(Godzillathon, 3 of 28) – King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

Now that I’ve watched 3 Godzilla films in the order of release, and have the opportunity to critique them as any geek should, I’m starting to find a special place in my heart. 3 films in and I’m a fan. 3 films in and I find myself rooting Godzilla on at every twist and turn of the battle. At this stage in Godzilla’s life in film, he’s only ever been the monster of the flick, the lonely, angry antagonist. He is no hero yet, but still I root him on.

I was surprised to find how much I truly enjoyed this film. Seriously, you read the title “King Kong vs. Godzilla” and you naturally scoff at the thought of the blatant amount of camp it must contain – but you’d be dead wrong, as I was. It was the most entertaining and engaging of the films of three I’ve seen so far. No, it didn’t have the foreboding and menace of the first film, or the realistic love tragedy of the second. But it did keep you interested, keep you glued to the action. That’s not to say it was immune to campiness. Any sane man will willingly accept the fact that when rubber monsters wrestle it out, it gets a bit silly. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it though.

The film starts off with a television company who’s ratings begin to subside drastically and they’re in dire need of spicing up their program. That’s when they learn about a monster on Faro island that the natives worship as a god, so they dispatch a team to investigate/bring it back. The island is lush and beautiful, and the tribe was eerily believable. Very similar to the 1933 version of King Kong. On the island you get some of the best superimposition you’ll see in a classic monster film. They get a live squid on set and blow it up on screen as a giant suctioning menace. As scenes go this was a ten. You had to give it credit. This was 1962. Enter King Kong, who fights the creature and wins. He is far larger than his 1933 American counterpart in this film, most likely due to the fact that he needed to be around the same size as Godzilla if he were to face him, and they only had props scaled to a certain size.

Meanwhile, Godzilla is waking up from his long slumber in the ice that he was left in last time, although now in an iceberg rather than a glacier. I’m still happy they chose to keep the continuity straight and explain his re-emergence. In conjunction with this an American submarine crashes into this glacier helping him wake up. I found the whole submarine scene kind of embarrassing myself – they found literally the ten worst American actors they could conjure and put them on set together. Godzilla makes his way to Japan, and now the government, military, and television stations have to worry about TWO monster threats.

And then they brawl. It was a far more exciting brawl then it had been in the second film with Anguirus. For a long while Godzilla had the upper hand. In fact, the whole first half of the fight was fairly one-sided. I actually felt bad for the big gorilla being pounded senseless by Godzilla’s tail on the ground. And then the thunder and lightning came, striking Kong, and changing the tide of the battle. Now Kong had electricity on his hands, a worthy match to Godzilla’s fire. At the height of their battle they both fell off a cliff and into the water. Only King Kong rose for it however, and we’re led to assume he won the fight. Yep. That’s right. King Kong BEAT Godzilla in his own movie.

In many ways it was actually a King Kong flick. A good portion of the film took place on his island and he EASILY had more screen time than Godzilla himself. But that’s alright. Godzilla needed time to warm up after being frozen for so long. He’ll win next time though. Like Rocky. This was the first time either King Kong or Godzilla was in color, so this is a big step-up in that department. Everything looked crisp and beautiful. I had to stop the film short for a second because I thought I was watching the wrong one. It felt more like an 80s b-film than a 60s monster one. I guess that’s not a bad thing. I really enjoyed it.


Godzilla films ranked from best to worst:

  1. Godzilla (1954)
  2. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
  3. Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

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