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  Queen Kong Going Ape
Year: 1976
Director: Frank Agrama
Stars: Robin Askwith, Rula Lenska, Valerie Leon, John Clive, Brian Godfrey, Roger Hammond, Linda Hayden, Carol Drinkwater, Vicki Michelle, Anna Bergman
Genre: Comedy, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Film director Luce Habit (Rula Lenska) has her latest jungle-set epic placed in jeopardy when her leading man walks out, refusing to put up with her domineering ways any longer. Luce searches London for a replacement and spots one in the shape of Ray Fay (Robin Askwith), a petty thief who she kidnaps and takes to Lazanga, where they do the Konga. But Ray finds himself with more than film stardom to worry about when Lazanga's biggest inhabitant makes an appearance...

This spoof of the 1933 fantasy classic King Kong was written by the director, Frank Agrama, and Ron Dobrin, and tried to take the old chestnut into the seventies with a contemporary twist. Unfortunately for the the film makers, powerful Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis had had the same idea, only his update was deadly serious. Believing that his multi-million dollar blockbuster would be threatened by Agrama's considerably lower budget effort, De Laurentiis sued, and the film was little seen for years.

According to Askwith's autobiography, he and Lenska thought Dino had done them both a huge favour at the time. But now Queen Kong is more widely available, how does it stand up? As you might expect it hasn't dated too well, but it could be one of those films that is more enjoyable now than it was back then, because there are times when you literally can't believe what the film is trying to get away with, from the corny jokes and bizarre references to other films (including a singing nun Airport spoof three years before Airplane) to its, er, unusual take on feminism.

Ah yes, the feminism. Now, in the seventies, all right-thinking British blokes were unsettled by the way that ladies were asserting themselves, and this film attempts to struggle with that unease through the universal medium of laughter. By the end, Queen Kong herself becomes a symbol of feminism, with Ray as her unlikely spokesperson, and the film leaves you with a cheerfully oblivious endorsement of women's liberation.

As in the original, Kong and the film director are rivals for the affections of Ray (Ray Fay - Fay Wray, geddit?), and they are equally as aggressive. Luce has a tyrannical streak, a condescending attitude towards men and an all-female staff (she also only uses a hand-cranked camera, because she's so talented that's all she needs, apparently). Meanwhile Kong lords it over a bunch of natives in a jungle that looks suspiciously like an English forest, where the men are subservient to the ruling women.

The film's saving grace is that it takes nothing seriously, so that it can get away with the odd joke in dubious taste, and the generally ramshackle quality of the production. There are some terrible songs (including a musical number courtesy of Luce and her assistants that praises Germaine Greer), and dodgy stock footage of jungle animals and, for some reason, the Red Arrows being called out to combat Kong as she perches atop Big Ben. Watch for the dinosaurs, too. As spoofs go, it's idiotic, but it does raise a laugh, and it's a pity it was withdrawn all those years ago. It deserves to be better known.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Frank Agrama  ( - )

Egyptian director/producer who worked within the Lebanese film industry in the 60s before directing B-movie shlockers Queen Kong and Dawn of the Mummy in the late 70s. Now produces for American TV.

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