It's the film that makes PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE look like a professional masterpiece and has to be one of the worst, albeit most unseen, movies ever created. It's certainly one of the crudest. Up until now, I had considered NO SECRETS! to be the worst British comedy film that I'd ever watched, but all that changes with QUEEN KONG, a film so bloody awful in absolutely every respect that it should be a must for every movie-goer, in order to make them aware of the skill that goes into everyday movies.
Conceived as a spoof on the recently-released remake of KING KONG, starring Jessica Lange, QUEEN KONG was shelved after producer Dino De Laurentiis threw a fit and restricted the film's release wherever he could. Even today it remains a little-seen movie, more talked about than anything else. Judging by the state of this movie and the wave of stupid sex comedies which filled the British market back in the late '70s, our film industry was in a terrible state - something from which it hasn't really recovered.
Robin Askwith stars as 'Ray Fay' - the screaming male lead in this gender-bending variant on the classic tale, which follows the plot of KING KONG very closely indeed - so much so that you know exactly what's going to happen. However, along the way they throw in lots of jokes that fall repeatedly flat - I can't think of one intentionally funny moment in this entire film. Things reach a new low with an EXORCIST joke which really highlights this film's level of humour.
Askwith, incidentally, was never much of an actor - his acting consisted of mugging at every opportunity - yet even he seems good here, in comparison to the rest of the abysmal cast. Rula Lenska is the irritating female lead, an obnoxious director with her own agenda, and her acting is terrible. There aren't any other principal characters, and only a couple of other blokes in the thing. The other stars are a bunch of interchangeable actresses who run around a lot in bikini tops and skimpy shorts - it's that kind of movie. Look hard and you'll spot the ever-lovely Valerie Leon as a native priestess or something, in a new career low for her. I'm not surprised she gave up acting shortly afterwards. Linda Hayden also cameos as a singing nun for no particular reason, for about a minute before dying.
As well as the non-direction, shoddy editing, and tinny, inappropriate music, the special effects in this film are appalling conceived and make the ones in DR WHO look like visual masterpieces. QUEEN KONG is obviously a man in a tatty-old ape suit, who walks around in some over-size sets on occasion or alternatively is back-projected in front of tiny, running people. This is rather obvious due to the bright blue screen behind her every time this happens. The prehistoric "monsters" that Kong fights in the jungle are pitiful, especially a rubbery Tyrannosaurus rex whose jaws bend back and forth with the slightest touch. Just when things can't get any worse, a rubbish Pterodactyl appears, sometimes huge, sometimes tiny, depending on the prop they were using. I realised then just how good the effects in AT THE EARTH'S CORE are in comparison.
However, for me, one special effect in particular highlights the cheapness of this production. We see an obvious model of Kong being pulled down the River Thames, wrapped in chains, on her arrival to London. At this particular moment, somebody swoops a toy helicopter past the top right of the picture. I couldn't believe my eyes and had to rewind this scene to make sure I wasn't dreaming, but yes, it is a model helicopter up there, with the top hidden to avoid the hands of the man holding it. Just one poor moment of many, QUEEN KONG is a truly pitiful film, only worthwhile as a curiosity, in the same way that people crowd around road accidents in a morbid way. For a much more fun British take on the Kong legend, check out 1961's KONGA, complete with a hamming Michael Gough and equally dodgy special effects - but at least they had some money and made an effort in that particular film.
Review by Leofwine_draca from the Internet Movie Database.