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Awfully Good: Monster A Go-Go

09.28.2016

2016 claimed yet another celebrity this week: director Herschell Gordon Lewis, the "Godfather of Gore." We've covered Lewis' early slasher-splatter film BLOOD FEAST and while he's best known as a pioneer of graphic violence, around these parts his most lasting work is without a doubt….

 

Monster A Go-Go (1965)

 

Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Stars: Henry Hite, June Travis, Phil Morton

An astronaut returns to Earth as a radioactive, bloodthirsty monster desperately in need of Proactiv.

MONSTER A GO-GO is one of those classic Awfully Good films, a movie so poorly conceived and haphazardly thrown together that it barely qualifies as actual cinema. The story goes that in 1964 Herschell Gordon Lewis finished production on MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN and needed another film to sell it as a double feature. He found a movie by director Bill Rebane called TERROR AT HALF DAY, which was never completed due to lack of funding back in 1961. So Lewis bought the rights to what Rebane had shot, filmed some additional scenes, added his own narration throughout, and re-edited the whole thing and dubbed this Frankenstein piece of celluloid MONSTER A GO-GO.


Frank always enjoyed a little light reading on vacation.

You can imagine how a movie with this patchwork production must come across and that is exactly what MONSTER A GO-GO feels like—a mishmashed disaster. The final product is barely an hour long and large swaths of the film still make little to no sense. Characters disappear without explanation since actors were no longer available years later when Lewis did reshoots. And in the case where they did come back, everyone had aged so much that they had to play different characters. (One performer ended up playing his own brother because he had clearly gone bald in between productions.) To explain the plot, which is barely functional yet somehow still convoluted, Lewis had to have a narrator continually point out what was going on or explain things that happened off screen. He valiantly attempts to cover this by making the voiceover philosophical about the nature of humanity (coming off as a poor knockoff of The Twilight Zone's Rod Serling), but they're not fooling anyone.


Usually, Randy liked his personal space, but he was willing to make an exception in certain cases.

Lewis later tried to claim the film was an intentional parody. And while it's obvious it was actually just a ploy to make more money, the movie does sport a bit of enjoyable silliness, from a bizarre go-go-inspired theme song called "Go, Monster, Go!" that does not fit the film at all, to an extended sequence where a group of chesty women dance breast-first to the camera for no reason. (Well, besides the obvious reason.) But mostly this is just a no-budget flick that nobody really cared about and was never intended to be seen by a wide audience. How else do you explain lazy mistakes like dialogue audio that echoes so badly it's totally incomprehensible? Or a dog barking in the background throughout a key scene that completely distracts from the suspense? Or the fact that nobody bothered to point out that a group of girls sunbathing in the park probably shouldn't be fully clothed? Worst of all is the monster, whose makeup is so terrible it looks like they just found a tall guy with bad acne. You barely ever get a good luck at the title creature and that is a smart strategy.


Clearasil. Try it.

The first half of the film that Bill Rebane clearly shot is fairly standard for those schlocky sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s. There's a monster, the military, a woman who loves the monster, and an atomic-age moral about the dangers of radiation. However, it's painfully obvious where Lewis took things over and that's where MONSTER A GO-GO shines in the worst way possible. Around the midway point, the movie jumps ahead in time eight weeks and pretty much all the characters, plot points and story that you sort of cared about up to that point disappears forever. In its place you're left with random nonsense and intense frustration.


"President Trump is coming!"

Most obvious is that they were not able to get the actor that played the monster back. (And since he was clearly over 7 feet tall, there was no way they could fake it.) As a result, almost all of the monster action for the rest of the movie happens off-screen. Soldiers pretend to see the creature off-camera and shoot at nothing. A scientist takes a very suspenseful walk through a dark hallway, only to return to his lab and find that the monster trashed his equipment while he was out. (It's later revealed that he had the creature locked up in his lab, which is why we hadn't seen it for a while.) And a truck driver helps a horny woman with her broken down car in a scene that would be more appropriate for a porno than a sci-fi movie. You assume this is all setup for the monster attacking them, but we never see that happen.


If you die with that look on your face, you know you did something right.

If a bunch of unconnected, monster-less scenes that serve no purpose wasn't bad enough, MONSTER A GO-GO has one of the absolute most bullshit endings of all time. In the finale, the military finally tracks the radioactive monster in to the sewer and are about to apprehend it when it just… disappears. Narration informs us that the universe had acted "beyond our comprehension" and that suddenly there was no monster and that the astronaut had actually just been found uninjured in a lifeboat thousands of miles away. Not only is there no showdown or resolution with the creature, but the film wraps up with more contemplative narration: "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?" Then it cuts to a pop song as THE END flashes on the screen.

Some movies are bad, but very few are as flagrantly, infuriatingly bad as this. And for that Herschell Gordon Lewis and MONSTER A GO-GO deserve at least a little respect.


Yep, lots of respect.

A sampling of some of the terrible narration they used to try to make this movie make sense.

Monster attacks and boobs.

Some bouncing, but no nudity.


Gregory Peck? Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Narration interrupts the movie
  • A woman screams
  • There's an abrupt cut
  • That annoying sound plays when monster is around
  • You're confused

Double shot if:

  • Someone other than Kenny Loggins says the words "Danger Zone"

 

Thanks to Terrance for suggesting this week's movie!

 

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: Mystery Science Theater 3000 called this the worst movie they ever did. And that's saying something.
Source: JoBlo.com

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