King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

This is the bash we were all waiting for: the king of the monsters from America meets the king of the monsters from Asia—by way of Toho. Really, King Kong is given something of an Asian treatment this time around, increased in size, and allowed much more of a loophole to face Godzilla for this giant monster bash. I saw the Universal International version where the producers take it upon themselves to over explain everything. In this version the head of a pharmaceuticals company wants to grab a rare berry that is found on a distant island. Said berry has narcotic properties but it non-addictive. Wanting to improve his ratings and invest in a potential product, he sends two executives to the island to find the berries and the mythical monster the villagers are said to placate with juice from the berries.

Meanwhile submarines in America are experiencing unusual sea activity where icebergs have broken apart allowing them to be terrorized by a monster. After coming face to face with King Kong, the government uses the berry juice to knock Kong out and bring him to their home country on a raft. From there, Kong manages to break free from his binds, and comes face to face with Godzilla, engaging in a free for all in Japan. I really enjoy this meeting of monsters, warts and all, as King Kong is given equal footing despite originally being a smaller monster. This King Kong isn’t just bigger, but he becomes incredibly charged when shocked with electricity, and he doesn’t mind a good high every now and then. As a matter of when we first meet him here, he has a good drink of berry juice before passing out from the high.

You have to love how wonky the movie is, and how convoluted the plot becomes just to reconcile these monsters meeting each other. When they finally do the producers grant us two big fights and a rampaging scene of both monsters stomping through Tokyo. There’s a sub-plot involving a woman whose brother and boyfriend are soldiers, but that’s only so we can have one human life at stake when King Kong begins wreaking havoc. Seriously, none of the characters are all that interesting, but the fights are a raucous laugh fest. There’s a ton of classic man in suit stunt work, as well as an awkward stop motion action scene. In the end as civilians are watching both monsters do battle, you can see it’s clearly someone operating two hand puppets. “King Kong vs. Godzilla” is mostly a kaiju novelty with a unique sense of creativity, and it’s an action packed, hilarious pseudo-sequel for both iconic monsters.