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Panther Girl of the Kongo
The Claw Monsters

USA 1955
produced by
Franklin Adreon (associate) for Republic
directed by Franklin Adreon
starring Phyllis Coates, Myron Healey, Arthur Space, John Daheim, Mike Ragan, Morris Buchanan, Roy Glenn, Archie Savage, Ramsay Hill, Naaman Brown, Dan Ferniel, James Logan, and as a gorilla Steve Calvert
written by Ronald Davidson, music by R. Dale Butts, special effects by Howard Lydecker, Theodore Lydecker

serial

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Somewhere in the Kongo: Wildlife photographer Jean Evans (Phyllis Coates) has put up residence with a native tribe to get some pretty important pictures for a wildlife foundation ... only to find that village under attack from monsters that look like ... giant crawfish.

Of course, that's exactly what they are, as a rogue scientist who lives nearby, Dr Morgan (Arthur Space) has developed a serum to grow animals to giant size. But instead of having the whole world benefit from it (and rake in the rewards), he uses the serum exclusively to grow crawfish to attack the natives ... why? Because there's a diamond mine nearby he and his two cronies Cass (John Daheim) and Rand (Mike Ragan) want to exploit, but to that end, they have to get rid of the natives, apparently.

Anyways, Jean soon figures giant crawfish are not ... well, entirely natural, so she calls in big game hunter Sanders (Myron Healey) for support. The two run into Cass and Rand repeatedly as they either try to kill them, steal the film material of the giant crawfish Jean has made, or just try to scare off the natives, and of course in the end they get their just desserts. Dr Morgan all gentleman-like stays out of all of this and Jean and Sanders only get on his trail after Cass and Rand have died in an explosion in the diamond mine and they find some chemicals that lead to ... well, a scientist. Morgan is clever enough to set a trap for them of course, but in the end dies from the very poisonous gas he has prepared for Jean and Sanders.

 

Panther Girl of the Kongo is one of the last serials, and it shows how tired the format has gotten: It was obviously very tightly budgeted, so the giant crawfish effects look very sloppy, many of the best action setpieces are actually lifted from the then 14 year old serial Jungle Girl, the other setpieces look tired, repetitive, and let's face it, some of the material is used again and again over the couse of this. Also, the rather few jungle sets look rather unexotic and lack variety, and even the tribe the baddies are supposed to be in league with seems to be made up of no more than two natives for most of the serial's running time. Now the plot does include giant monsters, which was all the rage in 1950's drive-in cinema of course, but knows relatively little to do with them, and other than that shows very little in terms of imagination or even development, it seems to just cheat itself from plottwist to plottwist until everything's resolved in the finale.

Now fans of serials like myself will still find quite a few things to like about this one, even if it's for all the wrong reasons, but there are definitely better serials out there, and also better so-bad-they're-good ones.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD