Directed by Frank Agrama
Written by Frank Agrama, Robin Dobria & Fabio Piccioni
Produced by Virgilio De Blasi
Music by Pepper
Cast: Rula Lenska, Robin Askwith, Valerie Leon & Linda Hayden

1976/87 minutes/Color/Mono
1.85:1/English/UK/NTSC Region 1

Website: www.retromedia.org/

Review from the RetroMedia DVD

Queen Kong has languished in a deep, dark hole for over 25 years, only to recently emerge on DVD in the US. Shot in 1976 by director, Frank Agrama, Queen Kong is a spoof of the original King Kong, given a new feminist slant. On completion of the film Hollywood producer, Dino De Laurentiis, slapped the movie with a lawsuit. At the time he was shooting a big-budget remake of King Kong (starring Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges) and felt the release of Queen Kong would have a negative impact upon his movie. Through his lawsuit he managed to suppress the film, which was denied a theatrical release in the UK and US and only managed to gain a short cinema run in Italy after numerous legal battles, before it disappeared without a trace. Ironically Laurentiis production of King Kong flopped at the box office and Queen Kong is now starting to gain a cult following.

Shot entirely in the UK the film contains many faces that will be familiar to fans of British television and cinema from the 70s. Rula Lenska (best known for her extensive television work including Rock Follies in 1976) takes the lead role of Luce Habit, a feminist filmmaker intent on shooting a jungle epic in Africa. Robin Askwith co-stars as Ray Fay, her choice of leading man (he also starred in the Confessions films in the 1970s). Valerie Leon (who appeared in numerous Carry On films) and Linda Hayden (who co-starred in the Confessions films with Robin Askwith) also make an appearance. I even spotted Vicky Michelle (who went on to appear in the 1980s BBC television show Allo! Allo!) playing one of Luce Habits singing/dancing entourage.

The film opens as it means to go on with an exceptionally silly theme tune, the lead singer of the band Pepper warbling "when Im feeling mighty spunky I want to do it with my hunky monkey." Luce takes Fay Ray to an area in Africa called Lazanga "where they do the Konga" (which looks more like Hampstead Heath in London). There they encounter a tribe of sprightly young maidens led by Valerie Leon, who decide Ray Fay would make an ideal sacrifice to their God a giant 64-foot gorilla, Queen Kong. Rather than eat Ray the gorilla falls in love with him and whisks him away to her home in the jungle. Sadly, Queen Kong is captured and taken to London, where she is trussed up in a chain bra for public display.

Queen Kong can best be described as a cross-between King Kong, Monty Python and a whole selection of Carry On films. It is one of the silliest films Ive ever seen, with musical numbers, a man in a gorilla suit rampaging through a model village (doubling for London), rubber dinosaurs, a prehistoric bagpipe and lines of dialogue which include "unga bunga danga wanga" (I kid you not!) It has to be seen to be believed. Honestly this film is completely and utterly insane! It actually sounds better on paper than it really is a lot of the jokes fall flat and at times its just plain embarrassing to watch. It is possibly one of the worst films ever made and yet strangely enjoyable given the choice Id rather watch this again than De Laurentiis big-budget remake.

Queen Kong is finally available on DVD courtesy of Retromedia in the US. The film is presented in a very colouful letterboxed NTSC transfer, which looks remarkably good considering the films age and rarity, with clean vivid colors and plenty of detail. The soundtrack is basic mono, but it is free from noise or hiss. The DVD also contains a theatrical trailer and a light-hearted commentary track by director Frank Agrama and legendary b-movie producer (and boss at Retromedia) Fred Olen Ray. Fans of low-budget b-movies will want to check this one out. Ive seen considerably worse films made for considerably bigger budgets ultimately the film is just a light-hearted lampoon of King Kong. Although, Id be interested to know what Robin Askwith and co think of the films recent re-emergence on DVD Queen Kong has come back to haunt them forever!





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Review by Brendan Maltman. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©

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