RKO head of production Merian C. Cooper (“King Kong” & “The Most Dangerous Game”) reunites director Ernest B. Schoedsack and screenwriter Ruth Rose for this quickie sequel to the studio’s saving grace, but with less than half the budget of the blockbuster original and an unforgiving six-month production schedule the married couple chose to play it purely for laughs with the curious credo “If you can’t make it bigger, make it funnier.”
A month after Kong’s downtown New York rampage, bankrupted showman Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) takes to the sea aboard the SS Venture once more and after picking up spunky stowaway Hilda (Helen Mack), replete with her predecessors scream, sets sail for a return to Skull Island in search of buried treasure in Ruth Rose’s tongue-in-cheek setup to this nonsensical sequel.
Robert Armstrong is belatedly given the chance to shine with the limelight-hogging lovers of the first film firmly out of the picture and the destituted Denham shows off his somewhat limited romantic side with love-interest Hilda, who feebly fails to fill her predecessor’s lungs, whilst returning co-stars Frank Reicher and Victor Wong also build-up their roles and John Marston slimes into shot.
Returning special effect wizard Willis H. O’Brien recycles the “long face” Kong model from the first film’s T-Rex battle sequence as the Eighth Wonder’s half-wit albino son as he makes something of a return to the comedy-stylings of his early Edison-produced shorts with a few more of the carefully-crafted clay dinosaurs from his cancelled “Creation” project thrown-in for good measure.
The filmmakers seem to be having fun but the results of the chokingly tight production schedule and the penny-pinching budget show on screen and despite Willis H. O’Brien’s emotively animated title character and some family-friendly fun they resolutely sink whatever franchise building chances there were and leave behind another somewhat unjustly forgotten classic comedy adventure.
“What fashion animal you call that, huh? I no like it!”