Konga (film)

Konga 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]

Theatrical release poster by Reynold Brown
Directed byJohn Lemont
Produced byHerman Cohen
Nathan Cohen
Stuart Levy
Written byHerman Cohen
Aben Kandel
StarringMichael Gough
Margo Johns
Jess Conrad
Claire Gordon
Music byGerard Schurmann
CinematographyDesmond Dickinson
Edited byJack Slade
Distributed byAnglo Amalgamated (Eastern hemisphere)
American International Pictures (Western hemisphere)
Release date
January 1961
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States

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.[2]


British botanist Dr. Charles Decker (Michael Gough) comes back from Africa after a year, presumed dead. During that year, he came across a way of growing plants and animals to an enormous size. He brings back a baby chimpanzee, named Konga, to test out his theory. Decker goes insane after he discovers a serum that turns his chimpanzee subject into a ferocious gorilla-sized ape. To further his hideous experiments, he mesmerizes the ape and sends it to London to kill all of his enemies who have more credit in the scientific community than he already has. 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 that the doctor wants for himself.

After Konga strangles Bob Kenton to death, Decker attempts to make Sandra his own. This does not 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 Decker in one of his enormous hands, while Sandra's arm is eaten by Decker's carnivorous plants. His rampage comes to a stop when he and Decker are killed by the British army. Upon his death, Konga changes back to a baby 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 color. Due to Cohen's success with his I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), AIP used "I Was a Teenage Gorilla" as the working title.[3] 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.[4] 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 meager budget would allow.[3]


Konga appeared as part of a double feature 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."[5]

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."[6] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 33% based on 6 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 4.4/10.[7]

Konga battles "the Creature from Uuang-Ni". From issue #23 of the Konga comic published by Charlton Comics.
Publication information
PublisherCharlton Comics
FormatOngoing series
Publication dateKonga vol. 1:
June 1960 – Nov. 1965
The Return of Konga:
Jan. 1962
Konga's Revenge vol. 1:
summer 1963 - fall 1964
Konga's Revenge vol. 2:
No. of issuesKonga vol. 1:
The Return of Konga:
Konga's Revenge vol. 1:
Konga's Revenge vol. 2:
Main character(s)Konga
Creative team
Written byJoe Gill
Artist(s)Steve Ditko
Dick Giordano
Rocco Mastroserio

Novel and comic book series

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.[8] 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.[9][10]

Konga also appeared in a three-issue miniseries that started off as The Return of Konga, before it was renamed Konga's Revenge with issue #2.[11][12] The series ran from 1962-1964. This was followed by a one-shot reprint issue in 1968.[13]

In 1990, Steve Ditko illustrated a back-up story in Web of Spider-Man Annual #6 called "Child Star".[14] 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.[15]

In August 2013, IDW Publishing reprinted all the issues that artist Steve Ditko worked on (Konga #1 and #3-15 and Konga's Revenge #2) as a deluxe hardcover collection called Steve Ditko's Monsters: Konga.[16]

In April of 2019, IDW published a book called Konga vs Gorgo which collected issues #5 and #6 of the series.[17]



  1. The resultant mayhem was especially alarming for residents, who were awakened by sounds of gunfire.[3]


  1. Heffernan 2004, p. 127.
  2. https://www.lambiek.net/artists/d/ditko_steve.htm
  3. Axmaker, Seam. "Article: 'Konga'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 8 April 2015.
  4. Weaver 1994, p. 69.
  5. Archer, Eugene. "Screen: New twin bill: 'Konga' and 'Master of the World' arrive." The New York Times, September 16, 1961.
  6. Pym 2004, p. 639.
  7. "Konga (1961) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  8. "Konga (1960 series)." comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  9. Fantastic Giants, Charlton, 1966 Series" at the Grand Comics Database. Retrieved on April 8, 2015.
  10. Shaw, Scott (March 5, 2007). "Fantastic Giants, Vol. 2, No. 24". Oddball Comics. Archived from the original on May 16, 2007.
  11. "The Return of Konga, Charlton, 1962 Series." comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  12. "Konga's Revenge, Charlton, 1963 Series." comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  13. "Konga's Revenge, Charlton, 1968 Series." comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  14. "Web of Spider-Man Annual #6 [Direct Edition] (1990)." comics.org. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  15. "Upcoming Ditko - New PI collection." ditko.blogspot.com, May 2005. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  16. "Steve Ditkos: Monsters, HC (2013) IDW Publishing." Comic Book Realm. Retrieved: April 8, 2015.
  17. "B Movie Giants Gorgo & Konga Return in Ditko’s Monsters." www.outrightgeekery.com, April 17 2019. Retrieved: July 19, 2019.


  • 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.
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