King Kong (1976)

For some people, this was the King Kong they were raised on.  For others, nothing trumps the original.  For me, the 1976 version of King Kong is nothing to go bananas over . . . even if Jessica Lange looks mighty tasty.

It might have launched Lange’s career and given Rick Baker an incredibly awesome task, but Dino De Laurentiis’ remake of King Kong just doesn’t hold much water when compared to what came before.  Maybe I am being too harsh, but this B-grade movie was made in a much different time and for a very different audience.  It - like the massive ape at the center of it - performs better as a curiosity piece than as a movie.  Yet, the sparkling new 4K transfer - housed in a cool-looking SteelBook, which includes the extended television cut on blu-ray only - makes the journey back to the fog-shrouded Skull Island a little better.

"yes, watch King Kong fall from the Twin Towers (years before 9/11), but don’t expect much from this B-movie.  It’s just not there"

Just don’t expect any supplemental items, which is a missed opportunity here.  If nothing else, special effects guru Rick Baker could have been a focus point because his contributions to articulated suits here are largely ignored.

For this upgrade on 1933’s original offering, legendary producer Dino De Laurentiis teamed up with director John Guillermin (The Towering Inferno), writer Lorenzo Semple (3 Days of the Condor), and put Lange on the dangerous path to be Kong’s mishandled Barbie doll.  With some dated (but cool) special effects from Baker, his animatronic masks, and a “robotic” Kong (from Carlo Rambaldi, who won the Oscar that year) which had more to do with Laurentiis’ wishes than anything else, this remake ties big oil to its sails (in the middle of an oil crisis no less) and gets us out on the high seas with nary a bump . . .

. . . that’s to come later as this film fails to balance camp with chaos and winds up being a shrug away from simply awful. King Kong (1976)

Well, there are a few surprises as we take Kong from the island and drop him in New York City.  First, a paleontologist stowaway (Jeff Bridges) is discovered on board as he believes there’s an unknown beast on the island  and then a beautiful woman (Lange) is rescued at sea, but none of that deters Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin), an executive of the Petrox Oil Company, from exploring what he believes to be an unknown island in the Indian Ocean.  Even if there’s no oil on the island, the show must go on, you know?! 

If you’ve seen the original movie, you pretty much know what happens.  The natives on this mysterious island have built a massive wall to keep something out of their dwelling area, but what?  Well, we know it’s King Kong and it doesn’t take very long for the rescue mission to roll out as Lange becomes the object of the monster’s eye and he carries her off into his cave for some bathing, some undressing, and some snake wrestling. 

While Guillermin does a solid job at directing, the film is a tonal mess and, as far as remakes go, doesn’t really do much of anything to provide a reason for its existence.  It’s fun at times, but completely unnecessary, making fun of itself with campy jabs that - while cute - don’t play as well as they ought to. 

The 4K transfer included here on the first disc is better than the previous StudioCanal offering, but none of the supplemental items have been ported over with this release, so - if you want the better image - hold on to those releases and still scoop this one.

So, yes, watch King Kong fall from the Twin Towers (years before 9/11), but don’t expect much from this B-movie.  It’s just not there.

3/5 beers


King Kong (1976)

4k details divider

SteelBook / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital 4K

Home Video Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- April 9, 2024
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English; English SDH
HEVC / H.265; Resolution: Native 4K;  HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray locked to Region A

The Big Apple is again besieged by the monstrous King Kong. Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange star in this ambitious remake of the 1933 original, which adds a great deal of camp and good fun to the story, Again, the gargantuan ape battles attacking aircraft high above the streets of New York, this time plunging from the top of the World Trade Center to his death amidst thousands of horrified onlookers. King Kong won an Oscar for special effects, and the horror and the thrills are brought anew to another generation in this classy production.


The 4K transfer looks far superior to other versions.  No noticeable DNR and the colors are far more vibrant and spot-on when compared to other transfers.  The black levels are clean and provide fine lines between objects.  Nothing appears muddy or washed out throughout the presentation.  You will see the difference when you pop in the extended version of the film on the other disc.  This disc presents the extended movie in its original theatrical aspect ratio including the additional scenes also in 2.35:1, which is fun for fans.


Unfortunately, there is no Atmos track.  While John Barry’s score sounds great, it is presented in a front-loaded 7.1 DTS track, which is a bit of a letdown. 



  • None

Special Features:

It’s pretty lonely here.  There aren’t any supplemental items. Shame.

  • Disc #1. Theatrical release only in 4K UHD HDR
  • Disc #2. Extended Cut only on Blu-ray HD
  • Includes a Digital Copy via VUDU / Fandango. presented in 4K

4k rating divider

  Movie 3/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 2/5 stars
  Extras 1/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3/5 stars

Film Details

King Kong (1976)

MPAA Rating: PG.
134 mins
: John Guillermin
James Ashmore Creelman; Ruth Rose; Merian C. Cooper
Jeff Bridges; Charles Grodin; Jessica Lange
: Horror | Adventure
The Most Exciting Original Motion Picture Event of All Time.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Listen, there is a girl out there who might be running for her life from some gigantic turned-on ape!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 17, 1976
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 9, 2024.
Synopsis: A petroleum exploration expedition comes to an isolated island and encounters a colossal giant gorilla.


King Kong (1976)