Sunday, July 8, 2012

Missing in action: King Kong

While Godzilla will always be my all time favorite movie monster I also happen to like King Kong a great deal as well. Kong has had a great career in movies beginning with the 1933 classic King Kong. This movie was later "re-imagined" by Dino DeLaurentis in another movie of the same name in 1976, a film featuring a 40 foot tall Kong rendered through a man in a suit and some animatronics. Ten years later Kong was revived(literally with a heart transplant) in King Kong Lives(1986). I happen to like both the '33 and '76 King Kong films(but not the '86 movie so much). In my opinion Kong looks best in 2005's King Kong, a movie directed by Peter Jackson. Kong stands 25 feet tall in the '05 movie, a size downscale obviously but the exploits of the big ape in this movie are awesome, especially the sequence where Kong fights and ultimately kills three(3) V-Rex dinosaurs and for the most part all while holding Ann Darrow(played by Naomi Watts) in one hand!

The trailer for King Kong(1976):

Toho, which owns the rights to Godzilla, also has featured King Kong in two(2) films: King Kong Vs Godzilla(1962) and then again five years later in King Kong Escapes(1967). In the '62 film Kong's size is ramped up to 45 meters in height(just over 148 feet) so that he can realistically match up for battle with 50 meter tall(165 feet) Godzilla. Kong survives Godzilla's flame breath and, with the help of strength enhancing lightning strikes, takes the fight to Godzilla in the climactic Mt. Fuji battle. The two eventually fall into the sea, Kong surfacing and promptly swimming away, presumably to return home to Faro Island where he can drink the islander's red berry juice in peace. As for Godzilla, he doesn't surface, something which has caused great debate among giant monster movie fans. Some, as I do, take this to mean King Kong won the fight and Godzilla was knocked out in the underwater skirmish that followed after both creatures plowed into the sea. Others believe Godzilla simply swam away underwater and that the fight was a draw.

In the 1967 Toho-Rankin Bass co-production King Kong Escapes, Kong is 60 feet tall and must battle his robot equivalent, "Mechani Kong", a metal monstrosity created by an international terrorist called Dr. Hu(played by the late Eisei Amamoto). This movie, loosely based on an episode of the 1966 Rankin Bass cartoon called "King Kong", is great fun.

Rock on: King Kong throws a boulder at a giant octopus in KING KONG VS GODZILLA(1962)

Numerous and mostly sub par rip off films have been produced to try and capitalize on King Kong's popularity: Konga(1961), the absolutely atrocious Paul Leder directed A*P*E(1976), The Mighty Gorga(1969) and the Shaw Brothers produced The Mighty Peking Pan(1977) (aka Goliathon), the latter a movie I think is decent and has some quality miniature effects. Some years ago a movie about a giant ape appeared on SyFy(formerly the Sci-Fi Channel) but it was so bad I cannot even remember the name of it.

It's been nearly seven years since we've seen King Kong in a full length feature film. While I would be delighted to see a "King Kong Vs Godzilla" remake by Toho with Shusuke Kaneko as the director I also know there's about as much a chance of this happening as finding a four leaf clover.

At this point I just want to see King Kong again on the big screen in a quality movie. Can someone, will someone please bring the big ape back to theaters?

The Toho trailer for King Kong Escapes(1967):