Konga (film)

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Directed by John Lemont
Produced by Herman Cohen
Nathan Cohen
Stuart Levy
Written by Herman Cohen
Aben Kandel
Starring Michael Gough
Margo Johns
Jess Conrad
Claire Gordon
Music by Gerard Schurmann
Cinematography Desmond Dickinson
Edited by Jack Slade
Distributed by Anglo Amalgamated (Eastern hemisphere)
American International Pictures (Western hemisphere)
Release dates
January 1961
Running time
90 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States

Konga (also called I Was a Teenage Gorilla) is a 1961 British/American international co-production science fiction horror film directed by John Lemont and starring Michael Gough, Margo Johns and Austin Trevor. It was shot at Merton Park Studios and in Croydon for Anglo Amalgamated then distributed in the United States by American International Pictures (AIP) as a double feature with Master of the World. Anglo Amalgamated and AIP each provided half the funding for the US$500,000 film with each studio receiving distribution rights in their respective hemispheres.[1]

Konga was the basis for a comic-book series published by Charlton Comics and initially drawn by Steve Ditko (prior to Ditko's co-creation of Spider-Man) in the 1960s.


British botanist Dr. Charles Decker (Michael Gough) goes insane after he discovers a serum that turns his chimpanzee subject Konga into a ferocious gorilla-sized ape. To further his hideous experiments, Dr. Charles Decker mesmerizes the chimp and sends it to London to kill all his former enemies. Among his targets is Dean Foster (Austin Trevor) Professor Tagore (George Pastell) and Bob Kenton (Jess Conrad), the lover of Sandra Banks (Claire Gordon), the woman the doctor wants for himself.

After Konga strangles Bob Kenton to death, Dr. Charles Decker attempts to make Sandra Banks his own. This doesn't sit well with Margaret (Margo Johns), the botanist's assistant and current girlfriend, who attempts to get even by giving Konga an enormous amount of the strange serum and turns him into an enormous monster, although she becomes his first victim.

Just before going on a rampage, the super-sized ape grabs Dr. Charles Decker in one of his enormous hands, while Sandra's Banks arm is eaten by Dr. Charles Decker's carnivorous plants. His rampage comes to a stop when he and Dr. Charles Decker are killed by the British army. Upon his death, Konga reverts to a chimpanzee.



Following the incredible success of Herman Cohen's previous British made film Horrors of the Black Museum that also featured Michael Gough, Nat Cohen (who was no relation to Herman) of Anglo-Amalgamated asked Cohen for another exploitation film.

As Cohen had long admired King Kong he thought of a giant ape film shot in colour. Due to Cohen's success with his I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), AIP used "I Was a Teenage Gorilla" as the working title.[2] Cohen paid RKO Pictures $25,000 for the rights to the name of Kong for exploitation purposes. Cohen recalled that the special effects for the film that was one of the first giant monster movies shot in colour (Eastmancolor) took 18 months to complete.[3] The climatic scene in London streets was possible when the producer was able to convince a police precinct captain that the scenes could be effectively staged late at night on essentially empty streets. [Note 1] A combination of miniature sets, an actor in a gorilla suit and use of studio mattes also made the technical aspects of the production look better than its meagre budget would allow.[2]


Konga appeared as part of a program double-bill with Master of the World (1961). The film was reviewed in The New York Times, where the film critic Eugene Archer noted it played to "misplaced guffaws" and was further described as: "... the British 'Konga' is nothing more than an overblown 'King Kong,' hammily played by Michael Gough and an improbable-looking ape."[4]

In a later Time Out film review, Konga was considered: "Inept, silly, and ludicrously enjoyable monster movie, with Gough as the mad boffin who injects a chimp with a growth serum, only to see it turn into an uncredited actor in a gorilla suit. Thereafter the ape grabs a Michael Gough doll and heads for Big Ben. Deeply political."[5]

Konga battles "The Creature from Uuang-Ni". From issue #23 of the Konga comic published by Charlton Comics.
Publication information
Publisher Charlton Comics
Schedule Bimonthly
Format Ongoing series
Publication date vol. 1:
June 1960 – Nov. 1965
Konga's Return:
Jan. 1962
Konga's Revenge Vol. 1:
Summer 1963 - Fall 1964
Konga's Revenge Vol. 2:
Number of issues vol. 1:
Konga's Return:
Konga's Revenge Vol. 1:
Konga's Revenge Vol. 2:
Main character(s) Konga
Creative team
Writer(s) Joe Gill
Artist(s) Steve Ditko
Dick Giordano
Rocco Mastroserio

Novel and comic series[edit]

A novelization of the film was released in paperback at the time of its original release (Konga by Dean Owen (Monarch, 1960)).

From 1960 to 1965 Charlton Comics published 23 issues of the comic Konga.[6] It included work by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko. The series was renamed Fantastic Giants with issue #24,which turned out to be the last issue of the series.[7]

Konga also appeared in a three issue mini-series that started off as The Return of Konga, before it was renamed Konga's Revenge with issue #2.[8][9] The series ran from 1962-1964. This was followed by a one shot reprint issue in 1968.[10]

In 1990, Steve Ditko illustrated a back up story in Web of Spider-Man annual #6 called Child Star.[11] In this story, Captain Universe creates huge versions of toys based on Gorgo and Konga to battle giant monsters that are attacking the neighborhood. For copyright reasons Konga's name was altered to "Kongo". This sequence was Ditko paying homage to his earlier work with these characters from the 1960s Charlton Comics comic books.

Some of these issues were reprinted (in black and white) in a trade paperback in 2011 called Angry Apes n' Leapin Lizards.[12]

In August 2013, IDW Publishing reprinted all the issues that artist Steve Ditko worked on (issues 1,3-15 and Konga's Revenge #2) as a deluxe hardcover collection called Steve Ditkos Monsters: Konga.[13]



  1. ^ The resultant mayhem was especially alarming for residents who were awakened by sounds of gunfire.[2]


  1. ^ Heffernan 2004, p. 127.
  2. ^ a b c Axmaker, Seam. "Article: 'Konga'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 8 April 2015.
  3. ^ Weaver 1994, p. 69.
  4. ^ Archer, Eugene. "Screen: New twin bill: 'Konga' and 'Master of the World' arrive." The New York Times, September 16, 1961.
  5. ^ Pym 2004, p. 639.
  6. ^ "Konga (1960 series)." comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  7. ^ "Fantastic Giants, Charlton, 1966 Series." comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  8. ^ "The Return of Konga, Charlton, 1962 Series." comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  9. ^ "Konga's Revenge, Charlton, 1963 Series.' comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  10. ^ "Konga's Revenge, Charlton, 1968 Series." comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  11. ^ "Web of Spider-Man Annual #6 [Direct Edition] (1990)." comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  12. ^ "Upcoming Ditko - New PI collection." ditko.blogspot.com, May 2005. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  13. ^ "Steve Ditkos: Monsters, HC (2013) IDW Publishing." Comic Book Realm. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.


  • Heffernan, Kevin. Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business, 1953-1968. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-8223-3215-2.
  • Pym, John, ed. "Konga." Time Out Film Guide. London: Time Out Guides Limited, 2004. ISBN 978-0-14101-354-1.
  • Weaver, Tom. "Herman Cohen Interview". Attack of the Monster Movie Makers: Interviews With 20 Genre Giants. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1994. ISBN 978-0-7864-9574-0.

External links[edit]