What a glorious day Tuesday, October 19, 2010, is! ‘Tis the day we have long awaited—for Tuesday, October 19, marks the release of Monster A-Go Go, in celebration of that iconic film’s 45th anniversary. Why iconic? When it was released in 1965, its impact was so great that it was billed as “The picture that could set our space program back at least 50 years.”
While plot is important in most films, Monster A-Go Go dispenses with that stale device and presents an abstract, surrealistic film, using the screen as its Dadaist canvas. Just as art was meant to appeal to the senses, Dada was meant to offend, and as movies were meant to entertain, Monster A-Go Go succeeds in being so grossly anti-entertainment (as Dada was “anti-art”) that it is a masterpiece of awful film-making. A movie so bad, even its director, Bill Rebane, calls it “shit.” (Among the many accolades awarded Monster A-Go Go, Mystery Science Theater 3000 voted it “The Worst Movie Ever.” Ever!)
The story is simple and classic sci-fi. The ponderous narration begins, “What you are about to see may not even be possible within the narrow limits of human understanding.”
A space capsule returns to earth, but where is the astronaut? What are those strange burns in the field where it landed? The scientists in charge of the investigation don’t take soil samples or other evidence. A helicopter pilot, who was assisting in the search for the missing capsule so that it could be returned to the space agency astrophysical labs in Chicago, lands and dies (“horribly mangled in a way no one had ever seen before”), his blood turned to powder (which obviously accounts for the fact that he was completely “shriveled”).
Soon we learn there is a “monster”—a 10-foot tall man spreading radioactive havoc. What caused this mess? The “radiation repellant” the astronaut was treated with before he was sent into space. What caused this mess of a movie? Perhaps it was the fact that first-time director Rebane had so many union and financial problems that he shelved it, then turned the project over to “infamous gore and exploitation producer” Herschell Gordon Lewis. Is it just a typo on the DVD box where Lewis is referred to as Herschell Gorgon Lewis?