May 082021

King Kong (1976) is certainly a flawed movie, entertaining for the most part though, but the biggest drawback is with the Kong suit which sometimes looks fine but his facial expressions were at best goofy, at worst downright creepy.



King Kong
— Collector’s Edition —

Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy, Horror
Shout Factory| PG/NR – 134 min. / 182 min. – $34.98 | May 11, 2021

Date Published: 05/08/2021 | Author: The Movieman

Director: John Guillermin
Writer(s): James Creelman and Ruth Rose (original screenplay), Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace (idea); Lorenzo Semple, Jr. (screenplay)
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange, John Randolph

Features: Audio Commentaries, Interviews, TV Version, Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 2

Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (DTS-HD MA 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 49.42 GB (Disc 1); 49.38 GB (Disc 2)
Total Bitrate: 41.37 Mbps (Disc 1); 31.33 Mbps (Disc 2)
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

Shout Factory provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.


Plot Synopsis: When a research ship, led by Petrox Oil Company executive Fred Wilson (CHARLES GRODIN), is sent to explore an island thought to be rich in oil, paleontologist Jack Prescott (JEFF BRIDGES) sneaks aboard, having heard strange rumors about the island. En route, the crew rescues Dwan (JESSICA LANGE), the sole survivor of a shipwreck. When they arrive, they find native people living in fear of a monster called Kong. The natives kidnap Dwan and sacrifice her to what turns out to be an enormous ape. Dwan is eventually rescued, and the ape captured for a gala exhibit.

Quick Hit Review: Never been a huge fan of the King Kong movies though vastly appreciated the work that was done on the 1933 original and aspects of the effects work in subsequent movies, including Kong: Skull Island, but I don’t go, forgive me, ape over a new Kong movie, just generally go in just wanting to be entertained, which generally they have been, the few I’ve seen.

This version of King Kong, released in 1976 from executive producer Dino De Laurentiis, certainly has some spectacle for sure and for the old guy in an ape costume, it’s not all bad, albeit Kong’s facial expressions ranged from unintentionally goofy to downright creepy, especially every time he’s looking at, ogling perhaps a better word, at Jessica Lange’s Dwan, although to be fair, I think many guys, ape or human, would be too. In any case, there is an adorable element to this movie, specifically when Kong is transported to New York and, in an attempt to grab Dwan, rips open a model train or in another scene, ducks behind a building to avoid being spotted by a helicopter. Those made me smile; doubtful it was the filmmakers’ intent, however.

King Kong was directed by John Guillermin who has helmed a couple epic movies in the past including The Towering Inferno and Death on the Nile (as well as Shaft in Africa) whose attitude behind the camera was something else and probably combined with a couple box office flops, last directed in 1988 (and passed away in 2015). In terms of his direction here, it’s not bad and I actually liked some of the tricks he undertook and the combination of stages and miniature work; sometimes it looks cheesy but it often put a smile on my face.

In the end, King Kong is not a terrible movie by any stretch but is very flawed and didn’t exactly have the same emotional impact compared with its counterparts, both the 1933 and 2005 versions.



This two-disc release comes with a matted slip cover and the inner sleeve is reversible with the original poster artwork.


Audio Commentaries:

  • Author Ray Morton (“King Kong : The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson”)
  • Make-Up Effects Rick Baker (played King Kong)

The tracks, Morton especially, can be dry but still educational. Baker’s track is more of a conversation rather than a scene-specific commentary as it was originally intended as a video interview.

Interviews (TRT 49:17):

  • On Top of the World (11:54) — Production Manager Brian Frankish and Assistant Director David McGiffert
  • When the Monkey Dies, Everybody Cries (13:48) — Messengers Jeffrey Chernov and Scott Thaler
  • Maybe in Their Wildest Dreams (5:36) — Sculptor Steve Varner
  • Something’s Haywire (5:52) — Actor Jack O’Halloran
  • From Space to Apes (5:36) — Photographic Effects Assistant Barry Nolan
  • There’s a Fog Bank Out There (6:31) — Second Unit Director Bill Kronick

There’s a good selection of interviewees here and even done mostly over Zoom, are pretty informative, each giving their behind-the-scenes stories, and some of it pretty frank about the production.

Also included is the Theatrical Trailers (5:02), Television Spots (3:36), Radio Spots (1:35) and Image Galleries (Movie Stills, Posters and Lobby Cards, Behind the Scenes and Newspaper Ads).

King Kong Panel Discussion from the Aero Theater (1:08:45) — This is a special from 2016, celebrating the film’s 30th anniversary and features Jack O’Halloran, Richard H. Kline, Rick Baker, Martha De Laurentiis and Richard Kraft.


VIDEO – 4½/5

King Kong (1976) comes to Blu-ray through Shout Factory. There’s no mention of an entirely new scan, but even so, this 1080p high-definition transfer looks quite good. Detail is sharp and very nicely defined throughout, colors are well balanced and other than some minor specs here and there, the picture is fairly clean with the natural film grain and noise still intact.

AUDIO – 4¼/5

There are two options for the audio. The first is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which is the default option with a secondary track, DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, being new to this release and apparently the theatrical version. Either one, the lossless tracks sound fairly good, dialogue comes across with good clarity and there is some modest depth for the various action/adventure sequences.


OVERALL – 3½/5

King Kong (1976) is certainly a flawed movie, entertaining for the most part though, but the biggest drawback is with the Kong suit which sometimes looks fine but his facial expressions were at best goofy, at worst downright creepy. This Collector’s Edition release from Shout Factory offers up good video and audio transfers and a good selection of bonus material.





Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

  2 Responses to “King Kong (1976): Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Review”

Comments (2)
  1. Thank you very much, and I do LOVE your website and your reviews. I always peruse your reviews prior to purchasing any movie on bluray-bluray 4K. I originally saw this movie in the movie theatre. AND have the laserdisc, and dvd, and bluray (Japanese edition), and now the new er 2-disc BLURAY, WHICH YOU REVIEWED HERE. THIS WAS MY GENERATION’S KING KONG (1976) SO I PREFER THIS VERSION. Plus, in summer of 1976, I and my best friend at the time, Bill, we ventured into New York City (got a ride with his father who worked at the sanitation department in Manhattan, as he started work about 6 AM morning), and Bill and I walked from West side over to east side (rockefeller center, went on the NBC tour and met Cousin Brucie for 1st time but would later meet him again 3 more times, and saw IMUS doing show behind the glass, as was only 4 of us on the tour, and went over to the United Nations), down to Twin Towers (and went up to Observation Deck in south tower), and saw the body of KONG (a canvass covered Kong’s body, as filming was done at night; body was on the ground, between both towers; dont remember if I took a picture of it that day), then we walked north to FASCINATION game place, and then by 5 or 6 PM, met up with his father for the ride back home. Anyway, love your review; looking for ward to your other reviews of other movies coming out, mostly in 4K. Thank you. -PAUL A. 21 MAY 2021 Friday 6:26PM

  2. Thank you for the kind words. Sounds like an awesome time to see that!

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