9 October 2005 | straker-1
A multi-layered, compelling sci fi horror masterpiece
OK, I lied to get your attention. This is the worst film ever made.
Now, I loved Manos: The Hands Of Fate, and I love Monster A Go-Go just as much. I really do. Why? Because films that are this bad, this...this STAGGERINGLY AWFUL...have a kind of transcendent Zen brilliance to them that I cannot put into words. I find myself wondering just what deep message the director was trying to express with movies this inept....something this strange HAS to have a meaning, I think to myself. No-one sets out to make a film this bad on purpose, do they?! In many ways, Z-graders are an insight into the drives and obsessions of their creators more than anything else.
I would rather watch this movie and Manos, and Red Zone Cuba 40 times than see True Lies twice - for the reason that there is nothing funny about a talented guy making a lousy picture, but there is something endlessly amusing and compelling about a determined bargain basement incompetent cranking out a 70-minute nightmare believing it to be a work of genius. And M.A.G-G is the king of those bombs.
So, why does Monster A Go-Go even exist? Well, it almost didn't. Bill Rebane, who would go on to pit Steve Brodie and Alan Hale Jr against a killer Muppet in The Giant Spider Invasion, started a sci fi horror flick called Terror At Halfday in the early 60s. The money ran out, and Rebane shelved the project. Then along came schlock legend Herschell Lewis, in need of a cheap B-picture to fill out the bottom half of a double bill deal. He snapped up Rebane's footage, shot some of his own, added a voice-over, changed the title, and BINGO thus was Monster A Go-Go unleashed on the filmgoing world in the space year 1965.
Just how much extra material Lewis filmed to 'complete' this cinematic train-wreck is open to dispute, though the addition of the almost totally pointless 'go-go dancing sequence' about halfway in (some groovy guys and gals lamely doing the Twist) and the irritatingly strident voice-over narration are dead certs. What is for certain here, though, is the released picture is about as incoherent and illogical as any film could ever be and still be called anything but 'rough cuts stuck together with sellotape'.
The plot? Oh Lordy, the plot. OK (deep breath) Astronaut Frank Douglas, who was apparently sent into space to investigate mysterious satellites, crash-lands in some woods and promptly goes on a homicidal rampage. Investigators from NASA or the Air Force or the Lions Club, I dunno, look into the mystery; and, as the movie progresses and the body count mounts we discover not just one but TWO conspiracies at work here! It is revealed that Frank has been mutated, increased to ten feet in height *and* sent into a murderous rage by an experimental radiation repellent given to him before the launch. Just as we are recovering from this JFK-like cover-up of the truth, the plot moves forward eight weeks - the murders have stopped. But where is Douglas? It turns out that the inventor of the mutagenic rad-repellent captured him and has been keeping him bundled up in his lab, feeding him over those weeks an antidote to the repellent to keep him docile. Then....boom, more plot twist action: the antidote wears off faster and faster every time it is applied, and each successive relapse into the killer rage is worse! Douglas finally murders his way to freedom, and heads for the big city to go hide in a disused sewer tunnel. The army and Civil Defence move in to tackle the shuffling radioactive lumpy-faced (and very tall) space-crazed giant, only to discover the film's third and final twist....
To list Monster A Go-Go's flaws would be to detail every second of the flick, so we'll go into specifics. My favourites are: the way half the cast vanish at the midpoint, only to be replaced by characters that are virtually identical. The incredibly muffled soundtrack. The bit where Dr Logan's glasses teleport onto his face in-between shots. The insanity of said Dr Logan's hiding of the Douglas monster, after it had killed at least six people, only to make it worse with an antidote that Logan already knew was harmful. The bafflingly surreal 'car breakdown/sweaty rude trucker kiss-seduction' sequence. The Fisher-Price Gemini space capsule Douglas came down in, which is about four feet high. The army goons who open fire at Douglas after the narration tells us the army has orders not to harm him. The absent music track when a character asks if his dining companion remembers 'that song'. The equally non-extant phone ring cue which is represented by someone going 'brrrr' off-screen. The house that has a front doorway but no door to go in it. The lack of any relevance to the 'Go-Go' part of the title. The thrilling monster attack on Logan's lab that we are...told about in narration. The way USAF colonels travel round in unmarked Buicks that go at 60 mph in reverse. The way the same black Plymouth shows up driven by four or five different characters. The opening line of the aforementioned narration that says that the events about to seen in the movie 'may not even be possible!'. The way the plot makes absolutely no sense at all. The almost total absence of the title's monster. And, of course...the ENDING. Or rather, the STOP. I cannot spoil this for you, folks, you have to experience the STOP yourself.
See this movie. You must, you must. If only to understand what Messrs Rebane and Lewis were trying to say...for my money, what they were trying to say was 'We have no idea what we're doing'. Gloriously, mind shatteringly awful. Absolute Z-grade gold. Worst movie of all time. Makes The Creeping Terror look...well, not as bad.