The Toho Films – “King Kong vs Godzilla” (1964) Review

kingkong_vs_godzilla

“King Kong vs Godzilla” (1964)

8  out of 10

Directed by Ishiro Honda

By Vic

King Kong vs. Godzilla  (Kingu Kongu Tai Gojira) from 1962 is a Kaiju film directed by Ishiro Honda (Gojira, War of the Gargantuas) with VFX created by Eiji Tsuburaya.  The  great Toho mainstay, Akira Ifukube, the composer for the original G (Gojira), comes back to compose and provide an awesome score. Probably one of his best. G vs KK is the 3rd flick in the Original Japanese series of giant monster (kaiju)  films starring the G man himself, Godzilla the monster  It is definitely a different film in terms of style and tone and VFX from RKO’s seminal 1933 film King Kong. Much like Gojira, in this film, Kong is portrayed as a VERY large beast.

Much larger than his American counterpart and includes a stunt player in a hokey and  loveably campy ape suit. Going against the grain of using the classic  stop motion animation.  Lighter in tone and playing for laughs in both the drama and monster battles, G vs KK is still a classic kaiju film that delivers just about everything we love about the early kaiju films of Toho’s hey dey.

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I remember having caught the movie so many times on WOR – Channel 9 in NYC and when the VHS copy eventually came out I scooped it up much to the chagrin of my more sophisticated monster movie loving friends. For some reason, Toho movies and I just meshed. It was a relationship born in rubbery suited goodness. G vs KK though was always a special one for me though. It was a battle royale that was just MEANT to be. Hands down, Toho gets props and massive kudos for putting this campy slice of kaiju heaven together and making it work on so many levels.

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Here is the Plot Synopsis –  Courtesy of Godzilla Wiki – 

My thoughts –

G vs KK is fun, fast and an awesome example of how 2 monsters are supposed to do battle. Here’s why:

– Kong get “high” on berry juice

– A main character bitches about his steak being smaller than his Sister’s boyfriend’s steak. Haha.

– If you watch the dubbed version, don’t miss the weird little chubby cheeked kid saying “Godzilla” at warp speed.

– A nuclear sub runs afoul of Godzilla as he wakes up from his slumber in an iceberg ( He was buried in ice in the previous G film from Honda : G Raids Again or Gigantis The Fire Monster here in the States )

– Godzilla is just plain nasty in this film. He burns, crushes and destroys everything in his path

– Effects director Eiji Tsuburaya supplies us with some great visual effects in this Kaiju entry.

– Despite producer John Beck changing some things in the US version replacing the more comedic parts, the commentaries by newscasters are spot on serious and played straight.

– We get a very goofy troop of explorers that go to Kong’s island. One of which complains about his “corns” The dude is plain hilarious. He’s always nervous and complains to no end.

– Kong gains strength from lightning. Huh? OK, ya just gotta go with that one.

– Kong gets a lesson in how Godzilla likes to burn things up.

– Godzilla pummels Kong with rocks the size of Texas.

– Like always Godzilla is unstoppable. Nothing usually works on him.

– Godzilla gets a tree shoved down his gullet. Suffice it to say he doesn’t dig it.

– G and Kong totally devastate the Japanese countryside. Atami Castle goes down like a house of matchsticks.

– Godzilla dropkicks Kong

– Kong gets airlifted by huge balloons to confront Godzilla

– After they both fall into the ocean, Kong pops up as starts the swim home to Faro Island but it is unsure what happened to Godzilla. Perhaps he just decided to let bygones be bygones and starts a deep aquatic slumber. Your guess is as good as mine.

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Poor Atami Castle
Poor Atami Castle

Here is the link for more great Trivia and Info on the US and Japanese Releases of this amazing Kaiju entry from the awesome Toho Studios, Enjoy! –  www.godzilla.wiki – 

Here are some excerpts –

  • A long-standing urban legend claims that the Japanese version of this film has an alternate ending in which Godzilla wins, but this was based on a misconception.
  • In Japan, this film has the highest box office attendance figures of all of the Godzilla series to date.
  • Not only was this the first Godzilla, or King Kong film shot in “Scope” ratio (2.35:1), but was also their first appearances in color.
  • While many fans of King Kong hated the ape’s portrayal in this film, it was said that Eiji Tsuburaya deliberately made Kong comical as to not frighten young children, and make the audience root more for Kong than the frightening Godzilla.
  • The Davy Crockett, a portable rocket system for launching a small nuclear or conventional warhead, appears in the movie while still classified.
  • This movie is discussed by Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong in the Donkey Kong Country episode “From Zero to Hero”, though it is not mentioned by name.
  • The picture of Kong on the US-release poster was a cropped still from the original 1933 production (during his fight with the pterodactyl), rather than as he actually appears in this film.
  • The bigger draw of the two monsters in Japan was King Kong, who at the time was far more popular there than their own monster, Godzilla.

Hope you all enjoyed the post! There will be some more Toho / Kaiju goodness coming soon in The ‘Den! Thanks.

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14 comments

    • Thanks Brad! I’m glad you dug it. I needed to change it up a bit today. It was fun to put together. I’ll be reviewing more Kaiju in the near future. Thanks for stopping in, man. Always appreciated! 🙂

  1. great review. I especially like the part, ‘It was a relationship born in rubbery suited goodness’. I remember the first time I saw this that I was mad that King Kong (supposedly) won. As much as I loved Kong, there was no way he was going to beat G (G breathes radioactive fire, for god sakes!). It doesn’t bother me anymore, not that much…

    • Thanks for reading! I’m glad you liked it, bro. I always would get pissed whenever Kong popped up from the ocean at the end as well. I always thought that G was truly the better opponent in that clash of the titans. Never made sense to me…oh well…

  2. Great write up Vic. Never been fully into Godzilla. Can’t remember the last time I saw one. I had one film due to come as a screener from Echo Bridge, but the storm ruined my Bd player and TV had to cancel my request.

    Can’t remember what the film was but I think it was from 1989

    • Glad you liked it, bro! Are you talking about a G film as the screener? It may have been G vs Biollante. That was from 1989.

      • Yes! That was the film. Have you ever looked into getting screeners? I got several from Echo Bridge. All got ruined except Halloween: Resurrection. Good thing they don’t want them back lol.

        But you can try Echo Bridge. Each month you get a newsletter and you,can pick 2-3 titles.,they send it. You review it and send them the link to your review. I used to review stuff from them on my radio show. The Godzilla film was to be the first here. But storm got in the way lol.

        I tried several places. Either they said no or never responded. Echo Bridge was the only one.

    • I’m honored, Peter. Many thanks! I just found your Godzilla Raids Again Podcast on B Movie Cast. I will promptly give it a listen! Thanks for stopping by, Sir.

  3. I’ve always avoided this one because of my love of the original Kong. I love Godzilla, but somehow I’m hesitant to see Kong being a ratty suited wrestling creature. I’ll bet it’s fun yet I can’t get past seeing one of my favorite childhood monsters changed in how I’ve come to think of him. Don’t know if that makes sense or not.

    • It makes perfect sense. But it is fun. Look at it as it being a bit self – deprecating in a humorous way and you may enjoy it. Kong does get to kick some ass too. Thanks for swinging by! 🙂

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