Saturday, January 30, 2010


Long time veterans of cinema schlock can often smell a challenge shortly after the film begins unspooling - for me, I think it was somewhere around 38 seconds into QUEEN KONG. This British attempt to cash in on Dino's plans to reimagine the 'bigga monkey' for enviro-trendy seventies audiences manages to be mostly unfunny but then again I am not British and was not steeped in Benny Hill as a young lad.
Oddly enough I have been chasing this gorilla suit flick for almost two years now, recently coming across it boxed with KONG ISLAND, another steaming ape turd I have no doubt, but I was admittedly eager to fire it up. Info on this bastard daughter of the Giant gorilla film genre can easily be found on most cinema trash websites , yet no words ever equate the viewing experience, for better or worse. A quick aside, I can think only of one other feminine giant, that of Kong's mate in the demented sequel to the 70's remake, KING KONG LIVES. There must have been another around Skull Island to produce the SON OF KONG but she remains both unseen and unspoken of.

QUEEN KONG is an attempt to filter the original giant ape flick through the feminist looking glass, warping gender roles, yet still has a parade of bikini clad jungle girl eye candy - thus covering a wider demographic base: bra burning anthropology college seniors and dirty old men often seen in raincoats in alleyways. It's quickly established that men are simpering effete lightweights and women (well those that are mostly clothed) are aggressive and in control. Early in the film, director Luce (loose) Habit sets off to find a romantic lead for her next picture. Rula Lenska creates a strong willed character without becoming a bull dyke but unfortunately she is given little in the way of decent material to deliver. She discovers her future star in a local market running from a shopkeeper from whom he has stolen the most classy image present in the entire 90 minutes - a poster from a re-release of the original KONG. Ray Fay is a "charismatic" hippie love child - I imagine the script calls for him to have some quality that would attract Luce Habit's attention but damned if I could see it. Under the effects of sodium pentathol I would find it difficult not to admit that the name shuffle for our dude in distress was not somewhat clever. Luce rescues our fair fop from the outraged shopkeeper and proceeds to drug the pothead. After a dreadful musical number about the 'Liberated Lady', the vessel carrying these boobs to Africa, the appearance of the shaggy broad is foreshadowed as native guides chant the name.

JAWS also gets a lame ass nod as a lipstick kissed shark with a t-shirt emblazoned with LADY JAWS appears briefly - not only pointless but heavy handed as well. Arriving at Lazanga, Where they do the Konga ( another brutally unfunny riff that is hammered on again and again and again) Luce, Ray and the jiggling crew encounter shapely white jungle maidens that are lead by the sumptuous seventies vixen, Valerie Leon , future Bond girl and a genuine pleasure to view in a stunning red bikini. Men in the village are seen staffing the child care center and ironing as the alpha females place a man cake atop a oversized table, where a chair labeled Queen Kong sits facing the towering wall separating the village from the jungle. High priestess Val notices our ineffectual anti hero and tries to bargain with Luce for him.Snubbed, she later snatches him under the cover of darkness and serves him up to the beastie we have been anxiously awaiting. To indicate man has been served, Valerie beats upon the 'KONG GONG" as it is labeled for those easily amused by such things. I was expecting more from full frontal giant ape nudity but Queenie was cheated in the mammary department - I am uncomfortable this disappointed me. Fortunately, the giant apes dreadfully styled hair ensures that your eyes are locked on respectable regions. Ray is carried off into the forest as Luce and crew follows, but Queen runs into a finely crafted paper mache T-Rex. A rousing battle ensues but the male T-rex is brought down by swift kick to the Achilles heel, or rather groin. Queenie gets her new boy toy safely back to her cave and before they are menaced by another jungle dino, they engage in some gag inducing flirtation. Even if I went in for other species, I would not trifle with this mangy, under developed monkey. The next threat comes from above, a pterodactyl that inexplicably has a leg shaped like a umbrella handle. Perhaps an Anglo rip on the London weather hit the cutting room floor. Cheered on by her new flame, Queen kicks more Jurassic ass.

Although Ray seems unduly pleased by his new arrangements, flirting furiously with his giant hairy admirer after she turfs the prehistoric aviatrix, he is snatched back by Luce and her girly goon squad. Fleeing back to the village, Queen Kong gives chase and takes out her sexual frustrations on screaming lily white natives and their abodes. Miniature stomping and shoddy matte work momentarily elevate the film to near entertainment. Gas bombs end the shaggy shenanigans and Luce proclaims that the 64 foot ape is heading for London, her royal status diluted because half the men there are queens - a hah hah, ah hah hah...ahem..

A headline montage screams all of London is abuzz with the arrival of the biological oddity but the crowd that attends the county fair style debut barely breaks double digits. Swathed in a toga, Ray Fay responds to questions with a canned speech that indicates the delusion that Hollywood stardom is impending. In another blunt yet weak attempt to raise equality issues, Luce is confronted by a promoter who insists that Queen Kong wear a bra to shield the crowd from her offensive nakedness.
As I mentioned earlier, there is very little indeed to indicate her femininity, other than a poor choice in men. I imagine that the genetic soup that produces giant apes also atrophies their sex organs. What else can account for her inadequate cleavage and King Kong's lack of a noticeable banana? The big show opens with a MC who is a complete dullard but followed by the Orangutans, a rock band clad in tan military fatigues and gorilla masks, belting out another ear grating rendition of the Queen Kong theme song. Luce and Ray finally mount the stage and in the course of introducing the ape, Luce proposes to the clueless man candy thus providing the seed for a love triangle climax. With the curtain dropped, the director and her barely male enjenoue do the konga and incense the lady beast. As Queen Kong breaks apart her woefully thin chains, Ray is forcibly dragged by Luce though the panicked crowds, all the while proclaiming his affections for the monkey. Back at Luce's hotel suite our demented fop accuses his captor with compatibly sized genitalia, of wanting him for only sex while the shag carpeted simian loves him purely. Visions of giant ape/teeny man Brit action almost threaten to pollute the mind but more shoddy miniature work and dreadfully flat humour is thankfully distracting. There is also a diverting nod to the American disaster flick Airport - a passenger jet approaching London is regaled by an aggravating singing nun and also features a pugilist priest clocking a bothersome passenger.Descending into the city the pilot narrowly misses the she-ape but crashes into a building. Rampaging about London, Queen Kong makes merry menace as she seeks out Ray. The typical giant monster moments were a welcome payoff for trudging through the first 60 odd minutes but the relentless drip drip of soggy UK humour may have you begging for release.

Queenie finally stumbles upon her footman and a very stiff giant paw smashes through the hotel window, scooping up the willing Ray Fay. The tour of England's famous burg climaxes with her filching the Crown jewels before settling on a climb up Big Ben. "She's just been misunderstood like all women throughout history!", belts out Ray in the English dawn.. Ray gets on the loudspeaker from a smashed helicopter and rants about Queen Kong as a symbol of womanly struggle and the male's attempt to squash feminine expression. Naturally a city wide protest erupts within moments, complete with placards and clever slogans. Atop the very phallic clocktower, the ape womyn beckons the crowds and Ray Fay claims victory.The male authorities acquiesce to the mightier sex and have the triumphant freak couple shipped back to Africa accompanied by yet another awful musical number. On the deck of the tow boat, Luce Habit longingly wonders if a threesome is possible. Returned to the jungle, nauseating Ray proclaims that Love has found a way....

And the viewer is mercifully released from the experience of QUEEN KONG. All that being said, I have to recommend the film to those collectors and aficionados of cinema trash. And Benny Hill lovers. The British style humour does little for me but those who have enjoyed the CARRY ON films should find something to enjoy here. It is often stunning how completely flat some of the jokes fall - label oriented gags abound and I am still trying to fathom the comic root of a prehistoric bagpipe (no point in explaining, refer to the film if you dare). Director and writer Frank Agrama was a veteran of low budget foreign flicks filmed for the Middle Eastern and European markets. Teaming with Ron Dobrin (now a spiritual healer in Chicago), Frank crafted a script that sticks close to the original formula but without the class and inspiration. In the commentary, he claims to have shopped it at Columbia but eventually secured Italian/French funding and shot the film in less than six weeks from a scant 60 page script. The true drama of QUEEN KONG is not found within the film itself but in the attempt to bring it to British theaters. Film giant, Dino De Laurentis waged holy war on all pretenders to the simian throne, as he was mounting his multi-million dollar remake and wanted to ensure that no production would ride his coattails. Despite that QUEEN KONG is a satire, weak though it may be, a British judge sided with Dino's lawyers when a lawsuit was launched shortly after QUEEN's completion.German poster - possibly from theatrical release
The film materials were ordered seized but back in the olden days when information moved much slower, Frank Agrama had the stones to pick up the negatives from the film lab before they received the court order. Tossing the film in a cab, he bolted for the airport and sent them off to Italy where the law saw the situation differently. Three months after his flight from the Merry Olde England, Agrama's groan inducing epic hit Italian cinemas and drummed up a few lira. A North American release never materialized and Dino proved you can't make a great giant ape film by throwing wads of cash at it. Almost two decades later, QUEEN KONG had an odd revival in the land of the rising sun, but had the ill fortune of opening on September 11th 2001. Fifty prints were circulated in Japan to moderate success. We can thank low budge workhorse Fred Olen Ray for securing the royal visitation rights for us lowly colonists. Fred chats up Agrama on the commentary, taking it easy on the old bird who still finds his picture very humorous. Little is said about the main star - the unnamed body under the custom crafted suit was a dancer, chosen for her ability to emote through movement. This stopped me dead - as a character, Queen Kong has zero depth and I got the impression she was told to move slowly through the undersized scenery cause' "we want you to look like your 64 feet tall". Agrama mentions there was much debate about the size of the gorilla's rack with his twinkle toed star, too big, too small, never just right. Her work schedule in the suit was 2 hours on, 2 hours off. The uniform length of the gorilla hair gives the semblance of carpet and the sculpted facial features are too smooth and simple. Neither effective enough to be admired or demented enough to make you smile.

The songs that pervade the film are jaw dropping dreadful. The opening theme 'Queen Kong' leaves me queasy, compounded by earworm effect that will have you singing it involuntarily under your breath for a day or two. 'Liberated Lady' is fairly innocuous but the piece that closes the film (title unknown) is downright disturbing. Read it yourself and try to blink.


Queen Kong
Queen Kong
Queen Kong
Queen Kong is the chick with all the hair
Queen Kong ,Queen Kong come from I don't know where
Kong (repeat 9x)
Queen(repeat 7x), Queen Kong
She's a genie who ain't teeny
She's the queenie, queenie for my weenie
When I'm feelin' mighty spunky I wanna do it with my honky monkey
Queen(repeat 7x), Queen Kong
Queen(repeat 7x), Queen Kong
All right on Queenie
She's a genie who ain't teeny


Burn your bra, burn your panties
Call your ma and your aunties and ship off on the Liberated Lady
It's the new dance sweepin every nation
And they swing to the beat of women's liberation
Ladies dancing into the fearsome lion's den
Fighting for their rightful places next to men
Grab a Honda with Jane Fonda
Jeer a cheer with Germaine Greer lets ship off on the Liberated Lady
Paris, London, Tokyo and Rome they'll say women's place is in the home
New York, Madrid, Peking and Munich are swinging to beat of the female unit
Swing a swig, fix the rig muck the nearest chauvinist pig
Lets ship off on the Liberated Lady
Burn your bra, burn your panties
Call your ma and your aunties and ship off on the Liberated Lady
Lets ship off on the Liberated Lady


If I were just an ordinary gorilla
We could take that nightboat to Manilla
Clad in the latest pair of Jesus jeans
We could tour around the Phillipines
It wouldn't matter what we saw
Since everything is under martial law
And you would stop your yelling rape
If I were just an ordinary household ape
We would spend our nights in a grass shack
And we would never dream of coming back

Speechless yet? NO? Then I definitely recommend that you borrow, rent or buy this uniquely demented entry into the Kong canon. QUEEN KONG defies the viewer to comprehend that someone went to an awful lot of trouble not only to film it but bring it into our homes 30 years later. It may not be a good film but it often left me stunned by the images that danced across the screen and the music that filled my unprotected ears. Is she the queenie for my weenie? Good lord, I shudder to even contemplate it.

Explore further images from the movie

I also came across a great tribute site for QUEEN KONG that is as comprehensive as one could probably be. I avoided lifting any material from the site so that any readers here could find something else to enjoy there. Spread the monkey love!

1 comment:

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