Kong Island (1968) poster

Kong Island (1968)


aka Eve the Wild Woman; King of Kong Island
(Eva, la Venere Selvaggia)

Italy. 1968.


Director – Robert Morris [Roberto Mauri], Screenplay – Walter Brandi, Roberto Mauri & Ralph Zucker, Producers – Walter Brandi & Ralph Zucker, Photography – Mario Mancini, Music – Robert Pregadio, Production Design – Amedeo Mallone. Production Company – Three Star Films.


Brad Harris (Burt Dawson), Esmeralda Barros (Eve), Marc Lawrence (Albert Muller), Adriana Allen (Ursula), Mark Farran [Marc Fiorini] (Robert), Jim Clay [Aldo Cecconi] (Theodore), Paul Carter [Paolo Magalotti] (Turk), Ursula Davis (Diana), Dan Doney [Mario Donatone] (Forrester)


Burt Dawson leads an expedition into the African wilderness on a hunt for the sacred gorillas. However, one of the group, Diana, is abducted by apes. Burt is persuaded to head a return expedition to rescue Diana funded by her father. There Burt encounters Eve, a woman who lives in the wild. He then comes up against Professor Muller, who has abducted Diana to take part in his experiments to create mind-controlled gorillas.

It is important when looking at Kong Island to get all notion of King Kong (1933) out of your head. There is no relation between the two. There is no giant ape in the film, although there are some regular-sized mind-controlled gorillas. It is not even like Kong: Skull Island (2017) in that it claims to be set on Skull Island – in fact, there is not even any island in the film, the action takes place somewhere in Kenya (going by the reference to Nairobi), which is located in Central West Africa. The original Italian title was Eva, la Venere Selvaggia, which translates as Eve the Savage Venus, leading to the alternate English-language title Eve the Wild Woman. This gives a better approximation of the film being closer one of the female Tarzan copies such as The Perils of Nyoka (1942) or tv’s Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (1955-6).

In actuality, what we have with Kong Island is a dull Adventure Film. It has essentially lifted the plot of Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) but with a reversal of the sexes – where a male explorer sets out on an expedition into the jungle and comes up against a woman as opposed to man who lives in the wild. That and the addition of a Mad Scientist with an army of mind-controlled gorillas. Despite such an intriguing mix of elements, the results are incredibly dull. The stock animal footage, which can usually enliven some of the dullest of the backlot shot Tarzan films, is dreary and poorly photographed. Things are not helped by everything being run over by a score that sounds like elevator music. There are some really tatty looking ape suits.

There are some crucial differences when you compare Kong Island to Tarzan the Ape Man – one of these is that there is nearly a one-hour preamble before the introduction of the ape woman. And when she does enter the scene, she is unimportant to proceedings. Tarzan is a jungle hero, a ruler of the realm and can communicate with animals and has the respect of the natives, whereas here Esmeralda Barros’s Eve is a just a jungle waif encountered by Brad Harris who tags along with him on the adventure. She knows the way around but seems to lack any command of animals or the jungle environment and ends up being a mostly useless sidekick as opposed to a heroic figure.

Director Roberto Mauri had made assorted adventure films, peplum and Spaghetti Westerns in Italy during the 1960s. His other genre outings include Slaughter of the Vampires (1962), the giallo Night of Violence (1965) and Madeleine, Anatomy of a Nightmare (1974).

Full film available here

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