Most people should try to leave this mortal coil without ever seeing Monster a Go-Go. It’s a mess that is hard to follow and offers few interesting moments. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie and it is for this reason that it’s interesting.
In the early 1960s, Bill Rebane was making a film called “Terror at Half Day.” He ran out of money but by June of 1963, he was back in production. The 3 June 1963 issue of BoxOffice states:
Producer-director Bill Rebane, with a revised script, is trying to get police cooperation from superintendent OW Wilson in shooting Loop scenes for his [science] fiction movie, “Terror at Half Day.” Hollywood producer [Dok] Stanford is Rebane’s new partner.
It isn’t clear who “Dok Stanford” is. We do know that Herschell Gordon Lewis came to the project around this time and co-produced it under the name Sheldon Seymour. He is also credited with “additional dialog.”
If we are to believe the lore about the film, Lewis purchased the unfinished film, added some material, and then released it so it could show as a double-feature with Moonshine Mountain.
Rebane, in the commentary on the Synergy Entertainment DVD, claims that he shot all the film. It’s possible but the extra material looks more like Lewis. But it doesn’t matter. One thing is clear: much less time was taken to shoot those scenes.
Separating Rebane and Lewis
We can distinguish between the two parts of the film because the first have features actor Peter M Thompson. He is gone in the new footage, which features the character’s brother.
According to some, when it came time for the new scenes, Thompson had gone bald and so plays his brother. I’m not convinced this is the case. But it is reasonable to assume that the scenes that involve that character (and ones associated with them) were from the later shoots.
This material takes up roughly 23 minutes of screen time:
- 24:00 – 41:20: We get a bunch of backstory about how Frank Douglas was given some experimental drug. Then he’s been captured and is under observation. Then he escapes and steals the antidote.
- 42:40 – 45:40: They find where Douglas is.
- 46:55 – 47:30: They learn of another encounter with Douglas and that he seems to be unstoppable.
- 50:50 – 51:30: They discuss informing the public about the monster.
- 54:05 – 55:10: Final strategy discussion.
This material is the best lit of the film but also the most boring. I’m going to assume this is the Lewis material, but it could be the other way around.
Also, the information from BoxOffice indicates that Rebane was getting “police cooperation,” which indicates that he was probably shooting the nighttime city scenes.
This makes me think that Rebane did shoot those scenes and that it was only later that Lewis bought the footage and shot the 23 minutes above.
Overall, it’s hard to say for certain. And I’ve already put far too much work into a film that really isn’t worth the effort. Both Rebane and Lewis did far greater work elsewhere.
Monster a Go-Go is the darkest side of exploitation filmmaking. The final film does have a couple of moments that are admirable. And Henry Hite as the monster is great. But despite an excessive amount of exposition, the story makes no sense.
It does show the business side of exploitation filmmaking. It’s probably a good story for budding filmmakers. Because the truth is that filmmaking is still just a business. And the sad thing is that there is even less demand now for independent films despite the fact that they are better than ever.
Image cropped from the movie poster via IMDb under Fair Use.