Directed by Ernest B Schoedsack and Merian C Cooper, King Kong (1933) is far from the first monster movie though it can lay claim to being the father of today’s effects-heavy, destruction-filled blockbusters. Without Kong, there’s no Godzilla, Alien or Jurassic Park.
In his debut, Kong is brought to life by Willis O’Brien’s frame-by-frame stop-motion technique, and the filmmakers take a bit of poetic licence when it comes to telling us how tall their leading man actually is. According to Roger Ebert, Kong is eighteen feet tall on Skull Island, twenty-four feet on stage and fifty feet tall on the Empire State Building.
But then, Kong has been taking poetic licence throughout his long and illustrious screen career. He’s tall enough to stand head to head with Godzilla, who seems to tower over Tokyo’s buildings, yet still has to climb up the side of skyscrapers to reach the roof.
More than any other screen monster, though, Kong retains the ability to fascinate and enthral. More than eighty years after he first reached the screen, he remains the “eighth wonder of the world”, his very name a byword for size and strength.
The following list includes remakes as well as the best known spinoffs and rip-offs but excludes animated films and TV movies. It should keep monster fans busy until Kong: Skull Island reaches screens in March.