All loyal Kongoisseurs know about
the "lost Spider Scene' from the original 1933 King Kong. The Lost Spider Scene is
the Holy Grail of Kongoisseurs. In the original cut, before its
theatrical release, when the hapless crewmen fall from the log spanning
the giant gorge, the fall doesn't kill them. Instead, they land
in mud in the bottom. Then, some hideous giant spiders come
scrambling out of caves and fall upon the screaming crewmen. (The
scene remains in the novelization by Delos W. Lovelace.) Understandably,
the filmmakers decided the scene was too horrific. They felt it
basically stopped the entire show, interfering with the roller-coaster
ride they were aiming for. So, they left it on the editing room
floor. And ever since, movie fans have lamented the loss of the
Spider Scene, which, like sightings of Elvis, is reportedly recovered
from time to time found tucked away in somebody's attic -- only to have
the report turn out to be bogus. Instead, fans have had to be
content with the odd production drawing left over from the original
storyboard or grainy production stills.
When the 1976 remake of King
Kong hit theatres, several small and not very crucial scenes were left
out for various reasons. A few years later, those scenes were
restored and the "long version" -- 45 minutes longer -- was shown twice
on NBC. That "long version" has become the ultimate collectiible
among fans of The '76. Since Paramount, for some
inexplicable reason, didn't include the long version in its DVD
release, and no official release of that version has ever been made, it
only exists in pirated versions, traded over the Internet among fans. (Note: a French version 2-disc DVD is now available which includes most, though NOT all, the deleted scenes. It's available online from dvdrama.)
Which brings us to the "lost
Just prior to the theatrical
release of The '76, the legendary monster movie magazine, Famous
Monsters of Filmland,
published an issue featuring a remarkably detailed summary of the as
yet unreleased King Kong 1976. (Forrest Ackerman, the
magazine's editor, made it clear that he was firmly against any remake, especially one that
eschewed stop motion SFX. I can't help but feel he would never
have given away the entire screenplay of an unreleased movie, but for
his disdain for the whole project.) That summary was based on an
early draft of Lorenzo Semple Jr.'s screenplay, as it had existed at
the end of 1975. Fully a year had passed since then.
Nonetheless, that summary was remarkably close to the version that
ultimately made it to the theatres that Christmas of '76.
With one notable difference...
After Dwan has been carried
off by Kong, Jack leads the crewmen into the jungle, determined to
rescue her and also to plant seismic charges to map the geological
structure of the island. In the released version, the rescuers
don't encounter any trouble until they meet up with Kong while trying
to cross the log over the gorge. But in the summary in Famous
Monsters this is what
we find prior to the log scene:
search party continues thru the next day. Most of the men believe
Kong had long since destroyed the girl. Their imaginations
conjure ghastly ways in which the giant ape could have ended her
After that, the survivors
encounter the log over the gorge. Later still, Kong battles this
same snake when it tries to attack Dwan, just as in the final film.
A frequent criticism of The
'76 was that it lacked the dinosaurs which were such a big part of the
1933 original. As well, there was always something awkward about
the sudden appearance of the giant snake in the full-moon wedding
scene. Until then, there had been no suggestion there might be
other giant animals on Skull Island. We can see that in the
original screenplay, both those weaknesses would have been at least
partly remedied. The question then is -- how far did they get
with this scene before dropping it?
The lost snake scene doesn't
in the published screenplay, nor was it "restored" when Paramount
broadcast the long version with 45 minutes of extra footage.
Chances are it never made it off the pages of that original screenplay.
they feel the earth move under their feet. An earthquake?
No! Something alive is undulating beneath them -- something scaly
huge snake wraps its mammoth coils around one of the sailors, crushing
the life from him as the others flee into the jungle in all
snake follows for a little distance, gathering others into its huge
maw, but eventually gives up the chase...and feasts.
On the other hand, it is well known how much trouble the filmmakers had
with their giant snake when
filming the fight between the snake and
Kong. Isn't it possible that the filmmakers may have lensed
the snake scene but left it on the cutting room floor because they felt
the special effects just weren't working? If so, it may
still be out there somewhere, a Holy Grail for fans of The '76.
And, if not, it's still fun to
imagine what might have been...
(Composite depicting imaginary
'Lost Snake Scene' by Jeffrey Blair Latta)