King Kong has had sequels, spin-offs and reboots including Son of Kong and Kong: Skull Island

A scene from King Kong Lives. Picture: Supplied
A scene from King Kong Lives. Picture: Supplied

King Kong's place in popular culture is secure, with references in everything from sitcoms to editorial cartoons. There have also been some screen spinoffs and sequels, as might be expected for so well-known a character.

Son of Kong(1933): Released the same year as its predecessor, this lighter-toned cash-in sequel was a low-budget rush job and not nearly as acclaimed. Denham, in legal strife because of the damage wrought by Kong, returns to Kong's island and discovers a smaller, white-furred ape who appears to be King Kong's much friendlier offspring.

King Kong vs. Godzilla(1962): In this Japanese film, giant lizard Godzilla returns to wreak havoc and Kong is brough to Japan. The two creatures battle it out and fall into the ocean. The victorious Kong then swims home, though of course both characters would return (the urban legend that two endings were filmed, one giving the victory to Godzilla, is untrue although different edits of the film have been issued).

King Kong Escapes(1967): Dr Who (no, not that one) creates Mechani-Kong to dig for Element X, which has an abundance of nuclear power. He also hypnotises the real Kong to help in the process. Both Kongs end up fighting and the King, unsurprisingly, emerges victorious.

King Kong (1966-69): This was the first anime series produced in Japan that was commissioned by an American company, Rankin-Bass. In this show, single father and scientist Professor Bond comes to Kong's island with his teenage daughter Susan and son Bobby. When the boy goes off into the jungle he is nearly eaten by a dinosaur but Kong rescues him and they become friends. Lots of adventures ensue.

King Kong Lives (1986): A long-delayed and much derided sequel to the 1976 version in which it's revealed Kong did not die after being shot down from the World Trade Centre. He has been kept alive, though comatose, for a decade and needs an artificial heart. The discovery of a female Kong means the big fella can have a blood transfusion and the necessary life-saving operation.

Kong: Skull Island (2017): An enjoyable if not terribly compelling reboot - part of a "universe" that includes the 2014 Godzilla - with lots of monster action.

This story The ape returns, escapes and lives first appeared on The Canberra Times.