Friday, August 8, 2014

"Monster A Go-Go" Is One Go-Go Gone Flick

Go-go dancers and space aliens: Two great tastes that go great together!

"What you are about to see may not even be possible within the narrow limits of the human mind..."

Boy, they ain't kiddin'!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you "Monster A Go-Go", a movie begun in 1961 by Bill Rebane (of "The Giant Spider Invasion" fame) and shelved when the money ran out. Later, the unfinished footage was scooped up by Herschel Gordon Lewis (director of the beloved classic "The Corpse Grinders"), padded with scenes shot with an entirely different cast, released in 1965 on a double bill with "Moonshine Mountain", given a new name ("Terror at Half Day" was the original moniker) and advertised with the screaming tag-line, "The picture that comes complete with a 10-foot tall monster to give you the wim-wams!!"

How do you do justice to such a film?

I not sure, but I'll do my best...

Our feature presentation begins with strange satellites hovering in the sky. Naturally, NASA sends a space capsule to investigate. The astronaut in charge of the mission is one Frank Douglas. For some inexplicable reason, NASA loses contact with Frank and his capsule crashes to earth. The good news is that the capsule appears to be OK. The bad news is that astronaut Frank Douglas is nowhere to be found.

Then there is some really bad news: the helicopter pilot who landed at the crash site before the NASA mucky-mucks is dead. But not your garden variety dead. When the NASA folks find him, the pilot is "horribly mangled in a way the men had never seen before." Oh, yes, and all the pilot's blood was gone, which may account for the stiff having "withered up like a prune" and then "shrunk".

Not a lot of leg room: Frank Douglas's space capsule appears to have been designed for Smurfs.

"Monster A Go-Go" then switches to the suburban home of Ruth. She's the widow of  another astronaut and has become very close to Frank over the years. How "close" are Frank and Ruth? Well, Frank appears to be single and Ruth is a widow and both are consenting adults, so whatever Frank and Ruth get up to in the privacy of their own homes is really nobody's business. That's how "close" they are.

Anyway, a lady scientist  and Col. Steve Connors from NASA visit Ruth and tell her the awful news about Frank. She completely falls to pieces. When Ruth's son Billy (or Jimmy) comes home and asks, "What's wrong with mommy?" Col. Steve doesn't reply "It's a long list, kid" or "Mommy's upset because she just lost her meal ticket", but instead tells Jimmy (or Billy) that they will be getting an ice cream soda later. The tween realizes this is so totally bogus and runs off.

Next we cut to a laboratory where scientists dicker over Frank being AWOL and wonder about those weird burns surrounding the space capsule. One egg-head believes they are a fraternity prank. With the investigation clearly going nowhere, NASA sends even more big wigs to town to help move things along.

So far, the proceedings in "Monster A Go-Go" have been pretty grim. Therefore, the director (who knows which one) cuts to a swingin' twist party at somebody's house. One gal in particular is twisting up a storm, which upsets her rather sullen boyfriend. After he downs a few shots, the sullen boyfriend yanks his cuddlemate off the dance floor and into his car. They drive for a bit, park and then begin making out.

At this juncture, an unidentified narrator pops in to discuss how many "what if's" there are in life. It would be easier to take the narrator's philosophical musings seriously if they weren't paired with footage of a college couple getting all kissy-face. Anyway, this existential interlude abruptly ends when a thing/force/monster shows up and kills the sullen boyfriend. The girl screams and then faints.

"And how am I suppose to get back to the dorm before curfew now?!" A co-ed reacts to the murder of her boyfriend by an unseen monster/alien/thing.

In case you're wondering, yes, astronaut Frank Douglas is still missing.

Back to the action.

Scientist Dr. Chris Manning decides to tramp out into the area where Frank's capsule crashed. A brave man, Dr. Manning is armed with only a blow-dryer as he stumbles among the thickets and brambles that blanket the crash site. Then the narrator pops back into the picture and declares that Dr. Manning is about to come face-to-face with something SO INCREDIBLE, SO MIND BLOWING, SO ASTOUNDING that it will change his life FOREVER...except the poor sap will be deader than a door-nail any second now, and thus unable to share his findings with an eager public.

What happened? Well, a 10-foot tall chap with a face like a wood duck and a bad case of acne strangles Dr. Manning with his enormous hands. This, I believe, is the monster meant give us "the wim-wams."

Now "Monster A Go-Go" really gets cooking.

Once more we are transported back to the lab, where the scientists and NASA folks endlessly talk and prattle about the missing Frank Douglas and the strange deaths that are popping up all over town. Because Dr. Chris Manning is dead, his cousin, who is also a scientist, has taken over his role in the investigation. For quite a while now Dr. Manning #2 has been acting a little cagey and for some reason keeps disappearing into the laboratory's basement after hours armed with a long, thin hypodermic needle. Hmmm, sounds fishy. What could he be doing? Shooting up? Giving himself Botox injections? Running his own "Dr. Feel Good" practice on the side?

None of the above; after all, Botox wouldn't be invented for years. Turns out Dr. Manning #2--off screen, mind you-- discovered the wim-wam producing monster and hustled him to the lab basement WITHOUT TELLING ANYBODY. What's more, the good doc had been giving the alien monster anti-radiation shots in hopes of "helping" the guy, ALSO WITHOUT TELLING ANYBODY. The shots seemed to be working, and the alien's skin was clearing up, so Dr. Manning #2 thought everything was A-OK. Then one day, the monster broke out of the basement, trashed the lab and headed off for parts unknown. This finally convinced Dr. Manning #2 to spill his guts to NASA.

Oh, and another tidbit: not only is the monster a murderer, he's also RADIOACTIVE and coming into contact with the gent--like the sun bathing housewives the monster snuck up on--can be fatal.

"Does this Haz-Mat suit make my hinder look big?" The brave men of "Monster A Go-Go" prepare to confront their nemesis.

With the realization that a radioactive monster is out prowling around unsupervised finally causes the scientists/ NASA guys to get their rears in gear and capture the guy. With the aid of the police, the fire department, the National Guard, the Emergency Response Team and who-knows-what-else, Dr. Manning #2 and Col. Steve Connors don safety suits and track the monster to a long-abandoned, boarded-up sewer drain. Slowly but surely, the men (using a Geiger counter because, remember, the monster is radioactive) descend into the darkness below, following the monster's trail, coming ever closer until...THEY REACH A DEAD END. Then the narrator informs us, "But there was no Monster!"

Where did he go?

It doesn't matter. There was no monster.

But what about the murders of the pilot and the sullen boyfriend and Dr. Manning #1?

Terrible tragedies, but there was no monster.

And the housewives? Who scared them? Wasn't that a monster?

No, remember, there was no monster!

If there was no monster, what did Dr. Manning#2 drag down to the lab basement and give all those shots to?

Please repeat after me: THERE WAS NO MONSTER!

OK,OK, so what happened to astronaut Frank Douglas?

Oh, that, well, good news! While Dr. Manning #2 and Col. Connors were tracking a monster that never existed in the first place, a messenger arrived with a cable announcing Frank Douglas was found, "of normal size", floating around in the ocean. Case closed.


When a movie pulls a stunt like "Monster A Go-Go" does, it's only natural to feel cheated, lied to, frustrated, mad and seriously pissed-off. I feel your pain, movie lovers, because I experienced it all myself.

However, what I believe happened to "Monster A Go-Go" was this: Herschel Gordon Lewis had two separate reels of film. Each was equally shoddy. He tried to blend the reels together into one coherent movie, but realized he could not. So he tacked on a cop-out ending and called it a day.

If that theory doesn't satisfy you, consider this one:

If two bad movies got together and had a baby, it would grow up to be "Monster A Go-Go".

Until next time, save the movies.

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