Monster A-Go Go!

Year of Release: 1965
Running Time: 70 Minutes
DVDs Released By: Synergy Entertainment (used for this review) / Something Weird Video (Double feature release)
Directed By: Bill Rebane, Herschell Gordon Lewis (uncredited)
Writing Credits: Jeff Smith, Dok Stanford, Bill Rebane
Filming Location: Chicago, Illinois

Starring: Phil Morton, June Travis, George Perry, Lois Brooks, Rork Stevens, Peter M. Thompson, Robert Simons, Barry Hopkins, Stu Taylor, Lorri Perry, Del Clark, Art Scott, Leonard Gelstein, Aviva Crane, Dean Tompis, Jim Bassler, Rick Paul, Henry Hite

Taglines:
The picture that comes complete with a 10-foot-tall monster to give you the wim-wams!

How did a 10-foot-tall monster get into that little bitty space capsule?

You've Never Seen a Motion Picture Like This -- Thank Goodness!

A way-out tale of a far-out monster!

An astronaut went up - a "guess what" came down!

Alternate Titles:
I was unable to locate any alternate titles for this film.

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Henry Hite, who plays the monster, is actually 7' 6¾" tall.  He was shot mostly at an up angle to make him look even taller.  Henry was born in 1915 and died in 1972 in Los Angeles, California.  While notable for his height, he's only listed as having ever appeared in two films during his lifetime.  This film, and another one from way back in 1937 entitled New Faces of 1937.  His real name is Henry Mullens, but he used Henry Hite as a stage name in an effort to play on his unusual height.  This particular film had been shelved after Bill Rebane had run into a series of problems including funding, a sporadic shooting schedule and trouble with the Chicago unions.  Years later, Herschell Gordon Lewis, in an effort to find a second film to run on a double bill with his 1964 film, Moonshine Mountain.  He purchased the incomplete footage from Rebane, added some scenes of his own, including a new ending and added a narration to the film, which he performed himself.  The end result was a watchable and more or less complete film, but many of the actors inexplicably disappear at various points in the film.  This is because the original 1961 cast could not be re-assembled to shoot the rest of the scenes, so they had to be replaced or otherwise made to disappear.

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Cast Of Characters
Colonel Steve Connors: This guy led the investigation into finding the monster, but really only succeeded in chasing geiger counter blips and dead bodies.  There's really not a lot to say about him.  He was just there once in a while doing his thing.  No actually, there is one thing to say about him.  This guy was the biggest pain in the butt to get a screenshot of.  I swear, this guy almost never looked up or in the general direction of the camera when he talked, and only had like two scenes in the movie that were close ups.  Pretty sad really when that's about all you can say about a character, but oh well. Moving on... alt

Dr. Henry Logan: Henry is one of the scientists at the base that was involved in the whole space capsule project and spends his limited time in the film attempting to track down the monster and to figure out just what exactly is going on.  Unfortunately for him, he goes out searching alone one day and does find the monster...who then strangles him to death and toasted his body with radiation like he was nothing more than a human sized bag of Jiffy Pop.  Oh well, at least he was more amusing in death than he was in life, as you'll see in the screenshot below.

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Dr. Conrad Logan: This is Henry's brother.  Kind of odd that they both ended up as scientists working at the same base on the same program.  What's even more odd is that after Henry ends up as stiff as a department store mannequin, Conrad doesn't ever seem to be the least bit upset about it.  On the contrary, he's busy with his own attempts to capture the monster, which he does, though we never get to see it.  In fact, he not only captures it secretly, but he pumps antidote into it for three weeks before we find out that in the blink of an eye, three weeks has passed in the film.  The monster escapes naturally, and all the antidote seemed to do was to get less and less effective and to increase his danger range of radioactivity.  Oh, and did I mention that he was the one that changed the anti-radiation formula the astronaut turned monster was given before he went into space?  Or how about the fact that he double dosed him in an effort to give him more protection even though when a pig was overdosed and exposed to large amounts of radiation, it ended up killing every other pig it touched?  I guess it's pretty obvious that it was the smarter of the two brothers who ended up in the stiff pile.  Sad, but oh well. alt
Dr. Nora Kramer: She's the lab assistant for both Dr. Logans.  She also knows how to mix up the antidote to the altered anti-radiation serum.  Other than that, she really doesn't have much of a direct part in anything.  She just sorta hangs out, drinkin' beer...playin' Nintendo, etc....  Not really, but that about sums up her part in the film and I didn't really have much else to say about her. alt
Dr. Chris Manning: This guy is a specialist that's sent in to investigate the scientist's work in an effort to help the investigation.  Apparently he was also working on the space capsule project for the past several years, but from a different location for security reasons.  He and Ruth know each other for whatever reason, and seem to have some kind of a semi-romantic relationship that gets semi-rekindled, or at least that's what he was attempting to do until he got the call that Henry's body had been found.  Man, it's not bad enough that Henry had to go and get himself killed, but he had to pull a total rooster block (you adults can piece that expression together I'm sure) on the way out!  Anyway, like most of the characters in this film, his part is rather limited. alt
Ruth: Speaking of limited, this chick is in the movie really just twice.  Since her husband died, Frank Douglas (the astronaut who turned into the monster), has apparently been like a 2nd father to her kid and a close friend of the family.  Early on in the film she's notified about the capsule crash and goes out with Colonel Connors and Dr. Kramer to try to find out what happened to Frank.  Later, in her second (and last) real appearance in the film, she's having dinner with Dr. Manning and they're chatting away like old friends who used to be a couple, or who had at least been heading in that direction.  Other than that, she really doesn't have any part in this film.  I'm still trying to figure out what the point was in including her character at all.  So, uhhh...since I don't really have anything else to say about her, let's just move on... alt
Dr. Brent: This guy, like Dr. Manning, was sent in as a special investigator.  Dr. Manning was pretty much gone at the point where this guy entered the film, and he was basically doing the exact same thing Dr. Manning was sent there for.  So basically, take Dr. Manning's character description, remove the part about hooking up with Ruth, and you basically have this guy in a nutshell, only he's a little more hard nosed about it. alt
Monster: This guy here, who looks like he went bobbing for french fries, used to be Frank Douglas, the astronaut.  Unfortunately, thanks to Dr. Conrad Logan's incompetence, he was pumped full of a modified version of an anti-radiation serum, absorbed massive amounts of radiation when he was in space, and came back to Earth as this giant, ten foot tall radioactive creature that can kill with a touch, and eventually, just by being within a certain proximity to his victims.  Unfortunately, he sees very little screen time, and probably at least half of that is just a shot of his feet as he ambles around like an autistic zombie.  Magically, at the end of the film, his skin clears up and he just sort of disappears from a closed off sewer tunnel and re-appears thousands of miles away and was found in perfect health when they rescue him from the sea.  The strange part is, the telegram saying they rescued him shows up just as the guys who were after him exit the sewers.  I was like, wait...what???  But then I was like, screw it, the movie's over, so who cares. alt




Screen Shots

Ok, when the movie starts out, this space capsule has crashed, and the astronaut that was supposed to be in it had disappeared (and turned into a monster, though they didn't know that yet).  The narrator even confirms that this is the capsule they sent up the astronaut in.  Thing is, look at the guys standing next to it. Even a guy who was five foot nothin' wouldn't be able to fly around in that thing in space.  #1 he'd never be able to carry enough air.  #2, where woould he go to the bathroom.  #3, where's he going to keep any food and water, etc... etc... etc....  I mean seriously, unless this astronaut was from the island of Liliput, he wasn't doing anything in that capsule except standing with his head pressed against the top of it or curled up in a tight fetal position at the bottom.  Either way, he'd sure need a change of drawers when he got back, if he hadn't starved to death, died of dehydration or suffocated long before that.  The stupidest part is that later on in the film Dr. Brent says it's a two man capsule.  I don't think I need comment further.  Seriously though, doesn't this capsule look like it should have landed in the lagoon on Gilligan's Island instead of on the outskirts of Chicago?

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"Hey, I got an idea.  Let's all agree to never look toward the camera just so the stupid schmuck who's reviewing this picture can't get any decent character shots of us.  Ok now, everyone ready?  Aaaaaaaaaand.....look away!  Hey you guys are good at this!"

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I'm not sure why this shot fascinated me so much.  Maybe because it was so pointless, or maybe because it was special in some classic b-movie kind of a way.  I mean let's face it, the only thing as iconic as a martini is a fez hat and a smoking jacket.  I actually just realized what was bothering me here though, and I'm really surprised I had the presence of mind to notice it.  In the part where she ordered this drink, she asked for TWO anchovy olives in her drink.  Notice here, she only has one.  Is that an Earth shattering revelation?  Hardly.  No more than what happened in the opening of this scene when they were talking about a song they were hearing that wasn't actually playing, or the mouth sound phone ring we get later on in the film.  Still, it's fun to catch these stupid little things.

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Poor Dr. Logan.  He went out with his geiger counter looking for more evidence of the monster, and unfortunately...ended up like this.  Now it's bad enough getting killed by some ten foot tall radioactive monster, but having your face permanently frozen in an expression that makes it look like you're ripping out a really huge belch, well that's just adding insult to injury.  It is funny though.  Go ahead, right now and imagine him ripping out a huge belch.  Actually, this "Wazzup???" belch seems to be nicely appropriate.  Have a listen while looking at the screenshot and tell me that doesn't go perfect with the look on his face.

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I was really tempted to up the pitch on the wazzup? burp and have her answer him, but then I thought, "Nah, too easy."  Then I noticed it - that one single horrific thing that made this poor, under paid 60's b-movie actress scream into the night for all her soul was worth.  The thing that made her knees weak, her spine tingle and her eyes widen in an expression of undeniable terror.  What could have terrified her so?  The monster?  Nope.  The fact that her boyfriend just got murdered?  Nope nope.  So what could it be?  Well, I can't say for sure, and this is just an assumption on my part, but I personally happen to think it's because she's got a tree branch sticking up her nose.

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Best Quote

"With the telegram, one cloud lifts, and another descends.  Astronaut Frank Douglas, rescued...alive, well and of normal size, some eight thousand miles away, in a life boat, with no memory of where he has been, or how he was separated from his capsule.  Then who, or what has landed here.  Is it here yet, 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?"

- The narrator rambles on and on at the end of the film trying to sum up the story, and the ending. - (Reviewer's Note: Man, I don't even know what to say about this quote. The first half sort of sums up what happened at the end of the film, while the second half turns into this rambling mess if dialogue that's supposed to sound totally deep and philosophical I guess, but really just ends up as a jumble of strange ramblings.  Oh well, at least the movie's over.  Now I can finally go to the bathroom!)




Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

Monster A-Go Go!
Dr. Henry Logan goes out looking for the monster on his own, and boy does he find it...




Summary and Conclusion

A space capsule crashes down on Earth, but the astronaut inside is missing. Suddenly, people in the area start turning up dead - their blood turned to dust by a sudden exposure to massive radiation. The military launches and investigation, and eventually comes to discover that the anti-radiation injections the astronaut were given were a modified form of the approved agent, and not only that, one of the scientists took it upon himself to double the dose given for purposes of "extra protection from radiation". It turns out however, that in animal tests, when an overdose of this modified agent was given to a pig and it was exposed to radiation, it grew twice its normal size and killed every other animal it came into contact with. There is an antidote, but they have to find the astronaut turned creature before they can administer it. Unfortunately, the scientist who overdosed him has his own plans to return the astronaut back to normal, which he attempts with unfortunate results. Will they be able to stop this creature before it's ever increasing aura of radiation kills more and more of the population? You'll have to watch the film to find out.

The name of this film is a bit of a mis-nomer. There's only one scene in this film that has a bunch of teenagers dancing, and that scene really serves no other purpose than to set a couple of the kids up to be the creature's next victims. Mostly I'm assuming the name's real purpose is to make the film sound hip, which...it does. Is it hip? Not really, but like many of these types of films that came out in this era, it attempts in some ways to appeal to a younger, hipper audience. Typically, the type of an audience this kind of a film is geared to are those young couples who would see the film at a drive-in theater and would only pay half-assed attention to the film when they came up for air in the middle of their make-out session.

Some people think this is the worst film ever made. I can safely say...not by a long shot. The film is actually relatively entertaining in some ways. The creature is this really tall, bald on top lanky guy with a long head and crusty make-up all over his face. Unfortunately, as cool as that sounds, he's one of my big problems with this film. There's not enough of him. The actual screen time the creature receives is minimal at best, while the rest of the movie is devoted to the scientists and military personnel who are running around trying to figure things out and find the monster before he kills anyone else. I definitely wanted more monster and more killings, but oh well. There are a lot of other things to keep you entertained in this film aside from the monster. For example, there's a part where a phone rings, but instead of a ring, you hear someone off camera making a "brrrrt brrrrt sound with their mouth. I guess they forgot to dub in the ringer sound during post production. Another nice little touch was the look on one scientist's face when he got killed. It was absolutely hilarious! Another great feature of this film are the sets. The laboratories at the military base especially looked great. A lot of the film takes place outside or in limited interior locations, but where any set design is in play, it's well done.

The film does have problems however that go beyond not seeing the monster enough. The sound on the dialogue could have used a lot of work. In some scenes it's so low that you have to really turn the volume up to make out what they were saying. In scenes where the dialogue was re-recorded in post, you could hear the room echo of the room the actors were sitting in when they were recording. Another problem the film has is that it can feel a bit disjointed at times with the random appearances of the monster, certain aspects of the story and the way it was edited in general. One thing that was really out of place was when the scientist who overdosed the astronaut with the anti-radiation serum suddenly tells another guy that he's had the monster locked up for three weeks pumping him full of antidote. I was like, "Wait, what? How the hell did three weeks pass already, and how come they didn't cover any of him capturing the monster and giving it the antidote and such?" I mean really, there's a gaping hole in the story right there that should have been filled.

All in all, despite its problems, this really isn't that bad of a movie. There are some fun aspects to it, some confusing aspects and some pointless ones as well. When I finished watching it though and I thought back on what I'd just seen, I actually felt like it was pretty cool.

I've actually owned this movie for a long time now on a DVD from Something Weird Video. The disc I'm doing this review from however is a brand new release of a special collector's edition from Synergy Entertainment.

The video quality on this release is really quite nice considering the age and budget of the film. It also comes with a REALLY nice 24 page booklet featuring an in depth article on the film, as well as two short films from Bill Rebane, the theatrical trailer, an audio commentary with Bill Rebane and film historian Joe Rubin and last but not least, an interview with Bill Rebane. All in all, this is a very quality release of the film, and you'll definitely get your money's worth with this one.

One last note. This film was actually made in 1961, but due to budget problems, a sporadic production schedule and problems with Chicago unions, the film was shelved. Herschel Gordon Lewis was the one who purchased the footage, re-edited it, changed the ending and added some new footage of screaming teenagers. It was then released to theaters as Monster A-Go Go!, in hopes that it would make him a quick buck. That in and of itself explains many of the disjointed aspects of the film as well as why the scenes with the monster are so limited. Still, considering how coherently it manages to hold together despite everything this film went through to see the light of day, it at least deserves a look, and this particular release of the film is definitely worth owning, should you be so inclined.

Does it have problems, and lots of them?  Sure it does, and that's why I'm only giving it two and a half bees as a rating.  However, despite whatever issues it may have, it's really not that bad of a film, and you might actally find various aspects of it that you can really have fun with.  So give it a shot.  At best you'll enjoy it, and at worst you'll have only wasted 70 minutes of your time.

Update: Since writing this review, I have checked out my Something Weird Video double feature release of this film, and the quality of it is equal to (if not maybe slightly better than) the Synergy release.  The 2nd feature on this release is called Psyched by the 4D Witch and it also has a few other shorts and other special features included.  Whichever release you decide on, you're going to get a great product.

B-Movie Central's Rating: 2½ Bees

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