King Kong (De Laurentiis)

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King Kong incarnations
King Kong (King Kong Escapes)
King Kong (De Laurentiis)
King Kong (Universal)
King Kong
King Kong in King Kong Lives
Alternate names Kong, The Big Monkey[1]
Species Giant ape
Height ~50 feet,[2][3][note 1]
60 feetKKL[4]
Foot width 6 feet and 4 inchesKK76
Relations Lady Kong (mate), Baby Kong (son)
Allies Dwan, Amy Franklin, Hank Mitchell,
Lady Kong
Enemies Giant boa, Petrox Explorer crew, American military
Designed by Rick Baker
Modeled by Rick Baker, Carlo Rambaldi
Played by Rick Baker,KK76
Will Shephard,KK76[5]
Peter Elliott,KKL
Peter Cullen (vocals)
First appearance Latest appearance
King Kong (1976) King Kong Lives
Roar(s)
19761986More roars
From thy wedding with the creature who touches heaven, lady, God preserve thee.
„ 

— Jack Prescott (King Kong)

King Kong is a giant ape monster who first appeared in the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis Corporation film King Kong. The story of the original 1933 film is retold and updated in this remake set in the modern day. Kong reappeared in a sequel to this film ten years later, King Kong Lives, which chronicles his revival through medical science and his discovery of a mate.

A colossal ape regarded with fear in the accounts of explorers who dared sail to "the beach of the skull," Kong was found to be very real by the crew of the Petrox Explorer, a ship sent by a petrochemical corporation to the previously uncharted island in search of hidden oil deposits. The crew along with castaway Dwan and stowaway photographer Jack Prescott discovered an inhabited village on the island guarded by a huge wooden wall. They learned that the natives worshiped the gigantic anthropoid called Kong as their deity and ritually sacrificed women to be his "brides." The native's shaman took an interest in the beautiful blonde Dwan and arranged to have her kidnapped and offered to Kong. Dwan was horrified when she found herself face-to-face with the 50 foot ape. Kong abducted Dwan and took her into the jungle, where she gradually learned that Kong was no monster but an intelligent and lonely being with a gentle soul. Dwan befriended Kong though she rejected his romantic advances, while Jack and the crew crossed the island to save her. Kong killed many of the pursuers before bringing Dwan to his mountain lair where he prepared to undress his bride. He was interrupted by a giant boa which menaced Dwan, forcing him to battle it. Jack rescued Dwan during the struggle and escaped with her to the village, with Kong in hot pursuit after killing the snake. With the oil deposits on the island worthless, Petrox executive Fred Wilson chose to spring a trap for Kong and return him to civilization as a publicity tool for the company. The trap was successful and Kong was brought to New York City aboard a Petrox oil tanker. The beast was put on display in a publicity event also starring Dwan, but Kong became enraged when he saw reporters crowding around Dwan and broke free of his restraints. Kong killed many as he ran loose through the city searching for Dwan. He finally grabbed her once again and scaled the World Trade Center, which resembled his island lair. The U.S. Army deployed UH-1 Iroquois helicopters to deal with Kong while he was trapped. Knowing his end was near, Kong set his love down and shielded her as he was riddled with machine gun fire before falling off the top of the North Tower into the plaza below, seemingly perishing once his heart ceased beating.

However, Kong was kept alive in an advanced medical facility in Atlanta for ten years under the care of Dr. Amy Franklin. She believed Kong could be saved by an artificial heart transplant, but would not survive the procedure without a blood transfusion from a compatible donor. Fortunately, adventurer Hank Mitchell discovered a female member of Kong's species, dubbed "Lady Kong" in Borneo. Lady Kong was captured and her blood used to ensure the success of Kong's heart transplant. Revitalized and conscious once more, Kong escaped the facility with Lady Kong, who quickly became his mate. The two giant apes terrorized the surrounding area as they carried out their strange form of romantic courtship. Dr. Franklin learned Kong's articial heart was failing as the U.S. Army prepared an operation to destroy Kong and his mate. Lady Kong went into labor with Kong's son and was kept safe in a barn as Kong himself bravely held off the Army's assault. Mortally wounded in the battle, Kong was able to see his mate and infant son Baby Kong before finally passing away. Kong lived on through his family, who were transported back to Borneo to live happily together.

History[edit | edit source]

King Kong (1976)[edit | edit source]

King Kong in King Kong (1976)

Scattered records by mariners who managed to reach the mysterious, fog-blanketed "Beach of the Skull" and return made reference to a gigantic anthropoid beast as far back as 1605. Fred Wilson, an executive for the Petrox Oil Corporation, believed that this previously-uncharted island contained valuable oil reserves and organized an expedition there. Instead, the expedition found that the island was inhabited by a tribe of natives who lived in a village protected by a giant wall, which separated them from a fearsome god they called "Kong." The natives kidnapped Dwan, a castaway that had been picked up by the expedition team's ship, and attempted to sacrifice her to Kong. Kong emerged from the jungle and grabbed Dwan, then immediately carried her back off to the jungle. Kong took Dwan to a waterfall and washed her underneath it, then blew on her to dry her. Dwan was surprised at how gentle Kong actually was, and began to no longer fear him. Meanwhile, Jack Prescott, a primate paleontologist who had stowed away onto the expedition's ship earlier in the hope of witnessing the fabled beast, joined with several members of the crew to look for Kong. En route, they reached a giant fallen log that acted as a bridge over a deep chasm. Kong spotted the men as they crossed the log bridge and grabbed the bridge, twisting it until all of the men except Prescott and another named Boan fell to their deaths. Prescott decided to continue pursuing Kong on his own, and headed deeper into the jungle. Kong took Dwan to his lair and prepared to undress her, but found himself attacked by a gigantic boa constrictor. Kong set Dwan down and battled the snake, just as Prescott caught up and found Dwan. The two escaped and headed back to the village, while Kong tore the giant boa's jaws apart and killed it. Kong followed Dwan and Prescott back to the village and broke through the wall. However, Wilson and the crew had sprung a trap, which Kong fell into. Kong was then smothered with chloroform and knocked unconscious. With no oil to bring back to New York City after the oil deposits on the island were found to be worthless, Wilson decided to bring Kong back instead and use him as a publicity stunt. Kong was loaded onto an oil tanker and fed with tons and tons of fruit. When Kong began to go berserk and smash against the walls of the oil bay, Dwan fell into it, only for Kong to catch her. Dwan's presence calmed Kong, and he set her down then fell asleep for the remainder of the voyage.

When the expedition returned to New York, Wilson arranged a grand exposition for Kong to promote his company. He imprisoned Kong in a giant metal cage, and placed a giant crown on his head. When Kong was mobbed by hordes of media reporters taking pictures, he became enraged and tore through the metal bars restraining him. Wilson tried to run away but was stepped on and killed by Kong. Kong rampaged through the city, destroying cars, stomping on fleeing citizens, and even destroying a train. Prescott and Dwan escaped over the Queensboro Bridge, expecting that Kong would not be able to swim across the East River. However, Kong merely waded across the river in pursuit of Dwan. Kong found Dwan in an abandoned bar and carried her off. Kong noticed the World Trade Center in the distance, and it reminded him of his lair back on his island. Kong climbed the South Tower with Dwan, while the military pursued him. When Kong reached the top of the tower, he was attacked by a group of soldiers wielding flamethrowers. Kong jumped across the two towers and landed on the North Tower. Out of options, the military sent helicopters armed with machine guns to take Kong down. Kong set Dwan down and swatted at the helicopters, but was mercilessly blasted by machine gun bullets, causing him to bleed profusely. After destroying two choppers, Kong succumbed to his injuries and fell from the tower, plummeting onto the World Trade Center plaza. As crowds of reporters and spectators gathered around Kong, Dwan approached him and looked at him tearfully just as his heart stopped beating.

King Kong Lives[edit | edit source]

King Kong in King Kong Lives

After being shot off of the World Trade Center in 1976, King Kong was not actually killed, but placed into a coma. Kong was taken to the Atlantic Institute and kept alive but comatose for a decade. Dr. Amy Franklin, the surgeon in charge of Kong, found a way to fully revive Kong by giving him an artificial heart. However, Kong had lost so much blood that he required a blood transfusion for the procedure to work. Thankfully, a female member of Kong's species dubbed "Lady Kong" was discovered in Borneo by Hank Mitchell and brought back to the Atlantic Institute to provide blood for Kong. The transplant was a success, and Kong was revived. However, Kong and Lady Kong mated while in captivity at the Institute, and escaped together. The United States army relentlessly pursued both apes, and tracked them down in the wilderness. Kong fell from a cliff and presumably died in the resulting battle, and Lady Kong was captured and taken to a military base. At the base, it was discovered that Lady Kong was pregnant with Kong's child. Meanwhile, Kong survived the fall and rampaged through the countryside in search of Lady Kong, although his artificial heart was slowly failing. As Lady Kong went into labor, King Kong arrived near the military base and was attacked by the military. Kong was gruesomely wounded in the battle, but managed to destroy the military's forces and kill the insane army colonel who tried to kill him and his mate. Kong entered the base and collapsed in front of Lady Kong, who had just given birth to their son, Baby Kong. Gravely injured and with his heart about to shut down, Kong smiled as he looked at his newborn child before finally dying. Following Kong's death, Lady Kong and Baby Kong were transported back to Borneo to live in peace together.

Abilities[edit | edit source]

Physical strength[edit | edit source]

Kong is extremely strong, picking up and throwing the log the Petrox Explorer crew is trying to cross into a chasm with ease. He is able to smash through the fortified wall of the native village on Skull Island with his raw strength alone. During his battle with the giant boa, Kong withstands the brutal constriction of the snake's body and literally rips the serpent's jaws apart in rage as he sees Jack Prescott escaping with Dwan. When in New York City, Kong breaks through the supposedly unbreakable restraints holding him and escapes. He causes significant damage to the city through his sheer size, even derailing an elevated train in his search for Dwan. During his last stand atop the World Trade Center, Kong grabs a metal object from the roof of the North Tower and throws it at the soldiers firing at him from the South Tower with tremendous accuracy. He also smashes a UH-1 Iroquois out of the sky with both fists during this rooftop battle. In King Kong Lives, Kong shows that he can lift and tear apart full-sized Army tanks with his brute strength.

Agility[edit | edit source]

In addition to possessing formidable strength, Kong is surprisingly agile for a creature of his size. He is able to scale the mountainous terrain of his island with ease, making his home in a high mountaintop lair. After recapturing Dwan in New York City, Kong climbs the South Tower of the World Trade Center after recognizing the structural similarity between the skyscrapers and his mountain lair. When confronted by flamethrower-wielding soldiers on the roof, Kong makes an astounding jump over to the top of the North Tower. Even while riddled with machine gun fire, Kong is still able to reach and smash one of the helicopters attacking him out of the sky.

Durability[edit | edit source]

Kong possesses a remarkable degree of physical durability. He withstands the crushing constriction of the giant boa and manages to kill the creature, then gets back to his feet without suffering any ill effects. At the climax of the 1976 film, Kong withstands sustained machine gun fire from UH-1 Iroquois helicopters which tears through his flesh and causes him to bleed profusely. Even as he is mortally wounded, Kong continues to stand and fight, even managing to destroy one of the choppers attacking him. Kong finally plummets from the top of the North Tower and onto the plaza below, and only seems to die after this point once his heartbeat ceases. Remarkably, this failed to kill Kong, and he was kept alive for ten years in a medical facility, albeit unconscious. After having an artificial heart transplanted into him, Kong regains all of his vitality that he had before his near-death experience. Even as his artificial heart begins to fail, Kong demonstrates the same raw strength and stamina he had before. In a final battle to defend his bride Lady Kong as she gave birth to their son, Kong faced off against an Army batallion which included tanks. While the wounds sustained in this battle would prove fatal, Kong not only triumphed but in his mortally wounded state managed to see his newborn son and bid farewell to his mate.

Filmography[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

  • King Kong (1976)

Attractions[edit | edit source]

  • King Kong Encounter (1986-2008) - Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Kongfrontation (1990-2002) - Universal Studios Orlando

Video games[edit | edit source]

Roar[edit | edit source]

King Kong's roars in the 1976 remake and its sequel are famous stock roars which date back to the 1957 Universal Pictures films The Land Unknown and The Deadly Mantis. Noted voice actor Peter Cullen, later famous for voicing characters such as the Predator and Optimus Prime, performed additional vocalizations for Kong, during which he strained his voice so much that he injured his throat and began to cough blood.[6] One of them was reused and modified for Kong in The Mighty Kong and Godzilla vs. Kong.

Edited versions of the stock roars uttered by Kong have been used for many movie monsters since, including the dinosaurs from Carnosaur and even Toto from Gamera the Brave.

King Kong's roars in the 1976 film

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The sound of Kong's fading heartbeat at the end of the 1976 film was later used for the sound of Godzilla's dorsal fins flashing in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.[7]
  • This was the last incarnation of Kong to be portrayed onscreen through suitmation. All subsequent live-action incarnations of the character have been realized through computer-generated imagery assisted by motion capture.
  • Makeup artist Rick Baker, who both designed and portrayed Kong in the 1976 remake, makes a cameo in Peter Jackson's 2005 remake as one of the biplane gunners who brings down Kong.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Kong's height is never directly given, however it is estimated in the 1976 film based on the size of his footprints. Fred Wilson notes that the footprint he fell into "measured 6 feet 4 inches" and asks the captain how tall the creature must be if that was the case. He responds "multiply by about eight I guess." This mathematical calculation gives Kong an estimated height of 50 feet and 8 inches. Furthermore, King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson and American Cinematographer Vol. 58 both give Kong's height as 55 feet. Additionally, the animatronic used in the film was 40 feet tall.

References[edit | edit source]

This is a list of references for King Kong (De Laurentiis). These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Morton, Ray (2005). King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson. Applause Theater and Cinema Books. ISBN 1557836698.
  • American Cinematographer Vol 58. ASC Holding. 31 July 1977.

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