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Sunday, October 18, 2015

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2015-Day 18: MONSTER A GO-GO (1965)

The horror...The horror...Or not...

Bad horror movies happen all the time. In fact, it's not a stretch to state that bad horror movies outnumber the worthwhile ones by an almost incalculable degree. But then there are bad horror movies that go above and beyond with their cinematic wretchedness to find themselves numbered among the very worst works that the entirety of cinema has to offer, films that provide nothing by way of scares, interest, or anything of note to prevent the audience falling into a boredom-induced torpor. Such a piece is MONSTER A GO-GO, an infamous, turgid stink bomb from director Bill Rebane (THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION) and an uncredited Herschell Gordon Lewis. Yes, Lewis, the "Godfather of Gore" himself, the man who opened the floodgates of cinematic visceral excess with such stomach-churners as BLOOD FEAST (1963) and TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! (1964), was somehow involved in this dead cat of a movie, and while his own solo filmography is not stocked with any works to rival those of Cronenberg or Romero, even the most poorly-regarded flick in his roster looks like PSYCHO when measured against this floater.

An astronaut returns to Earth as a hulking radioactive monster and embarks on an aimless non-rampage that's tracked by military investigators and scientists. There's much wandering around in barren fields, plus tons of un-involving, poorly-acted dialogue, and the end result could kindly be called an endurance test to try the patience of even the most die-hard of bad movie veterans. In short, the film is seventy minutes that subjectively feels like four hours and is practically guaranteed to serve as a cinematic soporific. So why I am I bothering to bring this complete and utter dog to your attention, you may ask? Simple. Because it possess an ending of such jaw-dropping content that it practically dares you to witness it for yourself. After making the hapless audience suffer through virtually nothing happening over its entire running time, the film ends by announcing that the astronaut had actually splashed down unharmed somewhere in the North Atlantic and that there was actually never a monster at all, so everything that we'd watched was just superfluous, time-wasting bullshit. Here's the actual narration from the film that outlines that "twist" and pretty much raises a huge, stiff middle finger to  moviegoers:

As if a switch had been turned, as if an eye had been blinked, as if some phantom force in the universe had made a move eons beyond our comprehension, suddenly, there was no trail! There was no giant, no monster, no thing called "Douglas" to be followed. There was nothing in the tunnel but the puzzled men of courage, who suddenly found themselves alone with shadows and darkness! With the telegram, one cloud lifts and another descends. Astronaut Frank Douglas, rescued, alive, well, and of normal size, some eight thousand miles away in a lifeboat, with no memory of where he has been, or how he was separated from his capsule! Then who, or what, has landed here? Is it here yet? Or has the cosmic switch been pulled? Case in point: The line between science fiction and science fact is microscopically thin! You have witnessed the line being shaved even thinner! But is the menace with us? Or is the monster gone?

Absorb that galloping horseshit for a moment. Things like that don't just spontaneously happen. That so-called ending was deliberately perpetrated and knowingly released with the intent that innocent people would shell out their hard-earned cash to see it. It was downright criminal and I would have given a lot to be there to see how audiences reacted upon finding out they'd just been so frustratingly ripped off while simultaneously being bored nigh unto death. If MONSTER A G-GO had played at my home county's most notorious grindhouse, the late, lamented Norwalk Theater, I can tell you with a certain amount of authority that the irate audience would have stormed out of the auditorium and killed and spit-roasted the theater's staff right there in the lobby, not a stone's throw away from the popcorn machine.

Poster for the original theatrical release.

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