Today’s selection: King Kong Escapes (1967, dir. Ishiro Honda)
Available from: Universal (dub only release, but fansubs exist)
Toho’s second (and final) King Kong movie is actually a sequel to Rankin Bass’s The King Kong Show more than it is to King Kong vs. Godzilla, but it’s forever inextricably tied to the larger Toho scifi universe because one of Kong’s opponents from the film, Gorosaurus, later appears in Destroy All Monsters and All Monsters Attack (and Godzilla Island and Go! Godman!). The main adversary is Kong’s robot doppelganger, Mechani-Kong (previously introduced in the TV show), which predates Mechagodzilla by seven years. Eisei Amamoto gives a stellar performance as the maniacal Dr. Who (spare the jokes, we’ve heard them), also from the TV series, and the other Toho players (including the expected director, effects artist, and composer), do a good job as well. The MechaniKong design is nice for the era of giant robot stuff that the film was made during, and Gorosaurus is one of the best monster suits to come out of Showa-era kaiju movies. The Kong costume and giant snake leave a little more to be desired.