"King Kong" - 1933
Official Text: An expedition explores a remote island with a gigantic ape deity known as Kong. Kong falls in love with a beautiful actress, who accompanies the expedition, when she is offered as a sacrifice. She is rescued. Kong is captured and taken to New York for exhibition. Kong breaks out of his cage and tries to elope with the actress.
By the early 1930's, many producers were trying to build on the success of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World," an epic adventure film about an expedition to a plateau filled with prehistoric animals, which we brought to life by Willis O'Brien. Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace came up with the story about an island populated by dinosaurs, and of course, a huge silverback gorilla. The tale told of Carl Denham, a filmmaker who heads to the remote Skull Island to capture Kong, a huge creature who the locals hold at bay with a giant barrier that keep the beast locked in his primordial jungle. Ann Darrow, and John "Jack" Driscoll get caught up in the adventure, as Ann is captured by Kong and taken into the interior of his island home, and Jack leads the rescue mission to bring her back. On the way, the explorers are attacked by various types of dinosaurs. Eventually, they capture the gorilla and take him back to civilization, where Kong meets his end on the Empire State Building. The film went down in history as one of the great film adventures to be produced in that time period, and is considered a classic today.
Be sure to watch our Quicktime 'turnaround' of the original King Kong model! [Small] [Med] [Large]
"Son of Kong" - 1933
Official Text: After Kong has wrecked New York, producer Carl Denham flees from his creditors to Skull Island in search of some treasure, meets up with a cute brunette and the offspring of the thing that ruined him.
After the wonderful reaction to the first film, a sequel was produced. Carl Denham returned, this time meeting a little Kong. The film was considered mediocre at best. (An interesting note: Both of these early films feature a character known as a "Witch king." Sound familiar?)
"Kingukongu tai Gojira (King Kong vs. Godzilla)" - 1962
Official Text: In the waters off Japan, Godzilla, long thought destroyed, breaks out from an iceberg and heads towards the Japanese mainland. Meanwhile, the head of Tokyo Television Company dispatches a crew to Farou Island to capture the mysterious god that is reported to live on the island. The TTC crew then knocks out the giant ape known as "Kong" with narcotic berries and float him back to Japan on a raft. Kong escapes from the raft and he swims ashore to cause massive destruction. Meanwhile, Godzilla continues toward Tokyo. The authorities plan to use the strange narcotic berries to knock Kong out and bring him to Mt. Fuji where he will encounter, and, hopefully, destroy Godzilla.
Another addition in the "Godzilla" series, the Japanese certainly have their own unique, and fun, take on the great ape.
"King Kong" The TV Series" - 1966-69
Description:This popular ABC Saturday morning show was based on the famous 1930's monster movie. In this version, Kong lives peacefully on an island with the Bond family and fights various villians. Kong's best friend, Bobby Bond, is voiced by Billie Richards from "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer." Each episode of "The King Kong Show" featured two adventures of Kon, and one episode of "Tom Of T.H.U.M.B." featuring a miniaturized secret agent, Tom, and his Asian sidekick, Swinging Jack. As part of the licensing deal to make this animated series, Rankin/Bass had to promise to make a new live action feature which they did in 1968 ("King Kong Escapes") in conjunction with Toho Productions, the makers of Godzilla.
This was a children's series that featured the large ape and his escapades with young Billy Bond. It pretty much ignored the canon from the films.
Looking for the theme song? We've got it right here! (Thanks to Harry over at AICN)
"Kingukongu no gyakushu (King Kong Escapes)" - 1967
Official Text: While backing through the jungle, expedition leader Nelson and his companions are attacked by a dinosaur. They are rescued by King Kong who takes a liking to the prettiest female member of the expedition. Dr. Hu, an evil scientist, plans to take over the world by building a huge "Mechni-Kong," a robot designed to put the real Kong out of commission.
"King Kong" - 1976
An expedition of the Petrox Company is exploring for oil. They arrive at Skull Island where a giant ape, King Kong is worshiped by the natives. A shipwrecked woman, is captured by the natives and offered as a sacrifice to Kong who falls in love with her. The woman is rescued and Kong captured for exhibition in the US. Kong escapes captivity to elope with the model.
This was a big budget remake starring Jeff Bridges, and Rene Auberjonios, (AKA Odo from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.") However, the films left out the prehistoric creatures from the original, and changed the film crew to an oil expedition.
"King Kong Lives" - 1986
In this sequel to King Kong (1976), the injured Kong has spent the last ten years in a university research centre outside Atlanta in a coma. A big game hunter discovers a female Kong in the jungles of Borneo and transports her to the research centre for a transfusion that will enable King Kong to have an artificial heart transplanted. Romance blooms between the two Kongs and they make a bid for freedom.
A sequel to the 1976 remake, starring Linda Hamilton, and featuring Lady Kong.