Konga – Michael Gough and Jess Conrad

This film was made soon after the success of The Horror of the Black Museum which like this one, starred Michael Gough. As we can see from the Poster below Konga features a giant ape seen here on the rampage but the film itself is really carried by a truly wonderful performance from Michael Gough.

This film is incredible in many ways. It has an outlandish story about a scientist played by Michael Gough who returns from Africa having been presumed lost. However during his travels in Africa he has found a botanical secret to growth in humans and other animals through injections of serums made from seedlings brought back from the jungle.

These he injects into a small chimp which he has also brought back from Africa which he seems to use it as some kind of guinea pig After several injections(and murders of people standing in the scientist’s way) the ape grows to epic proportions and brings an end to his creator’s dreams.

Michael Gough is both cruel and unsympathetic in the way he works to his own ends – a part played with aplomb and panache by Michael Gough. There is one scene where he shoots his own cat at close range rather than have it ruin his scientific discovery.

Michael Gough is incredible and his performance is worth a look at the film alone. The other actors are credible and the guy in the ape suit is believable till the last act.

We also have  very large carniverous plants thrown in for good measure and some great dialogue and surprisingly good acting.

There are lots of cliches thrown at us, the audience, in this delightful and fun film which is in Glorious Eastmancolor too!

A taste of the fun below with these Front of House stills from the film

Konga runs amock and shatters the greenhouse in his path

Jess Conrad also starred in this film. What an interesting character he is. He had a brief Pop career and a smallish career in films and Television – and yet he remains very well known and well liked. He spans so many eras and somehow seems to fit in them all

One of the first and best things he ever did when his Pop records started to be successful, was to but a very nice house in Denham Village close to Roger Moore at that time. Jess and his wife still live there.

He also has had a long and happy marriage – another plus !!

He was born Gerald Arthur James on February 24th, 1936 in England. He his youth he was nicknamed “Jesse” after the American outlaw Jesse James. When Conrad began acting there was already an actor named “Gerald James.” A drama teacher who was a fan of actor Joseph Conrad, a Polish-British writer, suggested the stage name of Jess Conrad.

Conrad began his career as a repertory actor, an actor who performs with a regular company, and a film extra. He was cast in a television play, Bye Bye Barney as a pop singer. This led to other television series and to him recording with several record labels. He had several chart hits including “Cherry Pie”, “The Pullover”, “Mystery Girl” and “Pretty Jenny”.

In the 1950’s and 1960′ JessConrad appeared in several films including Serious Charge, for which he is uncredited, The Boys, Rag Doll, K.I.L. 1 and Konga as well as Michael Powell’s The Queen’s Guards.

By the 1970’s Conrad was appearing in musicals on stage as well as beginning to appear in documentaries. Unfortunately at the time his earlier music was falling out of favor with audiences. In 1977, no fewer than 7 of Jess Conrad’s singles were included in the “World’s Worst Record” list. Eventually the list was turned into an album. On the show contestants who did no make the “big break” were given a box set of Conrad’s hits as a “booby” prize.

However Jess, who still looks incredibly young, and still appears on stage

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