After the expensive yet empty-headed attempt to remake King Kong in 1976, a sensible gambler would have comfortably staked money against cinema’s greatest ape making a return to screens anytime soon much less there being an actual sequel made to Dino De Laurentiis disastrous enterprise. Well that man would have lost his fucking shirt because 10 years later De Laurentiis bankrolled an unwanted and unnecessary follow up that’s somehow worse and yet as hypnotically watchable as it’s predecessor that proves to be one of the most endearingly awful movies of all time.
It’s been ten years since Kong got riddled with hollow points and took a header of the World Trade Centre, but doctors have been managing to keep him alive in a coma until they can fit him with an artificial heart. Despite the fact that it’s taken 7 million dollars to keep Kong’s ticker beating (I’m sure the tax payers were thrilled) the operation will certainly fail unless enough matching blood can be found for a necessary transfusion. However, before someone can come up with the idea of draining 100 normal gorillas dry, Hank Mitchell, a swaggering adventurer stumbles apon giant female gorilla in Borneo and sells it to them in order to save Kong’s life. Feisty surgeon and Kong enthusiast Amy Franklin performs the surgery successfully but the scent of the female gets Kong extraordinarily excited (so would you if you hadn’t been laid in 10 years – actually come to think of it if Kong was thought to be the last of his kind he’s probably a virgin) and so, despite the enormous strain on his new heart, he busts “Lady Kong” out of her giant monkey jail and the two go on the run through the backwoods of America like a giant hairy Bonnie And Clyde.
Eventually an over zealous General strives to take this brand new power couple down by any means necessary and it leads to Lady Kong (what, she can’t become a queen unless they’re married or something?) getting captured while Kong desperately tries to free her before his rapidly deteriorating heart gives out. Can Amy and Hank aid the couple of Kongs and help them find a nice little getaway for two before their collective brains are blown out or will the amorous apes become ex’s in every sense of the word?
There are many dumbfounding things about King Kong Lives (it’s fucking existence, for a start) but surely the most perplexing aspect is that serious money has obviously been spent here in order to make something that’s so idiotic it can’t even take itself seriously as a B-movie – in fact try moving 24 letters along the alphabet and you’ll be closer to the actual result. There’s copious moments of large scale action with people attacking Kong with bulldozers and the super-sized simian hurling tanks like a slightly less butch Russian shot putter with explosions going off all over the place. There’s intensive miniatures work plus full sized articulated props to realise the two mountainous monkey’s hands and feet, there’s unsurprisingly a ton of blue screen and of course you have Carlo Rambaldi’s ape suits in which both King and Lady Kong actually have whole scenes together where they have to emote (or at least try to…) – the point is that even though it all often looks like cheap crap, it’s an unwavering and ironic fact that this crap doesn’t actually come cheap.
Also feeling exceedingly cheap is the script which despite being co-written by one of the writers of Alien, seems to have no idea how human beings actually behave and act and at one moment truly expects us to believe that the leads find the prospect of two 50 foot gorillas fucking each other barely a quarter of a mile away to be one of the most arousing things imaginable and immediately start getting down to business themselves.
Speaking of the leads, you can’t help but feel for Linda Hamilton made this two years after The Terminator and still has to emote to total trash. “Well Kong, you’ve killed now…” laments her character at the justified mauling of some hunters while conveniently forgetting that 10 years ago he was responsible for more violent deaths in New York than David Berkowitz.
What makes matters worse (yes, it gets worse) is that directing this exercise in simian romance and some of the most stereotypical rednecks since The Beverly Hillbillies is John Guillermin, who isn’t just responsible for Kong 76′ but was the man who directed The Towering fucking Inferno. How the Hell did he end up making a film where a dude in an angry faced gorilla suit gobbles down obviously rubber alligators for a quick pick-me-up and snapping Deliverence style rednecks in half like a Kit-kat?
However, what the film lacks in…. anything, it makes up for it by being unintentionally hilarious at virtually every turn and scores very highly in the so-bad-it’s-good category. I personally relish how bad it is and it keeps it’s deranged moronic momentum all the way up to it’s ludicrous finalé which sees Kong once again soak up more lead than Sonny Corleone while his main squeeze goes into labour in a nearby barn (the infant is bizarrely born both human sized and dry) and as a mortally wounded Kong gazes upon his upsettingly odd looking spawn the whole thing turns out to be as touching as watching all the Wookie bits from the Star Wars Holiday Special and contains at least the same amount of strained growling.
Tied as the worst Kong movie ever made – 1935’s Son Of Kong also proved that maybe the 8th wonder of the world should probably engage in some more stringent family planning – yet far more fun that it has any right to be, King Kong Lives is quite the experience to have but after this spectacular misfire (that buried his film career until Peter Jackson came along), one feels that Kong’s true nemesis isn’t actually trigger happy generals or buzzing helicopters, but may in fact be his agent…