Saturday, August 3, 2013

Another look at Monster-A-Go-Go

By Steve Stones

I have sat through many awful films in my lifetime, but this one definitely takes the cake. Monster A Go-Go began production in the early 1960s by director Bill Rebane, who brought us The Giant Spider Invasion, then was passed on to Herschell “Godfather of Gore” Lewis in the mid-60s. The original title was: Terror At Half Day. Half Day refers to a town in Illinois. Lewis purchased the film, added filler footage and came up with the idea to release it on a double-bill with his hillbilly epic Moonshine Mountain. Lewis’ screen credit appears as Sheldon S. Seymour, a pseudonym he frequently used to give the impression that he was not the one doing most of the work on his films.

An astronaut goes up into space and crashes back to earth. A crusty face giant standing over eight feet tall emerges from a cardboard painted space capsule to terrorize the countryside. His first victims are a young couple making out in a car. He then strangles a scientist investigating the crash scene and attacks a group of young sun bathing beauties. The Chicago Fire Department later traps the giant in the city sewer. The plot is similar to First Man Into Space and The Snow Creature.

According to Scary Monsters Magazine issue #74, director Bill Rebane had been introduced to Ronald Reagan (yes, THE later to be President Reagan in downtown Chicago early in the project and suggested that Reagan star in the film. I’m glad Mr. Reagan never agreed to star in Monster A Go-Go. I can’t imagine the Carter Democrats running negative political ads on TV of Reagan starring in this film. What a disaster this would be. Thank you President Reagan for not starring in this film!

The film concludes with one of the most confusing and lame endings in the history of motion pictures. As the Chicago Fire Department traps the giant in the underground sewer, a telegram from Washington is relayed to the Chicago Police Department informing them that astronaut Frank Douglas has been found in a lifeboat alive and well on the North Atlantic Ocean. The giant is never captured, and the viewer is left wondering if the giant was a second astronaut in the capsule or was he someone who arrived from another planet. It’s a very confusing and abrupt ending.

It’s hard to recommend a film like Monster A Go-Go. The only film worse than this one is The Creeping Terror and Manos: The Hands of Fate. Still, like all Z-Grade cult films, it does improve a bit with each viewing. The plot and acting overall is really not that bad. The pacing of the film is what kills it the most. Not much footage is shown of the wandering space giant, which also hampers the film.

Although the film runs only 69 minutes total, it feels as if it runs six hours long. The end sequence showing the Chicago Fire Department seems to drag forever. Fans of Herschell Gordon Lewis and Bill Rebane need only apply here.

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