Cast & Crew
The Kong Collection on DVD
Directed by the unique Frank Agrama before he unleashed the distinctive Dawn of the Mummy, Queen Kong boasts a head-spinning array of British horror starlets in a not-terribly-concealed remake of the 1933 RKO classic, albeit this time with a quivering male (British sex-com regular Robin Askwith as "Ray Fay") in distress at the hands of a huge, lovelorn lady ape. You see, Ray's been brought to the exotic island of Lazanga-Where-They-Do-the-Conga by an enterprising pro-woman filmmaker, Luce Habit (Rula Lenska), along with a host of other power-happy women. Jungle goddess Valerie Leon (Blood from the Mummy's Tomb) decides to make Ray the latest offering to their god, a giant ape, so he's secreted inside a huge birthday cake and served up raw. Of course Queen Kong falls in love and winds up getting carted off to London, where she ascends Big Ben for a silly finish in which her human love object must save her life by preaching Women's Lib through a megaphone.
Stuffed with awful puns both visual and verbal, Queen Kong never rises above the level of purely dopey; it's "ooh, look, boobies!" attitude is typical of the time but still raises a few smiles thanks to its game actresses, including Hammer favorite Linda Hayden improbably cast as a nun. The special effects are deliberately shoddy and unconvincing, though to its credit, this isn't much lower than the big-budget Paramount version one year later (which was responsible for landing this film in legal limbo for decades; the fact that they felt it was worth the trouble is mind-boggling). Funk film music fans will certainly enjoy the score by the Peppers, easily the classiest aspect of the entire production.
One of Retromedia's most heavily outfitted titles, Queen Kong sports an audio commentary with Agrama and the company's guru, Fred Olen Ray; they make for good company and have a lot of amusing observations and stories about the making of the film. The theatrical trailer is also included. The anamorphic transfer looks gorgeous and was derived from the original negative, which probably remained pristine and untouched for many, many years.
Disc two contains a much rougher-looking transfer of Kong Island, an ooga-booga romp from spaghetti western specialist Roberto Mauri. The first third of the film follows the adventurous exploits of swinging single adventurer Burt (peplum regular Brad Harris), who punches and kicks his way through the jungle while doing the mercenary thing in the jungle. He's attacked and left for dead by Albert (Marc Lawrence), a mad scientist-in-training who, it turns out, is developing a mind-controlled ape army for his own nefarious plans. When Burt's companion, miniskirt-clad Diana (Ursula Davis) is kidnapped, Burt cracks the villain's lair and discovers a sexy, stacked jungle girl, Eve (Esmerelda Barros), also known as the legendary Sacred Monkey.
Not unlike an Italian Jerry Warren film, Kong Island boasts neither an island setting nor rampaging giant apes; however, it does pack in enough action, semi-clad flesh, and go-go club antics to keep most viewers awake. The dubbing's atrocious, the camerawork undistinguished, and the story inscrutable; in other words, no wonder it went straight to TV in America. Fortunately for completists, Retromedia also included a longer European cut, Queen of Kong Island, which is slightly letterboxed but visually inferior and contains a few minor sprinkles of T&A omitted for kiddie TV audiences. Ray and his wife, Miss Kim, also introduce the film from a car at a drive-in, a setting for more luxurious than what the film was afforded in real life.
For more information about The Kong Collection, visit Image Entertainment.
by Nathaniel Thompson
The Kong Collection on DVD
Because of legal difficulties with the owners of the copyright on King Kong, this film was never released theatrically.