Monday, March 29, 2021

King Kong vs. Godzilla

Originally envisioned as a stop-motion film featuring King Kong fighting a giant Frankenstein Monster, the struggling project was given to Toho Studios which saw in Kong an adversary worthy of Godzilla. The story involves a submarine which takes absolutely no attempt to avoid hitting a giant iceberg which cracks and releases the slumbering Godzilla once more. The movie is a bit unclear on if people know who Godzilla is (they know at least about his name, but otherwise the film is inconsistent about the creature's history).

Elsewhere, a pharmaceutical company discovers Kong on an isolated island. Deciding to remove him from the island as a prize, the giant raft takes him close to Japan where he escapes as events maneuver the two behemoths into a confrontation. When the first fight proves inconclusive, and doubles Japan's problems of now having two rampaging monsters on the loose, the locals arrange a rematch for the two at Mount Fuji (including delivering a slumbering Kong via balloons) hoping that the creatures may end up killing each other. Their battle ends with only one walking away and the fate of the other in doubt.

As with the other early Toho Studios films, the effects of King Kong vs. Godzilla are very cheap relying on obvious miniatures and men dressed in Godzilla and King Kong costumes. It is best viewed as something akin to a Saturday afternoon serial. There is also an early fight between Kong and a gigantic octopus which is actually one of the film's better effects. While there is a human story happening throughout the film, it's largely just a placeholder to provide a way to push the two creatures towards each other. The movie features an odd addition to Kong in that he is empowered by electricity which allows a late lightning storm to allow the ape to make a comeback against Godzilla in their final battle.

In Japan, King Kong vs. Godzilla remains the the top of the box office for any movie of the Godzilla franchise by selling more tickets than any of the other films before on since. Although a sequel was suggested rights issues interfered with another colossal battle between the two monsters. For American moviegoers, the film's story was heavily edited including adding new footage (broadcast from space no less) to help explain the events. Honestly, I'm not sure if the film makes more sense with or without these scenes.

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