Numerous vintage monster movies are “so bad, they’re good.” That expression may be an age-old cliché, but if you frequent this website, you know what I’m talking about. Some movies have crudely charming production values, painfully low budgets, and monster costumes that come apart at the seams on screen, but we still love ‘em. We’re talking about films like THE CREEPING TERROR, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER, HORROR OF PARTY BEACH, etc. Then there are some films that are so bad, they’re just awful, and I mean God awful. If any one picture fit that description, it’s MONSTER A GO GO, which the director himself considers the worst movie ever made!
The first feature by independent filmmaker Bill Rebane (who would later helm the entertaining drive-in epic THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION), the plot of this mishmash is hard to relate, so we’ll give it to you directly from Synergy’s press release: In MONSTER A-GO GO, an astronaut about to be launched into space is being prepped for his galactic voyage with doses of “radiation repellent.” But, unknown to anyone else, the doctor begins utilizing a version of the formula previously tested only on animals. As the mission ends and the space capsule parachutes back to earth, it crash-lands in a nearby field and the astronaut aboard disappears. Is there a connection between the missing man and a monster wreaking havoc in the area?
The resulting "monster" is played by 7-foot tall Henry Hite (1915-1972) in a disheveled space suit and lumpy oatmeal make-up substituting as radiation scars. As appearances go, he's kind of an interesting, oversized B movie menace, but he’s actually given very little screen time, which is one of the film’s biggest downsides (and there are many). What mostly makes up the screen time are scientists and military personnel trying to solve the problem in amateurishly-shot and badly-edited scenes which make up just under 70 minutes of sheer torture, and it feels much, much longer when trying to endure the rather brief running time. You’ll never see a film which uses so much padding in extended shots of fire engines, aircrafts, people sitting around and talking, etc.
The film was originally shot as “S” and then TERROR AT HALFDAY, and it was started in the early 1960s as a serious, union crew production made in Chicago. It even had professional screen veterans such as June Travis and Peter Thompson in the cast, and Ronald Reagan was supposedly approached to appear in it at a time when his acting career died down and before he embarked on his political endeavors. Rebane made a deal with “Godfather of Gore” Herschell Gordon Lewis for the footage he shot. Lewis shot several bits (and his voice can be heard as a radio announcer), added lame Ed Wood-type narration and changed the title to MONSTER A-GO GO to play on a drive-in double bill with his MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN. Lewis’ ending is abrupt and not what Rebane originally intended, but not even a more satisfying conclusion could save this clunker, which naturally, appeared on “Mystery Science Theater 3000” in 1993.
MONSTER A-GO GO was also released a few years ago by Something Weird Video/Image Entertainment as part of a double feature disc with PSYCHED BY THE 4D WITCH. Synergy Entertainment brings the film to us on DVD once again in a full frame transfer that’s as good as can be expected. The black and white image looks decent for the most part, with occasional picture softness and some shots looking too dark. But it’s a cheap looking mess to begin with, so no one going into this is ever going to be expecting sparkling picture quality. The mono audio is passable with the expected flaws.
Director Bill Rebane is on hand for an audio commentary with moderator Joe Rubin. Rebane talks about the financing, the cooperation he got from the city of Chicago, and Lewis’ ultimate involvement, and Rubin does a good job of keeping things on track. Rebane sits down with Rubin for a 12-minute video interview, as the director discusses the history of the film and points out some of the scenes shot and directed by H.G. Lewis. A slideshow presentation (featuring production stills, behind-the-scenes photos, magazine clippings and contact sheets) as well as the original trailer (which really sold the film as best as it could) are on hand, as are two color short Rebane-produced films from the early 1960s: TWIST CRAZE and DANCE CRAZE. The icing on the cake is a 24-page booklet (inside the DVD’s case) which is a reproduction of an extensive MONSTER A-GO GO article from the pages of a recent issue of Scary Monsters, which features interviews with Rebane and others involved with the film. (George R. Reis)
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