One would think that the most faithful remake of 1933’s King Kong produced in 1976 would be, well, King Kong, but to illustrate how off the rails that production was, many of its missing elements such as a film crew and dinosaur fights wound up in the goofy parody instead.
The British Queen Kong flips the gender roles in what is either a feminist statement or brutal lampooning thereof (given the time the camera lingers on underwear, I suspect the latter… plus how else can one take the tagline “The Liberated Lady Gorilla”?). While following the King Kong story more or less to a T (apple theft and all), it slips in lots of amusing-but-not-laugh-out-loud humor (the main dude is named Ray Fay, for example) that might go towards chuckles or groans depending on the audience you watch with/your blood-alcohol content. Being a sort of proto-Zucker brothers thing, there are also pop culture references to the likes of The Exorcist and Jaws to serve as gags, though I must confess to finding this shark more fun than the one in A*P*E. The special effects aren’t amazing, but that wasn’t really what they set out for, either, and honestly they looked better than I would have expected for the type of film it is, particularly the miniatures. Plus, in my book they get major cred for actually having a couple of dinosaur battles when the real Kong flick that year couldn’t be bothered; even if the suits and props were a little ratty, I’ve seen worse in serious productions. Furthermore, there’s a pervy Venus flytrap… I wonder if Toshio Maeda was watching?
Paramount brought the hammer down on the film, burying it despite obvious satirical intent, so it remained unreleased for many years in its native UK and the US. On the other hand, Germany and Italy don’t give a crap about silly things like character trademarks (see the first post in this series), and got it theatrically. I like that the German poster version appears to be wearing pantyhose on her head.
Queen Kong‘s director, Frank Agrama, is best known as the founder of Harmony Gold, the notorious
copyright trolls of Macross creators of Robotech, meaning he’s sort of responsible for one of the major grossly rewritten dubs of a Japanese series. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Japanese turned the tables on him, and did a parody dub of one of his endeavors? Well, it’s funny that you should mention that. When this movie was released in Japan in 2001, that’s just what happened, in what’s known as the “Taichiro Hirokawa version”.
Naturally, there were a toy tie-ins for that release as well, from Kubrick and Medicom.
After a quarter century of third-hand copies on gray markets (the novelization managed to avoid Paramount’s purge, though), Queen Kong finally got a proper English-language release in 2003 (a little before the Jackson film, likely planned that way). Now it can also be viewed on Amazon Prime for free. As far as lady giant gorilla movies go, you could do worse (looking at you, King Kong Lives).