King Kong vs. Godzilla
1963, Universal-International Pictures/Toho Co., Ltd.
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Tonight, for the first time ever, I watched King Kong vs. Godzilla. Yes, I’ve fallen prey to the current case of Godzilla fever that is sweeping the country what with the latest American version of Godzilla doing quite well at the box office. I’m not a huge Godzilla fan but I don’t have a bad word to say about him either so I’ve gotten interested in checking out a lot of the Godzilla movies. I saw the original Godzilla movie years ago as a kid and when the original series of films hit DVD about 10+ years ago (For the first time, I think?), I tried a few of those but I couldn’t get into them at the time. I know for sure I watched Son of Godzilla all the way through and didn’t like it but I don’t recall what else I watched.
Other than some video footage and still shots, I know for a fact I had never watched King Kong vs. Godzilla. It’s an interesting idea but this is a different version of King Kong than the one that was originally featured in the 1933 RKO film. Most notably, this King Kong is just as much of a giant monster as Godzilla is. Had they kept King Kong at a height comparable to his original incarnation, ‘zilla could’ve squashed him like a bug. Also, with this version, electricity makes Kong stronger apparently.
The film was originally released in 1962 in Japan by the Toho Company (the home studio of Godzilla) but was prepped for a U.S. release with added scenes and eventually was distributed by Universal-International Pictures in co-operation with Toho. The story is basically a re-working of the original King Kong film with a subplot about Godzilla stomping his way through Japan thrown in. Kong is definitely the lead character in this film. There’s a brief scuffle between Kong and Godzilla about half-way into the movie but it’s pretty disappointing and abruptly ends with Kong simply walking away after Godzilla uses his fire breath on him.
Luckily, the final 10 minutes of the movie are completely devoted to a fun but silly brawl between the two monsters. The army tires of trying to deal with both Kong and Godzilla they decided to airlift an unconscious King Kong via BALLOONS into Godzilla’s vicinity with the hope that both creatures will destroy each other. It’s a rock-throwing, tail-whipping, chest-pounding battle for supremacy!
The version I watched is the GoodTimes Video released from 2001. Not sure how that worked out since Universal is the company that released the movie in the U.S. and released their own DVD in 2009 and on Blu-ray in 2014. I was thinking the GoodTimes release probably came from a lower quality source of film but according to Wikipedia, this film was not well preserved at all. That’s obvious during the opening minutes as it really does look like you’re watching an old reel or a worn-out VHS copy. It’s actually a bit charming. At least it’s not annoying like when modern-day films try to have that worn-out look on purpose.
Also according to Wikipedia, King Kong vs. Godzilla is the highest-grossing Godzilla movie of all time in Japan. A sequel was planned but never got off the ground. That project morphed into Frankenstein vs. Godzilla but that, too, was canceled and Mothra vs. Godzilla turned out to be the next Godzilla movie released. Toho did release one more King Kong movie called King Kong Escapes, but more on that at a later date.
Overall, you have to love the cheesy special effects and seeing guys stomp around and punch each other while wearing rubber/furry suits. The movie is a bit slow but it does have some humorous moments and the big fight at the end is pretty entertaining. Not a great film or even something I would give a full recommendation for but it does have its moments.