King Kong Lives (1986)

General Information

Director: John Guillermin

Writers: Ronald Shusett and Steven Pressfield

Cast: Peter Elliot, George Yiasomi, Brian Kerwin, Linda Hamilton, John Ashton, Peter Michael Goetz, Frank Maraden, Alan Sader, Lou Criscuolo, Marc Clement, Richard Rhodes, Larry Souder, Ted Prichard, Jayne Linday-Gray, Debbie McLeod, Elizabeth Hayes, Natt Christian, MacPirkle, Larry Sprinkle, Rod Davis, David DeVries, Bonnie Cook, J. Michael Hunter, Robin Cahall, Don Law, Jack Maloney, Jimmie Ray Weeks, Jeff Benninghoffen, Jim Grimshaw, Bernard Addison, Michael McLendon, Jimmy Wiggins, Mary Swafford, Michael Forest, Leon Rippy, Wallace Merck, Dean Whitworth, Hershel Sparber, Dandy Stevenson, Lydia Smith, Hope Nunnery, Margaret Freeman, Winston Hemingway, Tom Parkhill, Buck Ford, Derek Pearson, Gary Kaikaka, Duke Ernsberger, Mike Starr, and Shannon Rowell

Composer: John Scott

Release Date: 12/19/1986

MPAA Rating: PG-13



Ten years after falling from the World Trade Center Twin Towers, King Kong (Peter Elliot)—now in desperate need of a heart transplant—requires a blood transfusion from another member of his species. Conveniently, Lady Kong (George Yiasomi) King Kong Livesreveals herself to adventurer Hank Mitchell (Brian Kerwin), enabling Dr. Amy Franklin (Linda Hamilton) to perform surgery on Kong. Complications arise when Kong and Lady Kong escape from captivity, prompting the ruthless Lt. Col. Nevitt (John Ashton) to locate and attack both animals.

The sequel to King Kong (1976), King Kong Lives earns its reputation as the worst installment in the entire franchise. Specifically, this film is marred by offensive stereotypes, hackneyed romantic subplots, and cringe-worthy special effects.



King Kong LivesThe production crew should be commended for filming Kong at a high frame rate, allowing him to display the ponderous movements that one would expect of a 50-foot-tall gorilla—a slight improvement over the 1976 version, which, by showcasing Kong at normal speed, fails to generate a similar outcome.



Though subdued in the original version, Kong’s anthropomorphic qualities are overplayed to the point of sappiness throughout this film. Especially awful are King Kong LivesKong’s intimate gestures toward Lady Kong, which turn the Eighth Wonder of the World into a cartoonish parody of himself.

King Kong Lives also deserves criticism for its antagonistic characters, mainly depicted as crude, one-dimensional caricatures of Southern/military types. The villain of the 1976 movie, in contrast, maintains a hint of nuance due to his realistic, albeit deplorable, motive for capturing Kong.



King Kong LivesDespite normally exhibiting interest in human female characters alone, the Kong in this film demonstrates affection for a giant ape of the opposite sex—an original, if poorly executed, twist on the King Kong legend.


Concluding Comments

King Kong Lives is a campy, melodramatic entry in the King Kong series. Monster movie buffs may, however, enjoy this effort for its unintentionally amusing aspects.


Overall Quality: 2/10


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