I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Congo

tn_congo

RELEASE DATE: May 19
RELEASE DATE: June 9

Here’s a funny thing that was different back in 1995: Bruce Campbell was so worshipped as a cult star that the idea of him being in a blockbuster movie was thrilling to people. He had done the EVIL DEAD trilogy and the MANIAC COP pictures and did a couple seasons of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. but that didn’t really catch on in the mainstream. And he seemed like their secret but somehow they wanted everybody to know. He made it to the semi-big-ish time with little cameos in DARKMAN and THE HUDSUCKER PROXY, but people still wanted him to star in some big movie and be the next, I don’t know, Kurt Russell or somebody.

And then he was in the trailer for this new Michael Crichton movie CONGO. Had the misguided dreams of horror nerds come true at last? Would they be able to finally share their hero not just with the Johnny-come-latelies who saw ARMY OF DARKNESS before the other ones, but with the whole world?

Well, the fact that the camera zoomed in on his screaming face during the trailer seemed to indicate that he wasn’t gonna make it to the end. Still, word of disappointment spread fast when people saw the movie and discovered that he bites it in the opening scene. The whole movie is about a rescue mission to come find him, even though we got a pretty idea they’re gonna be rescuing a dead body. (They do manage to find John Hawkes still alive, but catatonic, and then he freaks out and dies.) Anyway, I mention this movie to people 20 years later, that’s still the first thing that comes up. The wound has not healed.

For others the disappointment probly came from comparisons to JURASSIC PARK. After that one Crichton’s name could get anything off the ground: a movie about tornadoes, a show about emergency rooms, maybe something about some eaters of the dead, or Demi Moore sexually harassing a dude. Of all of them this one was the most JURASSIC-esque, being another summer adventure movie with scientist heroes and jungles and deadly creatures. Crichton’s concepts and characters were a big part of the appeal of JURASSIC PARK. A bigger part was the dinosaurs, so it was hard for this movie with a brief gorilla attack climax to withstand the comparison. Also, director Frank Marshall (ARACHNOPHOBIA) may be Spielberg’s producer, but not his equal as a director. Even if he was second unit director for the first three Indiana Jones movies.

But I never saw CONGO back then and watching it now I thought it was okay at least.

mp_congoLaura Linney (ABSOLUTE POWER), in her first starring role, plays Dr. Karen Ross, an employee of the Travicom corporation who goes to Africa to look for Bruce Campbell after his group loses satellite contact in an apparent gorilla attack. They were looking for special diamonds for a new laser technology and, unbeknownst to the bosses back home, had discovered them in a lost city that looks like the outside of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. Dr. Ross had once been engaged to Campbell, and probly considers WAXWORK II: LOST IN TIME underrated, so she accepts the mission despite reservations about the motives of her asshole boss R.B. Travis (WALKING TALL‘s Joe Don Baker).

To get into Zaire she sort of goes undercover, buying her way into an unrelated expedition where doctor Peter Elliot (Dylan Walsh, BLOOD WORK) is bringing his sign language-speaking gorilla Amy home to her natural habitat, as funded by the weaselly Georgian explorer Herkermer Homolka (Tim Curry, LEGEND, THE SHADOW) who doesn’t tell them he’s dedicated his life to finding the lost city of Zinj and believes Amy knows its location. Also, Grant Heslov (TRUE LIES) is Dr. Elliot’s scaredy-cat assistant Richard and Ernie Hudson (THE SUBSTITUTE, BEST OF THE BEST 4) is their African guide Captain Munro Kelly. I was gonna say you know Richard is a weiner because he doesn’t get a last name, let alone a title, but Captain Kelly has a deputy just named Kahega and that’s Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje from BULLET TO THE HEAD, and who’s gonna play the crocodile man in SUICIDE SQUAD. A big guy.

Anyway, I like Captain Kelly. His method of not worrying the white people by telling them what’s going on (we’re sneaking through customs, we’re getting chased by soldiers, we’re gonna jump out of this plane and let it crash) make him seem untrustworthy at first, but are actually a sign that he knows what he’s doing. It’s a good character for Hudson, whose commanding voice helps him get away with a pretty minimalistic African accent. (Or maybe not – Wikipedia says he’s “a British man of African descent.”)

Dr. Ross has an interesting trajectory. At first it just seems like she’s a very capable corporate employee, and little things like smacking a soldier that tries to touch her come across like things that are supposed to show how spunky she is or whatever. But then, while being detained/questioned/extorted by the menacing militia leader Captain Wanta (uncredited and excellent as always Delroy Lindo [BROKEN ARROW] in a red beret), he mentions that her file says she used to be in the CIA. Then, when soldiers fire heatseekers at their plane for crossing the border, she knows exactly how to get rid of them, and she does it. It turns out she quit the CIA because she thought they were a bunch of crooks. So she must be frustrated working for Travicom now.

The best and most memorable part of the movie is actually Amy, who is played by people-who-are-good-at-playing-animals Misty Rosas (INSTINCT, THE COUNTRY BEARS) and Lola Noh (PRIMAL FORCE) in suits by Stan Winston Studios. I don’t think many people appreciated this, but in that last decade before everything went digital there were a bunch of movies with really sophisticated ape suits in them: BUDDY, the MIGHTY JOE YOUNG remake, even the terrible Tim Burton version of PLANET OF THE APES had some impressive ones, and these are really good here. I’m sure they have to switch out animatronic faces to get different expressions so it’s impressive how much they pull off. I mean I love what they did in RISE OF/DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES with the performance capture, and these can’t express as much but they do seem more like you’re looking at real apes I think. And I guess if everything’s gonna be perf-cap now then they represent the very height of their art.

Still, I think two years after JURASSIC PARK this movie seemed a little too old fashioned, not having any big show-offy digital parts. That might’ve been part of why it didn’t catch on.

Anyway you know how there are apes that have been taught sign language? Amy sometimes wears a virtual reality glove which translates her sign language into a computerized voice. So she’s a talking gorilla! On one hand this seems plausible enough that I wondered why they haven’t really done it. On the other hand, Dr. Elliot knows sign language so what good does it really do to have her talk to him like that? And they don’t have her wear it all the time so I guess that’s kind of an admission that it’s not that important of an invention.

She also takes it off in frustration when the gorillas in the wild don’t respond to her. I think she senses that it makes her not fit in. Yeah, she’s the most interesting character. She should’ve been the only survivor and then fly back herself and testify to Congress using her talking machine.

Anyway, the good news is there is a little part where they’re shooting lasers at angry gorillas. You don’t see that every day.

Post-script:

congoamyCONGO was a decent hit at the box office. It came in 16th for the year, but that puts it above movies we remember as successful such as BRAVEHEART, BABE, GET SHORTY, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY, HEAT and CASINO, and movies that got sequels, like MORTAL KOMBAT, BAD BOYS, SPECIES and FRIDAY. But it got mostly bad reviews, and those shitbags at the Razzies nominated it for seven of their pretend-funny awards. Obviously they don’t watch movies so they don’t know that they were blowing it out of proportion but by coincidence they were kinda right because obviously this has not lived on in the public consciousness, even though there was a computer game, a pinball machine and a line of action figures.

Despite that, writer John Patrick Shanley later finally got up the guts to follow up his directorial debut JOE VS. THE VOLCANO with DOUBT, which got him his second Oscar nomination for writing (the first was for MOONSTRUCK, and he won).

Linney soon became one of Hollywood’s most respected actresses, I’d say starting around THE TRUMAN SHOW in 1998. Walsh played the remake STEPFATHER. Hudson still works constantly, but this was probly his last big role in a big movie. Heslov became the writing/producing partner of George Clooney, has been nominated for 2 screenwriting Oscars and won best picture as a producer of ARGO, but more importantly was in THE SCORPION KING.

Crichton’s books Sphere, Eaters of the Dead and Timeline were made into movies after this, none of them successful, though I think we agree around here that THE 13TH WARRIOR is pretty decent. His creations JURASSIC PARK and WESTWORLD live on in various sequels and TV remakes. At the time of Crichton’s death in 2008, JURASSIC WORLD star Chris Pratt was known for being on Everwood and director Colin Trevorrow had only done a couple of shorts and a TV pilot.

Marshall has only directed one feature film since, the pretty good (and also animal-themed) EIGHT BELOW starring Paul Walker and a bunch of dogs. And he did some TV and a, uh, ad for some Nikes based on BACK TO THE FUTURE 2.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
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47 Responses to “Congo”

  1. “the good news is there is a little part where they’re shooting lasers at angry gorillas. You don’t see that every day” you made me laugh with this remark, and you made me want to rewatch this one! I saw it when it was released theatrically back in the summer of 95, had fun with it but wasn’t blown away. This was a summer filled with boxed office bombs for some reason…Judge Dredd was another huge failure. I guess after Jurassic Park nothing amazed anybody anymore…and here we are, it’s 2015 on the verge of Jurassic Park IV which probably won’t blow anybody away with its by now common place effects…strange how the tables have turned.

  2. This movie was one of the funnest times I ever had at the movies. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder than when Linney starts lasering those ugly gray apes in half as they jump into the lava and burst into flames. Just pure ridiculous carnage. I’ll never forget it.

  3. Y’know what? I never saw this movie. But it’s on at least three streaming sites that I have subsribed, so I guess I’m gonna Casper* that shit now.

    *”To Casper” = streaming a movie that was previously unseen or not seen in a long time, immediately after reading Vern’s review for it. A tradition I started with his review for CASPER.

  4. The Original Paul

    June 9th, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    It is my considered opinion that the only people who had a blast with this movie were Ernie Hudson and Tim Curry. I’m always up for a bit of Ernie Hudson and Tim Curry. They to me are the chief reasons why this movie isn’t completely terrible – which isn’t to say that it’s not bad. Oh, it’s bad.

    I’m gonna do the CASINO ROYALE thing where I compare the movie to the book because, in my opinion, the movie does not have enough of its own stuff to recommend it. So the book was essentially a horror show. The Dr Karen Ross in the book was an egomaniac who regularly made terrible decisions, putting her team in danger in the process. Her motivation for going to the Congo had nothing to do with the dead guy at the beginning, and everything to do with her career – any sentiment that she showed was feigned. Turning her from that into what was essentially a dupe in the movie (she was the plucky explorer being used by the evil corporate guys) just didn’t work out. I can see how it might, in a better film, but it didn’t here. I think a lot of the character tension of the book was lost because of this decision, and they didn’t seem to replace it with very much.

    The biggest problem, though, was the horror aspect. The thing that struck me about CONGO the movie was how not-scary it was. The night attacks in the book are terrifying. The monsters attack in force using stealth. They’re essentially silent, intelligent killers, picking off near-defenceless humans one or two at a time. All of this seems lost in the movie. There are big fully-lit battles between humans and monsters. (In the book the diamonds, which are the main motivation for both Dr Ross and for the company funding her expedition, are extremely valuable because of their unique light-conducting properties – for fibre-optic circuits, supercomputer design, etc. So for the movie they take this idea, dumb it down about 10,000%, and have a giant laser cannon made out of a raw diamond. Whuh?) Compare that to pretty much any of the Raptor scenes in JURASSIC PARK and you can see just how badly CONGO turns out.

    (Incidentally, what the heck is it about Michael Chrichton films pissing me off by adding extraneous sci-fi laser weapons to otherwise plausible technology in movies based off of my favorite books of his? It happened in ANDROMEDA STRAIN, when they replaced the poisoned darts with lasers; and it happened in this one also.)

    I think CONGO the movie is a flawed, failed experiment that tried and failed to repeat the success of JURASSIC PARK. I can’t recommend the movie, but I would absolutely recommend the novel. One of Chrichton’s best IMO.

  5. The Original Paul

    June 9th, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    CJ – I can adopt Casper, the verb, into my mental bank of filmic terms, as long as there’s also room for Queen Latifah**ing in there also.

    **to Queen Latifah – verb – reference from THE BONE COLLECTOR, description for what happens when the single really likeable character – usually a secondary character – of an otherwise mediocre or worse movie is suddenly, pointlessly, or underwhelmingly killed off, and is subsequently never heard from or mentioned again. Also see: Natasha Lyonne from BLADE TRINITY, the pregnant girl from the MY BLOODY VALENTINE remake, etc.

  6. I remember this movie as the only film where the line “made by the producers of [insert movie]” in a commercial worked on me.
    In this case jurassic park.
    I was a kid hit by the dino hype like no other and after hearing this I immediately wanted to see it. Of course my parents had to explain
    why this was not going to happen. Disappointment ensued.

  7. I forgot how fucking bonkers the plot of this movie was.

  8. Saw this one in theaters that year and enjoyed it at the time. The book was obviously a lot better though. The device they had on Amy’s arm in the movie was nowhere to be found in the book and I think they used it so they wouldn’t have to subtitle the sign language scenes because reading subtitles is worse than the bubonic plague for many mainstream movie goers it would seem.

  9. So after caspering it, I have to say that I really, really enjoyed this movie. Except for the last act with the killer gorillas. Everything that came before is a not exactly original, but very entertaining and at times seriously funny (even intentional) adventure movie. But then the killer gorillas show up (surprisingly late, considering that they were front and center of the marketing, as far as I remember) and immediately get conviniently killed by a volcano (and Lazer Linney). It’s like something a studio would put in a movie during re-shoots, after a test audience wondered why a movie based on a novel from the JURASSIC PARK guy doesn’t have any dinosaurs in it. But dinosaurs were too absurd for this movie, so they went with ancient gorillas.

    Everything else entertained me a lot, though and I can totally see why Ernie Hudson calls this his favourite role. As soon as scientists figure out how to travel to alternative universes, I wanna take a vacation in the one where CONGO was a smash hit and we got at least two or three more CAPTAIN MUNRO KELLY adventures.

  10. The Original Paul

    June 9th, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    CJ: While I would definitely be up for some more Munro Kelly, I don’t think you’ve thought this one through enough. Clearly this character didn’t need his own movie sequels. Nope.

    What he really needed was his own Saturday morning cartoon! Starring Captain Munro Kelly, daring adventurer who takes trips through darkest Africa and encounters all kinds of weird and wonderful mythical creatures in his quest for diamonds. I mean, think about it! All Disney cartoons have talking animal sidekicks, right? Kelly already has that! Tim Curry basically plays a cartoon villain already in the movie – why not have him as an actual cartoon villain in the show? It’d be a guaranteed hit with the lucrative 3-7yr old demographic.

  11. “Hudson still works constantly, but this was probly his last big role in a big movie. ”

    Vern – Well last I heard, rumors claimed Hudson is playing T’Chaka (Black Panther’s father) in the upcoming BLACK PANTHER film. Not to spoil anything, but not really a “big” role. (The Uncle Ben of that character.)

    I remember Crichton on the LOOKER commentary track talking about how it came about basically because he was going to make CONGO (when it was a script before it became a book, or maybe book then script?) but the FX at the time wasn’t convincing enough for Amy so he decided to make LOOKER for the same studio instead, I think.

  12. I read this and The Terminal Man, both of which feature amoral ladder climbing lady science executives. The producers of Jurassic Park managed to make a pretty entertaining silly picture out of Congo,but Terminal Man is unrecoverable. The plot is pushed along by stupid endangering decisions based on such shallow bullshit hand waving misunderstandings of psychotherapy and radiation, the story wouldn’t satisfy third graders.
    Congo seemed to work though, on a Flash Gordon level. Tim Curry negotiating with the warlords sort of made the movie for me.

  13. It was TV, but he had a pretty substantial role on OZ too.

  14. Paul: I would take a saturday morning cartoon too.

  15. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    June 10th, 2015 at 12:33 am

    I thought Dustin Hoffman was in this.

  16. Are there some post-colonial aspects of this story? A bunch of white dudes goes to an african country and gets murdered by savage natives, portrayed as angry gorillas?

  17. I watched this once back in the 00’s and thought it was a perfectly good 90’s action-adventure movie, yeah there’s some goofy shit (“STOP EATING MY SESAME CAKE!”) but it’s by no means the colossal stinker it’s reputation makes it out to be.

    I also think it’s a shame it derailed Frank Marshall’s directing career, I’ve always really loved ARACHNOPHOBIA, that is a very fun movie and he could have had a decent career as “Spielberg lite” if it wasn’t for CONGO flopping.

  18. Doesn’t Amy drink a martini in this? Or am I thinking of another ape movie.

  19. Whenever I think of this movie, I usually remember a school friend coming in one day when were 8 or 9 and saying this was the best movie he had ever seen. He was particularly enthused about a bit where someone lost their eyes, which may or may not actually be in the movie, I can’t remember (this friend, among others, also used to talk about “PREDATOR 3”). I bought it on VHS when I was 13, and even though by then I knew of its “mixed” reputation I was pretty excited, but I think I was pretty bored. Watched it again at age 22, more familiar with the ouvres of Campbell, Hudson, Curry, Crichton and others and thought it was kind of fun, but not really anything special. I lost touch with that friend and ocassionally wonder what he thinks of this film now.

  20. Good to see that Vern found some enjoyment in this fun b level jungle adventure. It’s always been very entertaining to me even if the quality itself is extremely suspect. Amy was most definitely the MVP. Call me loco but I’d actually like to see a remake of this.

  21. Pacman2.0 – The eyeball thing actually does happen. One of the killer apes bashes a dude’s eyes out and throws ’em at Bruce Campbell. It’s pretty hardcore.

  22. This movie taught me that hippos are assholes

  23. Timmy, actually I remember an old adventure movie, that I saw on TV as a kid, where one guy gets killed my hippos while they are trying to cross a river. That’s how I learned it. I still try to find out what movie that was.

  24. Does anyone else think of Jimmy Russels every time they see the header pic Vern chose?

  25. Delroy Lindo scolding Tim Curry is about all the impression the movie made on me.

    “Stop eating my sesame cake.” (pause) “STOP EATING MY SESAME CAKE!”

  26. First of all, Brisco County, Jr only ran for one season. It’s the reason I resent and hate X-Files to this day (Its first season ran the hour after Brisco’s.). Secondly, a story: I was 14 when Congo came out, and it was at the height of my Bruce Campbell obsession. I was exactly the horror nerd you described. I was there opening night, at the theater I would end up managing before it closed. I was in the front row, where I was raised to sit. The lights went down, the curtain went up (boy, do I miss that), and BC died immediately. I was stunned. I was outraged. How do waste the talents of Bruce Campbell in such an egregious manner? I actually had to leave the theater for a few minutes and calm myself down. I’ve only ever heard that happened to WWII vets during the opening of Saving Private Ryan. But I went back in and enjoyed the rest of what was ultimately a pretty dopey fun adventure movie. Thirdly, Waxwork II: Lost in Time is overrated, and the Bruce is hilarious in it. Great review, Vern, love what you’re doing here.

  27. Whoops, wishful thinking on Brisco. Thanks for the correction.

    I noticed a new Bruce Campbell related issue the other day. There used to be a generation gap between people who saw EVIL DEAD 1 and/or 2 first and people who first knew ARMY OF DARKNESS (sometimes not even knowing about the earlier ones). But this was the first time I met someone who first knew the director’s cut of ARMY OF DARKNESS, and was confused why there was another ending where he’s at S-Mart. I’m not sure this is such a bad thing, since it was Raimi’s original intent to end it that way, and it’s a good ending, but it felt like the world shifting under my feet. To me ARMY OF DARKNESS will always be “Hail to the king, baby” and the Rip Van Winkle version is an interesting alternate that we heard about for years before even seeing it on a bootleg VHS or something.

    Still, I feel bad that nobody gets to experience the crazy what-the-fuckness of the EVIL DEAD 2 ending anymore because they already know what ARMY OF DARKNESS is about. Thank you, Roger Ebert quote on the cover, for giving me that gift.

  28. The Original Paul

    June 11th, 2015 at 5:43 am

    Ok… now I’m confused.

    The version of ARMY OF DARKNESS, the only one I’ve ever seen, ends with Ash taking one too many drops of potion and waking up a hundred years into the post-apocalyptic future. There’s another version out there?

  29. Good god, Paul. You gotta get out of that village.

  30. The Original Paul

    June 11th, 2015 at 6:20 am

    Analog:

    WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT??!!!

  31. The Original Paul

    June 11th, 2015 at 6:22 am

    Ok, I refuse to accept this.

    For one thing, if he doesn’t decapitate the checkout girl he’s kissing at the end, it’s not canon. All of Ash’s relationships end by decapitation. That’s the rules.

    God-DAMN you Sam Raimi!

  32. The Original Paul

    June 11th, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Ok, that’s it. I’m taking my damn ball and I’m going home. Don’t wanna play with you guys any more.

  33. I was sort of caught between the generation gap that Vern refers to; the first time I saw Army of Darkness on bootlegged video, it had the original S-MART ending. When I eventually bought the DVD and saw the Rip Van Winkle version I assumed my memory of the was a victim of the smokey haze that gripped my mind throughout university years.

  34. I own a German bootleg-ish* VHS, that edited the two endings into one. First the sleep ending starts, then while he is sleeping a title card appears, telling us that “While Ash sleeps through the centuries, he starts dreaming”, followed by the S-Mart ending. After that, the sleep ending continues.

    *It was from a legit, yet small label, but the edit was selfmade. Also the picture quality was kinda shitty. The cover said it was “remastered”, but I guess they didn’t know what they were doing.

  35. I first saw ARMY OF DARKNESS on what was either a first edition VHS copy or certainly a fairly early VHS release and the ending on there was the “how long have I been asleep?” dealy (though this being 2004 and me being me, I already knew there were multiple endings), so I supsect a fair number of Brits are more familiar with this version (it is also on the 2009ish DVD relase I have, with the S-MART/Bridget Fonda ending as an extra)

  36. I was supposed to see ARMY OF DARKNESS at the cinema because I had a cousin that was obsessed with EVIL DEAD 2 back in the late 80’s and he was super hyped for it. By the time we went to see it the theater it was playing at had already removed it’s showtimes :(

  37. The too many drops ending was what he originally shot, but the studio didn’t like it so they gave him more money to shoot a different one, which is what was released theatrically (at least in the US – but I think maybe only Japan got the other ending? Can’t remember). The apocalyptic ending is cool and would’ve set up a better sequel, but I’ve always preferred the theatrical cut because it seems like Raimi was excited and energized by the chance to do a new scene, and had probly been watching a bunch of John Woo. He really went for it. Plus, as funny as the other one is it’s basically a re-do of the EVIL DEAD 2 ending.

  38. The S-Mart ending also gives us one of the most iconic one liners of the entire series. So yeah it was a good call.

  39. I was in elementary school when this came out, and I was jazzed through the roof to see it….it opened on a weekend when my dad and my grandpa came down to see me, because my parents were divorced. Anyway, my grandpa, rest in peace, was a very conservative, old-fashioned Iranian man, who spoke no English and didn’t suffer fools and foolish things, so you can probably guess his reaction to the movie. He didn’t talk to me for probably several years after that weekend.

    Ahhh, good times.

  40. ARMY OF DARKNESS was my first exposure to EVIL DEAD circa 1999 on the Sci Fi Channel, from there I played the 2003 EVIL DEAD video game A Fistful of Boomstick, but I didnt get around to watching EVIL DEAD 1 & 2 till they came out on blu ray, but it was well worth the wait.

    And I’ve always preferred the S-Mart ending, why not give Ash a chance to win for once? Why does he always have to get screwed over in the end? I think it ends the series* on a more satisfying note than a cliff hanger that will never be resolved.

    *yes, I know about the upcoming TV series, but I’m talking about the movie series specifically.

  41. I cannot believe I’m seeing all these Congo defenders here. While I love Winston and Frank N. Furter as much as the next guy, their accents were totally dodgy in this movie. They did seem like they were having fun at least, but they’re just supporting characters to the completly boring leads.

    And if you paid full price and saw this piece of shit in the theaters then it was like getting slapped in the face. We thought we were getting a Jurassic Park with apes and we got that “Amy good gorilla” shit instead.

    And I’m a diehard Bruce fan (I sat through that steaming turd Serving Sara with my wife last night because I’m a Campbell completist – who thought Matthew Perry could carry a film?) and the S-Mart ending is the best. The future one is funny (and I bought the director’s cut on VHS just so I could see it in 1999) but it’s not have the crowdpleaser as “Hail to the king, baby.”

    At live events Bruce always says that the bigger his part, the better the movie. He uses Congo as the main example.

  42. Guess what? I just read the CONGO novel and I said that the movie wasn’t too bad, but compared to the book it is, the book is way, way better, there’s so much goofy shit in the movie that’s not in the book at all, there’s no shooting gorillas with laser beams or “STOP EATING MY SESAME CAKE” and Tim Curry’s character is not in it at all, instead it’s just a badass adventure story.

    What sums up the differences between the book and the movie is the “grey gorillas” themselves, unlike in the movie they’re not snarling, ugly monsters, just another type of animal, albeit particularly dangerous ones, the book actually has a nice pro-nature message without being obnoxious.

    From what I’ve read of Michael Crichton he was pretty inconsistent, his books ran the gamut from mediocre to bad, but JURASSIC PARK is one of my favorite books and SPHERE is pretty good as well, I’m happy to say that CONGO is another worthwhile one, so he wasn’t just a one hit wonder.

  43. If I remember correctly this was supposed to be made in the 80s starring Sean Connery with Brian DePalma directing. How incredible would that have been? Also i remember that Hugh Grant was supposed to be Dr. Peter, how incredible would THAT have been? (I’m a sucker for non-genre actors finding themselves in genre fare)

    As it is, Congo’s pretty decent- obviously no Jurassic Park but nowhere near as bad as its reputation suggests. I remember a friend said he almost stormed out after a guy got eaten by a hippopotamus, to which I remember thinking “man I’ve got to see this fucking movie”. It’s a little on the dull side and the climax is rushed, but there’s so much good stuff – the aforementiond lasers, Currys’ accent, Hudson’s accent, Joe Don Baker screaming and yelling, Lindo’s “STOP EATING MY SESAME CAKE” bit, that it can’t really be ignored. Plus I kinda dig that this big budget summer movie for kids is fronted by a capable woman played by a real actress, who gets a Seagal-ian ex-CIA background, saves the day, and doesn’t get saddled with a romance subplot. Damn near progressive and ahead of its time.

    Also: Jimmy Buffet is the airplane pilot in this one. How the hell did that happen?

  44. Was Jimmy Buffet a personal friend of Michael Crighton’s or something? He has a cameo in JURASSIC WORLD, too.

  45. I just watched this for the first time today. Not sure what kept me away from it all these years. I think the Bruce Campbell dies in the first scene combined with its reputation of overall lameness, but who knows…I think I just sort of forgot about it.

    And, watching it all these years later, like many of you above; I found out this is a lot of fun. Not the best by a long shot. Actually pretty dumb, and had a feeling of fakeness to everything. But maybe even because of those reasons, this one aged surprisingly well. Like I said: this is a fun one.

    The full onslaught of cult stars is great. Not just Bruce (who actually does give it his hammy best in his one scene), but so many others, I can’t even list them. It was Joe Don’t Baker (who I know from MST3K infamy as MITCHELL) who really stole the show. He’s just soooo angry at the end about his mission going so screwy. Surprised his outburst hasn’t become some Meme touchstone. This movie hits the right age group, but guess they forgot it too.

    So, if you happen to be in the mood for a really fun “so bad its good” movie that occasionally crosses over into actually good, this fits the bill. I enjoyed it anyway.

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