Sunday, January 9, 2011

I'll drink to that: thoughts on Toho's Kong and berry juice

I don't write satire much these days...but that doesn't mean I don't like to. Here are some musings, some based in reality and some not on one of my favorite Toho giant monsters, "King Kong", specifically the 45 meter tall Kong that was featured as the protagonist in 1962's King Kong Vs Godzilla.

The character of King Kong in the Toho kaiju film King Kong Vs Godzilla(1962) has always been for me a point of fascination. I know for many among the giant monster movie fandom the Toho Kong is looked upon with considerable disdain. Why not? He looks terrible in the '62 film with hunched shoulders, little or no neck and at times appears to have overly elongated arms. His appearance in this film has been described as "a hairy, giant quasimodo" and "giant ugly sasquatch". Add to the fact that the film he appeared in still ranks as one of the most watched Toho kaiju films, not just of the 1960's but in the history of Godzilla films which means A LOT of people have seen Toho Kong in all his ugliness on the big screen, VHS and DVD.

Maybe that's why Kong gets inebriated in the '62 film to the point of passing out on his back in front of the native islanders who worshiped him. Kong may have been ashamed of his appearance and, for lack of a personal groomer and life coach, coped the only way he knew how: by getting drunk. Can you blame him? Imagine having to listen to islanders privately make fun of his garish appearance. While no official estimates have ever been posted I think it's safe to say that King Kong consumed thousands of gallons of the red berry juice based on the size of the islander made containers. Kong's own size of 45 meters(about 148 feet) in height would presumably require a considerable amount of the juice in order for him to numb his feelings of boredom and misery, the potency of the juice's overall fermentation likely comparable to old school homemade corn whiskey, a beverage commonly referred to as "moonshine" in the southeastern United States.

Many fans may consider Toho's Kong a drunk and butt ugly creature but to his credit he managed to defeat a giant octopus and Godzilla, the latter a monster heavier, five meters taller than himself and possessing a scalding hot beam weapon capable of setting Kong's fur on fire. I believe Kong fought Godzilla while inebriated...and he still won albeit with some help from a few random lightning strikes. Toho Kong is old school brawler in combat: grappling, hand strikes, hurling boulders, shoulder blocks and body slams are all part of what Kong employed to defeat Godzilla.

Sadly, Toho Kong, initially asked by Toho to appear in the 1966 film Ebirah Horror Of The Deep, was replaced at the last minute by Godzilla after Kong reportedly refused to promise Toho execs he wouldn't eat Ebirah after tearing the giant crustacean apart with his bare hands.

In summary I'd like to ask fans to give Toho Kong a break, and a closer examination the next time you watch King Kong Vs Godzilla. I think you'll come away with a greater appreciation for this ugly but hard working creature.

As for what has happened since 1962 there is speculation that Toho Kong wants to visit Monsterland in the Ogasawara island archipelago, perhaps even take up permanent residency there but that Godzilla and the other kaiju residing on this remote island won't let Kong drop by until they've received a written, contractual guarantee of a large shipment, in advance of Kong's visit, of the red berry juice. Pacific Pharmaceuticals has been trying to mediate this issue between Toho Kong and the other monsters ever since...without any success. Toho's current CEO Shogo Tomiyama has, in recent years, received considerable pressure from the Japanese Parliament to break this stalemate and help Kong and the kaiju of "Monsterland" reach an agreement. The latest update, posted in a Japanese newspaper last month, said an agreement is imminent.