Monday, April 28, 2014

KING KONG VS GODZILLA (1962) movie review

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) d. Ishiro Honda (Japan)

After cranking out an array of standalone creature features (Rodan, Mothra, Varan the Unbelievable), Toho revived their reigning daikaiju (giant monster) to do battle against America’s most popular hairy behemoth, marking the first time either had ever been seen in color or widescreen “Tohoscope.” (Kong creator Willis O’Brien’s original idea was to pit the great ape against an opponent devised by Dr. Frankenstein, but Godzilla’s marquee value proved too tempting to pass up.)

Like the previous entries in the series, the film underwent some serious retooling for the overseas market; thanks to this newly scripted footage by Paul Mason and Bruce Howard, U.S. newscasters explain the dumb-dumb plot to viewers via various talking heads, including one who trots out a children’s dinosaur book to illustrate his points!

With soon-to-be series staple screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa serving up plot points like magic berries, electroshock superpowers, and oversized octopi, KKvG has not a serious bone in its body, which could account for its being the most successful G-film ever produced in terms of tickets sold.

Those who decry Godzilla’s lack of gravitas in the ’70s would do well to realize the goofy, juvenile tone was set right here on the big fella’s third screen outing. (Still, scenes of the wildly inappropriate black-faced “natives” are pretty hard to watch today.)

However, longstanding rumors regarding two divergent endings – in which different monsters were declared victorious depending on the country in which it was shown – are apocryphal. (Spoiler: Kong always wins.)

A rowdy, roaring, roasting, rollicking good time for everyone.

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