There’s Only Three Real Monsters

Son of Kong – Released only nine months after the original King Kong, this does a bit to explain the aftermath of the first movie, in which Carl Denham brings a giant ape out of his natural habitat to New York and seemingly suffers no consequences for it. As this one starts, he’s being sued for damages and faces the possibility of being indicted, so he flees the country with the captain of the ship that brought back Kong, intending to do some overseas shipping. In a Dutch port at Dakang, China, Denham meets and develops feelings for Hilda Petersen, a woman who performs with trained monkeys in her father’s show. It just so happens that Nils Helstrom, the man who originally sold Denham the map to Skull Island, is there as well, and he kills the father while drunk. In order to escape justice, he tells Denham and the Captain that there’s a treasure on the island, and then launches a mutiny of the sailors. He ends up getting thrown off himself when he tries to boss the crew around, and the principle characters end up once again on Skull Island where they encounter a non-quite-as-giant ape whom Denham thinks must be King Kong’s son. Whether or not that’s true, I wonder who the mother is. Repenting of his earlier deeds, he befriends the young Kong, who saves his life when the whole island sinks. Helstrom is killed by a sea serpent, and the others plan to take care of their money problems with a jewel they found on the island. I appreciate that there’s a redemption arc of sorts for Denham, and there’s also a larger role for Charlie, the ship’s cook. For some reason, even though he’s called by name throughout the movie, the opening credits just call him “The Chinese Cook,” or something of the sort.

Tabloid – This 2010 documentary directed by Errol Morris is about and largely narrated by Joyce McKinney, a former beauty contestant winner who, according to her testimony, fell in love with a young Mormon man who left for a missionary trip to England without telling her. She hired a detective to find him, and allegedly kidnapped him, tied him to a bed, and raped him. McKinney then fled back to the United States and never faced charges. She maintains that he was okay with it, but refused to admit it because of the repression promoted by the Church. For some reason, she became very popular with the British tabloid press, who apparently thought a rape accusation would be fun to read about. It’s known as the Manacled Mormon case. Even McKinney herself said she didn’t think a woman could rape a man, which is obviously untrue. The tabloids investigated McKinney as much as they could, spreading the idea that that she was a sex worker, as if that’s somehow an inherently bad thing or proof that she’s a rapist. I didn’t get the impression she was psychopathic, just calculating, but I’m not familiar enough with the case to hazard a guess on whether she’s actually guilty. Towards the end of the film, McKinney talked about how she had her dog cloned.

Interview with the Vampire – I’m really not at all knowledgeable about Anne Rice, but I’m aware that she tried to make vampires (well, some of them, anyway) sympathetic and romantic characters. In the movie, Christian Slater interviews Louis, a Creole man from Louisiana played by Brad Pitt. He’s turned into a vampire by Tom Cruise’s Lestat, and the two of them live together for quite a while. I’ve heard that readers have found gay themes in Rice’s work, and she didn’t really intend them, but so much of this is about an intimate relationship between two men. Not a GOOD relationship, of course, as Lestat is abusive and psychotic, but it’s still there. The only really significant female character is Claudia, played by a young Kirsten Dunst. Her mother dies of the plague and Lestat turns her into a vampire, intending that Louis take on a paternal role toward her. Being a kid, she’s unable to fend for herself, and disturbed that she’ll never grow up. After escaping from Lestat, Louis meets another man who’s interested in him, Antonio Banderas’ Armand, but he also turns out to be a creep who desires power even if he’s less obvious about it than Lestat. One thing Rice didn’t change about vampires is that they’re rich people who tend to prey on the poor, although Louis only does so unwillingly. It’s a very opulent-looking movie. I’m not entirely sure how near-immortal blood-sucking monsters came to be about class and forbidden attraction, but it tends to show up in the popular works I’m aware of. I thought it was pretty good, if not for the squeamish.

This entry was posted in Animals, Christianity, Economics, Monsters, Mormonism, Relationships, Religion, Sexuality, VoVat Goes to the Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to There’s Only Three Real Monsters

  1. rocketdave says:

    From watching the original King Kong, I honestly couldn’t tell if the filmmakers were aware of how irresponsible and ethically dubious Carl Denham comes across as a character. Even by the end of the movie, he’s being treated like a respected VIP rather than the idiot who is responsible for a huge catastrophe. That’s why I appreciated that he actually faces some consequences for his actions in the sequel.

    Pretty much all I know about Anne Rice is that she seems like a bad person who can’t abide criticism. Several years ago, some blogger had bought a worn out copy of one of her books to use in a decoupage project, but fist read it and posted a negative review to her blog, and somehow Rice found out about this and basically encouraged her fans to harass this woman. That made me extra glad I’d never read any of her books. While I find vampires interesting, something about her depiction of them doesn’t seem to appeal to me, even though it’s possible that her work may have had some influence on other vampire-related stuff that I have enjoyed.

    • Nathan says:

      I’m not a big fan of vampire stories, but I think the mythology is interesting. I guess I prefer when vampires are part of the story rather than the focus.

      • rocketdave says:

        Yes, I recall you mentioning in a previous post how you weren’t super into vampire stories. I’m not obsessed with the genre, though there are a handful of vampire-centric things I could name that I have been a fan of, starting with Count Duckula in my childhood to the somewhat hokey 90s cop show Forever Knight to the What We Do in the Shadows series, which I’ve recently fallen in love with. Sometimes I think I’d like to do some sort of story or comic about vampires, but mainly because I already have a bunch of clever names for potential characters, which is probably not a good enough reason.

        Now quit pickin’ your nose and knead that dough!

  2. That was my question too, when I saw the title “Son of Kong”: who’s the mother? It’s hard to imagine that everyone missed yet another giant ape hanging out on an island.

    I suppose it’s kind of like the tendency to imagine Bigfoot as male, even though there are reports of females being sighted. Other than the old cartoon trick of putting a random bow on gorilla gals, it would have been hard to portray an obviously female ape character without getting dinged for indecency back in 1933.

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