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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.
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.
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
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.
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