1/14/02 white pongo: scanned 8x10

White Pongo wreaks Terror wherever he goes! Image: viajesconmitia.com

Good news! If you’re looking to make your own Sci-Fi/Horror film (and who isn’t?), we found the perfect film as your template.

White Pongo (1945) is budget-friendly fare about a white gorilla living near Africa’s Congo River who may be “the missing link between man and monkey.” Obviously there would be a lot of fame and money available to anyone making such a discovery, and a scientific team dispatches itself to trap the elusive gorilla.

The expedition is headed by an esteemed scientist (Gordon Richards), who has brought his daughter (Maris Wrixon) along, just because. There is also an anthropologist, a German translator/guide, several canoe paddlers, and a rifleman (Richard Fraser) who has his own reasons for being on the expedition.

White Pongo (pongo meaning “gorilla”) shows us what is necessary in making a Sci-Fi/Horror film, and what we can get away with. Our film features a gorilla, but many of these principles could apply to any costumed monster.

DO:

  • start the film in the middle of a dire situation, so the audience will be Very Fearful of what will Happen Next.
  • include a female character who appears plucky and adventurous. Make her as liberated as you like – we all know she’ll need saving from the gorilla before this business is finished.
  • have characters introduce each other with adjectives such as “noted”, as in, “Allow me to introduce my friend, the noted anthropologist.”
  • create an eccentric character who is waiting to give valuable information to the scientists. This character must be thoroughly altruistic and have absolutely no interest in cashing in on his own discoveries.
  • ensure the gorilla is always skulking about and is never in a good mood. Growling is essential.
  • give scientists a British accent. They’ll sound smarter.
  • give the bad guy a German accent. (Oops – spoiler! Sorry about that.)

 DON’T:

  • place the gorilla in an ordinary location – the more fictionalized, the better. People will believe anything about a place they’ve never visited.
  • allow characters to perspire. Also, wrinkled clothing – even when trudging through the sticky jungle – is a no-no.
  • worry if the camera flops around. Who says you have to hold the camera steady all the time?
  • get hung up about about focusing the camera on the actor who’s talking. Let it drift aside to another actor, who may or may not be listening to the dialogue.
  • worry about filming in different locations. If you shoot the same scenery from different directions, the audience will never know the difference.

The #1 rule that can never, ever be compromised: DO NOT, under any circumstances, skimp on the gorilla costume. If the costume is the most expensive item in your budget, it is money well spent. Look at the gorilla suit in White Pongo – it looks like it weighs 120 lbs and has an internal temperature of 200º. It probably cost a fortune!

Now, people who have been to film school probably get all bent out of shape about research and technical stuff, but who cares about that? You wanna make a Sci-Fi/Horror flick? Go make it! The producers of White Pongo have shown us how it’s done.

White Pongo: Richard Fraser, Maris Wrixon, Lionel Royce. Directed by Sam Newfield. Written by Raymond L. Schrock. PRC Pictures, Inc., 1945, B&W, 72 mins.

This post is part of the UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS blogathon hosted by the lovely & talented Movies, Silently. Click HERE to see the other fab entries.

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Happily blogging about old movies and using the royal "We".

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