Monster A-Go Go! (1965) – By Duane L. Martin

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.

If you’d like to find out more about this or Synergy Entertainment’s other releases, you can check out their website at: http://www.synergyent.com

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.