Kong count #10 – The Most Dangerous Game

Some fun facts for film aficionados – the original King Kong was the first movie to ever get an audio commentary, as part of its 1985 laserdisc release from Criterion. It was the company’s second home video release, following only Citizen Kane (another picture produced by RKO, which, funnily enough, has stock footage from Son of Kong in one of its background scenes, accounting for some inexplicable pterodactyls in an otherwise conventional drama). While the company never reissued those films, they still to this day distribute King Kong‘s sibling as the 46th entry in their collection: The Most Dangerous Game, and will likely do so in perpetuity, since it’s public domain.

most_dangerous_game_poster

The 1932 film shares much with King Kong, though its lack of a monster (unless man is the true monster?) made me hesitate to include it here at first. However, it’s worth noting because it’s an underrated and influential classic (films from Hard Target to Zodiac to Predator draw inspiration), and because of its ties to the King Kong production.

Based on a 1924 short story by Richard Connell, the movie has a big game hunter getting shipwrecked on a remote island, owned by an eccentric aristocrat sharing a passion for hunting, though he’s interested in a particularly tricky and ferocious beast….human! Being a pre-code film, there’s some great gruesome content that censors would have none of (especially the human trophy room), and, like King Kong, there was some heavy editing done after the fact. You can already tell some similarities, both being adventure films set on a remote island, but let us share two images with you:

md-game

The Most Dangerous Game

king-kong-log

King Kong

It’s the same set. Also, if you zoom in on one of the figures in the first shot, you might notice Ann Darrow herself, actress Fay Wray, sans blonde wig. Her brother in the picture is played by Robert Armstrong, better known as Carl Denham. The picture has a score by Max Steiner, like King Kong, and was also produced by Cooper and co-directed by Ernest Schoedsack. You see, this is the incredible thing: this team of people shot the two movies concurrently, filming Kong all day and then turning around to film Game by night. With that sort of regimen, it’s shocking that what they turned in was even passable, but both films are A-grade material worthy of shelf space in even a modest horror fan collection.

If you haven’t checked it out, it’s a brisk 62 minutes, meaning you can do a double-feature of it and King Kong in less time than it takes to watch the 2005 Kong flick. Maybe watch one film by day and the other by night to really replicate the production experience!

Ooh, how cool would a crossover be, with Count Zaroff going hunting on actual Skull Island?

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2 Responses to Kong count #10 – The Most Dangerous Game

  1. John Summers says:

    Thank you for another entertaining entry in this Kong Count series. I certainly wasn’t expecting this movie on the list. Also, that crossover idea with Count Zaroff hunting on Skull Island sounds like an awesome idea. Another thing I want to bring to your attention is some questions about the Kong mythos in general I have thought of that a lot of people just accept and don’t really question.

    1. I’ve heard that Kong is supposedly the last of his kind, but whenever I hear that I ask why? Kong is quite powerful as an adult, and I doubt that killing off the Kong population to the point that there is only one left would be an easy task. Gaw may have been a powerful creature and I heard that she killed Kong’s parents, however even I doubt that she and her Deathrunners would have been able to kill off that many Kongs to the point where there is only one left. What in the world caused the Kong population to dwindle to the point of extinction?

    2. Do you ever find it strange that in most Kong movies, Skull Island is primarily inhabited by reptiles, synapsids, dinosaurs, insects, arachnids, other invertebrates, and that there is a severe lack of exotic mammals or birds? In addition to Kong supposedly being the last of his kind, there are no other giant versions of orangutans, baboons, or any other primates in general. There is also no exotic elephants or some form of wild cats. As far as the live action movies went before 2017, there was the cave bear in Son of Kong and some weird variation of bats in the 2005 remake, but that’s it. I don’t even remember there being any exotic bird creatures at all in any of the movies.

    Someday, I would like to see a take on Skull Island that’s more diverse in its creatures. Have you heard of the game Ark: Survival Evolved? I’ve never played it, but it’s set on an island with birds, mammals, synapsids, reptiles, dinosaurs, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. Here are some links to give you a better idea of what it’s like.

    http://ark.gamepedia.com/Creatures (A list of the creatures)

    http://ark.gamepedia.com/Achatina#Text (scroll down towards the bottom and open up the creatures section for a more organized view of the creatures)

    The only creatures from this game that I would not want in a Kong movie would be the fantasy-esque ones like the dragons, manticores, and rock elementals since I don’t see how Kong could be the King of Skull Island when you have far more powerful creatures like those running around. It would also take away from his Eighth Wonder of the World status if you have even stranger things on this Island than him.

    3. Was there ever an explanation given as to how Kong was transported to the ship, restrained so that he would not have been able to escape, and be properly fed so that he would not have starved to death? The people who went to Skull went there to make a movie, not capture and contain something like King Kong. Once Kong is captured, it normally time skips to New York City without an explanation as to how the people even got him off the island.

    4. I’ve heard that when Skull Island sinks, everyone living on it dies. However what about the fates of all the flying animals? With all the enhanced senses animals have, they would have sensed the massive earthquake coming and would have sought elsewhere to live. What would stop them from flying off the island and going somewhere else?

    • kevnder says:

      Wow, that is a Kong-sized comment! Let’s see:
      1) That certainly didn’t seem to be the early goal, since we have King Kong Lives and Son of Kong, but I bet they go into it in the Joe Devito book currently seeking crowdfunding.
      2) I guess it’s just for juxtaposition? Some versions do have Kong as an invasive species to Skull Island, which sort of makes sense from that perspective. Thanks for the game links!
      3) The Tarzan crossover novel goes over that at length.
      4) Maybe it’s just a long way to fly? I think if pterodactyls could cross great distances, the whole East Indies would be full of ’em!

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