By Phil Hall | December 18, 2005

Peter Jackson’s King Kong reportedly cost $200 million to produce. I don’t know the exact budgetary details of the 1961 British monster movie “Konga,” but after viewing it I would guess it cost about $200 to produce.

“Konga” finds the demented Dr. Decker returning to London after being lost in Uganda for a year. He comes back with the knowledge of making a serum that causes plants and animals grow to absurd proportions. Soon he has a greenhouse full of humongous man-eating plants and his pet chimp Konga is transformed into a giant ape that performs homicide when Dr. Decker decides to eliminate potential rivals. But things gets out of control when his long-suffering assistant Margaret is jealous of the bad doc’s attention for a buxom young college student. Margaret injects the already oversized killer ape with more serum, creating a Kong-worthy monster.

But unlike any of the various Kongs that ran about through the years, this monster lumbers about like a dull, overweight lummox. Even worse, he stands perfectly still in front of Big Ben while the Royal Army opens fire on him. Message to Konga: get in shape, ape!

Lord knows there have been plenty of shabby remakes, ripoffs and spinoffs of “King Kong,” but few compare to “Konga” for being so aggressively awful. Yet it is an amusing awfulness, one which is unintentionally funny simply because it takes itself so very seriously. Never mind that the giant ape terrorizing London is clearly a man in a shabby gorilla suit walking about cardboard sets. Never mind that the dialogue is fruity to the point of being overripe (a great line, spoken by a Scotland Yard, investigator: “There is a huge, monster gorilla, that’s constantly growing to outlandish proportions, loose in the streets!”). And never mind that the actors go about their business with such excessive melodrama that you’d think they were doing “Richard III” instead of a “King Kong” riff. You won’t forget Fay Wray and friends, but it will be very hard to forget something this crazy.

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