You know you have made a big hit with your movie when the studio wants you to put out a sequel immediately. That is precisely what happened with King Kong, as the studios were quick to capitalize on the success of the phenom that they released a sequel later that same year. While Fay Wray and Bruce Cabot declined to be in the movie, Robert Armstrong and Frank Reicher did reprise their roles of Carl Denham and Captain Englehorn respectively. Seeing as how little time there was to make this movie, you will have to judge for yourself if Son Of Kong was as good as the original.
The plot: A month after the disaster with Kong, Carl Denham is now broke after being served with several lawsuits from all the damages brought to the city by Kong’s rampage. As he is hiding out in the house he is renting, he receives a visit from Charlie, the cook from Englehorn’s ship, who tells Denham that Captain Englehorn wishes to see him as soon as possible. Denham manages to get out of his house and over to the docks, where he meets with Captain Englehorn, just as he is tipped off that he is about to be indicted in front of a grand jury. Captain Englehorn informs Denham that he is in a similar boat due to his ship being the one that brought Kong to New York. When Englehorn says that he can get a skeleton crew for the ship and sail towards the Indies, and begin shipping cargo, Denham agrees to join him. However, they find it hard to earn money working in the Orient and Englehorn is worried about being able to pay the crew. When the stop in the port of Dakang, Denham sees an advertisement for a show and convinces Englehorn to join him. The show consists of a group of monkeys playing musical instruments, followed by a song sung by a young girl named Hilda. Later that night, Hilda’s father, who runs the show, is drinking with a Norwegian captian named Nick Helstrom. After accusing Helstrom of sinking his ship for the insurance money, Hilda’s father fights with Helstrom over the liquor and Helstrom hits him over the head with the bottle. Hilda’s father falls to the ground, accidentally knocking over a lantern, which proceeds to catch the tent on fire. Hilda sees the fire and manages to release the monkeys from their cages before dragging her father out of the fire, but he ends up dying. The next day, Denham sees Hilda trying to recapture one of the monkeys and attempts to cheer her up before he continues on his way. While sitting at the bar with Englehorn, Denham is approached by Helstrom, who happened to be the man that sold him the map to Skull Island. When Helstrom mentions a treasure that is supposed to be buried on the island, Denham and Englehorn agree to sail back to the island and try to find it. That night, Denham pays a visit to Hilda and when she finds out he is leaving, she begs him to take her with him, but Denham refuses and gives her some money to book passage on another ship. On their way to the island, Captain Englehorn is concerned about how much Helstrom has been talking to the crew, unaware that Helstrom has been telling the crew about what happened to the crew on the last trip to the island. A short time later, Denham and Englehorn see a contingent of the crew coming towards them being led by Charlie and when Englehorn asks what’s the matter, Charlie explains that he found Hilda stowed away in the forward hold. Helstrom is unnerved to see Hilda on board but manages to get her to keep silent about what happened to her father. When they arrive at the island, the crew mutinies against Denham and Englehorn and forces them into a lifeboat, along with Hilda and Charlie. After inciting the mutiny, Helstrom tries to take command of the ship, but the crew tosses him overboard as well and he is forced to climb into the lifeboat with Denham and the others. When they arrive on the island, they are confronted by the native’s chief, who blames Denham for leading Kong behind the wall, where he destroyed his village and killed his people. Forced to find a new place to come ashore, they paddle into a rocky alcove, and Denham goes to find a way into the island’s interior, accompanied by Hilda. After climbing op a passageway, they discover a 12 foot albino gorilla, which Denham believes to be the son of Kong, trapped in some quicksand. Feeling sorry for the gorilla, and also feeling guilty for what happened to Kong, Denham pushes over a dead tree in order to save “Little Kong” and it heads off into the jungle. When Englehorn, Helstrom, and Charlie join them, Denham tells Englehorn about Little Kong, and Englehorn suggest keeping that information from Helstrom, as he would have a breakdown. Deciding to split up, Englehorn, Charlie, and Helstrom go searching for food but when they spot a styracosaurus, they are chased into a cave. Meanwhile, Denham and Hilda are searching for a way into what Denham believes is the temple, but they wind up chased by a large bear. Little Kong hears Hilda’s screams and begins fighting the creature, eventually using the toppled tree to club the bear and chase it away. At Hilda’s urging, Denham, bandages a wound on Little Kong’s finger, all the while, talking to Little Kong and apologizing for what happened to it’s father. The next day, Little Kong helps Denham get into the temple, where Denham discovers the treasure, but Little Kong accidentally breaks Denham’s rifle. Attracted by the noise, a dinosaur enters the cave and attacks Little Kong, but Little Kong manages to kill it. Englehorn, Helstrom, and Charlie return but when Helstrom sees Little Kong, he panics and heads for the boat. Englehorn, Hilda, and Charlie go to stop him while Denham goes to get more of the treasure. When Helstrom reaches the boat, he is attacked and killed by a dinosaur, just as an earthquake occurs, which causes the island to start sinking. Denham and Little Kong manage to climb out of the temple but as they make their way to the top of the cliff, Little Kong’s foot becomes trapped between some rocks. As the island continues sinking, Little Kong grabs Denham and sacrifices his own life to hold Denham above the water, allowing Englehorn and the others to save him. Some time later, they are eventually picked up by a passing ship and Denham asks Hilda if she thought Little Kong knew he was saving Denham’s life. When Denham discusses splitting the treasure between the four of them, Hilda suggests splitting it three ways, as she would rather stick with Denham.
Son Of Kong was met with negative reviews from the critics, holding a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many of the critics felt that it was too rushed to make for a good sequel. The writer apparently made no effort to try and write a serious movie, as she figured it would never surpass the original, so she decided to make it funnier instead. The movie was successful, but nowhere near as much as the original, earning only $616,000.
Definitely not as good as the original but I don’t think this is a terrible movie, just…different. Robert Armstrong and Frank Reicher both did a good job acting in this movie, Armstrong especially as he seemed to give Denham a lot more character and humanity in this movie. The story was ok considering how short the movie was, but that is probably due to the rush in getting it made. Considering how little time he had, Willis O’Brien did a great job with the special effects, giving Little Kong a lot more character than King Kong, although that is probably the reason some people don’t like this movie. Worth watching as a follow up to King Kong, but most people will probably ignore it.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5