King Kong Lives: Where's Dr. Jack Kevorkian when you need him?
You see, it turns out that our bullet-riddled, hard-fallin', pavement-crackin' Big Ol' Boy, King Kong, was only MOSTLY dead, and has merely fallen into a Coma for not only the entire Carter administration, but the Lion's Share of the Reagan years as well. On the dark side, our big boy missed the entire Star Wars Trilogy. On the bright side, he also missed Ishtar. Too bad he didn't sleep through King Kong Lives as well, because as artificial as that premise is, that is the most logical thing in the entire film.
Linda Hamilton (clearly in a bit of a low point in between Terminator movies) brings us Dr. Amy Franklin, a veterinary surgeon with really big hands. She offers up the ridiculous notion that while Kong has had a seven million dollar mechanical heart built for him, she can't install it without a great big blood transfusion. If only they could find a great big ape from whom they might procure great big ape blood.
In a textbook definition of the word "Contrived", at that very annoying moment, jackass explorer Hank Mitchell (Brian Kerwin, who is no Dr. Livingston) literally sits down on the hand of a gigantic female ape who takes a Fay Wray-style shine to him. Wow, that worked out well! The Band is Back Together! Now if they could just get Nigel out of Jail they'd have their drummer, man!
Then, quicker than you can say "TYPE O NEGATIVE", in gushes great big blood, in pops great big heart, and the public goes Apeshit for the Kongolese Kouple! And it's all to bring King Kong out of his Coma. Now, loyal readers... let's think about this and fairly analyze this as any rational human being would. We've got a giant ape who destroys things, like Godzilla on Uppers, drops women to their deaths and wrecks more planes than Chuck Yeager, every time he comes to town! We've got him calm, contained and comatose, but hey, wouldn't it be better if we woke his ass up? Oh, yeah, this is the Reagan Era, man... we've got plenty of prosperity, let's let Kong throw some crap around.
The results of his awakening are predictable.
What you may or may not expect is that the fickle King soon forgets all about Dwan (his blonde love interest from the first flick in the series) and, because he can "smell" (ew!) the female giant from a mile away, he's immediately on to his new girlfriend (she does have bigger boobs, I'll give her that). What follows is actually painful to watch. I mean, I'm trying to be fair here, but sitting through a courtship and mating ritual of a couple of gigantic gorillas is the filmic equivalent to driving past a cattle ranch with a paper mill behind it. What we're really seeing are two men in monkey suits (the female of which has unconvincing, plastic breasts) miming for the camera, batting their eyes and making like a bizarre caricature of the dating game, complete with an exchange of flowers, a gaze up to the moonlight and more expressive hand gestures than Run DMC in their prime. It really, really sucks. The gorilla suits are almost as convincing as Jim Belushi's Halloween costume in the finale of Trading Places (though not quite as funny) and while they do manage to get some varied, yet stupid, facial expressions out of the masks, for the most part I can sum up how believable those faces were in two words: "Doctor Zaius"!
I'd like to tell you that this is as far as it goes, but believe it or not, this is only the agonizing half-way point, which made me imagine that old Dino was screaming "No, we have to put more stupid lines and mind-insulting scenes and ridiculous scenarios in this one! The first one we made was stupid, but it made lots of money! Come on, everyone! LET'S GET SILLY!" I almost wonder at times if this was Dino's version of The Producers in which he intended a flop to reap insurance rewards.
The only thing that kept me going at this point was the incredibly brief shot of both Linda Hamilton's breasts, visible only for a split second as she hops naked out of her sleeping bag. So there, I've said it, there are two good things about this movie. I kept watching in the hopes that she'd show us the firmness twins again, but it didn't happen. They bounce into glorious view and then hide forever.
Instead, what we get an interminable montage of unnecessary scenes, reminiscent of the worst moments of comic relief from Superman III, only without old Rich P. to keep this one afloat! Scene after ridiculous scene floats by in seemingly no particular order during the last half of this air biscuit, numbing the audience until the final arm-twisting sequence that had me reaching, with quivering fingers, for my store-brand knock-off of Mylanta. There's more segment cohesion in a Police Academy flick than in this monster of a monster movie! This might be tolerable if any of it was at least logical, but hark, remember in the 1976 King Kong, when the fifty foot ape evades the entire US Military, the NYPD and Marion Barry by simply hiding behind a building or jumping into the East River? Well, picture this: In King Kong Lives, our big-ass beast actually fakes his own death and goes into hiding for nine months! Lord help me, I am not kidding. If only they made giant fedoras, fifty foot trench coats and enormous sunglasses, he'd have probably blended in to just any crowd!
It will come as no surprise that this one was helmed by 1976 King Kong director John Guillermin or that he was supplemented by un-credited co-director Charles McCracken (of whose credits, King Kong Lives is the only one). I wonder if Guillermin just wasn't silly enough this time, forcing Dino to replace him with a full-on clown? I don't know. Anyway, it might, however, surprise you that this Razzie Award Nominee was the product of the writer of The Legend of Bagger Vance and the co-Writer of Alien. Yep, this one is credited to the pens of Steven Pressfield and Ronald Shusett, who most certainly must share in the blame for this debacle! Incidentally, nine years later Pressfield wrote 1995's Separate Lives! I wonder if that's a sequel! You thought he was dead at the foot of the World Trade Center, but no... SEPARATE LIVES!
I have to tell you, I tried like mad to like this movie or to find something remotely redeeming herein, but I'm not sure the producers, writers, directors, best boy grips or even caterers even cared this time. I will say that Linda Hamilton does her level best to convincingly deliver the brain-shanking lines that they gave to both her and to Brian Kerwin. I can't lay this at their feet, but folks, when even the erratic John Ashton can't take his lines seriously, you know there is some form of cancer in the script, am I right? Needless to say the real "stars" here are those two fink gorillas, who actually recieve top billing in the closing credits. "King Kong" now embellishes the resume of Peter Elliott, while "Lady Kong" (I shit you not) is credited to George Yiasoumi whose miming of cartoon love and grunting labor pains probably caused both Marcel Marceau and Marian C. Cooper to roll over in their respective graves at the same time.
I tried and tried to like this movie. I tried to say how hard they at least tried to deliver a passable product, or at least make it commercially viable (it made less than Five Million at the B.O.(!)). I tried real hard, but King Kong Lives is a giant turd. Yes, the film about two brobdignagian, smelly, hairy apes having sex gets a Dog! It gives me no pleasure to do this, Linda. None! I'll be nice, though. If I got a bunch of friends together and we all got really drunk and Jamie put on his best sarcasm voice and Coy promised not to keep trying to kiss us on the lips and James was nice and showered and Chris wouldn't ask us all about sex with our ex-girlfriends and Neil was only a little high and Mike didn't bring his woman or his dogs and Andrew wasn't dead... then, with all those prerequisites as satisfied as a chubby-chaser at a Southern buffet, then we could mock it like the basis of a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode. DAMN IT! All right, I'm closing this one here. There appears to be a gigantic primate peering into my office window and looking angry. I'm not too worried though because I can see where his mask connects with his chest-piece, and so at least I'll die laughing!