Olive Films will release Panther Girl of the Kongoto DVD and Blu-ray on February 21st. The second-to-last serial made by Republic Pictures, it came during the dusk of the film-going habits of the 1940s and early 1950s. Still, serial fans will recognize many of their favorite classic tropes: a fiendish land grab plot, exotic jungle locations (by way of the Republic backlot), a near-comical mad scientist character, resourceful repurposing of old footage, and a no-nonsense absence of any dialogue not explicitly driving the plot forward. In addition to that, it echoes popular mutant monster elements of 1950s films by focusing on a giant “claw monster” created by a mad scientist.
Even audiences unfamiliar with serials can find plenty to enjoy in Panther Girl of the Kongo, namely the strong performance from Phyllis Coates, best known for her portrayal of Lois Lane several years earlier. In 1951, she played opposite George Reeves in his first Superman performance in the film Superman and the Mole-Men. She then reprised her role for the first season of the television series, Adventures of Superman. Today, she is the last surviving cast member of the iconic series.
It is also possible that audiences may recognize Panther Girl of the Kongo from its 1966 television run, in which twenty-six Republic serials aired as television movies.