Saturday Night Spotlight #13: Jackie Kong

For a short time in the 1980s, filmmaker Jackie Kong (b. 1954 or 1957) made some fabulously low-budget B-movies in the horror and comedy genres. A native of California, Kong incorporates influences from the films of gore-auteur Herschell Gordon Lewis into her own enjoyably campy repertoire. Kong continues to be interviewed by magazines and blogs like Fangoria and Junk Food Dinner and she reportedly has a new film in the works, CoExistence (described as Romeo and Juliet with vampires”), which would be her first feature in close to three decades.

The Being (1983) – Kong’s debut film, which she also wrote, is a combination of horror and science fiction, starring such well-known performers as Martin Landau, José Ferrer, Dorothy Malone, Ruth Buzzi, Kinky Friedman, Johnny Dark (best known for his half-century-long friendship with Sam Shepard), Jerry Maren and Dave Clark (yes, that Dave Clark, the drummer from the Dave Clark Five). The title monster is a gross, slimy mess bent on terrorizing a small town after it is formed out of leftover toxic waste at a corporate conglomerate’s dump site, relevant to issues of excess in the 1980s.

Night Patrol (1984) – A comedy riffing on themes similar to another film made that year, Police Academy, Kong’s second film shows the humorous difficulties of life as a cop. Again Kong secured some famous names for her film: Linda Blair, Billy Barty, Pat Morita, Johnny Dark and Andrew Dice Clay. Kong edited the film herself, as well as co-writing the screenplay with Murray Langston, William A. Levey and Bill Osco.

Blood Diner (1987) – A cult classic in the horror genre, Kong’s most widely known film mixes cannibalism with comedy. Rick Burks and Carl Crew play a pair of brothers who run a restaurant and start killing women in order to incorporate their flesh into a new recipe on their menu. You can’t not enjoy the two taglines from posters: “Food So Good, It Tastes Just Like Mom Used To…” and “First they greet you, then they eat you.” Also, a fun bit of trivia: Blood Diner’s art director, K.K. Barrett, went on to become an Academy-Award nominated production designer who worked on films like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., Lost in Translation and Her.

The Underachievers (1987) – The final film directed by Jackie Kong is a comedy starring Edward Albert, Barbara Carrera (pictured above), Michael Pataki, Vic Tayback, Susan Tyrrell, Garrett Morris, Jewel Shepard, Burt Ward and Francine York. Co-written by Kong, Tony Rosato and Gary Scott Thompson, the story concerns a high school administration that decides to allow classes to be taught to people outside the usual adolescent population. When prisoners and gangsters start going to the school, the expected absurdity ensues. The stars of Blood Diner, Rick Burks and Carl Crew, also have cameo appearances in this film.

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