Thursday, September 04, 2008

Kongsploitation review: King Kong Escapes (1967)

Kongsploitation is of course nothing new: the orginal King Kong was almost immediately followed by the far inferior Son of Kong and the not bad at all Mighty Joe Young. But what of the big lad himself? Before he was resurrected for the terrible Dino De Laurentiis 1976 production (and its even worse sequel, King Kong Lives , in 1986), the mighty Toho studios had made the match-up that everyone wanted: King Kong vs Godzilla (1962). Of course, Godzilla is about 20 times bigger than Kong, but who's complaining: Willis O'Brien himself even proposed Kong vs Frankenstein's Monster at one point.

But anyway, on to King Kong Escapes, which finds our furry chum peacefully living on Mondo island (presumably a lot funkier than Skull island), with only the occasional dinosaur to wrestle. Meanwhile, the utter dastard Dr Who (yes, Dr Who) is plotting to mine and sell Element X to the Commies by setting up a mine at the North Pole. Note that the North Pole is now mysteriously solid ground, and not an ice sheet. Dr Who has created a robot King Kong to achieve this task, but soon realises he will need the real thing to finish his mining due to sub-standard construction of robo-kong.

Meanwhile a UN task force led by Commander Carl Nelson (Rhodes Reason - Best.Name.Ever.) and token lady Lieutenant Susan Watson (Linda Miller) steam to Mondo Island to find Kong. Of course, Kong soon falls for Susan and wrestles a dinosaur. Meanwhile Dr Who sets out to catch Kong and enslave him in his mine, At this point Dr Who makes Dr No look like employer of the year: any delay in his commands being carried out result in him hurling the poor engineer out of his office chair so that Who can man the controls himself. Kong soon escapes from the mine, and eventually faces off against the newly restored robo-Kong in Tokyo.

Match stats
Kong: 48ft tall
Robo-kong: 48.5 ft

Kong: strength, driven by love
Robo-kong: hypno-lamp on head, searchlight eyes, and according to Dr Who, 'he never tires' (in fact this is ambiguous: Dr Who has such a great, twisted bad guy accent that he may have said 'he has Hoover tyres', which would help him climb skyscrapers I suppose).

Suffice to say Kong wins the day and then cheerfully murders Who and his henchmen aboard their ship, before wandering back to Mondo island.

Verdict: 3 bananas out of 5, fun special effects and enough great dialogue/fights to keep you happy.

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