Here’s a 1980 sci-fi novel from author Michael Crichton (1944-2008). This was his 15th book, although only the fifth using his proper name.
Congo is a story about science, greed, and the mysticism surrounding that vast jungle. Where a business expedition to secure precious demands leads to a terrifying discovery.
The novel is set in 1979. After the business Earth Resource Technology Services Inc. loses contact with an expedition in the Virunga region of the Congo, efforts must be made to establish contact.
To understand what happened, a new expedition is sent out to try and rescue the previous crew. And secure for the business lucrative diamonds.
However, it also becomes clear the crew was attacked by a mysterious race of violent grey-haired gorillas and killed much of the crew.
Undeterred, Dr. Karen Ross assembles a team and heads out to the Congo. She also enlists local African mercenary Charles Munro and his team, including right-hand man Kahega.
When they reach the site of the previous expedition, they’re soon attacked by the mysterious gorillas. And Dr. Ross’ field autopsy reveals they’re a gorilla/chimpanzee/human hybrid species.
Munro and his team discover the gorillas were bred to defend the local mines, which are packed with the valuable diamonds.
What follows is an intense battle for survival, with Dr. Ross eager to get at least one diamond from the trip. Whilst also desperately trying to escape with their lives.
And so, when we read Congo back around 2000 we found it a highly effective book.
It actually bloody scared us. The gorillas are a constant menace and terrorise the field expedition repeatedly.
It’s one of the few times we can say a book has actively scared us. We’re not sure if we’d feel the same now, but at the time it hit the mark.
So, recommended as a page turning bestseller type of jaunt. Crichton balances the science-fiction elements with horror and action well and you have to keep coming back for more.
And it’s no surprise that the film was eventually adapted to the big screen, as it’s perfect cannon fodder for cinema buffs. Or was it?!
Congo’s 1995 Film Adaptation
Okay, so we reviewed Congo the film a while back. Directed by Frank Marshall, it starred Dylan Walsh and the awesome Laura Linney.
However, the film was something of a critical disaster and was panned by the press. Although it was a considerable commercial success.
It’s a weird old film, though. Camp and kitsch, with jarring shifts in tone. Like it wants to be a screwball comedy and horror movie all in one.
Despite its many and obvious flaws, we couldn’t help but really enjoy it for what it is.
Not least as it features the legendary line, “Stop eating my sesame cake!”
Yes, Congo the film is dumb. But as mindless popcorn entertainment we got a lot of fun out of it. One for a rainy day, we guess.