of the nicer aspects of these reviews is that they bring attention
to films that would otherwise slip through the cracks. I feel
King Kong Lives has been unfairly shut out of that glimmering
pantheon of bad sequels. If nothing else than that by the end
of this review I have convinced you that King Kong Lives deserves
to take its place beside The Heretics, The Quickenings,
and the Speed 2s, my work wonít have been for naught. Plus
King Kong Lives has the distinction to being a sequel to
a singularly bad remake. Apparently the reasoning behind this
fiasco was "Well it didnít work the first time, so letís
not change anything and try again!" Itís reasoning like this
that gives you Batman and Robin.
beginning of King Kong Lives is actually footage from the
first movie. It was, to say the least, awkward to see
Kong standing atop the Twin Towers and plunge from them after
taking a barrage to the chest. Strange how reality can give the
purest schlock a dazed sort of dignity. Thankfully we cut to the
"Atlanta Institute" and any
ambience about mocking this sucker is quickly erased. We see that
the Jungle Titan has not perished but is resting comfortably under
the care of Dr. Amy Franklin. Walkways have been constructed over
him and large vaguely medical machines hum on his sides. We see
Dr. Franklin enter the observation where after removing her surgical
mask we see she is played by Linda Hamilton. She still seems to
be stuck in Sarah Connor mode as she grimly faces the two men
before her. It seems that Kong canít have his life saving surgery
without a blood transfusion. And of course there is no species
whose blood is compatible.
three sit around making frowny faces as we cut to stock footage
of a spectacular waterfall. Our hero is making his way through
a humorously ersatz jungle, located I believe in Papua Not! Guinea.
Itís Mitch, the unfortunate result of crossbreeding your odious
comic relief and macho action star. He chastises his donkeys (No
thatís not a euphemism - he actually berates them for being scared)
and settles down for a nap. Is barely able to close his eyes before
a disturbance underneath him raises him up. He suddenly finds
himself fleeing from a giant paper mache paw. All seems lost when
a bunch of extras from Raiders pop up and shoot the ape
full of poison darts. The ape rears up and howls, giving us a
good look at the sorriest gorilla suit this side of A*P*E,
and falls to the ground.
me take a moment here to mention Linda Hamilton. I always liked
her and wished she could have had better roles. Unfortunately
the role that defined her, Sarah Connor, also got her roped into
the "tough babe" ghetto. Though Iím ragging her here
she does try to give an honest to god performance. Whether that
was a wise decision or not Iíll leave to you to decide. But with
everyone else not even bothering to act itís nice to see someone
giving it the college try of a true B-movie vet. At the very least
her performance supplies much of the filmís humor.
at the Institute, Amy enters a conference room. It seems Mitch
is fielding offers for his find. A suit calls the ape a he and
Mitch says itís a girl. Amy freaks out saying the strain of having
a female around would kill him. She asks if they could just take
the plasma and Mitch plays them along, saying Harvard is verrrry
interested in the ape. She emphatically shakes her head no
as the suit agrees to purchase Lady Kong.
to a cargo plane pulling into the tarmac. A crowd is already gathered
hoping for a glimpse of the beast. Amy is there, her jaw set tight
in the consternation of a five year old. Mitch pushes through
the crowd to greet them. Some tense
words are exchanged between him and Amy, leading the experienced
viewer to set his Perfunctory Sex Scene Countdown Clock. A bellow
is heard from the plane as Mitch runs to see what the trouble
is. It seems some reporters are playing with his monkey*.
He shoos them away and in a half-baked Texan drawl he tells them
"You are dealiní with a lady here." No rest for the
maiden as she is taken to the plasma center to give a transfusion.
operation on Kong begins. Amy takes an enormous pizza cutter to
Kongís chest. Mitch and a gaggle of reporters watch from the observation
room. The scene is played dead straight and offers much incidental
mirth as extras scamper about with oversized clamps and scissors
and bemoan that they went to Goddamn
Julliard and they had the lead in The Crucible and everyone said
theyíd do far and this how it ends playing doctor with a plastic
ape, Iíll show them I-
got carried away there. The scene becomes quite boring and to
interject some tension they have Kongís plastic ticker nearly
fall from the crane and yet somehow that is boring too. The operation
is declared a success.
throng of extras celebrates the next day. A reporter fills us
in on Kongís condition and the location of Lady Kong. We see her
in chains picking gloomily at a pile of fruit. Sheís just an owner
of a lonely heart, sing it nowÖ
that week at a fancy party Mitch asks were Amy is. Heís surprised
to find that Amy is still watching over her patient. Back at the
OR Kong begins to stir. He pulls the electrodes off him and tries
to get up; he smells the female. He tries to jump to the bars
at the top of the cage. The EKG begins to fluctuate, Kong clutches
his chest causing many Sanford and Son jokes from the viewer.
In a panic Amy pumps him full of sedatives and rushes to the party.
She bursts in showing the results to head of the project. Mitch
cracks a lame joke and she unleashes her full power of glowering
at him. (And that clock keeps ticking and tickingÖ) Mitch quickly
takes her side. And the project head agrees to have the enclosure
ready in two days.
moving day and Lady Kong isnít going quietly. Bulldozers are circled
around her presumably under the theory that when you have a large,
dangerous animal you want to make it as angry and frightened as
possible. A net is dropped on her and she howls with rage. Kong
hears her and rears up and tears away his chains. He shimmies
through the roof and stomps off. Amy and Mitch are trying to stop
them from taking her and suddenly a crashing noise comes from
the side of the screen. It seems Universal Studios were nice enough
to let them use the Kong model from their ride for this shot.
Kong finishes smashing through the wall and spies Lady Kong. Their
eyes meet as romantic music swells in the background. The world
disappears as their eyes meet. Lyz
was justifiably stupefied by this moment. As the brains began
to dribble out my ears the only scrap of sanity I could grasp
at was that a studio exec fueled off a coke binge stumbled into
work and cried, "Weíre going to remake Casablanca Öwith
monkeys!" Its coke binges like this that give us movies
like, well, Batman and Robin.
and the missus escape and the Calvary are called. They are lead
by Colonel Neville, the meanest olí son of a gun this side of
the Mississippi. Iím going to do more work than the screenwriter
did and assume that as a child a horde of giant apes killed his
family. Thatís about the only explanation for his animosity towards
the apes whose first act (outside of escaping the warehouse) has
been to flee into the wilderness and leave well enough alone.
Amy and Mitch join forces, theyíre not going to forget this perfunctory
sex scene by god, and take to the woods. We see the apes acting
out the simian version of The Fantastiks they blush and
bat at each other. Kong offers her a choice pine and love is in
to the humans, Amy has allowed her self to fall off a bridge so
Mitch can rescue her and bring us ever closer toówell you know.
They take cover when helicopters approach. The pair hear the apes
roar and make their way to them. Itís nightfall by the time they
arrive. Amy flips out a sliver briefcase. Itís a "cardio
unit" and Amy checks Kongís heart. It seems the chapís doing
quite well. They go awwww at the apes cuddling and go to
make camp. That alarm you hear is the perfunctory sex scene clock,
itís time. It seems that theyíve only brought one sleeping bag.
Thereís some hemming and hawing, "are you sure about this?"
and Mitch tentatively crawls into the bag. He pulls the cover
over their heads and fade out.
next morning Mitch notices that Kong is gone. They both leap up
to investigate. The path of true love never runs smooth and as
Kong is gathering breakfast the army appears. Well itís about
time, the terrain appears to be scrub, rock formations, and a
few scraggly pine thickets, not the best place for a pair of 50
foot apes to hide. Iím going to extirpate further and say that
giant apes also wiped out Nevilleís platoon in ĎNam because he
grudgingly captures Lady Kong and then tries to kill the big boy.
Kong scrambles to escape and finds himself cornered on a cliff
overlooking a river. He leaps into the water and the currents
push his head against a sharp rock. The water fills with red clothing
dye as Amy scrambles for the cardio unit. Alas there is no heartbeatÖ
tells us months have passed. Lady Kong is still being held captive
in an underground facility. Mitch is away trying to get a preserve
for Lady Kong and Amy has being trying in vain to gain entrance
to the facility. Finally orders come through "The Secretary
of Defense Himself!" - she can see Lady Kong. When she gets
there she is horrified at her condition. She tries to go in the
cage but Neville stops her. He remembers the screams of his family
as the apes cameÖand quickly tosses them out.
goes to pick up Mitch at the airport. Mitch has found a preserve
for Lady Kong. He notices Amyís less than ecstatic reaction and
she admits that no oneís seen Lady Kong for months. Outraged he
rushes over to the facility and is beaten up by two guards for
to an 8th grade diorama of a swamp. You canít keep
a good Kong down and it seems he has found a home amongst the
gators. He picks up a baby gator and eats it. Thankfully the little
fella turns into a marzipan model before he gets gulped. Kong
returns to his cave, which you wouldnít think there would be a
lot of in a swamp, and mourns for his gal. Lady Kongís thoughts
are only for her man as she lightly cries into the night. Kong
hears her and goes to set her free. He emerges on the set of Devil
Fish and scares the bejesus out of a few dozen rednecks.
next day boats are loaded with beer, guns, and beer. A few pieces
of dead meat, er hunters, are going after him. They manage to
trap him under a dynamite caused landslide. Then they bait him
with a burning log from their fire. A giant ape. An enraged giant
ape. And theyíre taunting him. Do I need to draw you a diagram
escapes and enjoys a nice good olí boy ragout before heading off.
Mitch and Amy who also been on his trail find the remains of the
campsite. Amy tries to adjust Kongís heart but he puts the kibosh,
literally, to those plans by stepping on the machine. Mitch and
Amy then decide to perpetrate a great escape of their own. They
breach security at Lady Kongís fortress by crouching real low
and pressing a button.
Mitch sees her heís appalled at her distended belly. "What
have they done to her?, Amy is less disturbed it seems the Lady
is with child.
They go to raise the platform to the top of the silo and escape.
A guard pulls a switch, seemingly putting an end to their plans.
All seems lost, but then with a mighty roar Kong appears and rips
the lid off the silo. He takes his lovahh and she in turn grabs
Mitch. Amy screams and follows them to the final set piece of
a family reunion (put down the symbolism 2 by 4 now!) the lovebirds
crash the party. Mme. Kong puts down Mitch then falls on the barn
in the throes of labor. Neville and his troops show up and begin
blasting away without provocation. I also ask: there was quite
a group celebrating here earlier. Just collateral damage Colonel?
shields Lady Kong and is gruesomely torn to shreds. Kong ainít
going that easy and smashes a few toy tanks before taking special
care with Neville. After a brutal game of pattycake Neville is
no more. Kong then keels over, weíre told from a heart attack.
I would have placed more stock in the "being shot 617 times"
but Iím not an expert. There are some cuts between Kong dying
and Lady Kong giving birth showing that some wretched soul on
this project went to film school. Kong holds on long enough to
see his son and dies. We return to the deciduous forests of Papua
Not! Guinea and see Jr. swinging from the vines and Lady
Kong tenderly looks after him. The end.
viewerís tolerance for King Kong Lives will depend greatly
on their affection for men in suits stomping models. And furthermore
that the monster in this case is a giant ape. I unabashedly love
the Godzilla canon and big honkiní monkeys are a favorite offshoot
of that genre. Where King Kong Lives proves a difficult
plum is that outside of the monkey scenes, and sometimes even
then, it is incredibly dull. You donít care about Mitch and Amy
because frankly Mitch has much more chemistry with Lady Kong.
You may be entertained for a few seconds by Nevilleís masticating
of the scenery but soon youíre hoping for Kong to come a-callin'
and fast. The humor that lies in the apesís scenes is basically
in the lousy construction of the suits, and that they give you
an idea of what those Rock Hudson/Doris Day features would have
been like had chimps played the leads. Outside of hardcore monster
movie fans and Linda Hamilton completists itís nothing to go bananas