In 1933, a colossal gorilla was introduced to audiences in the ground-breaking classic movie "King Kong." The film was remade in 1976 and again in 2005; the great ape has endured to become one of the world's most famous movie icons. His image has been used in books, movies, comics, video games and theme park rides. King Kong and many other larger-than-life monsters are available in books and in movies at your Manatee County libraries.
In the original film starring Fay Wray, King Kong was captured on the mysterious Skull Island and transported to New York to be exhibited on stage as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Unfortunately, within minutes, he breaks free of his chains and escapes the theater to terrorize the city. Kong attempts to protect Fay Wray, who was offered to the beast as "a sacrifice" back on Skull Island. He carries her in his enormous hand as he climbs to the spire of the Empire State building where the ultimate battle takes place.
The most recent incarnation of this story (which opened in theaters in 2005), is filled with breathtaking action and terrifying creatures in this thrilling epic adventure about the legendary gorilla. The original novel, which contains scenes that are not in any of the films, was penned in 1932 by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper. A 2005 re-issue of the original novel is available at the library.
"Jaws" by Peter Benchley is a classic suspense novel, as scary today as it was 40 years ago. A giant rogue shark terrorizes the town of Amity, Long Island. Suspense builds as the shark continues to hunt the town's residents and tourists alike. Police Chief Brody, who has to find a way to kill the beast, is the lone voice of reason in a City Hall meeting filled with people who want to downplay the shark's presence. In Steven Speilberg's 1975 blockbuster film adaptation of the book, the story line and characters are similar but with some compelling surprises and intense suspense -- no doubt aided by the haunting theme song. The "Jaws" phenomenon continues to inspire interest in sharks to this day.
"Jurassic Park" by Michael Crichton is a scary, creepy and mesmerizing thriller with teeth. Bioengineers clone more than a dozen species of dinosaurs and establish an island preserve where tourists can view the huge, prehistoric creatures.
When the dinosaurs escape and begin to wreak havoc and kill, it is up to a safari guide, a paleontologist and two kids to try to restore order. The novel fills out the film's version of the story line with additional scenes and dialogue while still maintaining a thrills-and-chills pace. In Speilberg's film version of "Jurassic Park," there are incredibly realistic looking dinosaurs and tons of suspense, chases and crashes. The plot holds true to Crichton's novel using superb special effects and cinematography. On the monster movie score, this movie rates a high "10" and is very entertaining.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Access the library online at www.mymanatee.org/library.html. Fran Barba is a reference librarian in the Manatee County Public Library System.
Danny Bradley is a reference librarian at the Manatee County Central Library. Cathy Habora is a staff member at the Braden River Branch Library.