King Kong Lives (1986)

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Released 19-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Canyon
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 100:14 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By John Guillermin

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Linda Hamilton
Brian Kerwin
Peter Elliott
George Yiasoumi
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music John Scott

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    King Kong is held to be a classic of cinema, and while this is something that I would have serious argument with, I think it deserved better than the 1976 remake that King Kong Lives is essentially a sequel to. Any film, regardless of how bad or good it is, deserves to have a better sequel than King Kong Lives, even appalling pieces of crap like Manos: The Hands Of Fate. Yes, this film really is that bad when it starts out, and it gets worse from there.

    The film begins with footage from the 1976 King Kong showing Kong (Peter Elliott) climbing the World Trade Centre before being shot down by several Blackhawks. Never mind that the miniguns they are using would tear him into pieces and leave him with exactly no chance of survival, he just falls to the ground where he is apparently taken to a warehouse and kept on life support for a number of years. When talk turns to how to revive Kong from his coma, a doctor by the name of Amy Franklin (Linda Hamilton in a role I'm sure she'd rather forget) summarises the problem quite simply. Apparently, in order for Kong to function with a new heart, he needs a blood transfusion from another fifty-foot ape.

    Enter Hank Mitchell (Brian Kerwin), who has managed to capture another fifty-foot ape while on excursion in the jungles of some distant country. The only problem is that this particular ape happens to be female, something that the veterinarians for the institute who are keeping Kong alive believe could disturb their sick ape. Their concerns turn out to be well-founded when King Kong and Lady Kong (George Yiasoumi) take off, with the armed forces in hot pursuit. The big question of this film is whether the scientists can save King Kong and Lady Kong from a military that is only too keen to destroy the both of them. Actually, the bigger question is whether the audience can sit through the whole one hundred minutes (counting the PAL speedup) without wanting to throw their set out of the nearest window.

    Let's be frank - Ed Wood would have been proud of this film, what with its massive scientific, logical, and general filmmaking blunders. It is not even so bad it is good - it's just so bad that it hurts to watch. Until I had sat down and actually watched the film this time around, I had even forgotten that I had seen the film back in the latter part of the 1980s. I guess my mind had just blocked it out.

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Transfer Quality


    Of course, Force Video, being the funny lot that they are, have given King Kong Lives an excellent transfer that shows why they are always in contention for the Most Improved Distributor award.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

    This transfer is sharp enough that all of the salient details can be made out. It is not as sharp as a transfer of a film from the stables of a big-time film studio, that much is true, but it is unlikely that King Kong Lives will get much sharper than this. The shadow detail is consistent with a low-budget steamer from the mid-1980s, i.e. good but not great, and there is no low-level noise.

    The colours in this transfer are somewhat muted, giving the show a certain daytime television look, but there are no instances of composite artefacting or colour smearing.

    MPEG artefacts are not present in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing that was moderate both in frequency and in severity. The most distracting instance came at 24:32, when the camera pans down while our two leads are walking out of a house. One can see the mortar between the bricks in the background shimmering in a most disturbing and unusual fashion. Film artefacts were surprisingly mild, given the age of the film.

    There are no subtitles on this DVD, so the dialogue makes as much sense now as it ever did on VHS, especially to viewers with hearing impairments.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The packaging for this DVD only mentions a Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack (i.e. 2.0), which is only partly true. There is a 448 kilobit per second, Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack on this DVD. However, the first and default soundtrack is the Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 kilobit per second, effort. This is the one I listened to, while comparing one passage in the 2.0 soundtrack. The film was presented theatrically with Dolby Stereo audio, so it is nice to have a rough approximation of the original soundtrack format here.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand most of the time, but there are several passages that bring back memories of the VHS cassette and asking the old question of "what the hang did he just say?". This is definitely not an example of how the extra three channels and a dedicated LFE channel can increase the clarity of the film. I did not notice any problems with audio sync.

    The music in this film is credited to John Scott. I have no idea who this person is, and I have little inclination to find out after hearing the music in this film, either.

    The surround channels were moderately used in order to create panning effects with the helicopters, or to separate some of the ambient forest sounds from the rest of the soundtrack. No split surround effects or major directional sounds were noted. In essence, this is a mono mix with the occasional wrap-around stereo element. To make matters worse, a low-frequency hum can be heard during any quiet passage of the film, and I found this artefact particularly distracting because it sounded to me like an improperly connected bass amplifier.

    The subwoofer was used liberally to support the sounds of helicopters, gunfire, and the apes walking. It really stuck out like a sore thumb in this soundtrack, mostly due to the lack of directionality, but it does improve the listening experience somewhat.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is animated, 16x9 Enhanced, and accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I have not found any evidence of this title having been released in Region 1 on DVD. There is, however, a VHS version in America, but Region 4 is the clear winner if you want a decent audio mix and the whole picture.


    King Kong Lives is the 1980s version of Godzilla (the Emmerich/Devlin one).

    The video transfer is good, but not perfect.

    The audio transfer is good, although a 4.1 soundtrack would have done the job just as well.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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Im sorry but that spot goes to ....... -