This week's review topic, Rise of The Planet of The Apes, is a great monkey movie. And I should know - If there's one thing I know even better than movies, it's movies about monkeys. If a film has some ape related action going down, you can bet it's crossed my path. So if Rise has you seeking a higher quotient of "Thrillas with Gorillas," here's some of the more interesting offerings I've come across:
Italian megaproducer Dino DeLaurentis suffered possibly his most infamous public humiliation when his bloated, colossally hyped 1976 remake of King Kong - which he'd brazenly promoted as a Jaws killer - opened to bad reviews, audience indifference and the revelation that it's highly touted gimmick of a life-sized mechanical Kong was only used (poorly) in a single scene.
However, the embarrassment didn't prevent him from holding on to the rights to the franchise (and waging lawsuit wars with anyone who even thought of using the word "Kong" in reference to a gorilla movie) and in 1986 he and his partners finally made this sequel. Is it good? No. Is it fun? Oh hell yes.
As it turns out, King Kong didn't die from his fall at the climax of the original remake - he simply went comatose, and has been recuperating in a secret government lab ever since. But his heart is giving out, and though a (huge!) artificial one has been constructed, the operation to install it will require a blood transfusion... easier said than done, given that this is the only Kong they've ever found. And when they do find another, it turns out to be a female with whom Kong becomes immediately smitten and escapes with - yes, it's a "fugitive lovers" movie, but with giant scale apes. The film's signature scene, where Kong's heart transplant is performed with a crane and a team of doctor's standing on his chest operating with chainsaws, is the obvious highlight.
Already gave this one a shout out in a Big Picture aways back, but it's worth repeating all the same. This was a live-action, Japanese produced spin-off of the 1960s Kong cartoon show, in which a mad scientist - upon learning that the giant robot doppelganger of King Kong that he built to mine a precious mineral actually shuts down in the presence of said mineral - kidnaps the big ape in order to force him to do the mining. I do not recommend trying to make sense of that plan in your head.
Naturally, the big draw is the giant-monster battle between Kong and Mecha-Kong, wherein the two smack each other around while climbing Tokyo Tower. Japanese monster fans take note: While this is not officially a sequel to King Kong Vs. Godzilla, the dinosaur Kong battles ("Gorosaurus") later joined the Godzilla franchise in Destroy All Monsters.
Also known as Goliathon, this is yet another spin on the bizarrely enduring "white woman raised in the jungle by gorilla" genre of which Mighty Joe Young is the best remembered, but hardly the first entry. This is Hong Kong's turn at the formula, with an atypically humanoid giant creature (he's supposed to be more of a bigfoot than a gorilla) and the fetishistic aspect of the blonde-jungle-goddess bit turned up to eleven. Takes awhile to get going, but fun once it does.
A low budget Korean Kong knockoff, made to cash in on the hype for DeLaurentis' remake in 1976. Many consider this to be the "worst" of the Kong rip-offs ... I don't know about that, but it has the worst ape suit of them by far. The early highlight features the ape fighting what is supposed to be a great white shark.
In some Western releases, this was actually retitled as Attack of The Giant Horny Gorilla. Really. Incidentally, yes, the urban legend is true - there really is a public domain XXX feature called King Dong, and it really is better known for its inexplicably good amateur stop motion effects than what you'd think it'd be known for.