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King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

King Kong vs. Godzilla

Into the '60s!

A newspaper and television station funded by a pharmaceutical company want a sensation, which happens to be the discovery of King Kong on an island. He is captured and brought to Japan, where he escapes from captivity and battles Godzilla.

Mr. Tako, the producer of a low rated television show called "Mysteries of the World", decides his show needs some spicing up. So he sends two of his staff, Osamu Sakurai and Kinsaburo Furue, to Pharoh Island to bring back some berries, called soma, noted for their non-addictive narcotic effect. He also wants the two to bring back proof of a giant ape named King Kong. As this is going on, a submarine collides with an iceberg releasing Godzilla, who was trapped there seven years earlier. When Osamu and Kinsaburo arrive at Pharoh, they not only find the berries but the giant ape. After a battle with a giant octopus, Kong drinks the juice that is made from the berries and falls asleep. While he is sleeping, the pair tie him to a raft and take him back to Japan. In the meantime, Godzilla is rampaging throughout the Japanese countryside. While in route to Japan, Kong breaks free and swims toward Japan and inevitably on a collision course with Godzilla.

Where to begin with this one? In this third installment of the Godzilla franchise we get to enjoy our monsters in full colour.

The science show, "Mysteries of the World" (funded by the shady pharmaceutical company) that needs more spectacular content, thus strange hypnotic berries and King Kong, is pretty cool and I wish we got to see more of it as the narrative progressed but no such luck.

King Kong vs. Godzilla is for sure more humorous and the atmosphere is much lighter compared to its predecessors

Sometimes it feels a bit like a King Kong movie with Godzilla haphazardly thrown into the mix to make things more interesting. This movie could have worked perfectly well without Godzilla given some minor modifications of the story.

Godzilla is released into the wild due to a military submarine crashing into an iceberg. This is a nice nod and tying in with the ending of the previous movie and brings a sense of continuity to this mess.

There is plenty of sexism and racism topped off with some good ol' colonialism.

The movie could maybe be read as a critic of capitalism and in particular the flavour of capitalism that grew into fruition in the 60's with television, advertising and mass production. E.g. the willingness of management to risk the lives and safety of its employees, fucking up the lives of native people of a relatively isolated island and literally bringing monsters into the world in a desperate move to get better ratings on a mediocre TV show. Despite the humorous atmosphere there is a lot of darkness in this movie if you read it this way.

The settings and backdrops are nice and I think the movie overall is good looking. All of the music in this movie is quite good. However, what got me into the Godzilla franchise in the first place was its nuclear crust punk factor and the crust factor in King Kong vs. Godzilla is minimal to non-existent. Not that this makes it bad per se but I didn't get my fix from this movie.

The very best part of this movie is the scene with the giant octopus on Pharoh Island. There is something about this creature that makes it outshine both King Kong and the almighty Godzilla. It's very well made and who doesn't like a giant octopus?

At times King Kong vs. Godzilla is fun but on the whole is doesn't quite do it for me.