The Curator of Schlock #52 by Jeff Shuster
Congo
(Ape of the Week: Gorilla)

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When a movie starts out with Bruce Campbell screaming directly into the camera, you can take that as a good sign that you won’t be wasting your time. 1995’s Congo from director Frank Marshall tells the story of a talking gorilla, King Solomon’s diamonds, super satellites, laser guns, and an extra evil Jo Don Baker. What more could you want out of movie?

As mentioned earlier, Congo features a talking Gorilla named Amy. I know what you’re thinking: how can a gorilla possibly talk? That’s impossible! Well, she does the sign language thing and she has this device attached to her arms that translates her signs into spoken words. Granted, Amy sounds a bit like a Speak & Read. What is a Speak & Read? It’s an electronic device that taught children how to read back in the 1980s. Yes, I owned one. Yes, I’m an old man.

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Anyway, poor Amy’s been having nightmares about the jungle and her guardian, Dr. Peter Elliott (Dylan Walsh), decides it’s high time to deliver her back to the Congo. Plus, he figures since Amy knows how to sign, she can teach the other gorillas in the wild how to talk. That should go a long way toward speeding up the inevitable ape uprising.

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Unfortunately, Dr. Elliot is having trouble securing funds for returning Amy back to the wild. He should have tried auditioning Amy for a Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie. I guarantee you that sucker would be have been a sold out for six months. Dr. Elliot eventually manages to get funding for his exhibition from a mysterious benefactor named Herkermer Homolka (Tim Curry).

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Yes, Tim Curry is in this movie sporting a Romanian accent. Do you really need more reasons to watch this?

Homolka isn’t the only one who wants to fund this expedition.

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Dr. Karen Ross (Laura Linney) is a communications scientists who works for TraviCom, TraviCom is run by R.B. Travis (Jo Don Baker). He’s obsessed with getting his hands on a rare blue diamond so he can build a super satellite like the kind we see in James Bond movies. He sends his son, Charlie Travis (Bruce Campbell), off to Zaire where he mysteriously disappears (gets mutilated by killer gorillas.) Charlie was Dr. Ross’s ex-fiancé so that’s her motivation for leading the exhibitio. R.B. Travis simply wants to rule the telecommunications industry. That’s his reason for sending the exhibition.

The group arrives in Africa where they meet Eddie Ventro (Joe Pantoliano wearing a Hawaiian shirt) who helps them to organize the exhibition. They also meet Captain Munro Kelly (Ernie Hudson sporting a British accent) a mercenary who will lead them into the Congo.

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Will our intrepid group of adventurers survive heat seeking missiles, killer gorillas, and an active volcano? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

Congo came out the same summer of Batman Forever. I’ll take a movie starring a talking gorilla and one of the greatest ensembles of character actors ever seen in on film over that mess any day. Plus, Congo features killer gorillas that toss human heads around like they’re footballs. What more could you possibly want from a movie?

5 Things I Learned from Watching Congo.

1. Talking gorillas could give JIBO a run for its money.
2. “Rain drop drink” is gorilla speak for a vodka martini with olives.
3. You can’t trust Tim Curry.
4. You can always trust Ernie Hudson.
5. It’s always fun to watch Jo Don Baker lose his cool.

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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.

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