Director: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack
Stars: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Ok, I’m not going to give you the plot of King Kong. Come on, is there anyone on this planet living, dead, or undead that doesn’t know the story to King Kong? Even if you never saw the movie, you still know the story. It’s become a part of not only American but world culture. Everyone over the age of three knows about the big monkey who falls in love with the pretty lady only to take a tumble in New York City. So what you really want to know about this brand new Blu-ray release is how good it looks and what special features are on the disc, and for a movie this classic, they had better be special indeed.
Well there is good news on both fronts, but first, a little something about the movie that I thought was weird, but cool. It begins with an overture where just music plays for about four minutes. Now I have never seen that in another movie. Even all the times I’ve seen King Kong before, I’ve never seen that. Now I’m not such a classic cinephile that I know if that kind of thing was common place form movies in the 1930s, but I thought it was neat. As for the picture, it looks great. I mean, it’s not super HD jumping off the screen quality, but from a movie this old were you really expecting that? However I can easily say that this film has never looked this good.
Now for the goodies, and here Warner Brothers really outdid themselves. It is packaged in a digibook format with a 32 page booklet chock full of pictures, film history, inside info, and other interesting tidbits. Now for the disc details. There’s a commentary track with visual effects pioneers Ray Harryhausen and Ken Ralston with interview excerpts scattered through it by Merian C. Cooper (one of the people who wrote the story) and one of the first and best scream queens; Fay Wray. There’s a featurette on Kong creator Cooper about the early days of Kong, there’s test footage of the stop motion effects with commentary by the master of the craft, Harryhausen.
Standouts for me were the classic theatrical trailer and a huge two and a half hour long, seven part documentary on RKO, the movie company that brought out King Kong and the whole world-changing event the movie was. But hands down the coolest of all the extras was the lost sequence where a few hapless humans, after being shaken off of the log by Kong, have the perfect ending to a really bad day and get munched on by giant spiders, lizards, crabs, and one tentacled thing right out of H.P. Lovecraft.
Ok, here’s the wrap up: you need to have this Blu-ray in your collection. No, not just if you’re into monster movies, or horror flicks, or movies with large apes in them. If you just plain like movies then this is a must have.