Friday, 23 June 2017

Gonks Go Beat (1965)


Knocked out cheaply and quickly to cash in the youth culture and music of the day, Gonks Go Beat is by turn astonishing, excruciating and deathly dull.

In the not too distant future, Earth is split into two opposing factions, Hip, hairy, and cool Beat Land versus neat, tidy, crooner loving Ballad Isle. Every year they have a musical competition to decide who is best, with the judge being the subtly named Mr. A&R (Frank Thornton). Meanwhile the galactic overlords who rule over everything have for some reason decided to put an end to the squabbling, so send their worst agent, the ever bungling Wilco Roger (Kenneth Connor) to sort the situation out and bring the two sides together.

Having first about this many years ago, I was hoping for an unhinged lost classic, with a rip roaring sixties soundtrack, shoddy sets, a baffling plot, and genuine talents such as Connor, Thornton and Terry Scott degrading themselves, but the reality is a curate's egg. The songs play like promo videos, and music wise, Beat Land wins hands down, with the likes of Lulu, the Graham Bond Organisation (with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker), leaving Ballad Isle with some insipid, coma inducing tripe.

The story is baffling, the characters unengaging, and the comedy is painful to watch, and having seen some of the things Connor and Scott appeared in, I know they can make the corniest of gags work, but this is beyond even their talents.

I was hoping for a British version of Plan 9 From Outer Space, at least in terms of jaw dropping weirdness, but it lacks the truly deranged vision and energy of Ed Wood's work, and what should be a brain rotting piece of fun soon becomes a slog. If you're a fan of 60s Beat / Blues music, it is worth a watch, but it has little to recommend for anyone else.