Don Glut is a lover of the golden age of monster movies, and his 1994 documentary explores Hollywood’s fascination with apes. Though “King Kong” popularized the giant ape in film, the idea of giant apes have been around for quite a while and even showed up every so often in silent films. Even by 1994 standards, “Hollywood Goes Ape!” isn’t the most polished documentary, but it does offer a no frills exploration in to ape cinema of all kinds. There are looks at giant ape films like “King Kong” and “Konga,” and odd ball ape movies like “The Ape Man,” and “Superman vs. The Gorilla Gang.”
It’s really hard to stack up to the original “Mighty Joe Young” which itself was kind of a simpler take on the giant ape tale. While the original remains untouched, it’s really hard not to enjoy the 1998 remake by Disney and director Ron Underwood. While it can occasionally be silly, it’s still a strong new take on the original film with a great cast, great direction and still very good special effects. This new version from director Ron Underwood strays from the original which was kind of a “King Kong” riff, and transforms it more in to a tale of a woman who watches over a humongous ape named Joe. The writers aim to tackle themes about poaching and wildlife preservation within the fun adventure tale, and most times it allows for an engaging tale of friendship and love.
If “King Kong” was the main feature, than “Son of Kong” is the less than stellar epilogue. After King Kong died in the middle of Manhattan, Carl Denham is suffering a large amount of scrutiny and possible jail time for what he brought on to New York. He now hides out in an apartment away from the press, all of whom are anxious to interview him and roast him about the part he played. “Son of Kong” is not the most action packed film. At barely seventy minutes in length, it’s mostly an adventure comedy about Carl Denham trying to save his reputation, and falling in love with a lonely female performer who follows him to Kong Island.
Ellory Elkayem’s “Eight Legged Freaks” came out during a horrendous time. First it was a limited release, unleashed around the time another Spider oriented movie was breaking box office records, and it was released during a time where audiences were still bruised from 9/11 and weren’t too keen on welcoming horror comedies in to their lives quite yet. It’s a shame since “Eight Legged Freaks” is a pitch perfect horror comedy that celebrates everything from B movies, slasher movies, disaster movies, and the classic monster movies like “Them!” and “Mosquito.” Ellory Elkayem based a lot of “Eight Legged Freaks” on his short film “Larger Than Life,” which is very much in the spirit of what we see on the big screen. It is a black and white ode to the sixties monster movies with Elkayem conjuring up what’s so gross and icky about spiders. I originally saw “Larger than Life” on television in 2000 when it premiered on the short film television series “Exposure” on the Sci-Fi Channel here in America.
I’m not against contemporizing “King Kong,” but director John Guillermin shows us how to take a very simple concept like “King Kong” and completely botch it from minute one. It’s not like “King Kong” has a complex story. It’s a fairly exciting adventure about a giant monster, the woman he loves, and New York being torn to shreds by this out of place animal. Apart from being utterly abysmal, “King Kong” is also way too long, with a premise retrofitted for the seventies that stretches the limits of suspension of disbelief. For a movie about a giant ape climbing the Twin Towers, it’s sad that the whole plot to get King Kong in to New York is the most far fetched element I had difficulty buying in to.
Julia has inherited her father’s catering company and has a big event to work at Mrs. Perch’s estate. This is a yearly event and is attended by the most affluent people in town; it could make or break her. To help her out, she has hired bartender Paul who has a less than subtle crush on her. Mrs. Perch and her son Sydney are what some might call a bit eccentric and their mansion also has a beautiful greenhouse filled with very lush plants and flowers. As Julia, Paul, and a stoner musician hired for entertainment prepare for the event, slightly bigger than usual wasps come out of an in ground nest quickly becoming a pest but no more than regular bugs. After the dinner guests arrive and start mingling, more and more wasps show up. Soon the mayhem starts as really big wasps take over and attack the guests, implanting their eggs in them which eventually burst out of their human hosts as even bigger wasps looking to attack anything that moves.
This is the story of a man, his giant, and an Octopus. And the man’s experiments involving kidnapping people and turning them in to—something. I think giants. Let’s go with giants. Said doctor also has a fondness for his giant octopus which, whenever he decides to leave his lab, comes across the octopus that seems to gleam at him from behind his glass. The doctor often smiles and waxes poetic about his friend that he hopes will never murder him in a shallow pool of cold swamp water. The thing I like about Ed Wood’s movies is that his villains just aren’t very smart.
For a movie with so much story and set up, it’s shocking how well “Deep Rising” comes together. Stephen Sommers is really committed to delivering a squared jawed hero with a lot of his action movies, and “Deep Rising” gives us Treat Williams in rare form. Director Sommers’ B monster movie action flick is still a lot of fun, despite the aged special effects and slew of sub-plots, some of which are left unresolved. That said, “Deep Rising” has all the ingredients for a fun and raucous action horror film.