Following the game-changing success of Jurassic Park in 1993, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood dived into the Michael Crichton back catalogue for further inspiration, with the cult favorite Congo emerging two years later.
While Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the author’s work became an instant classic, one of the most important and influential blockbusters of all-time, not to mention the highest-grossing movie in history at the time, things didn’t go so well for Congo. Directed by regular Spielberg collaborator Frank Marshall, the film’s minor critical success was offset by a critical pummeling.
The sci-fi fantasy was profitable after netting over $150 million at the box office on a $50 million budget, but a 22 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and seven Razzie nominations (including Worst Picture and Worst Director) dampened the enthusiasm. Make no mistake about it, Congo sucks, but that’s exactly why it’s gone on to become an unlikely cult favorite.
The reasons are exceedingly simple when you think about it, though, given that the story finds a group of explorers (one of whom is a gorilla) getting more than they bargained for during a dangerous trek into the jungle, culminating in what might be the dumbest climactic action sequence you’ll ever see. Even after a quarter of a century and change, Congo is still capable of drawing in a crowd, too, with FlixPatrol naming it as one of the top titles on iTunes this week.
Come for the high concept premise, stay for a wonderful cast featuring Laura Linney, Ernie Hudson, Delroy Lindo, Bruce Campbell, and a scenery-devouring Tim Curry hamming it up in gloriously over the top fashion. Oh, and rogue simians being blown to bits by a laser-powered rifle.