Son of Kong – the classic 1933 bad sequel

If you think the Hollywood “bad sequel” phenomenon is something new, just take a look at the 1933 Son Of Kong. It is so ridiculously bad and cheaply made, it is fun to watch. The 1933 King Kong was such a blockbuster, that RKO rushed out the sequel Son Of Kong the same year.

Today, everyone in  Hollywood knows that  the “magic formula” to a successful sequel is “more sex”, “more violence” and “more spectacular special effects”. Apparently in 1933, RKO had not yet figured this out. Son Of Kong has less of all those elements than the original King Kong.

Helen Mack & Robert Armstrong in "Son Of Kong"

Helen Mack & Robert Armstrong in “Son Of Kong”

Everything about Son Of Kong screams quickly made sequel. For one thing, it is not even a full-length movie . At 1 hour and 10 minutes it is only about 1/2 as long as King Kong.  Despite its short length, Son Of Kong is very slow moving. The film is more than half over before Kong even appears. The special effects are terrible, even by 1933 standards. You never get the feeling that your are watching anything more than tiny models.

Terrible special effects "in Son Of Kong"

Terrible special effects “in Son Of Kong”

People (especially men) loved Fay Wray in the 1933 King Kong. In fact, many “moral authorities” considered Fay Wray’s portal of the damsel in distress just a little too sexy.

Robert Armstrong & Fay Wray in "King Kong" 1933

Robert Armstrong & Fay Wray in “King Kong” 1933

However, Fay Wray is not in Son Of Kong, even in a cameo. Robert Armstrong reprises his role as Carl Denham the promoter, and Frank Reicher returns as Captain Englehorn. So what happened to Fay Wray? Some people say RKO didn’t offer her the part since it did not want the revisit the controversy surrounding her revealing outfits. However, most movie buffs believe that Fay Wray was just too smart to damage her reputation by appearing in this bomb.

"Son Of Kong" - not exactly frightening compared to his father the King

“Son Of Kong” – not exactly frightening compared to his father the King

The biggest disappointment is the Son Of Kong himself. Instead of going for bigger and fiercer than King Kong, RKO went for smaller and clown-like The Son Of Kong is only 11 feet tall, and never attacks people at all. It is mostly like a big friendly dog. There is also no proof ever offered that this creature is in any way actually related to King Kong.

The 1933 Original, and still the best "King Kong"

The 1933 Original, and still the best “King Kong”

Sometimes we wish  there was a law that if a movie has a perfect ending, no one is ever allowed to make a sequel. The original 1933 King Kong had that perfect ending. Kong is shot off the Empire State Building by biplanes and Robert Armstrong says, “It wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.”

Fay Wray

Fay Wray

So how does Son Of Kong end? Well, Skull Island sinks (that’s right sinks). Son Of Kong gets his foot stuck in a rock and drowns. Not exactly a great moment in film history.

So, if you have a hour to kill and want to have a little fun watching a really bad sequel, check out Son Of Kong. However we recommend you spend the full 2 hours sometime and watch the original King himself.

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