Now days people are always going ape shit over a movie that they think is too amoral. Rosie O’Donnel busted a few veins over 1999 Outlaw Award Winner for Best Picture since I got out of prison Fight Club, and this American Psycho deal is already getting people up in arms. They think that your average joe on the street is some kind of retard who can’t see somebody do something in a movie and make their own judgment of whether or not it’s the right thing to do. At the same time these pricks are all cock of the walk, thinking they’re immune to the might powers of the Cinema. They saw fight club and THEY didn’t go out and blow up a building but GOD SAVE US if any of those subhuman cavepeople who DON’T have their own tv shows or politician husbands ever see the movie. We’ll all be in for it.
Somebody told me that when Payback came out, the slogan was “Get ready to root for the bad guy,” as if that was some new technique. These motherfuckers don’t remember that it’s okay to make a movie about a guy you wouldn’t necessarily want to leave alone with your daughter. Everbody has to be a damn boyscout unless they’re a cop, and then it’s okay for them to torture people and play by their own rules because they’re a “good guy.”
Well watching this British classic Konga on American Movie Classics reminded me that it’s not only okay to have a real prick as the main character, it used to be pretty normal. Ever heard of a motherfucker by the name of Vincent Price? That dude did a whole slew of movies where he’s killing people, turning em into wax dummies, using them for magic tricks, reciting shakespeare at em. All his best characters were grade A nutcases and he wasn’t the super villain that spiderman or x-man swings in and defeats, he was the main character who you liked to watch even if you didn’t like his personality. And sometimes you DID like his personality but you still didn’t find motherfuckers going out waxing people after they left the theater.
In this movie Michael Gough (Alfred from the Batman pictures they say) plays a dude with pretty much no redeemable qualities. The movie kind of acts like he is on a noble scientific quest but eventually goes too far. But it’s funny because the guy is a prick from frame 1. This asshole is a scientist who has been missing in a jungle for a while, he comes back with a pet monkey named Konga and new tricks he learned from a witch doctor. He grows giant venus fly traps which he mutates to be carnivorous, and before long he turns cute little Konga into a 7 or 8 foot ape monster hypnotized to do his bidding.
Of course right away he sends Konga to strangle the dean who’s trying to shut down his experiments. And the funny thing is that he justifies it to himself and to his assistant/lover by explaining that he had to kill SOMEBODY in order to prove that he had total control over Konga. He couldn’t just make him do tricks or something. I think this is a deliberate satirical attack on these type of power mad fucks, whether in science or in business or politics or what not, who can justify to themselves even the foulest of deeds. It reminds me of a guy having an affair with his wife’s sister and he says, “Well, it’s not like it’s just some stranger… at least you’re a part of the family. And you’re feeling depressed, so I’m sure your sister would want me to cheer you up any way I can… I mean what we’re doing really isn’t wrong when it comes down to it.” That kind of shit always makes sense when you have a boner. And it’s the same way with this professor, he’s got a boner for power and glory.
The other thing that’s funny right in the same scene is the assistant doesn’t agree with the whole murder business, but she agrees to keep quiet if he’ll marry her. He agrees right away because it’s a good front for covering up his caper and she doesn’t even seem offended by the lack of romance.
But this guy is more than just a science prick, he’s also a dirty old lech. He has a blond student with a tight sweater and he says, “I can’t believe how much you’ve grown,” which in a 50’s movie is code for “I like your tits”. He hits on her throughout the movie and yeah I hit on young girls as well but then I’m not a teacher and in the teacher-student relationship that kind of horndog routine is inappropriate. At the climax of the movie the assistant sees the professor forcing the blond to make out with him in his greenhouse of giant flytraps, and she decides to turn Konga on him. But she gives Konga the wrong formula and it turns him giant like King Kong who has a similar name but only by coincidence in my opinion.
I really like the way this ape monster looks. He has buggy eyes and real sharp teeth. I mean yeah he’s a guy in a costume but it’s one of the better ape costumes in my opinion even if it doesn’t look real.
The tragic last shot shows the scientists and little monkey Konga laying dead in the street, Big Ben chiming ominously above. It makes you sad for the monkey and you don’t give a rat’s ass about the scientist. It is the dead monkey who is the real loss even if he’s not the main character. And I’m pretty sure I will feel the same way about the monkey or whoever in American Psycho so just take a chill pill pal. That is what Cinema is about is telling stories and exploring the lives of people and giant animals you maybe wouldn’t get a chance to hang out with ordinarily.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.