KING KONG (1976) Reviews and Collector’s Edition Blu-ray news

 

King Kong (1976) is being released by Scream Factory as a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray on May 11, 2021.

The two-disc set includes the theatrical version and the extended TV cut, with the latter’s additional footage newly scanned in 2K from the internegative. It features DTS-HD 5.1 and newly restored theatrical DTS-HD 2.0 stereo audio options. Hugh Fleming created the new cover artwork; the original poster is on the reverse side. Special features:

Disc 1: Theatrical version:
Audio commentary by King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon author Ray Morton (new)
Audio interview with special makeup effects artist Rick Baker (new)
Interview with actor Jack O’Halloran (new)
Interview with assistant director David McGiffert and production manager Brian Frankish (new)
Interview with sculptor Jack Varner (new)
Interview with second unit director William Kronick (new)
Interview with photographic effects assistant Barry Nolan (new)
Interview with production assistants Jeffrey Chernov and Scott Thaler (new)
Theatrical trailer
TV spots
Radio spots
Still galleries: posters, lobby cards, behind-the-scenes photos

Disc 2: Broadcast TV Version:
2016 Aero Theater panel with cast and crew

Meanwhile, here’s our previous coverage of the movie:

‘The most exciting original motion picture event of all time.’

King Kong is a 1976 American adventure horror film about a petroleum exploration expedition that finds a giant gorilla on an isolated island.

Directed by John Guillermin (Sheena; Death on the Nile; The Towering Inferno) from a screenplay written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. (Never Say Never Again; Flash Gordon; Batman: The Movie), based on the 1933 version. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis (Army of Darkness; Flash Gordon).

The movie stars Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange, John Randolph and Rene Auberjonois. Carlo Rambaldi (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) designed the special effects, with contributions from Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London).

In 1986, Dino De Laurentiis re-hired John Guillermin to direct a silly sequel, Kong Kong Lives.

Plot:

“The Petrox company’s search for new oil reserves on a strange island unleashes a terror unseen by civilized man – King Kong! The timeless story of a beauty (Jessica Lange) and a beast comes to the screen in this ambitious production from Dino De Laurentiis.

Charles Grodin is the scheming oil company shark out to exploit the giant beast to his fullest. And Jeff Bridges is the desperate hero, Jack Prescott, who attempts to wrest the beautiful heroine from King Kong’s grasp. New York City trembles with each echoing footstep of the towering ape set loose in the streets!” – Official blurb

Reviews:

“Semple tries to make his Kong the movie’s tragic hero in much the same way that the monster in the 1933 version was, but his efforts to do so by turning the strange connection between the giant ape and a human woman into a full-blown, reciprocal romance produce nothing but rolling eyes and outbursts of incredulous scoffing.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“Throughout the film, some special effects work, some don’t. But it tells the story, and the large scale of the film still entertains. It’s sort of dated, seventies wise, but this adds to the fun […] It’s largely a retelling of the original story, but the filmmakers have trouble keeping a straight face in making a monster movie, particularly when it comes to the dialogue.” Black Hole Reviews

” …the portrayal of Kong is heartfelt in a clunky sort of way, especially with John Barry’s alternately menacing and sweeping score jacking up the emotional stakes, and some the movie’s jolts work just like they should. The hit-and-miss special effects feature silly gimmicks like monkey specialist Rick Baker cavorting in an ape suit, plus impressive animatronic monsters created by Carlo Rimbaldi…” Every ’70s Movie

King Kong (1976) is a fun Kong flick with plenty of action and a cool-looking giant-ape, while it’s a film that gets bad-mouthed quite a bit I have always been entertained by it. This is the version of Kong I grew up on so maybe I am overly forgiving of it’s shortcomings, but I do love it a bunch.” McBastard’s Mausoleum

” …King Kong belongs to that group of films that imbedded themselves in an entire generation, yours truly included, who grew up on stuff like Battlestar Galactica, The Black Hole, Moonraker… you get the idea. Divorced from its cinematic origins, this Kong holds up pretty well, and it’s still brainless fun.” Mondo Digital

“The mechanical snake that attacks Kong is simply phony, an unacceptable reject. It makes the shark in the previous year’s blockbuster look like the animatronic marvel of the decade. John Guillermin works well enough with his actors but his direction does little to enliven the adventure thrills or to disguise the tacky effects work.” Trailers from Hell

” …lack of focus hurt the film tremendously and when you add in a miscast Jessica Lange (as a dumb blonde with the stupid name Dwan), Jeff Bridges trying to play the hero but having nothing heroic to do, and a number of special effects such as a giant snake that look plain silly and you have a big-budget disaster.” The Video Graveyard

Contemporary reviews:

“In the new film many of the visual thrills have been replaced by pathos, the emphasis being on tragedy rather than spectacle and excitement. The original Kong had plenty of pathos too but it wasn’t dwelt upon at the expense of the film’s action. The makers knew that if you allowed your audience to start taking seriously a love affair between a girl and a 50-foot ape, you’d be asking for trouble, but De Laurentiis and his team do make that mistake.” John Brosnan, Future Tense: The Cinema of Science Fiction, St. Martin’s Press, 1978

“It’s something to make you cringe with embarrassment […] when it attempts to disarm all criticism by kidding itself (proclaim the ads, “the most exciting original motion picture event of all time”) in lines of dialogue that are intended as instant camp (“You goddamned male chauvinist ape!”). I suppose that when you spend as much as Mr De Laurentiis did on this, you’ve got to have something for everybody, including the witless.” Vincent Canby, The New York Times, December 18, 1976

Choice dialogue:

Jack Prescott [Jeff Bridges]: “Who the hell do you think went through there? Some guy in an ape suit?”

Cast and characters:

Jeff Bridges … Jack Prescott
Charles Grodin … Fred Wilson
Jessica Lange … Dwan
John Randolph … Captain Ross
Rene Auberjonois … Bagley
Julius Harris … Boan
Jack O’Halloran … Joe Perko
Dennis Fimple … Sunfish
Ed Lauter … Carnahan
Jorge Moreno … Garcia
Mario Gallo … Timmons
John Lone … Chinese Cook
Garry Walberg … Army General
John Agar … City Official
Keny Long … Ape Masked Man
Sid Conrad … Petrox Chairman
George Whiteman … Army Helicopter Pilot
Wayne Heffley … Air Force General
Forrest J. Ackerman … Fleeing Extra in Crowd (uncredited)
Rick Baker … King Kong (uncredited)
Corbin Bernsen … Reporter (uncredited)

Technical details:

134 minutes | 182 minutes (TV version)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39: 1
Audio: Mono

Trailer [HD 1080p]: