When I was a little kid, and before you laugh I mean like 3 I went to the Drive-In to see the King Kong remake, in 1976 that is. I know this because my uncle like to tell this story. I wanted to see Kong really bad. Like I guess I talked about it for days on end. I was excited and impatient waiting for him to show up, then when the gates began rumbling before he popped up for the first time I got freaked out and hid under a blanket the rest of the film. Yeah really funny I know. Anyway I clearly overcame that fear and have seen the film actually quiet a few times in my life since then.
For those unaware in 1976 Dino De Laurentiis decided to remake the original 1933 King Kong movie. He wanted his film to be a bit more lighthearted, and even a bit different in plot to the original picture. He knew it had to be set in present day and the final act would take place on the World Trade Center. He dropped the other dinosaur monsters on the island as he wanted all the focus on Kong, although he did leave in the giant snake for a pretty cool fight scene. He hired Rick Baker to design the ape costume, he had a 40ft mechanical Kong made but it was to hard to film with it. He assembled a very huge cast as well. Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Ed Lautner and many more. The film was very successful making over 90 million on a budget of 24 million, plus it made television history for a few reasons, but I’ll get to that later.
This version of Kong is set during the national energy crisis. Fred Wilson (Grodin) runs Petrox Oil. He finds an island off the Indian Ocean that he believes, with the help of some cool infrared scanning that the island may have a ton of oil. The island is hidden from most maps by a giant cloud. He decides to get a team together to go to the island and find, hopefully a huge oil reserve. However a paleontologist named Jack Prescott (Bridges) comes on the ship and warns them of going to the island as others have gone and never returned. He claims a giant beast stops all comers to the island. As this is going on they come across a woman named Dawn (Lange) floating on a raft. They rescue her she goes with them to the island.
The Islanders are a very primitive tribe who have built a giant wall. The wall is to keep their God, an ape named Kong away. They grab Dawn and plan to sacrifice her to Kong. They have her tied up but when Kong finally arrives he grabs her but he falls in love with her. He takes her back to where he resides on the island and us nothing but nice to her. He even saves her from a giant snake. Prescott and the others from the ship head out to recuse her and manage to create a giant pit filled with gas to knock Kong Out. As the island is a bust oil wise Wilson decides to take Kong back to the states and make him a mascot for his company. That’s a bad idea as you know the rest. Kong breaks free grabs Dawn, and heads to the World Trade Center for one of the most famous endings in film history.
This is a great film I personally enjoyed it more than the 2005 remake. Sure that one was more faithful to the original in certain ways but this bad boy from 1976 was a great film. Its also was a massive hit on television. NBC acquired the right to air the film, and split it up over 2 nights. I remember watching it back then on TV. Now as the film was about 2hrs and 15min it certainly needed to be longer for TV, especially to air over two night with commercial breaks. Luckily there were plenty of additional scenes filmed. So the film that aired on tv was actually the extended cut that clocked in close to three hours. A few scenes of violence and some sexual inuendo was edited out. When the film was finally released on VHS and even DVD it was always the theatrical cut. But now the fine folks at Scream Factory are making fans dreams come true.
Fully remastered with an amazing score Scream Factory has outdone themselves with this print. The colors are amazing. Everything looks fantastic. None of the dark scenes have that horrible blue tint which can easily ruin a transfer. Everything is crisp and clear. It looks better than lots of things filmed today. The audio is amazing. You can really feel Kong coming through the gates through your surround sound as everything bellows. The score sounds fantastic as well. And yes not only do you get the remastered theatrical cut but you also get the amazing TV cut as well on this fantastic two disc set. And that isn’t all as Scream Factory has loaded this with special features.
DISC ONE: THEATRICAL CUT (2.35:1)
Overall 4 out of 5 Stars!