Release Date: December 22nd, 1933
Directed by: Ernest B. Schoedsack
Written by: Ruth Rose
Based on: King Kong by James Creelman, Ruth Rose, Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace
Music by: Max Steiner
Cast: Robert Armstrong, Helen Mack, Frank Reicher, John Marston, Victor Wong, Edward Brady
RKO Radio Pictures, 69 Minutes
Son of Kong was a rushed sequel to the original King Kong after that film’s massive success. Shockingly, this came out the same year, just nine months after its superior predecessor.
That doesn’t mean that Son of Kong is a bad picture. In fact, I quite enjoy it as an early 1930s monster movie. But when compared to King Kong, it doesn’t even come close to that movie’s greatness.
The original Kong has achieved legendary status and rightfully so. Son of Kong plays more like the later sequels to the classic Universal Monsters film series. It is enjoyable enough, it expands on the mythos but it lacks the heart and imagination that made the first film a true classic.
One positive, is I like the development of Robert Armstrong’s Carl Denham. It follows his story and his return to the island to avoid prosecution for being deemed responsible for the original Kong’s rampage in New York City. Here, he meets a new Kong and is able to try and redeem himself and to overcome the guilt he feels for taking the first Kong away from his home.
It may be sacrilege to say but I enjoy Helen Mack in this film more than Fay Wray in the original. Unlike Wray, Mack is not a screaming and flailing helpless woman. She is strong, has a much more interesting story and is more integral to the plot by not being a generic damsel in distress.
I also feel like the effects, especially the stop motion, are slightly more refined in this picture. There seems to be less but that is probably due to this film being rushed out. The new Kong doesn’t even show up until there are only 25 minutes left in this 69 minute picture. But the younger Kong comes off as more fluid in motion than its father in the first movie.
Son of Kong is a nice companion piece to King Kong. It is also a continuation of Denham’s story and he was the most interesting character of the original. While it isn’t the classic epic that the original film is, it is still a fun old school giant monster movie.