He Watched It Sober.

Trust us. We won't let this happen to you.

 

King of Kong Island

a/k/a Eva, La Venere Selveggia

a/k/a Kong Island

Part One of Monkey See --

Monkey Doo-Doo!

          "You're right. It's the men, not the animals, that are the real danger here!"

-- Diana, the object of much monkey love.     

 

     

Reviews:

Gonzoid Cinema

 

 

Buzzkillers!

"Ook! Ook, ook! Ook ook ook ook ook ook. Ook ook!"

~ Translation ~

"Psst. Hey, Roy. These bars are made of rubber. Let us amscray!"

 

Watch it!

AMAZON

DVD

 
 
Sights &
Sounds:
King of
Kong Island
(1968)
 Director:
  Robert Mauri
 Screenplay:
  Walter Brandi
  Robert Mauri
  Ralph Zucker
 Producer:
  Walter Brandi
  Brad Harris
  Ralph Zucker
  Dick Randall
 Malibu Bay
 Films

Newspaper Ads

 
International
Craptacular:
The Global
Exploitation
Films of
Dick Randall

Mondo Inferno

King of Kong Island

Ten Fingers of Death

The Mad Butcher

The French Sex Murders

Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks

The Clones of Bruce Lee

Escape from Women's Prison

For Your Height Only

Pieces

Pod People

Don't Open 'til Christmas

Slaughter High

 

Our Mad Mammoth Monkey Marathon stumbles out of the blocks in Africa -- at least thatís what the sign on the jeep rambling by says, so there wonít be any confusion -- where four men piled into said jeep run into an ambush and are promptly blown away. When the three ambushers reveal themselves, Burt (Brad Harris), disgusted by the carnage, isn't too happy with what just transpired, but Albert (Marc Lawrence), the ringleader, tells him not to worry; the $300000 in payroll they've just seized can appease anyone's conscience. Well, all except his, that is, because as soon as Burt lets his guard down, Albert shoots him in the back, and then kills the other man, too. Taking the money and the jeep, our villain vacates the scene while Burt's world spins into darkness as the credits roll...

Okay, three minutes of screen time and five dead bodies. Well, this could prove interesting, right? HA! Don't hold your breath. The credits also claim that this film is just plain old Kong Island, and we, as an audience, grow suspicious about that change in title. More on this later.

When the credits end, they abandon us in some kind of cavern, doubling as a laboratory, where Albert and his assistant perform some kind of dubious experimental surgery on what passes for a gorilla in this type of film. Making an incision into the beastís skull, the mad doctor inserts an electrode into the brain tissue. Once the surgery is complete (-- and apparently a success), Albert laughs sinisterly as the scene shifts back to civilization, where we find ourselves at some kind of resort hotel. And when Theodore (Aldo Cecconi), the owner and proprietor of the establishment, returns to his room, he finds his wife, Ursula (Adriana Alben), deep in conversation with Burt (-- so I guess he survived the gunshot wound then?). Ted appears to be happy to see his old friend again, and we find out that Burt is a former mercenary for hire whose been out of the country since "the incident." But now heís back and looking for Albert and a little payback. Since neither have seen him, Burt moves on. After he leaves, we see all is not well with the married couple. Seems Burt and Ursula used to have a thing for each other, and Ted goes all kinds of mean when someone pays too much attention to his wife, directing most of that hostility towards his mate in the formed of a closed fist. Meanwhile, Burt finds Ted's children, Robert and Diana (-- I think Ursula is their stepmother. Stress on the "think". And whatís with every single character in the damn movie having a derivative of Bert as a name? --), preparing to go on safari. They want Burt to come along, but he declines and asks if theyíve seen Albert. Robert (Mark Farran) claims that Albert hasn't been seen for quite awhile, but Turk, his top henchman, has been hanging around a lot lately.

At the mere mention of Turkís name, Burtís blood starts to boil. After Diana (Ursula Davis) calms him down, he's invited to join them at the club later for some drinks and dancing. When he agrees, we get an embarrassingly long go-go dancing sequence. In between songs, Ursula warns Burt that a mystery man has been watching him closely all night. Suddenly, Burt spots Turk on the dance floor, and when they make eye contact, Turk quickly splits. (But not before we recognize him as the assistant from the monkey brain surgery.) Burt chases him outside, where Turkís goon squad attacks. He manages to fight them off, but during the melee, Turk gets away. One of the goons recovers and almost kills Burt, but then the mystery surveillance man intervenes and saves him. And who is this mysterious Good Samaritan? Sorry, the film won't tell us. The first of many "ambiguities" and "vagaries" that we're gonna have to sort out for ourselves in this confusing turd-burger of a movie...

Before we go any further, I must pause ... for I have one, very important thing to say about King of Kong Island.

"SHENANIGANS!"

That's right. I call shenanigans on our good friends at VCI Video. Why? Well, the box art for this video is adorned with a large gorilla and what appears to be a rocket-ship clasped in its paw. With no plot description on the back of the box, at all, I honestly thought I was renting a version of King Kong Escapes. So, imagine my surprise when I watched it for the first time and got this instead. I knew something was fishy when the credits only called the film Kong Island. And within the first ten minutes I knew I'd been had. Needless to say, there are no giant monkeys, no rocket ships, and, in fact, there is no mention of the word Kong during the entire movie. And come to think of it, there wasn't any island, either. Dammit. Shenanigans!

Kong Island, or Eva, La Venere Selveggia in it's native Italian (-- loosely translated as Eva, the Wild Woman), was never released theatrically in the States and made it's debut on the tube in the late '70s. One can assume the prudent name change was a crass attempt to cash in on the King Kong remake. Produced by the same team that gave us Mickey Hargitay's Bloody Pit of Horror, Walter Brandi and Ralph Zucker latched on to another muscleman, Brad Harris, for this piece of jungle tedium. Also receiving a producer's credit was Dick Randall, an international renaissance man, who over the years had a hand in a ton of exploitation movies of nearly every genus and species: mondo, gialli, Hong Kong action flicks, softcore tease, hardcore sleaze, sci-fi clunkers, and slashers -- you name it, and the former gag-man for Milton Berle probably produced at least one film in the genre. And when you look at the man's track record, his films always proved enjoyable, no matter how weird or awful, but something went horribly awry, here, and his normally golden touch turned to lead. Don't believe me? Read on...

The next morning, Robert and Diana don their pith helmets and set out on safari. Along the way, amongst all the stock-footage shots of jungle terrain and animals, we find out that theyíre heading to the forbidden part of the jungle to see if they can sack the fabled "Sacred Monkey." Occasionally, they run into some real live animals, including a lion and a cheetah cub playing with each other. Diana thinks theyíre too cute to shoot -- but has no reservations about blasting away at the mommy and daddy cats. That night, after they make camp, a pack of those unfortunate looking gorillas attack and kill all the native levies, knock Robert out, and then carry Diana off into the jungle. When Robert comes around, he finds Turk standing over him, who says if he ever wants to see Diana alive again, there are a few ransom demands to be met.

And what are these ransom demands? Again, the film is being annoyingly coy with us. E'yup. I'm sensing a pattern here...

With that, Robert goes back to the hotel and tries to recruit Burt to help rescue Diana. He tells him about the gorilla attack, and how he feels there was something not quite right about it. Apparently, the apes didnít act like apes at all, and it was like they had a plan of attack. Honestly, Burt wasn't going to help until he finds out that Turk is somehow involved. And then the film gets even more cryptic as Ursula warns them against violating any ancient jungle taboos.

And we, as an audience, give up and pop open another cold one, hoping less sobriety will somehow help this film make more sense.

When Burt and Robert return to the destroyed campsite, theyíre unaware that they're being tailed by the mystery Samaritan from earlier in the film. Nope, we still donít know who he is -- and how they cannot spot him is another mystery. (Heís only about a foot and half behind them down the jungle path.) Theyíre also under the surveillance of a native jungle girl and her pet chimpanzee. After turning in for the night, Robert sneaks off and has a secret rendezvous with Turk, and we find out that the only ransom demand was to bring Burt into the jungle so Turk can kill him. (I do believe there are easier ways to bump somebody off. Oh, well. Back to the film.) Meanwhile, Jungle Girl (Esmeralda Barros) -- sans top, but her flowing hair strategically covers all her naughty bits --  stealths her way into Burtís tent, but he awakens and frightens her off.

The next morning, as the expedition presses on to find Diana, about two-feet behind them, the mystery man is attacked by the zombie gorillas. Hearing the commotion, Burt investigates and comes to the man's rescue by killing one of the apes and running the rest off. Our mystery man finally reveals himself to be an Interpol agent, investigating the original payroll robbery. But that isnít Interpolís biggest concern, though: Itís rumored that Albert is a mad genius who is diabolically experimenting with the "condition brain reflexes in animals" and will somehow use this to take over the world. (YES, Pinky!) Unfortunately, that's as far as he gets before the apes circle back and wipe out the rest of Burt and Bert's safari. Again, Robert manages to survive the attack, and as he begins to spill his guts about his fatherís involvement with Albertís experiments, he is felled by a sniperís bullet before he can reveal too much. (For the record: it was Turk who shot him.) But Burt and the Interpol man canít go after the assassin because theyíre quickly attacked, overrun, and subdued by some jungle natives. And as the film suddenly turns into The Naked Prey on us, the natives quickly set them free -- only so they can hunt them down again!

And while weíre on that subject, The Naked Prey is one of the most brutal and unsettling movies Iíve ever seen. Watch it, and try to sit still as the captured safari men are tortured to death. I know most of them were evil white capitalists out raping the jungle -- but still! That ain't right...

The Interpol man is killed with a spear (-- and nice knowing ya! Thanks for stopping buy and expositioning the plot for us), but Burt manages to get away. He then spots the Jungle Girl again, and although sheís still a little skittish, he uses the patented William Shatner technique to calm her down. (He takes his shirt off, emotes with much gusto etc. etc.) Despite the language barrier, he manages to find out that sheís the "Sacred Monkey" that Diana was looking for. (Now thatís MORE than a little disturbing.) Dubbing her Eva, Burt discovers that she is wearing Dianaís bracelet and convinces her to show him where she found it.

Then the scene shifts back to the cavern laboratory for some more plot exposition as Albert removes Diana from her cage, and then goes into the standard bad guy gloating routine by explaining how he is able to control his hairy minions ... After implanting the reception antennae into the ape, he uses his atomic transmitter to control them. This mighty transmitter appears to be a large picture of a monkey brain with a red light bulb right in the center, and it also appears to be his burglar alarm as it starts flashing and bonging when someone invades the perimeter. Tuning in a monitor, Albert sees Burt and Eva approaching the cave and sends Turk and an ape to take care of them. Meanwhile, Diana is thrown back in her cage as Albert gloats some more, revealing that heís been doing the same kind of mind-control experiments on women, too. And if she doesnít capitulate to him, Diana's next on the patient list.

Once their trap is sprung, scattering the invaders, Turk chases after Burt while the ape goes after the girl. Calling the ape by name, Eva is surprised when it wonít listen to her. (Think Tarzan here. "Unk, mangahni! Bondalo!") Under Albert's control, the ape captures her and takes her back to his new master. Meanwhile, Burt uses the old "stick your shoe in a rock to fool the bad guy" trick and kills Turk, then taking the bad guy's rifle, heads deeper into the cavern, where back in the lab, Albert is ecstatic to finally get his hands on the "Sacred Monkey." (Okay, thatís just wrong. Someone really blew it in the translation and dubbing here.) But suddenly, and from out of the blue, Ted and Ursula show up, armed to the teeth, demanding that Diana be released immediately. And then the film takes another violent u-turn on us when Ursula switches sides and shoots Ted in the head. Seems she's been having an affair with Albert all along. (The hell?) She turns on Diana, too, and tries to kill her, but Eva jumps in and a royal catfight ensues. This display of feminine feistiness arouses the male apes caged nearby, and as it builds into frenzy, a shot rings out and Ursula slumps over. She's dead. Burt enters the lab with the smoking gun, and takes aim at Albert. His revenge is almost complete, but the apes, so wound up over the frenzied female fight, manage to break out of their cage and attack him. When Diana yells at Burt to shoot at the transmitter, he manages to hit the light bulb with the second shot with two monkeys hanging on his back!

With the apes now back under Evaís control, she sics them on Albert. After they chase him down and kill him (-- I think), we cut back to his equipment as it starts to explode, causing everyone to flee the cave. Once everybody's safe, Burt and Diana jump in a handy boat and head back toward civilization, leaving Eva and her chimp behind, who wave goodbye before heading back into the jungle.

The End

Kong Island has bad acting, bad dialogue, bad F/X, bad plotting, and is just a plain bad idea. Now normally this kind of craptacular Royal Flush is good for a few laughs but this film can't quite get over that cinematic hump. However, this Italian/Spanish mash-up isnít without merit. As a jungle safari movie, it covers all itís bases as proven with this handy checklist:

  • Gratuitous use of stock jungle footage with a wide variety of animals. Check and Check.

  • At some point in the safari, someone will run into a very large snake. Check.

  • Due to the Caucasian Immunity Clause, only native laborers are killed. Check.

  • The heroine must be carried off into jungle by some kind of monkey or native, or both. Check.

  • When you are attacked and captured by jungle natives, they will truss you up and carry you around on poles. Check.

  • All expeditions will discover either a jungle boy or jungle girl, and within five minutes all language barriers will be conquered. Check.

  • If itís a jungle girl, she will soon be playing second banana to the Great White Hunter -- even though her jungle survival skills are obviously more suited to lead. That's a big Ten-Four, good buddy.

I could go on but you get the general idea. As with most foreign imports, something gets lost in the translation. I understand that in the Euro-cut there's a ton of nudity, including a slow-motion scene of Eva running through the jungle, and it also expands upon the subplot concerning Ted and Ursula's domestic troubles. I kinda glossed over it in the synopsis, but every time they'd fight, Ted would wind up slapping his wife around, and then, for all intents and purposes, sexually assaults her. And the disturbing part is, the violence seems to turn Ursula on, which goes a long way in explaining why I chose to ignore it until now. All the double-crossing that goes on in this movie is a little contrived, and itís maddening how often a character is introduced to help explain the plot, but then, as soon as they do, theyíre dead within minutes. (So, if you do know something, keep it under your pith helmet.) And another thing, Albert is always complaining about headaches. Now, I think he is supposed to be in direct psychic control of the apes and is having some kind of feedback problems. This plays out in the end, when Bert destroys his equipment. And as Albertís brain overloads, and the apes close in on him, he clutches his head in agony and drops out of frame; so maybe he died of a cerebral hemorrhage? I don't know. Playing Albert, actor Marc Lawrence had quite a career in Hollywood but ran into trouble with the communist witch hunts in the 1950s. Naming names, he was blackballed into acting exile in Europe, where he wound up in films like this one. But he would return to America in the 1970's with his own dastardly opus Daddy's Deadly Darling. And as they say, payback is a bitch.

Admittedly, King of Kong Island is an inauspicious start to our look at the world of Mad Mammoth Monkey Movies. We can only hope that things will gets better -- or itís gonna be a long couple of weeks.

More Monkey See --
Monkey Do-Do!

Originally Posted: 03/20/01 :: Rehashed: 06/20/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
How our Rating System works. Our Philosophy.