MONSTER A GO-GO
(directors: Bill Rebane/Herschell Gordon Lewis; screenwriters: Jeff Smith/Dok Stanford/Bill Rebane/Sheldon Seymour; cinematographer: Frank Pfeiffer; music: Libby Quinn; cast: Phil Morton (Col. Steve Connors), June Travis (Ruth), Henry Hite (Frank Douglas/monster); Runtime: 68; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sheldon S. Seymour/Bill Rebane; Something Weird Video; 1965)
“One of the most incoherent films ever made.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
One of the most incoherent films ever made because the plot line can’t be explained rationally nor are the characters clearly defined. There’s nothing funny or campy about this effort, as everything was taken so seriously. This ultra-low-budget sci-fi film was directed by two inept directors. Bill Rebane started it and it was completed seven years later by the slightly more competent Herschell Gordon Lewis. Rather than following the thread of Rebane’s alien invasion tale, Lewis switched gears and made it into an inferior Rod Serling Twilight Zone-like episode as out of the blue a different set of characters took over a changed story.
It begins with a wrecked capsule from a space probe recovered in the woody field on the outskirts of Chicago, not far from the space agency running the project, the Astrophysical Laboratories, and we learn that the astronaut Frank Douglas is missing. Soon the helicopter pilot who spotted the downed capsule is found nearby in the weeds gruesomely shriveled to death by some kind of monster; later a hep-cat party going dude making out in his car with his girlfriend in the same wooded area is strangled in the same bizarre way as the pilot, with all his blood drained so he shrinks. The next mutilated vic is Dr. Henry Logan, one of the scientists on the project who came out to the capsule site alone with a Geiger counter because he was onto something about the monster.
Later Carl, one of the scientists on the project, goes to the home of Ruth to console her about the missing astronaut. It’s not clear whether Ruth is girlfriend, wife or a relative of Frank’s, but she does feel bad that he’s missing. The military man trying to locate and stop Frank Douglas from killing others is Colonel Connors. Also brought in to investigate is the civilian big boss of the secret project, Dr. Chris Manning, who goes around the wooded area with a flashlight and never appears again. Dr. Brent appears unannounced and seemingly takes over for Manning, and grills Logan’s scientist brother Conrad and his assistant Dr. Nora Kramer about giving the astronaut doses of a radiation repellent–Antidium-50 and its variant, Antidium-51. Brent makes Logan #2 tell him that the killer was the missing astronaut, who now weighs 400 pounds and is 10-feet tall and is radioactive. Logan #2 felt sorry for the astronaut and kept him locked in the storeroom of the lab and treated him with a special anti-dote to curb his growth and appetite for violence and lots of tranquilizers to keep him calm from the side effects of the anti-dote; but the giant escaped, wrecked the lab and now the army is tracking it through the sewers in Chicago. But the giant vanishes, as we are told by a serious toned narrator: “As if a switch had been turned — as if an eye had blinked — as if some phantom force in the universe had made a move eons beyond our comprehension — suddenly there was no trail. There was no giant. No monster. No thing called Douglas to be followed. There was nothing in the tunnel but the puzzled men of courage who suddenly found themselves alone with shadows and darkness.”
In the end we learn through a telegram that the normal-sized astronaut was safely rescued in the Atlantic and doesn’t remember anything.
It’s hard to believe such a bad film is still around, and is not only on video but was recently on TCM’s Underground Films.
Henry Hite, the actor who played the monster, was 7 foot 6.
REVIEWED ON 11/23/2008 GRADE: D