Official filmography 3
King Kong (1933). The original, classic film. Remembered for its pioneering special effects using stop-motion models and evocative story. Considered by some to be the greatest motion picture of all time.
Son of Kong (1933). A sequel released the same year, it concerns a return expedition to Skull Island that discovers Kong’s albino son.
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). A film produced by Toho Studios in Japan. It brought the titular characters to life (the first time for both characters to be in a film in color) via the process of suitmation. However the use of suitmation for King Kong aroused bitter hatred from fans of King Kong towards the horrid look of the Kong suit and the fact that Kong had been brought to life in this fashion at all.
Promotional poster for the 2005 version of King Kong.King Kong Escapes (1967). Another Toho film in which Kong faces both a mechanical double, dubbed Mechani-Kong, and a giant theropod dinosaur known as Gorosaurus (who would appear in Toho’s Destroy All Monsters the following year).
King Kong (1976) A remake by film producer Dino De Laurentiis and director John Guillermin. Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges starred. The film was generally panned by critics at the time, but its reputation has improved with time, and it was eventually a commercial success. Even at the time of release, however, several prominent and well-respected critics such as Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert applauded the de Laurentiis version. It also won an Oscar for special effects.
King Kong Lives (1986). Starring Linda Hamilton, a sequel by the same production company as the 1976 film which involves Kong surviving his fall from the sky and requiring a coronary operation.
King Kong (2005). A Universal Pictures remake of the original by New Zealand director Peter Jackson, best known for directing the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The most recent incarnation of Kong is also the longest, running three hours and seven minutes.
Late in 2005, the BBC and Hollywood trade papers reported that a 3D stereoscopic version of the 2005 film was being created from the animation files, and live actors digitally enhanced for 3D display. This may be just an elaborate 3D short for Universal Studios Theme Park, or a digital 3D version for general release in 2006.
A novelization of the original film was published in December 1932, as part of the film’s advance marketing. The novel was credited to Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper, although it was in fact written by Delos W. Lovelace. Apparently Cooper was the key creative influence. In an interview, comic book author Joe DeVito explains:
“From what I know, Edgar Wallace, a famous writer of the time, died very early in the process. Little if anything of his ever appeared in the final story, but his name was retained for its salability … King Kong was Cooper’s creation, a fantasy manifestation of his real life adventures. As many have mentioned before, Cooper was Carl Denham. His actual exploits rival anything Indiana Jones ever did in the movies.”
This conclusion about Wallace’s contribution agrees with The Making of King Kong, by Orville Goldner and George E. Turner (1975). In a diary entry from 1932, Wallace wrote: “I am doing a super-horror story with Merian Cooper, but the truth is it is much more his story than mine … I shall get much more credit out of the picture than I deserve if it is a success, but as I shall be blamed by the public if it’s a failure, that seems fair” (p. 58). Wallace died of pneumonia complicated by diabetes on February 10, 1932, and Cooper later said, “Actually, Edgar Wallace didn’t write any of Kong, not one bloody word… I’d promised him credit and so I gave it to him” (p. 59).
The few differences exist in the novel, as it reflects an earlier draft of the script that became the final shooting script.
The original publisher was Grosset & Dunlap. Paperback editions by Bantam (U.S.) and Corgi (U.K.) came out in the 1960s, and it has since been republished by Penguin and Random House.
In 1933, Mystery Magazine published a King Kong serial under the named of Walter F. Ripperger. This is unrelated to the 1932 novel.
The King Kong Show (1966). In this cartoon series, the famous giant ape befriends the Bond family, with whom he goes on various adventures, fighting monsters, robots, mad scientists and other threats. Produced by Rankin/Bass, the animation was provided in Japan by Toei Animation, making this the very first anime series to be commissioned right out of Japan by an American company. This was also the cartoon that resulted in the production of Toho’s Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (originally planned as a Kong film) and King Kong Escapes.
Related films and shows
A rare photo of the lost film King Kong Appears in Edo.The premise of a giant gorilla brought to the United States for entertainment purposes, and subsequently wreaking havoc, was recycled in Mighty Joe Young, (1949, remade in 1998).
King Kong bears some similarities with an earlier effort by special effects head Willis O’Brien, The Lost World (1925), in which dinosaurs are found living on an isolated plateau. Scenes from a failed O’Brien project, Creation, were cannibalized for the 1933 Kong. Creation was also about a group of people stumbling into an enviroment where prehistoric creatures have survived extinction.
King Kong also inspired a 1998 animated feature, The Mighty Kong, which starred Jodi Benson and Dudley Moore.
Kong: The Animated Series. An unofficial animated production set after the events of the original film. “Kong” is cloned by a female scientist.
A direct-to-DVD movie based on the 2001 cartoon has been released to try and cash in on the 2005 movie, called Kong: King of Atlantis.
Other similar films include the Korean A*P*E, the Hong Kong made The Mighty Peking Man, the British Konga and Queen Kong, and the American Mighty Gorga.
A little-known Japanese clone (known as 3 Japanese King Kong, or Wasei Kingu Kongu , featuring an all-Japanese cast and produced by the Shochiku Kinema company was also released in 1933.
King Kong Appears in Edo (1938) (Edo ni arawareta Kingu Kongu). An unofficial and enigmatic Japanese-made monster/period piece by company Zensho Kinema in which King Kong attacks medieval Edo (modern Tokyo), and also Japan’s first kaiju (giant monster) film. Although inaccurate to its historical setting, some Caligari-esque expressionistic buildings were added for Kong to climb. The film has been lost since its theatrical run in 1938, but rare photos available in books in Japan prove this film’s existence. Fuminori Ohashi, who would go on to create the suit for the titular monster in Godzilla (1954), created the special effects for this film.
King Kong has been parodied many times in film, television and literature.
One well-known satire is by British author Terry Pratchett, whose book Moving Pictures climaxes with a giant woman carrying a screaming ape up a tall tower.
The television series Duck Tales parodies King Kong in two episodes.
In the episode Attack of the Fifty Foot Webby (itself a parody of Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman), when Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Bubba and Webby travel to Africa in search of the elusive long tailed gorilla. They reach a jungle where everything grows larger, to to the influence of a magic spring. Their chased by giant insects. Later, Webby accidently drinks the water, grows to fifty feet. The end of the episode features Webby carrying the ape (who she rescued from a ring master and the Beagle Boys to the top of a Duckburg skyscraper, and falling off (just before she shrinks, bounces off some canvas, and reaches the ground).
In Ducky Horror Picture Show, in which a convention of monsters show up, Ping Pong is a giant ape that climbs to the top of the tallest building in Duckburg, Scrooge’s Money Bin.
A popular television spoof was the segment ‘King Homer’ from The Simpsons episode “Treehouse of Horror III”, in which the story was retold featuring Simpsons characters, with Homer as Kong, Marge as Ann Darrow and Mr. Burns as the Carl Denham analogues. The spoof follows the plot of the 1933 film closely, however it ends with Marge marrying King Homer after he collapses in exhaustion, failing to climb beyond the first story of a tall building. The film was referenced again on The Simpsons in the episode “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love,” where Mr. Burns captures the Loch Ness Monster and brings him back to America to entertain an audience; however, instead of the Monster going berserk during its debut, Burns himself is startled by the flash photography and causes the carnage.
In the 2005 film Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the giant were-rabbit grabs Lady Tottington and leaps onto a tall building.
Dav Pilkey also parodied the movie in the book Kat Kong.
‘Kitten Kong’ was a 1971 episode of the BBC comedy series The Goodies, in which a fluffy white kitten was enlarged to super-size. Some surprisingly good special effects enabled the kitten to destroy several famous landmarks, including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Post-Office Tower, before reverting to normal.
The film character was the inspiration for the 1981 video game Donkey Kong and subsequent spin-offs, in which the eponymous ape climbs a huge structure after kidnapping a woman, as in the film. Shigeru Miyamoto intended the name ‘Donkey Kong’ to mean “stubborn gorilla.” MCA/Universal attempted to sue Nintendo for copyright infringement when the game became a hit, but ended up paying Nintendo $1.8 million in damages instead when it was discovered that King Kong was in fact a public domain character, and that MCA knew it when they filed the lawsuit.
A King Kong game was produced by Tiger Games for the Atari 2600, sporting a blue casing. The game is somewhat rare.
The Rampage games by Atari/Midway also feature a King Kong wanna-be, named George, as well as a Godzilla wanna-be and other monsters.
King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch is a Famicom action/adventure games very loosely based on the 1986 movie King Kong Lives. This game was developed by Konami and it disregarded the human characters and other plot elements of the movie. King Kong was presented in a quest to save his female counterpart from the clutches of gigantic robots.
King Kong makes a special appearance as a playable character in Konami Wai Wai World (also known as Konami World). Interestingly, King Kong does not appear in his usual giant size but rather as a 10 foot tall gorilla. The story of the game mentions King Kong being shrunk down in size after being captured by an army of robots, which directly relates to the game King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch.
War of the Monsters is a 3D fighting game developed by Incognito Entertainment for Sony PlayStation 2 where the characters are various giant monsters inspired by films. One of the monsters is a giant ape named Congar, an obvious King Kong rip-off. It also features a Godzilla rip-off called Togera. A bonus mode will all also unlock a secret character named Metal Congar, an obvious reference to Mecha Kong.
Peter Jackson’s King Kong is a multi-platform video game based on the 2005 film developed and published by Ubisoft.