King Kong Lives

King Kong Lives (released as King Kong 2 in some countries) is a 1986 American monster adventure film directed by John Guillermin. Produced by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and featuring special effects by Carlo Rambaldi, the film stars Linda Hamilton and Brian Kerwin. The film is a sequel to the 1976 remake of King Kong.[3][4]

King Kong Lives
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Guillermin
Produced byMartha Schumacher
Screenplay by
Based on
Music byJohn Scott
CinematographyAlec Mills
Edited byMalcolm Cooke
Distributed byDe Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Release date
  • December 19, 1986 (1986-12-19)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$18 million[1][2]
Box office$4.7 million or $2.2 million (North America)[2]


After being shot down from the World Trade Center, Kong is however revealed to be still alive and is kept in a coma for about 10 years at the Atlantic Institute, under the care of surgeon Dr. Amy Franklin. In order to save Kong's life, Dr. Franklin must perform a heart transplant and give Kong a computer-monitored artificial heart. However, he has lost so much blood that a transfusion is badly needed, and to complicate matters, Franklin says there is no species of ape or other animal whose blood type matches Kong's.

Enter Hank "Mitch" Mitchell, adventurer and Franklin's eventual love interest, who travels to Borneo (as he theorizes that Borneo and the island from the first film were once part of the same landmass) and captures a giant female ape who is dubbed "Lady Kong". Mitchell brings her to the institute to use her blood for King Kong's operation. The transfusion and the heart transplant are a success, but Kong escapes along with Lady Kong.

Archie Nevitt, an insane army lieutenant colonel, is called in with his men to hunt down and kill the two apes. Lady Kong is captured alive by Nevitt's troops and imprisoned; Kong falls from a cliff and is presumed dead. However, as Franklin and Mitchell soon discover, Kong's artificial heart is beginning to give out, forcing them to attempt a jailbreak. They discover that Lady Kong is pregnant with Kong's offspring. The jailbreak is successful thanks to Kong, who has survived the fall and breaks his mate out. After being followed, attacked, and shot by the military, Kong kills Lt. Col Nevitt and dies slowly near a military base on a farm where Lady Kong gives birth to an infant son. Kong reaches out to touch his son just before dying. Having returned to Borneo, Lady Kong lives peacefully with her son in the jungle.


  • Brian Kerwin as Hank Mitchell
  • Linda Hamilton as Dr. Amy Franklin
  • Peter Elliott as King Kong
  • John Ashton as Lt. Col. Archie Nevitt
  • George Yiasoumi as Lady Kong
  • Benjamin Kechley as Baby Kong
  • Frank Maraden as Dr. Benson Hughes
  • Peter Michael Goetz as Dr. Andrew Ingersoll
  • Jimmie Ray Weeks as Major Peete
  • Jimmy Wiggins as Boyfriend
  • Mary Swafford as Girlfriend
  • Michael Forest as Vance
  • Leon Rippy as Will
  • Herschel Sparber as Jay
  • Wallace Merck as Chigger
  • Dean Whitworth as Scruffy
  • Jonathan Canfield as Jump Ranger #1
  • Jack Wheeler (twin) as Officer #1
  • Joe Wheeler (twin) as Officer #2
  • David Hartzell as Sergeant #1
  • Patrick Webb as Infantryman
  • Greg Hendrixson as Jump Ranger #2
  • Jim Grimshaw as Sergeant
  • Robin Cahall as Mazlansky
  • Matt Totty as Sgt. Tucker
  • Rod Davis as TV Reporter, Lake City (Rocky Top, Tennessee) scenes[5]


The film was announced in October 1985.[6] Brian Kerwin said, "I knew that my name would be up there as the lead, but there was never any question that the star of the movie was the ape. Also, the 1976 movie had such low prestige and Jessica Lange was ridiculed, but then so was Christopher Reeve for Superman, and look at the subsequent success of those two. So, I don't worry about it. We tried to have fun when we were making the movie, without poking fun at it. It's an adult fairy tale and it has humor. If people think it's a silly piece of fluff and we're all jerks, then that's the way it goes. I hope it doesn't happen."[7] Filming started in April 1986 in Tennessee.[8] "The movie is about Kong, about special effects, about jeeps being blown up," says John Ashton.[9]



King Kong Lives was panned by critics.[10][11][12] Rotten Tomatoes rated it a 0% based on 9 reviews. Roger Ebert gave the film only one out of four stars and stated, "The problem with everyone in King Kong Lives is that they're in a boring movie, and they know they're in a boring movie, and they just can't stir themselves to make an effort."[13] DEG sent a notice to Ebert and Gene Siskel notifying the two critics that they were allowed to show snippets of the film on TV in their native Chicago, but were forbidden to show the same snippets on the national scale. Siskel remarked "Obviously, they were scared [...] If you don't believe me or Roger, believe the film company, that, think about it, couldn't find a single scene that it wanted you to see."[14]

Box Office

Despite its marketing campaign, King Kong Lives was a box office flop,[15] grossing $4.7 million during its theatrical run.[16] The film was nominated for one Razzie Award, Worst Visual Effects. Actor Peter Goetz received a residual check of 12 cents from the film and decided to frame it as a tribute, never cashing it. The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.[17]

Home media

King Kong Lives was released on VHS as King Kong 2. The film was later released on DVD with its original title.

Video games

Two official video games based on the film were developed and released only in Japan by Konami. They were titled King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch for the Famicom, and King Kong 2: Yomigaeru Densetsu for the MSX. The Famicom game totally discarded the human aspect of the story and players played as King Kong who has to travel around the globe fighting giant robots and certain military forces in order to save the female Kong. The game was designed as an action-adventure game with some science fiction concepts. The MSX version, on the other hand, plays from the perspective of Mitchell. This version is a role-playing game.


  1. Friendly, David T. "De Laurentiis rejoins the ranks" Los Angeles Times (November 16, 1985)
  2. De Laurentiis PRODUCER'S PICTURE DARKENS: KNOEDELSEDER, WILLIAM K, Jr. Los Angeles Times 30 Aug 1987: 1.
  3. Beale, Lewis (1986-06-01). "The Kong Isn't Dead; Long Live The King". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  4. Oates, Marylouise (1986-06-15). "Finally, A Steady Job For King Kong". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  5. "King Kong Lives (1986)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  6. A DYLAN THOMAS SCRIPT, BUT, ALAS, LITTLE ELSE Ryan, Desmond. Philadelphia Inquirer 27 Oct 1985: I.2.
  7. That's too big a woman for me,' actor says of female version Monkeying around with the Kong tale Yakir, Dan. The Globe and Mail05 Dec 1986: D.3.
  8. GIANT ROLE Orlando Sentinel 29 Mar 1986: A2.
  10. Goldstein, Patrick (1986-12-22). "Movie Review : King Kong Goes Ape One More Time". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  11. Maslin, Janet (1986-12-20). "Screen: the return of king kong". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  12. "King Kong Lives". Variety. 1985-12-31. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  13. "King Kong Lives :: :: Reviews". 1986-12-22. Retrieved 2012-06-17.
  15. Mathews, Jack (1986-12-24). "'Kong Lives' Dies At Box Office". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  16. "King Kong Lives (1986)". Box Office Mojo. 1988-07-05. Retrieved 2012-06-17.
  17. Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.

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