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Kong-athon: KING KONG (1976)

For those of you out there who were around 1976, think back to when this movie first came out. Did you see the movie when it came out? Or did you not know that this movie existed? I ask because the slogan, "The most exciting original motion picture event of all time," did not stand out to me when I watched this movie. To me, this was "The most MEDIOCRE unoriginal motion picture event of all time." The whole time while I was watching this had me wanting to watch some other movie or check Facebook. I could not pay attention to this movie without feeling bored out of my mind. With some research, I can sort of see why the movie came out as boring as it was. During the production of the film, director, John Guillermin, was known to have outbursts and would get into shouting matches with the executive producer, Frederico De Laurentiis, Dino De Laurentiis's son. Dino had to come in and threaten Guillermin that he was going to be fired if he didn't treat his cast and crew correctly. Imagine being Dino De Laurentiis and you had to go on set every day knowing that every single cast and crew member are not happy with how this movie is being handled. It was literal film hell from January 1976 to August 1976 having to film 12 hours a day every day surrounded by everyone feeling miserable.

In an interview with the script writer, Lorenzo Semple Jr., he said that they attempted to not be anything like the original movie in tone or mood and that Laurentiis wanted the movie to be light and amusing. It was certainly light, but it was not amusing. The movie is about a voyage set by Petrox Oil Company to search for an island that has untapped oil deposits only to discover that a giant ape lives on the island. KING KONG did not bring anything new other than the change of time period, the names of the main characters, and the reason for capturing Kong. Almost nothing captured my attention as being memorable. The only moment that I would say is memorable is when Kong started going on a rampage in New York City and started destroying the monorail train to get to Dwan (played by Jessica Lange) and Jack (played by Jeff Bridges). That scene reminded me of the King Kong ride at the Universal Studios theme park. Perhaps that is what the ride was inspired by. It also looked like a straight up giant monster film that came from Japan. It was more of that same style too by using a guy in a suit attacking miniature buildings, which I cannot get enough of. In my opinion, they could have made it work if perhaps they came up with an original story rather than retelling the same story. There were times where I thought Kong looked really good, but mostly not so much the other times. The man who designed and wore the ape suit, Rick Baker, was disappointed with the final design of the King Kong suit because it didn't look all that convincing. I agree with him on that, but I think it is because of the setting that the suit was placed in or how it was used. They even made a 40 foot tall animatronic Kong for the scene where Kong escapes from his cage and not even that can be made to look convincing because the robot was just standing there.

The characters needed more obstacles than just chasing after Kong and what better way than to put them up against other monsters on the island...which this movie really lacked. Do we get to see any monsters other than Kong? Well, there is that giant snake that Kong fought, but that is about it! The dinosaurs and monsters were always the obstacle for the main characters and it gives it that feeling that there is more life on the island than just Kong and the natives. The island should have been teaming with life and this island just looked very empty. There was no sense of struggle with anything alive for our main characters other than Kong, which he killed most of the search team by throwing the log over. No dinosaurs to run away from, no giant bugs for our characters to fight off, nothing. They could have shown birds flying around or a scene where a guy drags out a dead animal to show that Kong is not the only living thing on this island! Just something that can at least make these characters feel even more in danger than they already were!

After sitting through this, this told more of a story of how everything on set went horribly wrong rather than a story about a giant ape falling in love with a girl. Whatever the cause, there was little - no effort put into this movie and it turned out to be one giant mediocre mess. Watching KING KONG was like reading the cliff notes. It is a basic run down explaining the main points of the story, but not showing the parts that happened in between. The movie is as lifeless as Kong's body lying dead in front of the World Trade Center. I don't recommend this movie to anyone. At least it can't get any mediocre than this...right?

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