Hail To The King! - A Film History Of Kong


KING KONG (1933)

Named as one of the "100 Best Films of All Time" by Time Magazine, King Kong premiered in New York City in 1933. The film was an instant success, breaking box-office records to become one of the top moneymakers of the 1930s.

King Kong's state-of-the-art visual effects, entertaining story and touching conclusion captivated audiences and started a worldwide love affair with the giant ape. The film has also been included in seven of the American Film Institute's Top 100 lists, including the "100 Years...100 Movies" list.

A film ahead of its time, King Kong defied the technological limitations of the 1930s. Special effects pioneer Willis O'Brien's revolutionary stop-motion animation was not only technically brilliant but also highly imaginative and continues to impress even in today's era of computer-generated wizardry.

Directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, with a rousing score by Max Steiner (who also scored Gone with the Wind), King Kong stars Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot and Fay Wray, whose memorable performance as damsel in distress Ann Darrow cemented her place in pop culture and earned her the nickname "The Queen of Scream."

Carl Denham is a producer and director of adventure films specializing in remote and exotic locations. He sets off to a remote island, uncharted except for a map he purchased from a seaman. He hires a ship and with the star of his film, Ann Darrell, he sets off to Skull Island where there supposedly lives a large ape known as Kong. Thie island itself is is divided and the giant ape lives behind a great wall. Whe the local islanders kidnap Ann to offer her as a sacrifice, Denham and John Dricsoll set off to rescue her. It's obvious that Kong is fascinated with Ann and means her no harm but Dehnam gasses the beast and transports it to New York where he puts it on display. When it manages to escape, it terrorizes the city, climbing to the top of the Empire State building where it must confront air force planes trying to shoot it down. - IMDB

"It wasn't the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast." —Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong)


The Son of Kong (1933)

After the disastrous results of his last expedition, Carl Denham leaves New York aboard a ship to escape all the trouble. After a mutiny, he and a few companions are left behind on Skull island, where they meet a smaller relative of King Kong and make friends with him. - IMDB


King Klunk (1933)

In this episode of the 'Pooch the Pup' cartoon series the animated dog's girlfriend in menaced by a unfriendly dinosaur who is dispatched by a giant ape named King Klunk.

Wasei Kingu Kongu (1933)

Edo Ni Arawarita Kingu Kongu (1938)

Japanese films produced by the Shochiku Company featuring a man in a Kong costume and miniature sets made two decades before 'Godzilla'. Unfortunately both are lost films.

Konga (1961)

A Doctor Charles Decker, played by Michael Gough (Yes, the guy who played Alfred in the "Batman" movies) has discovered a way to manipulate plant cells in such a way that they can cause Animals to grow to gigantic size. Decker uses a chimpanzee that he brought back with him from an expedition in Africa as his guinea pig, injecting him with his growth serum. Oddly enough when the primate begins to grow he also changes species, becoming a human-sized guerrilla.

While being a human sized ape, "Konga" does the doctor's dirty work, killing three of his rivals. Decker actually uses a flashlight to hypnotize the ape into becoming his pawn. This is actually the most interesting part of the movie.

Soon after "Konga" has removed all of Decker's competition from the picture, the loony scientist turns his attentions to the buxom blond, Sandra, played by Claire Gordon. Of,course this doesn't sit too well with his wife, played by Margo Johns, who decides to get her revenge by injecting "Konga" with a massive dose of plant extract causing the guerrilla to grow to 60 feet or more.

The now gigantic ape, crashes in on the scientist while he is trying to have his way with Sandra, and takes him on a walk through downtown London. While taking his stroll, "Konga" swipes at a few pedestrians, but doesn't manage to hurt anyone or do any property damage. All the while Decker is screaming, "Konga put me down!" from the apes right mitt.

Eventually the army shows up and confronts the giant ape in the shadow of Big Ben. Somehow the same army that held off the Nazis, found it hard to hit a 60-foot-tall guerrilla that was standing right in front of them with machine gun fire. "Konga" finally gets tired of being shot at, and hurls the screaming scientist at them.

King Kong vs Godzilla (1962)

The idea of pitting King Kong against another monster came about in 1960 when Willis O'Brien, the man behind the stop-motion effects in the original film, had developed his own sequel. Godzilla, however, was not the monster that O'Brien had wanted Kong to fight. Frankenstein was the monster of choice for this new movie idea, but there was all kinds of hurdles that would have to be overcome if the classic Universal horror icon was to be used.

O'Brien believed that he would have no trouble securing the rights to use the name "King Kong" from the now defunct RKO, but he was worried about getting the rights to use "Frankenstein" from Universal. To get around this, the name was changed twice during development, first to "The Ginko", and then finally to "Prometheus", an alternate name for the monster from Mary Shelley's original novel.

O'Brien peddled his "King Kong vs Prometheus" film idea to all the major studios in Hollywood. Ultimately it was the effects man's insistance that stop-motion animation, a long and expensive process, be used, that turned the studios off.

O'Brien was only able to convince former Universal producer, Jon Beck, that his idea was viable. Beck, like O'Brien before him, took the idea from studio to studio, again no takers. It wasn't until he started looking outside the United States, did he find an interested party, Japan's famed Toho Studios.

Toho wasn't interested in using Frankenstein, but due to undoubted influence from both Tsuburaya and Honda, they expressed an interest in making a King Kong film. The studio had been looking for a long time for a vehicle to bring back Godzilla, so the project seemed like a marriage made in heaven.

Beck ultimately caved to Toho's request, and changed Frankenstein to Godzilla, selling the idea to the studio. He also managed to get Toho to pay for the rights to use "King Kong" in the film, a price that was so high that it ate up a good chunk of the money that was allotted for the production.

Mr. Tako, the producer of a low rated television show called "Mysteries of the World", decides his show needs some spicing up. So he sends two of his staff, Osamu Sakurai and Kinsaburo Furue, to Pharoh Island to bring back some berries, called soma, noted for their non-addictive narcotic effect. He also wants the two to bring back proof of a giant ape named King Kong. As this is going on, a submarine collides with an iceberg releasing Godzilla, who was trapped there seven years earlier. When Osamu and Kinsaburo arrive at Pharoh, they not only find the berries but the giant ape. After a battle with a giant octopus, Kong drinks the juice that is made from the berries and falls asleep. While he is sleeping, the pair tie him to a raft and take him back to Japan. In the meantime, Godzilla is rampaging throughout the Japanese countryside. While in route to Japan, Kong breaks free and swims toward Japan and inevitably on a collision course with Godzilla. - IMDB


King Kong Escapes (1967)

For the studios thirty-fifth anniversary, Toho would team up with Rankin Bass to produce a live-action version of their popular animated TV series. Director Ishiro Honda would jump at a chance to work on a tribute to the 1933 film, "King Kong", which had been a major inspiration to him. (Kong was also the inspiration for Gojira as well.) The script, written by Kaoru Mabuchi, would draw on several major elements from the cartoon, including thr location of Mondo Island, the Robot Kong, and the evil Dr. Who. Once again Eiji Tsuburaya was called upon to create the intricate miniatures and special effects. As in "King Kong vs Godzilla", the Kong costume was created to make the monster look friendly and like able. In fact a leftover suite from KK vs G was used for scenes filmed in Toho's famed water tank. Rankin Bass kept a close eye on the goings on in Japan and elements had to be approved before being filmed. The whole production would end up as on of the studios most polished films.

An evil pair, Dr.Who and Madame Piranha, have developed a mechanical replica of King Kong to dig for a highly radioactive mineral in the area of the North Pole. They soon discover that their replica is not cut out for the job and soon go on a quest for the real deal. They use the young and lovely Susan Miller to trap the monster and take him back to the mines. Of course Kong escapes and heads for Japan. They always head for Japan. Who and his henchmen activate the Robot Kong and set sail to recapture Kong. The Mech-Kong kidnaps Miller and takes her to the top of Tokyo Tower as bait. The two Kong's do battle and the Robot and his masters are destroyed by the rampage that is King Kong. Kong then wastes little time heading back home.

King of Kong Island (1968)

An Italian adult oriented 'King Kong' clone directed by Robert Morris starring Brad Harris, Marc Lawrence and Esmeralda Barros.

A mad scientist bent on creating a race of giant gorillas to destroy the world is foiled by a group of amazons whose leader was raised by the son of the original King Kong.

Filmed entirely in Italy it was the hope of the film makers that enough t and a would distract the viewer enough not to notice.

Although the U.S. version was promoted under the title "King of Kong Island", the on screen title reads simply "Kong Island". - IMDB

King Kong (1976)

King Kong was produced by Dino De Laurentiis and directed by John Guillermin. It is a remake of the 1933 classic film of the same name, about a giant ape that is captured and imported to New York City for exhibition. It stars Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, and Jessica Lange in her first film role.

The owner of the oil company Petrox Corporation, Fred Wilson, invests all his possessions searching oil in an unexplored island. The vessel leaves Surubaya, in Indonesia, with the stowaway Jack Prescott, who wants to protect an ape called Kong. While traveling, they find the castaway Dwan in the middle of nowhere in a rescue boat in the ocean and bring her on board. The group finds that the island is inhabited and the local natives worship a huge gorilla called Kong. They abduct Dwan to offer her in a sacrifice to Kong. The crew hikes into the jungle trying to rescue Dwan. King Kong falls in love with Dwan and protects her against a huge serpent. When Fred finds that the oil in the island is not ready for exploitation, he decides to capture Kong and bring him to New York for exhibition. In the middle of a show, King Kong escapes, bringing panic to the locals. - IMDB

A*P*E (1976)

You think that it would be hard to rip off both 'King Kong' and 'Jaws' at the same time yet Korean film maker Paul Leder did it anyway.

A giant gorilla escapes from a ship off the shore of Korea, fights a giant great white shark, clobbers two cities and runs off with an   American actress before the military blows him to bits.

Originally released in 3D this one is most noted for it's bad acting, bad effects, ridiculous  lines and a plot with more holes than the cheese on my sandwich at lunch.

Not To Be Confused With KING KONG ... don't worry, no one did.

The Mighty Peking Man (1977)

After Dino De Laurentiis had scored a big hit internationally with their remake of "King Kong" the Hong Kong based Shaw Brothers Studio wanted to catch the wave of "Kong's" popularity by producing their own giant ape film. Not wanting to pay for the rights to use the name "King Kong" the studio created their own monster who was inspired by both the early human ancestor, the "Peking Man", and the legendary Yeti of Himalayan folklore.

Director Ho Meng Hua and special effects man Sadamasa Arikawa would borrow a page from Japanese legend Eiji Tsuburaya's book when it came to shooting scenes featuring the monster. The emulation of Tsuburaya's techniques in monster film making are unmistakable, low angle camera placement (to make the monster look huge), slowed down film speed (to produce the illusion of size and mass) and highly detailed miniature sets, are all his trademarks.

A party from Hong Kong exploring the Indian side of the Himalayan mountains discover the eponymous Peking Man, a gigantic ape-like creature, along with a beautiful blond woman named Samantha (Evelyn Kraft) whose parents had been killed in a plane crash. Samantha was raised by Utam (the Peking Man) with nothing to wear but an animal-skin bikini (which she later continues to wear in preference to the type of women's clothing more common in Hong Kong). Like Tarzan, she has learned both to swing through the trees on vines and to communicate with and command the jungle animals, with the exception of a venomous snake who bites her on the inner thigh, requiring the hero, Johnny (Danny Lee), to suck out the poison. Shortly thereafter, they fall in love.

Johnny and his partners bring Samantha and Utam to Hong Kong, where Utam goes on display to the incredulous public. Johnny, meanwhile, reconciles with the girlfriend whose romantic betrayal with his brother had been the impetus behind his sudden decision to explore the Himalayas. Samantha sees this and runs off, nearly getting raped. Utam goes berserk and squashes the rapist, then runs off with Samantha to the tallest building he can find (namely the Jardine House), climbs it, and is burned/shot to death by several helicopters in a scene greatly reminiscent of the ending of King Kong, and falls off. Samantha is killed in an explosion during the conflict, and Johnny receives what appears to be a very minor gunshot wound to the lower leg.

King Dong (Supersimian)(1984)

A hardcore remake filmed in Honolulu starring Yancey Hendrieth, Crystal Holland and Felicia Fox.

Ana (Holland) becomes shipwrecked on an island inhabited by dinosaurs, warrior women, horny cannibals and one eighty-foot tall gorilla.

This film is noted for it's decent stop motion dinosaurs, nudity and the fact the film's director actually wore the ape costume for several scenes.

The stop motion 'King Dong' miniature actually ended up in 'Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders' (1989).
King Kong (2005)

King Kong was directed, co-written and produced by Peter Jackson, the film stars Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow, Jack Black as Carl Denham, Adrien Brody as Jack Driscoll and, through motion capture, Andy Serkis as the title character. Serkis also played Lumpy, the galley chef on the SS Venture. Set in 1932–1933 New York City and the nightmarish Skull Island, the film tells the story of an overly ambitious filmmaker who coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter King Kong, a legendary giant gorilla. Captured, he is displayed in New York City, with tragic results.

The film's budget climbed from an initial $150 million to a record-breaking $207 million. The film was released on December 14, 2005, and made an opening of $50.1 million. While the film performed lower than expectations, King Kong made domestic and worldwide grosses that eventually added up to $550 million, becoming the fourth-highest grossing film in Universal Pictures history. It also generated $100 million in DVD sales upon its home video release. The film garnered generally positive reviews from film critics and appeared on several "top ten" lists for 2005, though some reviewers also criticized it for its 3 hour, 7 minute running time. It won Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects.

In the autumn of 1932, at the height of the Great Depression in New York City, Ann Darrow has lost her job as a vaudeville actress but is hired by troubled filmmaker Carl Denham to act in his new film. Ann signs on when she learns her favorite playwright, Jack Driscoll, is the screenwriter. As their tramp steamer SS Venture sails to the mysterious Skull Island, Ann and Jack fall in love. Captain Englehorn begins to have second thoughts following the fears of his crew about Skull Island and its strange creatures that have evolved apart from the outside world. Deep in the southern seas the Venture receives a radio message from its owners informing Englehorn about an arrest warrant for Carl and instructing him to divert to Rangoon. Despite his attempt to turn around, the ship is lost in fog and runs aground on rocks encircling Skull Island.

Carl and his crew explore the island to film and are attacked by vicious natives. The sound technician and one of the sailors are killed, and Jack is knocked unconscious. Ann screams as she is captured, and a roar beyond the wall responds. The matriarch of the tribe vows to sacrifice her to "Kong", a 25 ft. (8 m) tall gorilla. Englehorn and his crew break up the attack and return to the stranded ship. They lighten their load to float off the rocks and carry out repairs to the hull, but Jack discovers Ann has been kidnapped. On the island, Ann is hung from a primitive drawbridge on the side of the wall. The crew comes armed, but is too late as Kong takes Ann into the jungle. As time passes in her captivity, Ann wins over Kong with juggling and dancing, and begins to grasp Kong's intelligence and capacity for emotion. - Wiki


Banglar King Kong (2010)

Over the decades there have been some truly awful movies made about "King Kong". Many of these include, "King of Kong Island", "King Kong's Fist", "King Kong Lives", film makers in the UK made "Konga", and "Queen Kong" and there is the American/Korean co-production, "A*P*E", which in the eyes of most monster movie fans, is the worst ever produced.

Well, that is until now. I believe we have a new champion.

Granted, "A*P*E* is a mess of a monster movie, but compared to the new "King Kong" made in Bangladesh, the film actually looks palatable.

Really, this new "Kong" film has to be seen to be believed. Think of it as a typical "Bollywood" musical with a giant gorilla in it.

In other words, a remake of the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis film, with musical numbers.

Along with all the singing and dancing, there are some of the worst special effects ever featured on celluloid. So bad that Ed Wood would be jealous. Oh, and where they ran out of money for effects, they just inserted footage from the 1976 "Kong".

Kong: King of Skull Island (2011 / In Development)

Joe DeVito and Brad Strickland's sequel to King Kong has been in various forms of development and skipping from independent studio to independent studio since 2009. As far back as 2011 Devitto was very confident that his film was going to get made yet nothing much has been heard about the film since.

The story begins in 1957, twenty five years after King Kong’s fall from atop New York City’s Empire State Building. Following Kong's death, both Carl Denham and the body of Kong quickly vanished before any investigation could be launched, leaving rumor and speculation in their wake. Carl's son, Vincent, was left behind. He is now a paleontologist facing a spiritual dilemma, which has its seeds in the disappearance of his father. Upon a chance finding of the hidden Skull Island map, Vincent contacts Jack Driscoll, one of Kong's original captors. They piece together a plan and go to Skull Island in search of Carl Denham, King Kong, and an answer to questions spanning a quarter century.

During a disastrous landing attempt, Vincent is almost killed and Driscoll sets out to find his stricken friend. Upon waking in a dark cavern, Vincent finds himself being cared for by an enigmatic island elder and her young, exotically beautiful but ominous assistant, Kara. The ancient woman, who asks to be called "Storyteller," seems to possess extraordinary knowledge about Vincent and his father. She relates a story from a century earlier that Vincent half-hears and half-dreams through the haze of narcotic herbs kept burning to aid his recovery. Her tale hints at the true origin of the island’s culture and the mystery behind questions such as: Who built the Wall and how? If the Wall was built to keep Kong out, why are its doors big enough to let him in? How could such an island and its monstrous creatures still exist? The answers to those questions and more are all revealed.

Or are they?

While the Storyteller’s tale is sometimes confirmed, it is often refuted by the sights and experiences of Jack Driscoll. He stumbles upon pieces to Skull Island’s primordial history as he struggles to survive the various threats of the island and find his friend. When Driscoll and Vincent reunite, their experiences combine to determine just who the Storyteller and Kara are, what became of Carl Denham, the story behind King Kong and clues to the origins of Skull Island itself. As a result, their lives are all changed forever.

As the story unfolds against a fantastic prehistoric backdrop, woven throughout are themes of personal redemption and reconciliation. All the protagonists have a particular cross to bear: Vincent is on the brink, both emotionally and spiritually; Driscoll comes face to face with past fears and prejudices; in the wake of Kong's death, the lives and culture of the islanders themselves hang in the balance; and we find that Carl Denham's desperate attempt to assuage his conscience decades earlier had very unexpected consequences…

Mysteriously, everyone is inextricably bound to the Storyteller’s ancient tale. It tells of Islanders Ishara and Kublai, and their quest to escape a terrible fate which threatens both themselves and their people. That struggle has the power to reach across time and change the destiny of all - if they survive. For at the nexus of every event is the beast-god of Skull Island: KING KONG.

Will this one ever see the light of day? Well ... we can hope.

King Kong was first released eighty years ago today (March 2, 133).

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