its absurdity. The script doesn’t poke fun at the ape suit seemingly borrowed from a 1940s era comedy. There’s Michael Gough too, so insufferably evil in the lead role, it’s a relief to see him gruesomely offed.
There’s a small lineage of bad big ape movies; King Kong’s impact crossed continents. For instance, there’s another UK-sourced farce in the feminist satire Queen Kong. Head to Korea for the asinine A*P*E*. Or, the Chinese kookiness emanating from Mighty Peking Man. In this mix, Konga doesn’t fit.
Gough, playing a college professor in Konga, takes his students on a field trip. He stuffs the kids into a moving van, seating them on the floor, no seatbelts. With little room, they leave the back door open. Screw safety. Undoubtedly, Konga peeks out from the ‘60s. Then again, Gough is the same scientist growing man-sized carnivorous plants at home. Worse, in the basement, he’s experimenting with a gorilla, injecting it with growth formula, then sending it out to kill. A few kids possibly falling out of a van is nothing.
Gough goes further though. He molests one of his students, this after promising to marry his own assistant. After knocking off a rival, Gough hypnotizes the grown Konga to murder a kid. This movie is definitely a thing. For whatever reason, the UK monster cycle loved villains enough to make them a movie’s center. Gorgo did the same with some abusive circus owners.
Hokey science loosely suggests Christian principles – Gough’s rejected by faculty when he states a belief man evolved partly from plants, something he learned while in deep Africa. But no, the college will not allow such theorizing under their name. As a result, mad science runs amok, working against God like in any stereotypical anti-science fable.
For the finale, all of that disappears anyway. Now some 60-feet tall, Konga grabs Gough and marches toward a population center in London. That means empty staring from the dumpy ape suit, pitiful compositing, and shots of people pointing toward the beast – as if no one can see the critter themselves. A pitifully small military fires their guns while Konga stands there, likely to save on budget (no need to matte Konga into additional scenery). It’s quite miniscule, although Gough is as nasty as he was ever was.
Kino debuts a new 2K scan for this Blu-ray release. Although filmed on Eastman stock, saturation is high enough to pass for Technicolor. In Gough’s home, deep purple and green walls pop. Flesh tones keep their accuracy, while the rest glistens. Odd plants in Gough’s greenhouse have painted veins in all colors, and the flowers he rips out to plant those dazzle for a bit too.
It’s bright and well contrasted, dynamic where possible. While the finale limits itself via special effects (Konga turns murky), the rest brings depth in droves. Tight shadows back strongly lit cinematography. The print itself? Gorgeous, stray dust specks aside.
While grain looks marginally over compressed, that’s minor. Resolution snatches detail evident in this print. Facial definition looks stellar, and sharpness never wanes (again, excusing visual effects). Exteriors shine. Splendid work.
Roughened dialog and a melting score don’t bring their best. DTS-HD mono struggles with the material, hammering loose treble, battling to stay on key. The final moments wobble and wane severely.
On the field trip, a dialog exchange suffers heavy scratchiness, worse than the rest that already holds a tinny quality.
A stills gallery, radio spot, trailers. Not much is out there about Konga, so it’s a shame there’s not more.
Michael Gough tries as an impossibly evil scientist, but Konga rates as one of the dopiest big ape movies in its attempt to play things straight.
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