circlesquared’s review published on Letterboxd:
HOOPTOBER OCHO DAY 20
Films Checked Out From My Local Library
This film is nearly 90 years old. This is not an excuse for some of the stuff in it nor an argument for sacred cows, but is more an acknowledgement of context.
There is a lot of stuff in here that is demeaning. Both racism and sexism are rampant. Much like the other 30s movie I watched this month as a main film, the Mummy, it takes something of Africa and otherizes it. It makes it the horror.
While the locals would be Southeast Asian geographically, they're visually African. They're depicted as people so primitive they have never encountered gunpowder. Their interactions with white colonialists feels almost Victorian. Both they and Kong are direct threats, especially to the stand in for white women, Fay Wray. Even if this wasn't specifically mentioned in Horror Noir, which I watched earlier this month, it'd be plain as day. To a lesser extent, the cook is a Chinese man who speaks entirely in pidgin.
It's also remarkable how long they stay on Skull Island. It seemed long from what I remember of the Peter Jackson 17ish hour remake. Here it's roughly eighty percent of the runtime. The often parodied New York scenes last about fifteen minutes.
Given that it's 90 years old, some of the special effects hold up remarkably well. The stop motion is relatively fluid. Some of the parts, such as Kong fighting another monster being projected behind Wray don't, however, but still might have impressed contemporary audiences.
While I appreciate some of what this was, I honestly zoned out as the Skull Island stuff dragged on. So, I can't rate this all too highly.