I am a little worried – I really disliked this movie. So much so that I am worried that it has affected my ability to review it properly. I spent extra time on a second draft of the masterwork you’re reading now in an attempt to take out the cuss words and the six pages of my typing “help me I am in hell I help me I am in hell help me I am in hell” over and over.
I have traditionally had a comforting faith in the goodness of existence. This film shook that faith like a Polaroid picture. Upon watching this film, for the first time ever I wondered, “this film might be too awful even for Jabootu.net! Perhaps I shouldn’t review it.” But then I decided that Jabootu.net is Ken’s concern, and no one is twisting his arm to post this review. Besides, perhaps he’ll be too lazy to read what I say here, and so it will go onto his site sight unseen.*
[*Uh, oh, he’s on to me!—Editor Ken]
Public Service Message: do not watch this movie. Even my dog left the room, perhaps because of my agitation.
The history of Monster a Go Go is unsurprisingly checkered – or perhaps “piebald” is a better term for it. The original director, the talentless hack William Rebane, went broke before he finished it. An incomplete print kicked around for four years until your hero and mine, Herschell Gordon Lewis (henceforth unaffectionately termed HGL), picked it up to be a double-feature with one of his own masterpieces. At this point I invite the reader to sit back and imagine what kind of movie was so bad it was considered an appropriate second-billing to an HGL flick!! Scary, eh?
Well the movie was so incomplete that even HGL didn’t want to release it as is. (Wow!) So he added a few extra scenes to round it out. However, HGL was only able to get one actor (I use the term loosely) from the original work, so he got substitutes.* This means that much of the movie features an entirely different set of actors than the other part. And the two parts don’t follow sequentially either – they’re all mixed in together. Chew on that for a bit.
[*Editor Ken: As I argue in my own concurrent review of this film, I believe Mr. Lewis was able to gain access to at least three actors associated with Rebane’s footage. However, in lieu of evidence this is all conjecture.]
Our epic begins with a snappy rock song and a picture of a nebula. Atop the nebula we see the hazy legs of a marching astronaut. After which the credits. The most interesting name here is “Special Guest Star Henry Hite” a circus giant who plays the monster. Mr. Hite was 7’ 7” tall (but claimed to be 8’2”). Anyway, Mr. Hite was a big guy. Maybe Rebane thought this would save on special effects. Hite appears in less than 20 seconds of the final movie by the way.
One interesting feature of the credits is that HGL, despite the extra work he did to whip this film into shape (sort of) didn’t put his name on it. Whatever you say about HGL, he was no credit-hog. Or perhaps he thought his double-feature would have more trustworthiness if it seemed to have films by two different directors. On the other hand, maybe he just didn’t want to re-do the credits. That would cost money, after all, and HGL was so tight he’d pinch a nickel till the Indian rides the buffalo.
I also note that the music is way above HGL’s usual level. By which I mean it’s adequate. It does not reach out and grab my attention with an inappropriate and awful tone, which is a leap forward for an HGL film. Score one for Mr. Rebane.
The opening narration starts off badly. For one thing, it’s a narration – that’s almost never a good sign. I’m going to quote this narration in its entirety. My own comments are inserted.
What you are about to see may not even be possible within the narrow limits of human understanding. (i.e., he starts out trying to convince us this didn’t happen?) Case in point: a space capsule is rocketed into orbit, on schedule. Its mission: to observe new objects circling the Earth. Satellites which no nation had launched. (no reference to these mystery satellites is ever made again. ) As the capsule reached its orbit, communications with it suddenly went silent. Several days passed. A search team headed by Colonel Steve Connors began an intensive search of the entire area. (What area? The capsule’s orbit? Isn’t that where it vanished?)
Yep, military markings all right.
We see a helicopter circling a dead tree. Then a hardtop car, with no insignia, parking in a field. Colonel Steve Connor gets out and importantly uses a radio to contact the helicopter. The sound quality of the film is really crappy and erratic. I could hear the helicopter and the narrator fine, but Connors sounds like he’s in a garbage can – muffled, echoing, and faint. I am impelled to turn up the sounds. For that matter, why is he getting OUT of the car to radio the chopper? Especially since he has to lean back inside through the passenger window to use the radio’s microphone. This makes no sense, even within the inbred imagination of exploitation film.
An inauspicious beginning.
The Narrator continues his spiel, informing us that a “strange object” has fallen to Earth – near Chicago of all places. I’m sure Ken B. will be proud to know his hometown figures prominently in this train wreck. Col. Connors gets back into his car, and talks on the radio some more. Let’s examine this: Connors gets OUT of the car to talk on the radio. Then he gets back IN the car to talk more on the radio. He doesn’t take any actions in between. The helicopter guy replies. I said that Connors was hard to understand, but the helicopter guy sounds like a bumblebee using a Mister Microphone. He’s completely indecipherable.
The helicopter lands, and finally, we get intelligible sounds over the radio from the helicopter dude – namely “Ack, Argh, Gulp” just about like that, after which he cuts off. Colonel Connors snaps into action, jumping back into his car (again!), having his driver move the car 8 feet tops, and then getting out again.*sigh* Incidentally, the entire team searching for this lost space capsule manifestly consists of Col. Connors, his driver (in a civilian car), and one (1) single pilot with no passengers in a helicopter. What an effort!
Anyway Col. Connors and his driver race to the space capsule, which has to be seen to be believed.
I know what Ken wants me to compare this to, but we’ll stick with “melted shuttlecock”.
It’s the teensiest capsule ever. The Mercury one-man capsules were small, but they had nothing on this underfed pod. There’s not even a door! It’s pathetic. Couldn’t Rebane have found larger cardboard containers to mock-up his capsule with?
Col. Connors inspects the helicopter. Nope, nobody here. Then he wanders around the field till he blunders across the pilot’s corpse. The narrator helpfully tells us “The helicopter pilot, who discovered the capsule, was dead.” Yes we know. You showed us all this a few seconds ago, Mr. Rebane. Why are you telling us again? It’s not even helping fill up time, since you have action running in the background while your narrator gibbers. Col. Connors winces at the sight of the corpse, because he is “horribly mangled, in a manner that nobody had ever seen before.” That does sound bad. But we don’t get to see the corpse. I guess our imagination fills in the blanks.
We now go to a ‘50s living room, right out of the Dick Van Dyke Show. New characters show up (get used to this). It’s Carl Schreiber and Nora No-Last-Name. Ruth, the lady of the house, invites them in, and helpfully says that her son, Jimmy, is at the neighbor’s. It turns out Ruth is worried about the missing astronaut, Frank Douglas, and she slowly intuits that Schreiber & Nora’s visit is about him. Carl then brazenly claims that the mission was a success! I guess getting the capsule into space and back was the main challenge. Dr. Schreiber’s only real worry is whether the “radiation repellent” worked or not. e ehReallyThere is of course theT
There is of course the problem that Frank Douglas is missing – embarrassing, really. Ruth ignobly comments, “I really shouldn’t feel this way. It’s HIS life.” It’s a high point for me so far, which shows how low I’ve sunk. Then she drops a weird bombshell – I’d been assuming she’s Frank’s wife, the way everyone has been acting. But nope. She says that “Since Perry died, Frank’s been like a father to Jimmy.” So I guess Frank is just a friend of the family? It’s vague and surprisingly confusing for a film from this era.
After delivering the bad news, Dr. Schreiber has to “get back to the lab” so I suppose he’s a scientist. Now Jimmy the unwelcome kid actor shows up and asks, “when’s uncle Frank coming home?” Which would seem to indicate that Frank is more than just a friend, if he actually LIVES here with Ruth. Are they married? No one has indicated as much. This whole setup is weird for 1961. The adults patronize the kid for a while, and Jimmy complains that Uncle Frank was going to take him fishing. I think it’s supposed to be heartbreaking.
Someone named Logan (turns out to be another scientist) phones Dr. Schreiber before he leaves, and tells him about the capsule’s discovery. WHAT THE HELL?! He was just comforting Ruth over Frank’s non-appearance, AND the capsule’s return to Earth! Now he’s excited to hear about the capsule’s return to Earth? Less than 30 seconds after he was just telling Ruth the same thing? Editing – it’s a movie thing.
Dr. Schreiber, Nora, and Ruth all drive to the space capsule area, though Ruth is forced to stay with the car. At the corpse of the pilot are Col. Connors and the mustachioed Dr. Logan (sign of villainy? You be the judge.). They pull back the canvas covering the body and at last our eager eyes are allowed to witness the terrible ravages of the helicopter pilot’s fate.
Note how the pilot is “horribly mangled in a manner no one has ever seen before.”
Dr. Logan thinks Douglas is still alive – and hints at Douglas being responsible for the “hideous mangling” of the pilot.
We now switch scenes to Dr. Logan in a minimalist lab, with Col. Connors. You know how in cheap horror and SF movies, there is always a scene when you get a view through a microscope lens, and it always just looks like a mass of blobs? Then the scientist says something like, “see what I mean?” and everyone nods solemnly. Well, in Monster a Go Go Logan makes the military guy, Connors, look through the microscope, but the director doesn’t even spring for a mass of blobs. We the audience don’t see what Connors sees.
Logan then claims that the pilot was killed by something so charged with concentrated radiation that it “literally cooked him to death on contact, killing him instantly”. It seems like much radioactivity might also be lethal, if not instantly so, at up to several hundred feet, though perhaps not instantly. But the monster apparently needs to touch you to kill. At least for now.
Connors wonders if the space capsule killed the pilot – maybe it was radioactive. Logan proves it‘s not so with some of the worst science I’ve seen outside a comic book. He has Connors look through another microscope, to see tiny particles of metal. Connors says they “look normal:”. Logan replies, “they are – no traces of radioactivity.” ??? Logan was checking for radiation using a microscope? I call major shenanigans on this one.
Col. Connors finds no traces of radiation. I wonder why?
Now Logan bloviates about scorched marks on the grass. The director ineptly keeps the camera on Connors’ reaction shots while Logan talks off-camera. Maybe this move made it easier to synch up the sound. I do notice that in this movie, almost all the shots with people talking are either at a distance or while the speaker is turned partly away from the audience, or even offscreen. It is quite disconcerting, and grows more and more annoying over time. Rebane clearly deserves his fame as a director (i.e., a complete unknown).
Connors slowly realizes that Logan is trying to claim that Douglas is now a radioactive monster. (Logan doesn’t have the cahongas to say so directly I guess). The debate goes on interminably. AARRGH! This is really really boring. I just sit here and listen to Logan’s arguments in favor of Douglas being a monster. How about SHOWING us a monster? We have seen absolutely nothing happen in this entire movie, except for a helicopter pilot die offscreen. I have literally never seen a movie more inept at getting to the point. Even Andy Milligan kills off people in the early parts of his movies. I HATE THIS.
We move to stock footage of a plane landing. Connors and Dr. Schreiber explain that they are about to meet, for the first time, a man they’ve been working with for three years. (?) I’ll let that statement pass without comment. But why are we introducing another character? Don’t we have enough? Anyway, Chris Manning is the “civilian head of the project”, whatever that means. The space capsule project, maybe? Anyway he is a big tall guy and they engage in really banal dialogue. I’m not even going to mock it, but just skip over until something else happens. Please, something please happen.
Whoa! Something DOES happen! Dear readers, don’t lose your faith in the power of prayer. It worked for me right here in this movie. We cut from the World’s Most Boring scientists in their trench coats and suddenly we have rock-and-roll music and girls shaking their stuff in a living room! Where did THIS come from? It’s a total non sequitur, and has nothing to do with anything that’s happened in the film up to now. Not that I’m complaining. The girls swing it, while other white kids sitting on a stairway and clap out of synch with the music.
The dancers smile at the camera in a fashion that suggests that the director forgot to tell them not to. One girl gets yanked off the floor by her date and they head to his car while sinister chords play on the sound track. They stop on a deserted road and just when I am getting hopeful that something will happen, that damn narrator breaks in.
What changes the delicate interlocking of fate that determines life or death? (The couple starts smooching) A series of “ifs”. IF the girl had danced with her boyfriend instead of the other boy and they had stayed later. IF the two of them hadn’t parked to kiss and make up. But that is not what happened. (I am confused – what is the narrator trying to say?) But fate and history never deal in “ifs”. (My confusion deepens. Didn’t he just say fate WAS a series of “ifs”?)
A dog starts barking in the background and the narration ends. I grip my seat in hope, certain that the horror of the Monster will, at last, be revealed. But first, the boyfriend (he never gets a name) goes for a grope under the girl’s blouse. Classy. She doesn’t like it either – she shoves him away. Then he tries to pull her shirt out of her pants, so she gets out of the car. No second base for you, idiot-boy. But then … a monster looms out of the darkness as she screams. We don’t get much of a glimpse at it except that it is really tall, and wearing an astronaut suit.
I guess our assumption is supposed to be that when Douglas grew really really tall (remember, he’s being portrayed by a circus giant) his suit grew along with him? I have other fish to fry with this movie, which immediately cuts to a Captain and a General both of whom I’ve seen in the movie before, but not cared enough to identify by name. With them is Dr. Manning. They are looking at the corpse of the boyfriend, lying next to his car, apparently killed by the monster. His corpse is covered by a sheet, and they mention that he was found by a generic “member of the search party” whatever that means. While they stand around the guy’s corpse they hear a girl groan. Here is what we are supposed to swallow:
1) The monster shows up and kills the boyfriend who was inside his car. The girl, who was outside the car, is untouched.
2) A search party was sent out to find the couple, though they were on a late date and it’s still the same night.
3) They find the boyfriend, cover him with a sheet, summon the scientists and military guys (we see no cops or ambulance personnel at any point), and don’t’ find the girl who is lying like 20 feet away in full view on the grass.
It takes genius to get things this wrong.
Also I am now starting to feel more of HGL’s musical mastery – the soundtrack is just a few chords on a guitar. Dr. Manning carries off the unconscious girl in classic monster-movie fashion, and a woman now shows up – maybe it’s Nora. She just appears after we pick up the girl. We don’t see her long enough to identify her really. It’s dark.
In a desperate attempt to channel Ken Begg’s sense of humor, Sandy shows an image of Dr. Logan, a man outstanding in his field.
But now it’s daytime. Dr. Logan, accompanied by the narrator, drives to where the space capsule was found. The narrator tells us that Dr. Logan “never lived to record” the correctness of his beliefs about Douglas’s Monster-dom. Logan is carrying what looks like a super-soaker.
We scan the barren wastelands surrounding Chicago for what seems like an eternity. Meanwhile Dr. Logan wanders around with his ridiculous lump of equipment. This is the most tedious 69 minute movie I have ever seen. I detest its pace with every fiber of my being. Logan picks up a charred branch. We hear birds chirp – there’s not even a soundtrack here. Logan wanders into the willows. Finally Logan’s machine begins to ping – I guess it’s a Geiger counter. Now Logan does that horror movie trope I’ve mocked before – when someone backs up when they know the bad guy is around, and bump into him. Who does this? Seriously.
Logan gets a neckrub. Ahhh, that feels nice.
Two huge hands close on Logan’s neck, and he starts to scream. Then the camera climbs down his open screaming mouth. You know, earlier Logan said that the helicopter pilot was killed instantly by contact with the monster. But poor Logan doesn’t die instantly. The camera pans up and we get our first view of the hideous monster’s face! Hide your women and children! Give the devil his due, I HAVE seen far more pathetic monsters than this one. Basically we have a circus giant wearing a shiny astronaut suit with some makeup that looks like he’s been stuccoed. It’s mediocre, but better than the monster in, say, Buchanan’s It’s Alive.
After Dr. Logan stops squawking, the monster looks around like he’s confused. I sympathize. The scene shifts yet again.
We now see Dr. Chris Manning who is apparently on a date with a blonde. It’s Douglas’s live-in girlfriend, Ruth! Apparently Manning and Ruth have a history. They sit at a table in a deserted restaurant with no background music of any kind as Manning asks the lady to dance. She refuses, and he says, “Good.” (?) She praises his gray hair, and a waiter shows up to take a cocktail order. Ruth orders a martini with “two anchovy olives”. Ewww.
Note that we are expected to believe the following:
1) Manning & Ruth are really close friends.
2) Ruth’s live-in has been working on Manning’s project for quite some time, along with other scientists such as Nora and Schreiber, who are also Ruth’s friends – so much so that her son Johnny, knows them well.
3) Yet Manning has never met Connors or Schreiber – key people on his team.
I suppose all this is possible. It just seems kind of unlikely.
Anyway, before the action gets too romantic, Manning gets a call – there has been another strange accident and Dr. Logan is dead. We quickly move to the scene of the crime, where all the gang are gathered. Even Nora, who hasn’t had much to do so far (Future Sandy – and she never does). The sound goes all haywire and fuzzy. A piano clumsily tries to play suspense music. There is a zoom into Dr. Logan’s hilariously distorted face.
“I’m Dead, I tells ya. Dead!”
Dr. Schreiber states that Logan “looks worse than the others” which, you remember, we didn’t actually get to see, I guess because they were so gruesome. In any case I’m going to theorize that even Logan’s terrifying corpse-visage doesn’t qualify as “horribly mutilated in a manner no one has seen before”. Especially since in the earlier scenes, they ponder whether an animal could have done it.
But … Dr. Logan just looks wrinkly, like a Botox “before” ad, and with some welts. How could anyone, however briefly, surmise that an animal could have done this? Did they think a big mosquito sucked them dry? My respect for Connors & Schreiber, already at low ebb, dries up completely.
In another textbook example of “Who Cares?” film-making, the General carefully explains to everyone exactly how they were led to Logan’s body. I’m not going to say how, because it’s all conventional and dull and actually rather logical. But who cares? The point of the scene, if there is one, is that Logan is dead, and he’s hideous, and everyone comments on the body (no cops present, as usual). Why would we care how the body was found? But Bill Rebane feels obliged to explain this. This is a standard feature of substandard directors – a mysterious need to unnecessarily explain things we didn’t wonder about. Ken B. has mentioned it before I think.*
[*Misdirected Answering (n): The habit of Bad Movies to spend time answering little questions you’ve probably not even thought of while ignoring truly gigantic plot holes. EXAMPLE: In Irwin Allen’s The Swarm, a film with as many gaping plot flaws as there are stars in the sky, a hunk of dialog is used to explain why Michael Caine’s scientist character sports a British accent.]
Now Rebane (the director) does it again. Manning speaks to Schreiber as the gathering breaks up. Manning asks him if Schreiber had any idea what Logan was doing here. Schreiber doesn’t. So Manning asks Schreiber to drop him off at Logan’s place to do some snooping. It’s a dull scene, of course, and maddening because in the hands of a normal director it would be far shorter, or even absent. All you need is for Manning to say, “drop me off at Logan’s place. I want to look around to see what he was up to.” Instead Rebane has this whole Q&A session which serves no purpose I can see beyond filling up time. And if you need filler for a 68 minute movie about a space monster, you suck so bad you’re about to turn inside out.
Mysteriously, another person shows up in a private jet at a lab. What’s going on? Was I not paying attention earlier? (it’s possible – this movie does a great job of making you not pay attention). The new character is a Dr. Brent. Ah, now I understand – this is part of HGL’s additions to the movie, made four years later. I will say that I regret researching the background of this film, because every hour spent on that thankless drudgery was is an hour not spent chasing my wife around the bedroom.
We learn in Dr. Brent’s interrogation that the victims’ blood was turned to powder. So? We also learn that this is the lab of the Original Dr. Logan’s brother. (Played by the same actor.) So HGL was only able to get one of the original actors back for his movie, and he got a guy who had been killed off?* What a maroon.
[*Editor Ken: This was my supposition, too. However, I eventually came to believe that this character, Conrad Logan—the dead one was Henry Logan—had in fact briefly appeared in some of Rebane’s footage. See my review for more on this.]
Anyway New Logan is a prominent character now, but he’s not supposed to be the same guy as the Old Logan, despite having the same name and being played by the same actor. It’s his brother, get it? Oh yeah and Dr. Brent is investigating the trouble now. Certainly we’ll never see Connors, Schreiber, and Manning in the same scene with Brent and New Logan – they live in a different time dimension.
Brent and Logan explain to we the audience that they have a 10 foot tall monster who weighs 400 pounds (which would make him extremely skinny, actually), and they theorize that he is the astronaut. We’re halfway through the movie and they are now explaining this. The Incredible Melting Man, First Man in Space, and The Quatermass Xperiment are far from the best films of all time, but all had EXACTLY the same basic plot as this one, and moved it along apace. Man I wish I was watching one of them. We also learn that Logan (NEW Logan, that is) had switched the radiation drugs used on the astronaut which bum bum BUM might have led to the unwelcome changes.
Now, despite already being together talking, we change to seeing Brent meeting New Logan in what looks like a nightclub or restaurant.
The new, improved, Dr. Logan.
They do a lot of talking about a Dr. Kramer* too, who we haven’t met yet so I don’t really care who he (or she) is. Really the multiplicity of characters in this bare-bones movie is astonishing. It probably breaks some kind of record. We get to hear all the boring interrogation of Brent’s interrogation of New Logan. My tolerance for this film’s dullness is almost reaching the breaking point. But suddenly I find strength within myself for a new challenge – can I hold out till the end?
[Editor Ken: *Dr. Kramer is Nora, although this isn’t established for another good length of time. If you think Sandy is just unattentive, I have to tell you I had to watch several scenes quite a few times before I could even figure out which of the utterly generic looking characters were talking to each other.]
I manage to recover a tiny bit of interest when I discover that New Logan injected an animal with the new, evil radiation drugs. I lose interest just as rapidly when he says the animal died of a heart attack. I.e., it did not grow 10 feet tall and turn people’s blood to powder.*
[Editor Ken: Sorry, sorry! I’ll stop breaking in. But here Sandy is incorrect; Logan establishes that the animal did grow monstrous and kill its fellow test subjects. So at that juncture the question is why they would use this drug on the astronaut? Again, cast no stones you who haven’t watched this movie. And pity me more for watching it like six or seven times before getting a lot of the details like this one.]
We now see New Logan in his lab interacting with an attractive woman researcher. [This is Nora Kramer—she looks quite different because these scenes were shot four years later than the earlier ones] By “interacting” I mean he sits with his back to her. They drop the plot points that there have been no more killings for a couple weeks, and that they are still making up extra batches of antidote (hmm). The lady finally leaves, and New Logan leaps into action.
Unfortunately, the narrator leaps into action too, and tells us that New Logan knows where the monster is – in New Logan’s radiation lab. New Logan is giving the monster an antidote, which keeps it “almost human” in appearance, but with unpredictable side effects. Does HGL (this is his part of the movie, after all) show us the monster? No. Does he show us the warehouse? No. Why not? Because he couldn’t be bothered to get Henry Hite back (who was still alive and well).
So in HGL’s of the film, all the cool stuff is off-screen. Using the term “cool” loosely of course. The overall effect is to make an already inadequate film so lame that it staggers my imagination. I pound the arm of my chair in anger. I pray to Jabootu for a swift and merciful death, but to no avail – Jabootu is indeed a merciless Lord.
We now see New Logan’s feet walk down the hall. It’s a Doris Wishman moment. Science-fiction music sounds. New Logan takes a shoe box into a closet, and when he comes back into the main lab, the room has been sort-of wrecked. Not all-out destruction, but boxes are spilled and I can see some broken glass. It’s like the kind of rampage you’d have if a petulant 9 year old ran loose armed with a cardboard tube.
The Narrator makes the baldfaced lie that every bit of equipment used to make the antidote has been destroyed – I mean, this is obviously untrue from the lab’s appearance. And even if it was true, why does this make it impossible to make more antidote? If I threw away your mom’s cookie sheet would she would never be able to bake cookies again? Again we have been deprived of an action scene.
This is the lab described as completely destroyed by the film’s narrator.
New Logan calls Brent with urgent information. Of course he has to confess that he’d been keeping the monster in a warehouse. Brent is nonplused, and New Logan’s explanation, “blame it on my sense of shock” seems pretty thin, seeing as he’d had the monster here for two entire weeks. Brent asks if the antidote worked. New Logan says, “yes, except for size.” So Brent understandably asks why he didn’t report the monster’s presence after the antidote’s efficacy. New Logan lamely claims, “I could only think of logging what I’d witnessed.” Well, probes Brent, after it was logged, why not report? Pinned down, New Logan’s final answer is, “I don’t know.”
So, HGL has this extensive interrogation of New Logan which ably demonstrates how stupid it is for him to have done what HGL had him do. Could he not at least have provided some kind of fig leaf of an explanation? Or change the actions so they make sense? Or maybe not have pointed out how stupid it seems via the interrogation he himself inserted? HGL is the opposite of having your cake and eating it. He has the stupid actions, plus he films an entire scene making the stupidity obvious, instead of trying to gloss over it or cover it up.
The scene now switches to a bunch of girls, mostly fully-clothed, lying on towels in a meadow. A bird sings obtrusively in the background. I cross my fingers, hoping for Monster A Go Go action.
Sunbathing. Ur Doin It Wron.
Yep here he comes, sneaking up on the “sunbathing” beauties (some lie in the shade, and only one is in a bathing suit). The suspense is killing me. The girls suddenly sit up in unison, shriek in chorus, and immediately run away. Successfully. The monster makes no kills – one of the least effective monsters in film history.
We cut back to Col. Connors. I guess we’re in the Rebane part of the movie again. Connors finds out about the Giant Monster sighting, and they explain that it happened near Ruth’s house (Douglas’s lady friend but apparently also Manning’s lady friend. What a roundheels).
We quickly flash forward in time to New Logan and he learns that the monster was seen by over a dozen people. There were only 5 girls sunbathing – so this implies yet another event we don’t get to see. New Logan theorizes that Douglas is going to keep getting worse, progressively so.
New Logan now tells us that the radiation of the monster is getting stronger and stronger until it will contaminate everything within 50 miles (how did he reach that limit?). Also that the monster might or might not be using the antidote he took from the lab (what antidote? The narrator said the antidote was destroyed, not stolen. How did HGL forget that? He was the person who added both scenes after all.)
The army comes to kill the monster, and we see soldiers shoot into the darkness (no sign of the monster). Connors is told, over a phone, that the monster can’t be killed by bullets. How do we know?
This whole film consists of tedious boring scenes of talking heads separated by brief scenes of incredibly lame action. I hereby nominate Monster a Go Go as the Worst Movie Sandy Has Ever Seen. And that’s not a nomination I hand out lightly
Something new – a girl trying to start her car. The engine won’t turn over, often a sign of bad monster moviemaking. She flags down a trucker, engages in repartee lame even by HGL’s atrophied standards and stands so close to the trucker that he says she’s making him nervous. The trucker successfully starts her car, and we watch unenthralled through the entire repair process. More filler I guess.
But then we see the monster’s legs briefly with some scary music. Usually, a monster’s arrival perks me up in a bad movie. Sadly, I’ve lost faith in this particular monster. His few appearances have not really helped anything. The lady rewards the truckdriver with a big wet kiss, which he seems to enjoy. HOLY CRAP he drives off and the monster doesn’t do anything!
WTF? Why is this scene in the movie? It’s bad enough when you have a random scene in a monster movie showing the monster killing someone, but without advancing the plot. But here we have a new stage of infamy – we have a random scene in a movie in which the monster doesn’t show up. Yow. (Future Sandy – actually this scene does minimally advance the plot.)
Now we see random scenes of folks from pool halls to typing pools hearing a warning over the radio to stay off the streets. Air raid sirens go off. The truck shows up again. Here is where I figured out the monster was supposed to have climbed into the back of the truck while the trucker was helping the girl with her car. We don’t see the monster get out of the truck, but we see the monster, and earlier we see the truck, and then we see feet or some damn thing. It’s abominably edited. So I can’t be totally sure.
Now Douglas the Astronaut is in the city (Chicago). Watch out, Ken! The scientists decide to make more antidote, giving the lie to the narrator’s earlier statement about them not being able to make antidote after New Logan’s equipment was destroyed. It’s like the film was edited by orangutans.
New Logan now comes up with a hare-brained scheme to find the monster. Right now his “danger zone” is 20-25 feet, says his mighty 1959 computer. Apparently if you set one foot inside this zone you’re in trouble, but one foot outside you’re safe. They actually say this in the film! I’m not sure radiation works that way. They also predict, via computer, that the danger zone will be up to 100 feet in an hour. As near as I can tell, the assumption seems to be that it will be 20-25 feet for the next hour, then suddenly jump up 100 feet. This makes me question the scientific credentials of the film’s technical advisor.
Civil defense units now lay bait for the monster in the form of piles of antidote. The fear is that even just seeing the monster could mean you’re so close you get a lethal dose of radiation. That would make for a cool monster, if this were a better film.
The monster’s feet walk down a spiral staircase backwards. (?) Soldiers say they can detect the monster on their Geiger counter. My spirits rise. There are less than 10 minutes of film left. Surely we will kill the monster and I’ll be done with this travesty. No, first we must to see soldiers march slowly through freeway underpasses. Yes, we have filler even now, minutes before the film’s end.
Finally we see the monster climbing into the sewers. I guess we’re in for an end similar to many other such films – killing the monster in the sewers. Like Ben, or Them, or It’s Alive (Cohen), or the remake of The Blob.
I feel in familiar territory, as the soldiers climb into the sewers. Get him, boys! Kill the monster and end my pain! Some guys – Connors or Schreiber or someone, but I can no longer tell this endless series of middle-aged white guys apart (except for New Logan, with his nifty goatee). The Narrator returns for one final bout, and opines about how Radiation is a scary word (honest) and how civil defense organizations aren’t really set up to handle a 10 foot monster and similar bits of wisdom. He even takes time to explain how decontamination sprays work. It’s like a documentary. Yet only 3 minutes of film remain. Shouldn’t the movie be getting on with a denouement?
We see the monster’s shadow brightly lit against the sewer wall. Who knew sewers had such good klieg lighting? And finally we see the monster again – but he’s not very monster-looking. In fact his face looks normal, without any make-up at all. I guess the antidote is working? But isn’t the whole reason they’re hunting him down because the antidote ISN’T working? I’m confused. I suspect what happened is that this scene was originally supposed to happen earlier in the movie, before Douglas became all monster-iffic, but HGL re-cut the scene so it was later.
Then the scene ends with this narration.
As if a switch had been turned, as if an eye had been blinked, as if some phantom force in the universe had made a move eons beyond our comprehension, suddenly there was no trail to be followed. No giant. No monster. No “thing” called Douglas to be followed. There was nothing in the tunnel except the puzzled men of courage, who suddenly found themselves alone with shadows and darkness.
HOLY F***ING HELL?! The monster pops out of existence?! This is worse than Robot Monster’s finale. It’s worse than the end of Nightmare City! Not only is this the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it has the worst ending I’ve ever seen.
And it keeps getting STUPIDER. New Logan hands a telegram over to the middle-aged white guy whose name I can’t be bothered to keep straight. It says Frank Douglas has been rescued in the North Atlantic! So … was the monster not Frank Douglas? Are we supposed to believe it didn’t exist, despite its killing people, being imprisoned in a lab, and such?
The narrator returns to chill us.
Then who, or what, has landed here? Is it here still? Or has the cosmic switch been pulled? Case in point: the line between science fiction and science fact is microscopically thin. You have witnessed the line being shaved even thinner. But … is the menace with us? Or is the monster gone?
It’s cosmic, man.
In a note of final ineptitude, the closing music only plays for a few seconds, and then is cut short when the movie ends. Friend, I hated every moment.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Henry Hite is dead – though he had a relatively long life for a giant. Among other accomplishments he was a spokesman for Wilson Meat. He actually made one other movie, in 1937, when he was 22 years old – he appeared in an onscreen novelty act.
Herschell Gordon Lewis has been amply covered elsewhere. In a long and sordid career, this is the worst movie I’ve seen by him. I am referring both to my own career as well as Lewis’s.
Bill Rebane was a nightmarishly bad director. The only thing keeping him from being renowned on the same scale as Doris Wishman or Larry Buchanan is the luckily small volume of his output. His best-known film was The Giant Spider Invasion, but he also did a movie called Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake which even Lloyd Kaufman hated! Now that’s bad!