Kingu Kongu tai Gojira (1962)

(Japanese Release Date: August 11, 1962)
(USA Release Date June 3, 1963)

Two Rubber StarsTwo Rubber Stars

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J.C. Mašek III... 

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J.C. Mašek III
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Don't be fooled by this poster. This isn't what it looks like!

THAAAAAAAAAT's more like it!

The rumored "alternate ending":

I remember watching this one years ago and thinking, "DUDE! There is no way King Kong could kick Godzilla's ass, dude! No way, man! Nuclear Breath, dude, Nuclear Breath!"

To be fair, I was a teenager at the time. And I was probably drunk.

I was heartened to discover that this was but one of two endings and that in the U.S. version King Kong won, but in the Japanese Version, Godzilla was the Ass-Kicker.

It would have been a great idea if it had been at all true. It isn't! At this time, Godzilla had yet to become the Gamera-like Superhero that he eventually became, and was still the evil, city-smashing metaphor for the US Bombing of Japan during World War II. At the time, Godzilla rarely defeated his foes, and Japanese audiences would have eaten up the fact that King Kong beat the crap out of Godzilla!

Though there are two versions (the U.S. version contains the American Newscaster wraparound), the closest thing to an alternate ending is as follows: In the Japanese version, Kong's growl is heard at the end of the credits sequence, followed by Godzilla's scream. In the U.S. release Kong's growl resounds alone.

-Legend Spankin' Kneumsi!

Based on "Obie" O'Brien's Story
King Kong vs. Prometheus!
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I don't remember Godzilla getting eaten by BIRDS!

It's a little known fact that the first ever King Kong remake was produced in Japan! It's true, look it up. It was 1938's Edo ni arawareta Kingu Kongu (King Kong Appears in Edo) and it was, in fact, the first Kong Movie of any kind since Son of Kong hit theatres only five years earlier, and featured costume work by the same dude who designed the Godzilla outfit! Where can I get a copy of this rare treasure, I can smell you ask... well, it's been lost forever, all that remains are still photographs to prove its existence. Fear not, true believers, because less than thirty years after the release of Edo ni arawareta Kingu Kongu, we were given another Japanese King Kong flick, shaped in much the same manner as the original, this time pitting the behemoth against Japan's own Godzilla! They called it, appropriately enough, King Kong vs. Godzilla (Kingu Kongu tai Gojira). It's big, loud, crashing and monstrous. It's also stupider than a Hamster that lives on a football field.

Well, this Ishiro Honda piece is, after all, a Godzilla flick, and this particular Godzilla flick follows the numbers of just about every other Godzilla Flick that ever had the word "Versus" in it! As in most cracked Monster Movies, a series of incredible coincidences are set into motion at the same time, while goof balls stand around at ground level and quip the life fantastic in poorly dubbed, sanctimonious radio-announcer voices. In this case, a punk-ass pharmacutical executive whose name is Mr. Tako (Ichir˘ Arishima) has discovered a powerful narcotic that could make him richer than Jenna Jameson, however, so far, it's available only on one island in the entire world, and the native inhabitants don't want to give it up! Or... so we're told by our "United Nations News Caster" (read: Token American), whose news studio looks more like the broom room of a Circle K! RIGHT AT THAT VERY MOMENT Godzilla awakens yet again from his slumber, and instinctively waltzes his way to Japan, frightening insurance agents, and thrilling new construction contractors.

Another domino falls as we discover that that our hard-shelled businessman Tako has heard rumors of some "Giant Beast" on the island of the red berries (not "Skull" Island, not "Kong" island, but "Farou" island... now that's scary). Naturally no one in Japan can believe these rumors... Giant Monsters? Impossible! Meanwhile, the news reports that Godzilla is coming. Oh, yeah, him!

From there, two Tako executives in shorts and pith helmets, and one dead ringer for J.J. from Good Times show up on Farou Island, meet with the natives (actually more Japanese people in afro wigs and black face... talk about P.C.), discover the fact that their "god" is the real deal holified (that's Mr. Kong to you), have him knocked out and brought back home as a publicity stunt for their corporation. Sound familiar? Sound exactly like the 1976 King Kong? Can't you just picture old Dino taking all kinds of notes when he decided to have that thing filmed? They've even got a version of the pit and explosives trap that Dino uses. Folks, these things aren't in the original King Kong! I'm thinkin' Dino was really remakin' this thing, but couldn't afford to license Godzilla too!

Clearly Tako and Company haven't seen the original King Kong either, because SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, Sergeant Carter, King Kong wakes up and starts smashing things immediately. Well duh. Naturally Godzilla has smashed through the Tonka Toys in his way too, and they meet for tea and cakes in the land of the rising sun.

This is where King Kong Versus Godzilla really gets to be a lot of fun. These are some of the most inept rubber-suit fight scenes since "Jet Jaguar" battled "Megalon"! And they are hilarious! The miniatures are unconvincing, the scale changes like a politicians promise, and worst of all the King Kong costume looks like the producers were just kidding. I owe an apology to both of Dino's Kong flicks, because while those two had somewhat unconvincing costume work, this thing looks like H.R. Pufenstuf! It's anything but Seamless. "Scrotor" from This Island Earth was more convincing. He's got a look on his face like Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel, and a neck that miraculously has a long piece of fur that hangs down to his chest, sort of like a hood or something. And if you can't get enough of that fun then run, don't walk, to go see Kingukongu no gyakushu, with all the same camp, silly costuming and yes, oh, yes, a Robot Version of Kong with an even GOOFIER look on his face!!

Unfortunately, there is far too much sitting around and describing what we should be seeing, rather than actually showing us anything, and the long, long wait for the title bout is almost completely not worth it. Nitpicking the logic here would be like critiquing the writing of the '60's Batman show, but man is this thing ever illogical, and it has the comparative continuity of Gregory Benford's Foundation's Fear!

It's hard to say what level of quality they were shooting for with King Kong versus Godzilla, with its scattered plot and innate silliness. It certainly doesn't work as the somewhat serious original films that Godzilla or King Kong were, but it also doesn't work as a pure comedy either. It's great to laugh at, especially with the goof ball wrap-around American parts matching the main plot like Bugs matched Mike in Space Jam! I'd love to give it more than Two Stars out of Five, but I can't. Don't underestimate its high quality as a spoofable piece to be enjoyed for its camp value, but also, don't be a moron like me and underestimate Luke's Jedi power, lest you might find yourself falling into your own Sarlaac pit and being strangled by the very slave girl you were going to call your own. Man... I was going to make an honest woman of her too. ACK- ***

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Kingu Kongu tai Gojira (1962) reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who is solely responsible for his own reviews but not for the ridiculous facial expression Kong kept holding. I blame bad eggs for that one!
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