KING KONG (1976)—It’s Always Darkest Before the Dwan

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On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present John Guillermin’s ‘King Kong’ (1976). A remake of the classic RKO production from 1933, Kong ‘76 retains many of the high adventure staples popular in the pulpy 30s: the treacherous island, the perilous climb, and the classic meet cute of blonde bimbo pawn meets giant monkey during a casual ritual sacrifice. But in all its surface similarities, this Kong makes some changes. With references to the porno chic movement, the OPEC oil embargo, primate astrology, real-time bicentennial fireworks, and a slew of full-formed facial hair, there is no doubt that this film was made in 1975. However, this movie is also another film produced by our Blue Velvet (1986) man, Dino De Laurentiis, and as such, Kong ’76 spared no costs in getting things done, becoming one of the most expensive films of its day, boasting a six second near 40 foot animatronic robot, lavish set builds, and the dream team effects efforts of Carlo Rambaldi and Rick Baker (who also happens to play what can only be described as the horniest primate in cinema). In short, although very few people would claim the 76 version as their favorite Kong, this film left its mark in movie history (and not just because it features a brand new-to-the-scene Jessica Lang playing a character named…Dwan).

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