Originally titled Eva, la Venere selvaggia. Also released in English as Eve the Wild Woman and The King of Kong Island.

This 1968 film begins with a crime somewhere in Africa; Turk, the ringleader, double-crosses his accomplices and, years later, one of them, the virile and more-or-less reformed Burt, seeks revenge. By then, Turk has allied himself with a mad scientist who has implanted bad movie scientific devices in the brains of gorillas as part of his nefarious research. His work requires the kidnapping of several attractive women. When the daughter of a wealthy man gets kidnapped from a jungle expedition of swingin’ sixties types, various people become interested in the dastardly doings.

By that point, however, the villains’ days are already numbered. They’ve attracted the attention of Eva, a feral, female Tarzan who possesses at least two extraordinary powers. Firstly, she can communicate with apes. Secondly, she has hair which continually covers her bare breasts regardless of the kind and difficulty of strenuous physical activity she undertakes. Esmerald Barros does, to her credit, make a more believable jungle girl than most. She has physical presence and, while she is attractive, she does not appear to have left the beautician’s five seconds before each appearance.

All of this would be enough plot for any bad film, but the various characters have been connected by tortuous webs of soap opera nonsense that would be difficult to follow even if the film encouraged the viewer to stay awake. The film also serves up some bogus old Hollywood-style Jungle SavagesTM. I’m certain they have a connection to the plot. I challenge anyone to watch this thing and care.

Kong Island features mediocre acting, made-for-television production values, nature program stock footage, and (if you’re not watching it in Italian) dubious dubbing. The mad scientist has located his laboratory in the middle of the jungle, with minimal attempts at shelter. He’s stocked it with equipment apparently purchased from a low-end electronics surplus house. His vast horde of two modified apes wear costumes that might have passed in a 1930s jungle serial or a late-run Bowery Boys flick, one of the ones where someone tries to switch Huntz Hall‘s brain with a gorilla’s. If an island somehow figures into the plot (as the English title suggests), the fact has been carefully concealed from the audience.

The soundtrack features a strange blend of 60s dance music and lounge-lizard exotica. The effect of the latter is that, as the brave bwanas trudge through the jungle, you keep looking for the plastic tiki decorations.

The promotional material refers to Eva as a descendant of King Kong. I don’t want to contemplate how an entirely human descendant of the giant ape may have come about, and nothing in the movie confirms this unusual parentage1. Her cultural parents, at least, are Tarzan and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle-- she even has a chimp sidekick-- but most films about those characters feature better acting, cinematography, and plotting. I’m almost certain that worse jungle pics have been made, but for sheer idiocy and incoherence, this drive-in debacle would be difficult to top.

Director: Robert Mauri
Writer: Ralph Zucker

Brad Harris...Burt Dawson
Esmerald Barros...Eva
Marc Lawrence...Albert Munier
Adriana Alben...Ursula
Mark Farran...Robert Theodore
Paol Magalotti...Turk
Miles Mason...Gorilla

1. The following footnote may not be suitable for all ages and sensibilities.

No, really.

Fine. In "After King Kong Fell," Philip José Farmer notes that a rape of Ann Darrow would have been possible. Gorillas, as primates go, have unusually small penises. If Kong were twenty feet high, his erect penis would have been at most only twenty-one inches long. Kong, despite promotional claims, may have been shorter than that. A discussion of Kong's height appears here.

Yes, this may well be the strangest footnote I have ever written. Thanks for asking.

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