Skull Island

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This article is about the fictional Skull Island of King Kong. For other uses, see Skull Island (disambiguation).
The Map of Skull Island as seen in the 1933 King Kong film.

Skull Island is the name most often used to describe a fictional island that first appeared in the 1933 film King Kong and later appearing in its sequels, the two remakes, and any other King Kong-based media. It is the home of the eponymous King Kong and several other species of creatures, mostly prehistoric and in some cases species that should have been extinct long before the rise of mammalian creatures, along with a primitive society of humans.

In the 1962 film King Kong vs. Godzilla and the 1967 film King Kong Escapes, the comparable islands are called "Farou Island" and "Mondo Island", respectively. Kong plays a similar role on these islands as the godlike being of the land, a role he plays in all versions of the King Kong story. Skull Island's origins are unknown, but Kong appears to be the only giant gorilla known to exist on the island. However, the 2005 remake shows other skeletons of Kong-sized gorillas, indicating that there was once a group of such creatures of an unknown number living on the island.


Appearance in the 1933 films[edit]

In King Kong, the island is never mentioned by name and is located at approximately 12°S 78°E / 12°S 78°E / -12; 78 — somewhere off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. There is a distinctive rocky knoll in the center of the island that is shaped like a human skull, which is referred to as "Skull Mountain".

At first, the island is thought to be deserted, but upon further examination by the protagonists of the picture, it is filled to the brim with superstitious natives, prehistoric creatures of all sorts, and one extremely large gorilla, known by those on the island as "Kong".

The ancestry of the natives is never really explained, although the setting suggests they are a Southeast Asian group.

In the sequel film The Son of Kong, Carl Denham returns to Skull Island when there was mentioning of some treasure that was hidden there. He also encounters a large white gorilla who is the son of King Kong. Skull Island sinks into the sea during a powerful earthquake. Kong's son drowns while holding Carl Denham above the water. Denham survives unscathed while the treasure is claimed by him and the other three survivors.

The term "Skull Island" is never used in the original films. In King Kong, only "Skull Mountain" is named, while in the sequel The Son of Kong, its simply referred to as "Kong's Island". In the novelization of King Kong by Delos Lovelace, it's called "Skull Mountain Island". But RKO referred to it as "Skull Island" in some of their publicity materials.

1976 remake[edit]

In the 1976's King Kong, Skull Island is mentioned as being "the beach of the skull." Various people are said to have visited the island through the centuries but returned with no clear proof. By the 1970s, it is an urban legend whose only evidence is in government secret files. It is also revealed to have a huge deposit of oil, which led a greedy oil company executive, to go in search of it.

Kong: The Animated Series[edit]

In Kong: The Animated Series, the island was named Kong Island. Unlike previous incarnations, Kong Island was situated in the infamous Bermuda Triangle, not the Pacific Ocean. Although various prehistoric creatures are seen living there, Kong Island also contains some ruins where one of them serves as the prison of the demon Chiros.

It is also where Jason Jenkins and his grandmother Dr. Lorna Jenkins also live along with Jason's friend Tan. Another human inhabitant is Lua, the sole survivor of the native people of the island and a female shaman.

Kong: King of Skull Island[edit]

A 2004 illustrated novel that serves as both prequel and sequel the original "King Kong" story, conceived by Merian C. Cooper and novelized by Delos Lovelace in 1932, and authorized by the Cooper family.

Created and Illustrated by Joe DeVito [and novelized by Brad Strickland and DeVito, with John Michlig] Kong: King of Skull Island depicts a Skull Island far larger than originally thought. It is either the last vestige of a volatile volcanic series of islands or the remnant of a larger land-mass. Skull Island is located in the Indian Ocean, west of Sumatra, and has several much smaller islands in various locations around its perimeter, with the most prevalent of these off a small peninsula on its southeast corner.

Skull Island contains two main mountains, the larger being shaped in the visage of a human skull. Skull Mountain is riddled with subterranean caves and passageways carved out by natural erosion, but also man-made. In earlier times, these were often used by islanders to avoid the monsters on the surface, but proved to have a multitude of dangerous denizens of their own. These include previously unknown species such as snake-like amphibians with enormous heads capable of swallowing a human whole; foot-long creatures that combine squid and crustacean characteristics with bio-luminescent sails tipped with poisonous stingers; giant spiders with 7 foot bodies and 8 foot long legs ending in hand-like appendages.

The human civilization that inhabits Skull Island at least through the Twentieth Century is the last remnant of a previously unknown super-race called the Tagatu (a combination of two formerly separate tribes: the Tagu and the Atu). The original culture is believed to have Asian origins that bled into an island group west of Sumatra that no longer exists. As a result of a natural disaster, they were forced to migrate to Skull Island untold millennia ago. Drawn to its spectacular makeup by their insatiable curiosity, the Tagatu believed their mastery of biological and organic sciences could overcome Skull Island's dangers. It was they who originally brought the gigantic simian Kongs there for protection and who, with the help of the Kongs, built the iconic wall across the Skull Island’s peninsula for protections against Skull Island’s prehistoric denizens.

Among the many mysteries revealed in the work is the reality that on Skull Island the dinosaurs never died out, but continued to evolve over the intervening 65 million years. This has resulted in strange variations on previously known species, as well as many new ones. Chief among the latter is a race of sentient dinosaurs, called Deathrunners. Bipedal, extremely aggressive and 6 to 9 feet tall, they once ruled the island and were at war with the Tagatu and the Kongs. Their race is propagated every few generations by one queen that grows to gigantic size. It is one of these, called “Gaw”, that ruled Skull Island when King Kong was born and who Kong had to defeat in order to become a king.

In the story, Carl Denham's son, Vincent (now a paleontologist), and an older Jack Driscoll return to Skull Island in 1957 to discover pieces of the earlier civilization’s history and relationship to the island through an enigmatic Tagatu elder simply called, “Storyteller”, as well as in the form of archeological discoveries such as specially pigmented paintings in underground passageways that move when illuminated by torchlight to reveal past events on Skull Island. Primary among these is the discovery of remnants of “The Old City”, which was established by the Tagatu at the zenith of their civilization in the center of the island in an ideal valley between the two mountains. The Storyteller's tale, along with Vincent and Driscoll's findings, suggest that the eerie skull visage that gave the island its name may have been the work of human hands. These and other discoveries hint that the true extent of Skull Island’s secrets have yet to be revealed.

2005 remake[edit]

In Peter Jackson's remake, Skull Island's position west of Sumatra remains the same, in a region afflicted by magnetic anomalies and violent sea storms. According to the book The World of Kong, Skull Island was geologically unstable and has been slowly sinking into the sea for the past thousand years. By 1933, the island was on the verge of destruction. Fifteen years after its discovery to the modern world, Skull Island finally sank into the ocean.

In its prehistory, Skull Island was a refuge for a variety of prehistoric creatures. Over time, more and more species arrived either by swimming, flying, rafting, or migrating through temporary land bridges. As the island slowly receded into the sea, life was forced to adapt, resulting in an ecosystem of bizarre and nightmarish creatures.

Three thousand years before, an advanced civilization from Southeast Asia migrated to Skull Island, bringing with them domesticated animals such as Gaur and the giant ancestors of Kong. This culture eventually died off, leaving behind only gigantic eroding ruins scattered around the island (such as the enormous wall) and a small society of primitive people that became the Skull Island natives.

Altus Press[edit]

To coincide with the 80th anniversary of both characters, Altus Press announced on January 29, 2013, that King Kong would meet pulp hero Doc Savage in a new, officially sanctioned book written by Will Murray and artist Joe DeVito, who will also do the cover artwork. Set in 1920, shortly after returning from military service during World War I, Doc Savage searches for his long-lost grandfather (the legendary mariner Stormalong Savage) with his father, the explorer Clark Savage, Sr., that ultimately leads father and son to the mysterious Skull Island and its prehistoric denizens including King Kong. Doc Savage: Skull Island was released in March 2013.[1] In his review for the New York Journal of Books, playwright-author Mark Squirek concluded:

Across close to 400 pages Doc Savage: Skull Island takes us not only on a journey to Skull Island, but to the beginnings of a young man’s rise to greatness. Mr. Murray has created a new classic of the genre—all the while staying completely true to the legends of both Kong and Doc Savage.[2]

Altus Press has announced an authorized crossover novel, King Kong Vs. Tarzan, for release in the summer of 2016. Written by Will Murray, it tells the previously untold story of the transportation by cargo ship of Kong from Skull Island to America, and King Kong's inevitable encounter with Tarzan of the Apes.[3]

2017 offshoot feature film[edit]

A 2017 reboot, Kong: Skull Island, set in the universe of Gareth Edwards' 2014 film Godzilla will take place on Skull Island. Kong is 100 ft (30.48 meters) tall in the film, and there is evidence that Kong's species once existed on the island. One of the main species seen on the island are large legless mostly subterranean lizards known as "Skullcrawlers" and are referred to as the island's "devils". There is also evidence of dinosaurs living on the island, in the form of a Triceratops skull and other dinosaur skeletons found in the "graveyard" of the island. Other gigantic creatures, such as huge spiders, giant cephalopods, colossal log insects, massive water buffaloes, and pterosaur-like creatures also reside in various parts of the island as "individual gods" of their respective domains. Like previous incarnations there is a human tribe present and presumably of a South East Asian origin. The film sees an expedition in 1973 landing upon the island after Skull Island is detected from LANDSAT.

Kong: Skull Island stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell, and Terry Notary as Kong. The film is written by Derek Connolly, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and produced by Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers.[4] [5]

Popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Matthew Moring (January 29, 2012). "Press Release: Doc Savage and King Kong Coming in March". Press Release. Altus Press. Retrieved 2013-02-24. On the eightieth anniversary of these fictional giants, Altus Press is proud to release the first authorized clash between The Man of Bronze and the Eighth Wonder of the World — Doc Savage: Skull Island. Written by Will Murray in collaboration with Joe DeVito, creator of KONG: King of Skull Island, Doc Savage: Skull Island is a new pulp epic. 
  2. ^ Mark Squirek (2013). "Doc Savage: Skull Island". Review. New York Journal of Books. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  3. ^ Press Release — For Immediate Release (March 8, 2016). "Altus Press to Release King Kong Vs. Tarzan". Press Release. Altus Press. Retrieved 2017-01-30. King Kong Vs. Tarzan is scheduled for a Summer, 2016 release, timed to coincide with the promising and much-anticipated new Warner Bros. Legend of Tarzan film, and will be issued in trade paperback, ebook and hardcover editions. 
  4. ^ Borys Kit (August 18, 2015). "'Jurassic World' Writer Heads to 'Kong: Skull Island' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  5. ^ Fleming, Jr, Mike (September 10, 2015). "King Kong On Move To Warner Bros, Presagin Godzilla Movie Match". Deadline. 
  6. ^

Further reading[edit]