Queen Kong (1976)

Director: Frank Agrama
Starring: Robin Askwith, Rula Lenska, Valerie Leon, Roger Hammond, Fiona Curzon, Linda Hayden
Editor: David Campling
Cinematography: Ian Wilson
Writer: Frank Agrama, Ron Dobrin
Music: Pepper

Oooh, this one hurt. There is a reason that the punk movement had to tear England apart in 1977/78, and this film showcases why. Some people just had too much time and money, while others were forced out onto the streets – which were piled high with rubbish. Those with the money made shit like Queen Kong. No maybe I am being a little harsh there. There beats a caring heart underneath Queen Kong’s frivolous moth eaten furry antics.

As you may have guessed (probably not), that Queen Kong is a feminist take on King Kong. And that’s the positive thing about the film. It is a very pro feminist, which considering when the film was made in the male dominated, macho mid seventies, its message of equality of the sexes is admirable. It is also worth pointing out, that despite Robin Askwith in the cast, who came to prominence in a string of ‘Confessions of…’ films, Queen Kong is in no way a sex comedy. It is more a battle of the sexes. But while this film shows admirable restraint in not exploiting the bodies of the actresses in the film, (although it could have done with a bit of livening up with some gratuitous T & A), it still allows them to speak, what would now be considered extremely racist, if not downright patronising, ‘Oonga Boonga’ language. So in a film about ‘equality’ racial slurs are encouraged, but a tasteful glimpse of breast is considered exploitation. But I guess back then, one hurdle at a time. Sexism first – racism later.

Now if you are going to watch Queen Kong, the first thing you should do is listen out for the lyrics of the theme song. They’re not good, mind you. But you may get a chuckle out of the immaturity of the lyrics. Here’s a few lines:

“…Queen Kong, she’s the chick with all the hair.
Queen Kong comes from I don’t know where.
She’s the Genie, who aint teeny.
She’s the Queenie, Queenie, Queenie for my weeny…”

Words fail me. I guess sewerage to a magistrate is caviar to a psychopath – so who am I to judge?

The film opens in the jungle, and a man in tattered rags fights his way through the dense undergrowth. A tribe of Amazon women, dressed in leopard skins chase him with spears. Eventually they run the poor fellow down and capture him. They drag him back to their camp and hang him upside down above a boiling pot. You know some time soon, the adventurer is going to be lowered into the pot and cooked. The Amazons encircle the pot, and start jabbing the adventurer with their spears. He then starts yelling and pleading to be cut down.

Then the director is the filmic abomination we have been witnessing steps into the frame. Her name is Luce Habit (Rula Lenska). She calls cut, and the actor is cut down. The slightly effeminate lead actor quits the film. He has had enough of being abused by women. That’s one of the gimmicks of the film. Men are weak and fragile, whereas the women are strong and powerful.

This leaves Luce with a dilemma. She is about to begin filming her latest adventure film in deepest, darkest Africa and she needs a new leading man. So she heads out to search London to find one, passing every recognisable landmark on the way. At some market stalls on Portabello Road, she finds her man, Ray Fay (Robin Askwith), where he is attempting to steal a toffee apple. She drugs him, puts him in a sack, and then stows him on the boat.

We see the boat – named ‘The Liberated Lady’ – being loaded with Guns, Gas, And, and Monster Tranquilisers. If you think my grammar is a little screwy there, let me assure you it isn’t. First we see a crate marked ‘Guns’ being loaded onto the ship. This is followed by a second crate marked ‘Gas’. Then two more crates are paraded across the screen, the first says ‘And’, and the second says ‘Monster Tranquilisers’. Get it? It’s a visual gag. No, you’re right it isn’t very funny, but sorry folks, that’s about as good as this film gets.

The good ship ‘Liberated Lady’ casts off for parts unknown in deepest darkest Africa. Actually, it’s not parts unknown. Luce knows exactly where she is going. They are going to ‘Lazanga where they do the Konga’. Luce explains to Ray that Lazanga (where they do the Konga) is a land where no Englishman has stepped before. When Ray asks why, he is told ‘because it is full of Australians!’ I am laughing on the inside!

Luce and her film crew arrive at Lazanga (where they do the Konga) and discover a native village of Amazons led by Valerie Leon. Because Ray Fay, is a good looking bloke, and the villagers need a suitable sacrifice to appease there giant god (yeah, it’s Queen Kong – but you know that). So the native capture Ray and put him in a giant birthday cake for Queen Kong. But when Queenie arrives, rather than eat him, she takes him off into the jungle with her – and thus begins a rather offbeat and unconvincing love story.

Now I’ll assume most readers here have seen at least one of the versions of King Kong, and are aware that Kong gets taken from the jungle to New York City. To parody that, this film takes Queenie to London where she can wreak all sorts of havoc on the landmarks, especially the Big Ben clock tower. But rather than the climax you were hoping for (that is, if you’re still watching by this stage), the film turns into an emancipation rally, with women hitting the streets with signs and banners protesting at the treatment shown to Queen Kong.

For those of you who have never heard of the film Queen Kong, don’t be too concerned. You didn’t miss it at the cinemas. Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis, who put up the money for the Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange King Kong, had the film squashed before it could be released. For years it only survived in bootleg version. But thanks to the modern marvel of DVD, you can now take Queen Kong home and marvel at
the film in all its inept glory.

The film has some positive ideas hidden in there, but it is all undone by the slip-shod way it is put together. The poor special effects are deliberate, but they only serve to distract, rather than amuse. If the intent was to make a tasteless, scattershot comedy, then the film-makers should have gone all the way. Queen Kong screams, ‘I want to be a smutty piss-take on King Kong’, but it is too scared to become that. Instead it comes off as an immature mess.

As the alligator says this is ‘roobish’! The one-liners are forced, and the joke set ups are transparent. There are also a few asides, directly to the camera. This type of thing worked in the 1960s, when people were trying to break open the traditional structure of a film, but by this time it was tired and laboured. Added to this, there is some ham-fisted spoofery of films such as The Exorcist, The Devil in Miss Jones, Jaws (groan), and Last Tango in Paris. This is the type of film that makes you look back at the puerile and antiquated offensiveness of Carry on Up the Jungle, with positive affection.

But I know, if you’re a Kong fan, no matter what I say, you will go and hunt this film down. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Blood From the Mummy's Tomb

Blood From the Mummy's Tomb

Okay, Queen Kong has very little to do with spies, but it does feature Valerie Leon, who is one of the few actors/actresses that starred alongside both Sean Connery and Roger Moore in a James Bond film. She played a hotel receptionist in The Spy Who Loved Me and was the ‘Catch you later’ girl in the Bahamas in Never Say Never Again. Aside from that she also had roles in The Saint, The Baron, The Avengers, numerous Carry On films and a role in the sci-fi smut film Zeta One. Hammer fans remember her for her role in Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb.

Confessions of a Driving Instructor

Confessions of a Driving Instructor

Then we have Robin Askwith, who’s career has had very little to do with spies (he did play a kid in Otley). As mentioned above, he is most remembered for playing Timothy Lea in ‘The Confessions of…’ films. The book series that ‘The Confessions of …’ series were based on were written by Christopher Wood, who would later write the screenplays and the novelisations for The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

No 1 of the Secret Service

No 1 of the Secret Service

Fiona Curzon, along with appearing in Department S, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Minder and The Return of the Saint, was a Bar Girl in Lindsay Shonteff’s No. 1 of the Secret Service. Later, she also appeared in Shonteff’s next schlock spy thiller No. 1 Licensed to Love and Kill (AKA: The Man From S.E.X.) — I never really knew what that acronym stood for ? Her role was Carlotta ‘Muff’ Dangerfield — known as ‘Lotta Muff’ to her friends…er, yep! Enough said, I think.

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