King Kong has shared the screen with some famous co-stars throughout his cinematic career. Lovely Fay Wray, that most famous of dinosaurs: the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Adrien Brody’s nose, and that other king, one Godzilla, are just a few of the popular personalities the giant gorilla has had the pleasure of working with through the years. But there is one co-star in Kong’s long history who never seems to garner much attention when looking back through the big fella’s filmography. Perhaps it’s due to this player working in the campy Dino De Laurentiis version of KING KONG released in 1976 or even worse, maybe it’s because the poor sap was a stiff, mechanical prop that was the one other monster spotlight in that film. Yes, I’m referring to the poor giant snake that battles Kong in his Skull Island lair in one of the stiffest monster fights in film history.
If I read a bit bitter about this slithery guy, it’s because I struggle with the film he appears in so much. Produced by De Laurentiis for an estimated $24,000,000, the film is chock full of hit-and-miss special effects, including a giant, life-sized mechanical Kong prop that saw about a minute of screen time (Rick Baker in a gorilla suit soaks up most of Kong’s footage). Add to that, and this is what really gets me, there are no dinosaurs in the film! How can one go about remaking KING KONG without any dinosaurs? To me it’s the equivalent of setting STAR WARS anywhere other than space. So what are we left with….
Rolling around on the ground briefly while some guy steals away your girlfriend doesn’t constitute much of a monster battle in my book. No wonder Kong looks so enraged here. Not only has he been saddled with a weak monster fight, but the Dude is whisking away his lady! At least we have Kong ending the battle in a homage to his famous punch-up with the T-Rex in the original version.
So now that I’ve gotten this irritation off my chest, let’s move on and rejoice in the fact that KONG: SKULL ISLAND is currently playing in theaters and is chock full of monster battles. It’s just too bad the execution of this Kong vs. snake tussle was so poorly conceived. Imagine the possibilities!
Tags: Apes, Charles Grodin, Corbin Bernsen, Dino De Laurentiis, Ed Lauter, Jack O'Halloran, Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange, Joe Piscopo, John Agar, John Barry, John Guillermin, John Lone, Lorenzo Semple Jr., Peter Cullen, René Auberjonois, Richard H. Kline, Rick Baker, Snakes