When I started the Filmstruck Godzilla marathon, I looked up the series as a whole and saw this was a relatively early entry. Unfortunately, this was not available as part of the selection on the streaming service. I guess whoever holds the rights for it hasn’t let go. So, since I have now finished that marathon, I decided to go out and buy the missing pieces. The whole series really has grown on me quite a bit and this was, quite honestly, the one I have really wanted to see since the beginning. This is two major movie monster icons pitted mano a mano well before the likes of Freddy vs. Jason or AVP: Alien vs. Predator. How could I not be interested in seeing it?
Just like the original Godzilla, there is an original Japanese version as well as a heavily edited American version of King Kong vs. Godzilla. What I ended up buying was the American version. At some point, I’d like to see the original Japanese version because if the edited version of the original Godzilla is any indication, this was drastically altered. I’m not terribly upset over it though. I think just being able to see some version is worthwhile. Also, from what I’ve read, there were edits made to the Japanese version and what’s available these days is a ragged copy. I guess some attempts to fill in parts from the American version have been made, but that didn’t really get it back to one hundred percent.
Anyway, on to the show!
In the American version, we flip back and forth between added news coverage and original Japanese movie. I’m not entirely sold on the news coverage aspect because it really feels tacked on, much like the Raymond Burr footage in the American version of Godzilla. However, I think this was presented in the way I’d have liked to have seen Burr’s parts in the original. The way his parts were integrated into the original Godzilla film felt strange. They had actors with their backs turned so you couldn’t see their faces acting like the original Japanese cast. In this Americanization, we just flip back and forth from original movie scenes to news coverage which seems a bit more natural.
The downside of the news aspect is that some strange ideas were put in place. There’s some sort of a broadcast satellite we get shown every so often which is obvious matte work and looks a lot more like a space station than a satellite which was a tad confusing because I wasn’t ever quite sure if someone was up there broadcasting or if it really was just a signal relay. The thing was shown multiple times as if it was integral to the story. Probably filler I’m guessing. Even worse were the reporters themselves. If you were to ask me to describe a 1960’s journalist, I wouldn’t use the words disconnected or wooden, but that’s what they are here. Tacked on in the worst way. That’s quite a few words to discuss the news parts of this, but since they were featured so prominently, I feel it’s warranted.
Once we do get to some actual monster action, we start with Kong although there is a brief bit with a submarine encountering a frozen Godzilla in an iceberg. A pair of guys that work for some sort of pharmaceutical company is dispatched to the island Kong lives on to drum up some advertising. Here we get some islanders who definitely do not look native. At this point, I would say it’s your typical Kong story. People go to the island, get into it with the Islanders, wonder why there is a giant wall, find out Kong is real, and grab him from the Islanders to go put him in the circus or some such thing. The big exception to this is the giant octopus Kong fights off. That was a real feat of effects however it was done. There was some average quality green screen type work, but how the actual octopus was done was amazing to watch. The octopus even lands on Kong’s face Alien facehugger style at one point! Kong drives the giant sea monster off and spends some quality time with this berry concoction that knocks him out.
Somehow, the hapless duo ends up capturing Kong even though they were held captive by the Islanders at one point. This isn’t really ever shown. So did these guys commission the crew of the ship they came in on to murder the islanders and take Kong or was there some sort of peaceful trade? We don’t find out. Next thing you know, Kong is laying on a barge getting towed back to Japan. Except the authorities stop the ship and tell them to turn back. They want nothing to do with a giant monster lumbering around their cities.
In the meantime, we find out Godzilla has made his way over to start terrorizing the country. Kong wakes up and breaks through the ropes holding him down, and then he also makes his way over to do his bit of damage. Eventually, the two meet and have a brief battle. Kong tosses some boulders, but Godzilla blasts him with the atomic breath a few times which causes Kong to leave. Somewhere along the way, we get a news break with a scientist discussing the two monsters. Kong is the more intelligent where Godzilla has a small brain and is really just dumb brute force. So the initial battle plays out pretty much as you’d expect. Godzilla swats away Kong’s attacks and blasts away with his bad breath. Kong wisely retreats and lives to fight another day, leaving Godzilla for the humans to deal with.
I won’t go into the rest of the details of the story, but this really does play out like you’ve already seen in Freddy vs. Jason and AVP: Alien vs. Predator. Humans get in the way, and the big monsters fight. Is it worth it? Absolutely. This was a fun movie to watch. I have to say, I hyped myself up for it and was not let down. I’m not sure how many other “versus” movies there were at this point in time, but this has got to be one of the first monster mashups. I give this one 3/5 stars. It’s very entertaining, but you’re not going to get the best acting or story here.