It’s now 2017, and and this year we have both a King Kong movie and Godzilla movie hitting theaters – for the first time in exactly five decades! Compared to Godzilla, Kong as a franchise can be quite frustrating; while the original is cemented in place as one of the greatest films ever made, there are numerous sequels, knock-offs, and (mostly) remakes of… shall we say “erratic” quality. The scattershot intellectual property status (public-domain-adjacent) surrounding the big ape also muddies the canon, so while there is some variety to Kong’s adventures, there’s not a clearly-defined official continuity like many cinematic icons have. As a result, King Kong doesn’t have quite the hardcore following that Godzilla or Ultraman do, despite having a reasonably substantial filmography, significant ties to other franchises, and a (pardon the pun) huge footprint.
So, with 69 days before the new Legendary picture Kong: Skull Island smashes into cinemas, I thought it might be fun to make one post daily highlighting a piece of media featuring, inspired by, or elsewise relating to the Eighth Wonder of the World. These are extemporaneous and ad-hoc; please don’t consider this any sort of ranking or proper reviews, and the topics covered will by no means be comprehensive (there’s been a LOT of King Kong stuff made in the past 85 years), just a bit of fun. So, without further ado, let’s kick things off:
The 1976 King Kong remake inspired exploitation worldwide, with Hong Kong, Britain, South Korea, and Italy cranking out their own giant ape movies to cash in on the trend. Germany opted for a slightly different approach: take existing movies without Kong in them and append the King Kong name, as was their trend when importing “Django” Italo-westerns and “Frankenstein” kaiju eiga. I guess the German release of King Kong Escapes (titled King Kong – Frankenstein’s Son there) conflated Kong with giant robots, since the last three Godzilla films renamed Mechagodzilla and Jet Jaguar to “King Kong”. This of course leads to the confusing title of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla being “King Kong vs. Godzilla” in Germany, while King Kong vs. Godzilla was “King Kong Returns“. Godzilla wasn’t alone in this treatment, though, as the “King Kong” name was also added to the German titles of Gorgo, Konga, Mighty Joe Young, and the 1970 flick Bigfoot (AKA the John Carradine Sasquatch movie that’s not as good as Half Human). Godzilla’s name was in turn added to Gamera vs. Barugon (which also has the alternative confusing title Dragonwars) and Yongary, and virtually every other Japanese giant monster movie has “Frankenstein”, “devil”, or “demon” in the name, so the moral of the story is to not even read the title when looking at a German release from the Showa period.