Kong Island

Year 1968

Marc Lawrence   as   Albert Muller
Brad Harris as  Burt Dawson
Adriana Alben as Ursula
Esmeralda Barros as Eva, the Sacred Monkey  
Mark Farran as Robert
Director - Roberto Mauri
Screenwriter - Walter Brandi
Story - Roberto Mauri
  - Ralph Zucker

While trolling through the DVD bargain bin at Fry's Electronics, the words, "See! Women attacked by rampaging robot gorillas!!" leapt out at me. I never thought I'd come across any movie involving robot gorillas muchless the rampaging kind. But, I suppose that if you're already a robot gorilla, a rampage or two is probably in order. And ever since the King of Kong, women are always in danger of being carried off in order to give birth to Big Foots (Big Feet?) nine months later.

Then there're the judiciously placed exclamation points in the tag line. One mark wouldn't have been enough and anyone who's ever read Terry Pratchett knows that three in a row is too many. But, cleverly thinking outside the box, the advertisers managed to split up the bangs without being clichéd! (Notice how this revelation is worth it's own exclamation point.) In fact, this new subtle approach is mind numbing in it's own right.

Originally, this was supposed to be called King of Kong Island. I doubt if the producer thought of the title as a pun; he wanted a tie-in to King Kong. But, since the big ape's name was copyrighted, he had to change the title and it became Kong Island. Based on IMDb, it looks like it was also released as Eva-The Savage Venus and even King of Kong Island! A copyright must have expired in the 80s!! Heck, there's even a version called Eva the Wild Woman. Talk about not saying die. (How many exclamation points should I have used for that last sentence?) From what I can tell there's a second or two of skin in some versions of this dreck. Even if the stars performed the Dance of the Seven Veils without the veils, it wouldn't be worth sitting through this, though.

Still, even without knowing the history of the movie, the exclamation points seduced me and I had to purchase this stinker. For five bucks, the DVD also included "The Galaxy Invader". How could I go wrong?

Well, there're lots of ways to go wrong.

The first scene let's you know what you're in for. In a very faded and smeared transfer, a jeep is carrying three men over rough terrain. There's a hand lettered sign on the jeep indicating something that might be "East African Mineral Company" or "Fasta Dream Mimer Alcommramm". In the context of the movie, one makes as much sense as the other.

Bandits appear out of the hills, or small bushes on the sides of inclines, to rob the Fasta Dreamer jeep of its payroll. The Dream Mimers pay cash to their employees.

One of the bandits is dressed in a Green Beret outfit, complete with campaign salad over his left pocket, because nothing says incognito like an ensemble resumé. This is mercenary Burt Dawson, the main moron of this movie. Burt is double-crossed and left for dead just so the opening credits can roll.

Notice that there're Italian names in the credits. This is an Italian movie and don't forget that in Italian movies, the sound and voices aren't added until later. It's all dubbed in Italian films.

After the credits, there's an operating room scene - a gorilla is having something implanted behind his ear. This is where brains are located according to the surgeon. One of the "doctors" is wearing his surgical mask below his nose. It must be some sort of macho scrunched up look that this guy is going for. Even though I expect his words to come out as, "Mmph mmph mmph" they sound slightly better, although not by much.

The outfits do help mask (Get it? Mask? Surgical mask? Nevermind.) the fact that the dubbed voices are not synchronized with the person on-screen (I hesitate to call him or her an actor or actress) whose mouth is moving. Even better is that everyone is delivering their lines in their native tongues. You'll have no trouble believing that Marc Lawrence is saying his own words (even though the words come out about a half second faster than the lips are ready to say them). But the others? You can play, "Guess what language the person is speaking?" for a better time than this movie would provide otherwise.

The film was obviously shot in Africa, which is a plus. The sound effects are a mixed bag. They sound real but they don't match the on-screen action. For example, as a group heads to the forbidden forest to hunt the Sacred Monkey (I'm not kidding) the scenery is pleasant to view in all of its faded glory but then comes jungle sound effects that would be more at home at Discount Tire. I mean, what African animal sounds like an air ratchet? Give up? So do I.

How about a trumpeting elephant that has his trunk down? What about that African palm tree? The one that's in the heart of unexplored territory, but has been trimmed of dead branches in a very neat and precise manner. Or that cockatoo? That African cockatoo? There's no such thing.

Maybe they didn't film it in Africa. But then what about that aligator in the river with the hippo? The aligator in the African river? All right. So much for filming in Africa.

What about the island? This is Kong Island after all. The first group of Sacred Monkey hunters gets to the island by jeep.

Let's not forget about the "rampaging gorillas" or two guys in threadbare gorilla costumes. It's a toss-up as to who has more back hair - Robert or the guy in the gorilla costume.

Back to the sound for a second. There is a musical sound track. If you could combine sixties mod music with Carribean style near-Calypso and add a theremin tuned to sound like cheesy outer space noises, you would come close to imitating the annoyance that helps the film seem like it's longer than it is. Somehow, over thirty cool types manage to frug to this at the local watering hole. (Africa? Watering hole? Nightclub? Nevermind.)

I almost forgot to mention the plot. Burt wants revenge on Albert Muller, the guy who shot him and left him for dead. Albert's planting radio devices into gorillas so that he can control them. His next step is to plant radio devices in people so that he can either get a girl to love him (or maybe just say hi to him) or build up an army of drones to take over the world. If you can conquer one woman, you can conquer the world? Or is that too deep? (The Ramones sang, "Today your love, tomorrow the world." So, maybe not.)

"How bad is the dialogue?" you may well ask. "Well," I answer, "try this on for size..."
"I can't understand what went wrong."
"Your gorillas attacked the wrong man."
"I can't understand what went wrong."

The dialogue isn't as bad as it is boring. But once in a while there's an unintended gem. (Africa? Fasta Dream Mimer? Diamonds? Gems? Forget it.) The gorillas are being mind controlled. There's even a drawing of a human brain on a wall to sort of make sure you don't forget. When someone accused the surgeon of being "out of his mind" I had to love it. In fact, I didn't mind the line one bit. After all, the surgeon is the brains behind the whole plan to enslave the world.

Then there's Eva or Eve or The Sacred Monkey. Really, she's called both Eva and Eve within movie minutes. And she styles her hair so that she looks like a chimpanzee. It's like Planet of the Apes without make-up. Or much clothing for that matter. In fact, the charms of Esmeralda Barros are briefly on display in one scene and she's perky.

The movie is a mess. From the badly dubbed dialog to the nonsensical plot to the low rent 60's soundtrack to the plastic and cardboard special effects. The women are pretty, the men are hairy, and the guys in the gorilla suits are baffled. Don't say that I didn't warn you.

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