And You Call Yourself a AScientist!

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KING KONG LIVES (1986)

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"Only one thing can save Kong now."
"What’s that?"
"A miracle."

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King Kong LivesDirector: John Guillermin

Starring: Linda Hamilton, Brian Kerwin, John Ashton, Peter Michael Goetz, Frank Maraden, Jimmie Ray Weeks, Peter Elliott, George Yiasoumi

Screenplay: Steven Pressfield and Ronald Shusett

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Synopsis: Ten years after being shot down in New York, the giant ape Kong lies comatose at the Atlanta Institute in Georgia. Surgeon Amy Franklin (Linda Hamilton) warns her colleagues that the ape will die without a blood transfusion. In Borneo, adventurer Hank Mitchell (Brian Kerwin) discovers a second giant ape, a female. Trying to cash in, Mitchell offers his ape to the Institute. While Dr Ingersoll (Peter Michael Goetz) is eager to accept, to prevent rival institutes having the creature, Amy argues that they cannot risk having a female around Kong. She is overruled. When Mitchell arrives, Lady Kong is taken to the Institute and has blood taken. Kong then undergoes surgery, and an artificial heart installed in place of his damaged real one. The operation is pronounced a success. Mitchell attends the Institute’s celebration, but notices Amy’s absence. He is told she is with Kong. In the gigantic operating theatre, Kong regains consciousness. Almost immediately, he scents the female ape, who is being kept temporarily in a warehouse a mile away. As Kong becomes agitated, Amy sedates him to prevent strain on his heart. She then confronts Ingersoll at the party, demanding that the facility intended to house Lady Kong be completed as soon as possible. Moving the female ape proves extremely difficult. As she roars and struggles against the netting, Kong hears her, and tears his way out of his own enclosure. As he breaks into the warehouse, armed guards try to shoot him, but Mitchell rams his car into theirs. Kong picks up the female ape and carries her away…. The army is called in to deal with the situation, and the officer in charge, Colonel Nevitt (John Ashton), warns that any civilians entering the search area will be shot. Nevertheless, both Amy and Mitchell set out to search for the animals, the two eventually joining forces. Meeting an army roadblock, Amy turns her 4WD into the woods. When the track becomes impassable, she and Mitchell get out and hike. Disaster nearly strikes when a wooden bridge gives way, but Mitchell grabs Amy before she can be swept away. Amy, however, is more concerned over the equipment she is carrying, including a unit that can monitor and adjust Kong’s heart. At that moment, the two hear the apes and track them down. Amy checks Kong’s heart: it is fine. As night falls, Amy and Mitchell make camp, ultimately sharing a sleeping-bag. When they wake the next morning, there is no sign of Kong. Suddenly, Nevitt’s forces appear. Lady Kong is gassed and falls unconscious. Kong is located and pursued, eventually being trapped atop a cliff. As Nevitt moves in for the kill, Kong leaps into the river below and is swept away. As Amy and Mitchell watch in horror, Kong strikes a jagged rock head-first. Blood fills the water, and Kong sinks beneath the surface. Amy checks the monitor: there is no sign of a heartbeat….

Comments: Strange what stature tragedy can lend to the most trivial of things. A couple of weeks ago, a group of us were discussing what we didn’t expect to see on our television screens for quite some time, given recent events. The usual suspects were tossed around: plane crash, or hijacking films; any of the Die Hard films; The Towering Inferno (which, oddly enough, was on TV here only a few weeks ago); the episode of The Simpsons where they go to New York. Then I suggested, "King Kong."

They looked at me, puzzled. (They’re a mainstream-y bunch.) "The re-make of King Kong," I repeated, "where instead of climbing the Empire State Building, Kong climbs the Twin Towers."

There was a silence you could have cut with a knife. I doubt that any mention of Dino de Laurentiis’s hubristic venture had ever before been received with such respect. Or ever will again.

I had seen King Kong Lives before, and recalled it as one of those films that simply stagger you with the sheer idiocy of their premise. What I didn’t remember was that it opened with the final five minutes of the previous film, which was not something I really needed to see again just now. But after those few moments of squirmy discomfort, the sequel settles into its routine, displaying those qualities that simultaneously make it such a hoot and such a chore to watch. As with its predecessor, the main problem with King Kong Lives is that it is unable to settle on a tone. Some of it is played out deadly seriously, some of it for laughs. Unfortunately, in both cases the writers got their wires crossed. The "serious" parts of the film are hilariously funny; while the "comedy" is just painful.

The opening scene – the real opening scene – is an absolute riot, as we realise that the film asks us to believe that since his fall to the streets of New York, Kong has been in a coma; and has been kept alive on life support at the "Atlanta Institute", Georgia, by a team of doctors and scientists led by surgeon Amy Franklin. (I put "Atlanta Institute" in inverted commas because, if you listen closely, you will hear every character in the film call it the Atlantic Institute.) Kong is kept in a huge, presumably sterile operating theatre, with all of the equipment the usual stuff reproduced in super-size. (That they have these things after ten years is, I suppose, credible, but I would like to know how they treated Kong when they first got hold of him.) But things are looking bleak for Kong, as we learn from Dr Franklin herself. Enter Linda Hamilton, in easily the film’s most embarrassing role, as she is required to react to everything with a dead straight face. When we first see Amy, she is gowned and masked, leaving only her eyes exposed. This proves to be highly appropriate, as most of Hamilton’s "performance" consists almost entirely of eye-acting: she is by turns wide-eyed, starry-eyed and teary-eyed, with occasional instances of her eyes flashing angrily. Right now she’s teary-eyed, as her star patient has taken a turn for the worse. Amy reports this to her colleagues, Dr Benson Hughes, Chief of Primate Research, and Dr Ingersoll. Ingersoll’s position is never identified, but he is clearly the - boo, hiss! - Institute’s book-juggler, the one who wants Kong revived not for science, or love, but for money. Boo, hiss! Gradually, the film’s astonishing premise is revealed: Kong is to be revived by the installation of a gigantic artificial heart!

Okay – I’ve got to say this sometime, so I might as well say it now: (i) who is paying for this work? – and (ii) what is the point? If the writers of films like this knew anything about how difficult it can be to get even practical, worthwhile research funded, perhaps they’d be a bit less casual about what gets funded onscreen. At least they could have written in a line about the work being paid for by a rich eccentric with a thing for monkeys.

Oh, well, excuse me. The work does have a point after all! It is to "establish the scientific pre-eminence of the Atlantic Institute" and to prove it "the equal of Harvard or Yale". Hell, yeah! Who needs academic excellence when you’ve got a giant gorilla with a plastic ticker? But these plans – and ten years’ work and expenditure – seem about to come to nothing, as Amy announces that the operation cannot go ahead without Kong receiving a transfusion – and that there is no other species whose blood is compatible. Another of the surgical team chips in here, explaining that Kong has been comatose too long, and that his "blood line" [sic.? – try as I might, I couldn’t figure out what was said here – it sounded like "blood vine"] is tainted. Ingersoll goes ballistic, and Hughes (who obviously has a thing for Amy) has to intervene. Amy tears up again, and we get the groan-worthy "Kong needs a miracle" exchange quoted above. Unbelievably, Amy’s colleagues treat her platitudinous announcement with the utmost solemnity.

But, after all, this is Da Movies, where miracles are a dime a dozen. We cut now to an unidentified jungle, where professional adventurer Hank Mitchell is dragging a nervous team of mules through some undergrowth. The Mitchell character is a ridiculously anachronistic stereotype. At one point, Amy scornfully refers to him as "Indiana Jones", but what he really is, is a cut-price Han Solo - a hard-bitten cynic redeemed by love and a cause to fight for. When we meet him, Mitchell’s whereabouts are a bit of a mystery. Firstly, he reassures his mules by telling them that "it’s so hot, even the jaguars are asleep". His next move is to clear a reticulated python from his path. As events transpire, this latter geographical marker proves fairly accurate, as Mitchell is supposed to be in Borneo. Deciding against battling the heat, our hero beds down in some bushes, but no sooner has he got comfortable than those bushes start to move – and he finds himself evading the grasp of a gigantic female ape. Proving either that he is really short-sighted, or really, really bad at biology, Mitchell exclaims, "Whoa, boy! Whoa, big fella!" as he runs through the jungle. Just as it seems that he will be caught, a group of "natives" with blow pipes rise up from the bushes (!) and fill Lady Kong (as she will soon be known) full of darts. Mitchell intervenes, not wanting her killed, and the ape falls unconscious. Cut to Mitchell on the line to the Institute, and playing that establishment off against Harvard. Incredibly, Ingersoll falls for this transparent ploy, and is about to close the deal when Amy, overhearing the word "her", objects that they cannot risk having a female ape around Kong, not with his heart condition, and all. We then get this film’s most unforgettable line, as Amy further asserts, "We’re not lancing a haemorrhoid here, we’re transplanting a heart!" Amazingly, Ingersoll is unswayed by this powerful argument, and closes the deal with Mitchell. The next thing we know, Mitchell and Lady Kong are landing in Atlanta. All of the Kong films tend to skip lightly over such matters as quarantine restrictions, and how an ape that size is actually moved, but King Kong Lives is unique inasmuch as having done the skipping, it then goes out of its way to draw attention to the fact. Met at the airport by the Institute hierarchy and a swarm of reporters, Mitchell responds to the question, "How did you get the ape from the jungle?" with "I left a trail of bananas". Amy and Mitchell are introduced and greet each other coolly, she resenting his "publicity seeking", he that she just wants Lady Kong for her blood. From this we understand (i) that Mitchell’s reformation has commenced; and (ii) that Amy and Mitchell will probably be making hot monkey love before very much longer – if you’ll pardon the expression.

The film’s comic highlight follows: Kong’s operation. I’ve said it before, but I feel it’s necessary to reiterate here that this entire sequence is played out with utter, utter seriousness. (Watching, you can’t help but wonder – what were those poor actors thinking while they were doing this!?) Amy leads her team into the operating theatre. They are gloved, gowned and masked but, incredibly, not goggled! The operation starts as Amy swings a gigantic buzzsaw over Kong’s chest and makes "the incision". We now see why she didn’t bother to wear goggles: though generously splashed with blood (and bone, you’d think) on her gown and mask, not the tiniest drop touches her exposed skin. Most orthopaedic surgeons should be so lucky. Then we get a shot of the various medical types scrabbling in Kong’s chest cavity, muttering the usual words and phrases (no-one says "STAT!", though). A giant crane then swings into position, and lifts Kong’s heart out of his chest. A second crane swings the artificial heart into position. Just at the very last moment, a cable snaps and the heart swings around dangerously. The team steadies it, and then there’s a medical crisis as a clamp slips. More cries of "Clamp! Clamp!" and "Suction!" fill the air, and finally the heart is lowered into position. Instead of watching the installation, we get a pan shot of the people watching. Mitchell’s there, of course, and we understand from his expression that he’s reassessing his opinion of Amy.

As the operation is pronounced a success, wild celebrations break out across the campus, as the students enjoy the fact that they now attend an institution that is the equal of Harvard or Yale, without any of them having to do a lick more work. (One of the students carries a sign reading "You Kong, Me Fay" – odd considering that in this universe, Fay Wray presumably doesn’t exist.) At the faculty party, a tuxedoed Mitchell is explaining his theory that Borneo and Kong Island were originally parts of the same land mass. Which is fine, except that Kong Island was small, and permanently wreathed in fog, and consequently not on the maps, while Borneo is the third largest island in the world with a population of over a million, and you’d really think that someone would have noticed a fifty-foot ape wandering around before now. Mitchell sees Hughes, and bounds across to ask him where Amy is. She, dedicated doctor that she is, is still with her patient, who at just that moment begins to stir. His eyes meet Amy’s, and hers of course fill with tears. "Welcome back, Kong!" Kong, however, isn’t too interested in making small-talk. He’s already scented the female ape, who is being kept temporarily in a converted warehouse about a mile away. Kong immediately starts jumping up and down and trying to get out, then stops and clutches his chest. Amy’s colleague warns her "He’s occluding!" and she has him pumped full of sedatives (ah, the ape, not the colleague). She then storms out of the facility, and storms into the party. There, Mitchell is regaling Hughes and Ingersoll with a "humorous" anecdote, of which we (thankfully) only hear the punchline: "What it turned out was, that’s their word for ‘mule’!" Hahahahaha!! (Or as Jack Thompson would say: "Now we can all get some sleep!") Ignoring Mitchell’s presence, Amy confronts Ingersoll and tells him that the female must be moved ASAP. He agrees to have the work on her permanent enclosure expedited. Amy then storms out again, and Mitchell goes after her, and after some "Aw, shucks"-ing, he tells her how great he thought she did during the operation. This induces "gooey-eyes" rather than "flashing-eyes" in the good doctor, and she drives off mollified.

Lady Kong’s enclosure is completed, but the attempt to move her is disastrously handled (chiefly because she won’t eat her drugged food, and Amy won’t let them shoot her with a tranquiliser dart. Why? IITS.) In the operating theatre, Kong comes out of his own sedation, and immediately escapes. (He stands bolt upright in the process, and we get our first reminder of how horribly un-apelike the Kong suit is.) As Lady Kong howls and struggles with the net in which she has been trapped, Kong smashes his way into the warehouse. He and Lady Kong freeze. The film’s "love theme" swells on the soundtrack. The apes’ eyes meet across the crowded room. They smile at one another….

And no, I am not making this up.

A panic ensues, with lotsa car crashes and explosions. Some army guys are there (why?), and they start shooting at Kong (why?). Mitchell runs a car into their jeep, sending them all flying through the air (an action that has no later repercussions). Kong tears Lady Kong free, sweeps her up into his arms, and carries her off into the sunset.

And no, I am not making this up.

Believe it or not, it is at this point that King Kong Lives gets really dumb – and irritating – and boring. The problem of the apes on the loose (although why they’re considered such a problem is never explained; they’re not hurting anything or anyone) is handed over to the army. And in charge is Colonel Nevitt – who proves to be a total raving psychotic. Surprise!

Look, what is this, anyway? Why are these guys always depicted as slavering, sociopathic morons? And is there any lazier, more overworked cinematic cliché than this? Anyway…. Naturally, Nevitt’s first action is to threaten to shoot any civilian who "crosses my perimeter". This is of course the cue for Amy and Mitchell to cross it. The two set out independently, but soon join forces. The apes, we learn, are inhabiting an area of land known as "Honeymoon Ridge" (and no, I’m not making that up either), and we get an extended sequence that is just plain embarrassing, as Kong and Lady Kong go through a "courtship" ritual consisting of such well-known ape behaviours as winking, simpering, fluttering eyelashes, and the ever-popular "pretend to yawn and stretch so I can put my arm around you". (I can only wonder once again - what were those poor actors thinking while they were doing this!?) Meanwhile, Amy and Mitchell run into an army roadblock. Amy pulls her 4WD off the road as the soldiers fire – and they are not aiming at the tyres. (Um – is this legal?) They drive as far as they can, then prepare to hike. Amy stuffs a large metal case into her backpack, prompting the inquiry "That your makeup kit?" from Mitchell. (He’s lucky she’s distracted, or she might have treated that with the contempt it deserves – i.e. a lifted knee.) The case is, Amy explains gravely, a "cardiac monitoring unit", which will allow her to assess Kong’s new heart and, if necessary, adjust its function – but only (as we learn later) if she can get up close and personal. The two set out, crossing one of the most artistically devised "rickety bridges" I have ever seen: one very obviously constructed of good quality wood, but with lots of "gaps". Mitchell crosses safely, but the railing "gives way" under Amy’s weight and she is nearly swept away. Mitchell hauls her up and, after she assures herself of the cardiac unit’s safety, she treats the gash on his arm, giving the two of them a chance to exchange "significant glances". (Gee, just like the apes!) Soaked and cold, Amy announces her intention of changing clothes – and strips off her jumper without another word, proving to be naked beneath it. (Don’t get your hopes up: she has her back to both Mitchell and the camera. Although if you have very, very good eyesight, or a very, very good pause button, you can get a brief glimpse of Linda’s boobs a bit later on. Or you could just watch The Terminator again.) The two of them (Amy and Mitchell, I mean, not….) then hear the apes and track them down. Amy checks Kong’s heart and announces, "Incredible! After all that exertion, his heart is actually stronger!" Watching the apes, Amy gets all teary-eyed. Mitchell starts speculating about a reserve in the Borneo highlands, where the apes could live, safely and happily – which turns Amy starry-eyed instead. The two then make camp. It transpires that only Mitchell brought a sleeping-bag, and the next time we see them, Amy is warmly bundled up, and Mitchell is freezing his butt off at a respectful distance.

Look, I’m sorry, but I’m not having this. First of all, in my book, if Amy didn’t have enough sense to bring a sleeping-bag, then Amy gets to freeze her butt off. Secondly – it is freezing – so just share the damn thing, will you? But no. This way, you see, Mitchell gets to prove what a gentleman he is beneath that rough exterior, while Amy gets to prove that she is not only a doctor, she is also a woman by inviting him in. "You sure about this?" he inquires as he slides in with her. "We’re primates, too," Amy offers (yeah, but some of us are more primate-ive than others) and there is the inevitable Fade To Black.

When Mitchell wakes the next morning, Kong has gone. He tells Amy, who leaps out of the sleeping-bag (Boob Alert!). Nevitt’s forces then show up (and where have they been all this time?) and start dropping gas bombs on Lady Kong. (Great gas: no sooner has it hit than Nevitt and his men all pull their gas masks off!) At the same time, they start attacking Kong with bullets and grenades and flame-throwers. Why? Why are they capturing one ape and trying to kill the other? (We never get an explanation, but they spend the rest of the film doing it.) Amy and Mitchell try to escape here, but are finally rounded up. (Not shot? I’m disappointed), while Nevitt starts screaming hysterically at his men to "Kill that hairy son of a bitch!" (Even by the usual standards, this guy is nuts.) Kong is finally driven up the side of a cliff, and hurls himself off the edge to escape his pursuers. Landing in the river, he is swept along by the current and finally goes head-first into a large boulder. He sinks, and the water turns red. Amy grabs her cardiac unit, and sees the signal stop…. She goes teary-eyed.

Time passes in leaps and bounds now. We learn that Lady Kong is being kept in an underground pen at the army’s "Primate Holding Division". (Hmm….does that get a lot of use, I wonder? Or maybe it’s where the army keeps all of its psycho officers, when they’re not out frothing at the mouth and getting bad screenwriters out of various sticky situations.) The question of why Lady Kong is under army guard remains unanswered. Isn’t she the Institute’s problem? And didn’t they just finish building a proper enclosure for her? So why are no less that 104 soldiers stuck with looking after her? And if she’s at the bottom of a well-like pen, what are those 104 soldiers actually doing? (Oh, yeah: and if, as we’re told, "no-one ever goes near her", why hasn’t she drowned in her own faeces by now? [I’m sorry. I’m a biologist. My mind always works in those channels.]) It transpires that Amy and her colleagues have spent the preceding months trying to get permission to see her, and finally get an order signed by "the Secretary of Defense himself!" A sight of this piece of paper sends Nevitt into the usual frenzy, but he is obliged to let Amy and Hughes in. They find Lady Kong hunched in a corner, moaning softly. "Why the hell is that monkey crying?" Nevitt snarls. "I’ll tell you why," Amy says. "For Kong!" "She’s grieving," Hughes offers, but Amy disagrees. "No. She senses something. Kong’s alive." The others – barely – refrain from laughing in her face. Amy then insists, "I feel it, too!" (Oh, great. Not content with giving Lady Kong "feminine intuition", they’ve got Amy having "feminine intuition" about the ape’s "feminine intuition"!) Nevitt then chucks the visitors out (and who can blame him?), and Hughes tries to convince Amy that Kong must be dead, as he couldn’t possibly be meeting his daily protein requirements. But Amy remains stubborn, chiefly in view of the absence of a corpse. And where is Kong? He’s down on the bayou – chasin’ down a hoodoo there…. Well, not really. Mostly what he’s doing is munching on alligators (the sudden depletion in the population of which, you’d think someone would have noticed).

After some more time passes, Mitchell arrives back from Borneo, where he has been negotiating the Institute’s purchase of a highland reserve for the apes – "for only a million three". Amy then breaks the news about Lady Kong: that’s no-one’s been near her for months. Mitchell flips out and tries to break into the "Primate Holding Division", only to have the stuffing beaten out of him by two good ol’ boy soldiers (who, naturally, sport the film’s first southern accents, despite its setting). Meanwhile, Kong’s wanderings have taken him close enough to Lady Kong to hear her moans. Deciding that that’s all he can stands, he can’t stands no more, Kong comes out of hiding and heads for her prison. The next sequence is played primarily for laughs [sic.], so with your permission, I’ll be brief. Kong stomps a sportscar, from which two wanky teenagers just escape. "My dad’s gunna kill me!" Kong strides across a golf-course and gets bonked with a ball. Kong peers through a window as a boy is complimenting his girlfriend on having "the biggest, brownest eyes". Kong generally bothers the inhabitants of a small town, and much car-crash and shotgun humour ensues. Nevitt and his goon squad finally show up, only to find hoards of drunken rednecks pouring into the woods in search of the ape. ("Those guns loaded?" a soldier demands obtusely of one redneck. "Yup, an’ so’re we!" is the inevitable response. Yuck, yuck, yuck!) One group of hunters does manage to find Kong, and dynamites some rocks to trap him. They then torture him with a burning piece of wood from their fire. (I don’t think I can do better than to quote the illustrious Dr Freex here: under what circumstances would this be deemed a good idea?) Kong pulls himself free and some major disarrangement of the rednecks follows. One is torn in half, another swallowed whole. Amy and Mitchell finally catch up with Kong (how do they always manage to get there before the army? - oh, yeah – feminine intuition), and find the remains of the hunters. Mitchell surmises how they trapped the ape, adding, as he picks up a bit of burnt wood, "And then they had their fun with him!" (Which I guess is an example of masculine intuition.) Amy tries to monitor Kong’s heart. The news ain’t good – and it gets worse as Kong strides towards her and stomps the cardiac unit before Amy has time to "adjust" his heart. Now, Amy announces (going teary-eyed) "he won’t last a day".

We then waste an irritating amount of time with Nevitt’s screaming and Things That Go Bang. When night falls, Amy and Mitchell break into the Primate Holding Division again, knocking out the two soldiers left on guard. (I guess the other 102 were busy.) They approach Lady Kong, and Mitchell gapes in horror at her distended belly. "What have they done to her?’ he demands. (Well, I told you he was bad at biology.) "They haven’t done anything!" announces Amy, going both teary-eyed and starry-eyed. "She’s pregnant!" They then set about getting her out of there. However, one of the soldiers regains consciousness and throws a spanner in the works (almost literally). But just as failure seems inevitable, Kong arrives – and tears open the roof of Lady Kong’s pen. As Kong reaches in to lift his mate out, Lady Kong snatches up Mitchell, and he too is carried away. (This is kind of interesting. Obviously, Brian Kerwin was made so very blond for this film to re-work the standard Kong mythology. However, while the blonde white woman/black male ape situation seems fraught with all sorts of sexual and cultural implications, once the sexes are reversed, the situation ends up being treated as entirely comedic.) Lady Kong does eventually put Mitchell down, chiefly because she’s got other things on her mind – or at least abdomen. The two apes invade a barn-dance/family reunion (allowing one hick to say to another, "You never know who’s gunna show up at these things!"), and Lady Kong collapses on a barn, moaning and clutching her belly. Suddenly Nevitt et al. show up and start blasting away again. Kong shields his mate, and cops a barrage in the chest (a nasty scene recalling the end of King Kong). He remains standing long enough to pulverise all the attacking soldiers – and takes particular care with his disposal of Nevitt, lining him up and then smashing him with one clenched fist. (Actually, this "effect" is badly done, as Kong’s fist doesn’t land precisely where Nevitt was.) His vengeance complete, Kong keels over – not from the bullets, but from a heart attack. We then cut back and forth between Lady Kong’s labour pains and Kong’s death throes.

As Amy and Mitchell invade the scene, we see the Kongs’ offspring – which in defiance of all ape biology is immediately active and self-sufficient. (And clean. And dry. And lacking an umbilical cord.) The humans, both teary-eyed, urge Lady Kong to show Kong his son, which she does. In a scene meant to be endlessly moving (but which instead is merely endless), Kong makes contact with his son – then dies….

In the film’s final scene (which again dodges the whole transport issue), we see Lady Kong and Kong Junior in their Borneo reserve. Lady Kong is still mournful, but Kong Junior frolics lightheartedly, swinging through the trees on vines.

Awwww….doesn’t it just make you want to puke?

King Kong Lives is the kind of film that you have to believe started as a joke. Or at least, you hope it did. But when did someone decide that the heart transplant plot thread should be treated seriously? What enjoyment there is to be had in watching this film unquestionably comes during the opening twenty minutes or so, as grim-faced actors run around pretending that what they’re doing is Art. Beyond that point, the whole thing hits a brick wall, chiefly because it starts trying to be funny. By the time Colonel Nevitt instructs his men on how to recognise "the enemy" – "They’re fifty feet tall and wearing their birthday suits!" – you really just want the film to end; but it goes on….and on….and on…. I know I keep harping on this, but how do actors cope on set when they’re making a film like this? I guess Peter Elliott and George Yiasoumi got the best of things: they at least got to hide their faces during their performances, being Kong and Lady Kong, respectively. The "humans", however…. John Ashton delivers every line like he’s trying out for a regional stage production of Apocalypse Now. Peter Michael Goetz carries on like a long-lost descendent of Ebenezer Scrooge; while Frank Maraden is just sappy. There wasn’t really any way Brian Kerwin’s reputation could be damaged, I guess; but Linda Hamilton--- The odd thing about King Kong Lives is that the person who should have been most adversely affected by it probably came out the best. By this time she made this unfortunate professional choice, Hamilton had sufficient audience goodwill accumulated for viewers to feel embarrassed for her, rather than contemptuous of her; and that in spite of her character’s endless gushing and simpering. The final irony of King Kong Lives is that rather than destroying its leading lady’s career, as you would reasonably expect, it actually helped it. Anyone want to dispute the fact that it was Hamilton’s demonstration of her winning way with large, hairy leading men that landed her the lead role in Beauty And The Beast?

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