KING KONG ESCAPES - Did You Know?

Trivia Compiled By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: IMDB / Wikipedia

Japanese film makers have been obsessed with "King Kong" since his first screen appearance in 1933. Almost immediately "Kong" inspired films began popping up in theaters throughout the land of the rising sun. Unfortunately these films are lost and mostly forgotten.

A couple of decades later when Tomoyuki Tanaka was looking to make a monster film of his own after seeing "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" the idea for a Japanese "King Kong" film would be revisited. Most people never knew that originally "Godzilla" wasn't going to be a dinosaur at all but a fire-breathing gorilla. Alas it's true. Of course that idea, plus the idea of making "Big G" a giant octopus, was scrapped for what would become everyone's favorite mutant behemoth, which ultimately proved to be a far better choice.

Who in the hell would want to see a giant fire-breathing gorilla movie? Okay, maybe I would but most people wouldn't.

Toho would eventually make two "King Kong" films, one being "King Kong vs Godzilla" and the other "King Kong Escapes". Despite what a lot of people believe the two films are in no way connected to each other in any way. That is to say "KK Escapes" is not a sequel to "KK vs G".

As many of you may know December is my birthday month and 1967 is my birthday year so I figured I would post about my favorite monster film from that year "King Kong Escapes".

Did You Know?

Two costumes of King Kong were made. The arms of the first costume were very long, so Haruo Nakajima's hands did not reach those of the costume. He had to grasp onto sticks that were attached to the hands of the costume. He wore a second costume with shorter arms whenever they were shooting footage of King Kong battling other monsters.

The way Kong kills Gorosaurus, by splitting his jaws apart, is the same way the original Kong kills the tyrannosaurus in the original King Kong.

Even though Linda Miller was an American that spoke fluent English, her voice was dubbed by Julie Bennett.

This film was a live action tie-in to the animated TV series King Kong, which was also produced by Rankin/Bass Productions.

In the film, Doctor Hu is trying to get some Element X by digging into the land under the ice at the North Pole. There is no land under the North Pole, but there is a lot of it under the South Pole.

During some of the North Pole scenes, Dr. Hu's men cast shadows on the painting of the "distance" (mainly snow-capped mountains) on the studio set.

The film opened in the United States in June 1968 on a double-bill with the Don Knotts comedy The Shakiest Gun in the West Contemporary American reviews were mixed. New York Times film critic Vincent Canby gave it a particularly insulting review, commenting, "The Japanese...are all thumbs when it comes to making monster movies like 'King Kong Escapes.' The Toho movie makers are quite good in building miniature sets, but much of the process photography—matching the miniatures with the full-scale shots—is just bad...the plotting is hopelessly primitive..."

Outside of the Japan and the U.S, the film received a wide release in most International markets where it went by different titles. The film was released in Germany as King-Kong, Frankensteins Sohn (King Kong: Frankenstein's Son), in Belgium as La Revanche de King Kong (The Revenge of King Kong), in Italy as King Kong il gigante della foresta (King Kong, The Giant of the Forest), in Turkey as Canavarlarin Gazabi (Wrath of the Monsters), in Mexico as El Regreso de King Kong (The Return of King Kong), in Finland as King Kong kauhun saarella (King Kong on the Island of Terror), and in Sweden as King Kong skräckens ö (King Kong on Terror Island)

Toho had wanted to use King Kong again after this film. King Kong was included in an early draft for the 1968 film Destroy All Monsters but was ultimately dropped due to the fact that Toho's licence on the character was set to expire. Toho managed to get some use out of the suit though. The suit was reused to play the character "Gorilla" in episode #38 of the Toho giant superhero show Go! Greenman. The 3 part episode titled Greenman vs. Gorilla aired from March 21, 1974 through March 23, 1974.

Toho would bring the character Gorosaurus into the Godzilla series in the 1968 film Destroy All Monsters using the same suit from this film. The suit was reused again four years later (at this point in dilapidated condition) to portray the character in episode #6 of the Toho giant superhero show Go! Godman. The 6 part episode titled Godman vs. Gorosaurus aired from November 9, 1972 through November 15, 1972.

In the early 1990s when plans for a King Kong vs Godzilla remake fell through, Toho had planned to bring back Mechani-Kong as an opponent for Godzilla in the project Godzilla vs. Mechani-Kong. However, according to Koichi Kawakita, it was discovered that obtaining permission even to use the likeness of King Kong would be difficult. Kawakita stated, Toho wanted to pit Godzilla against King Kong because King Kong vs. Godzilla was very successful. So, it instead decided to use MechaniKong. Soon afterward, it was discovered that obtaining permission even to use the likeness of King Kong would be also as difficult. So, the project was canceled.

The shot of Gorosaurus living on Monster Island seen in the 1969 film All Monsters Attack was actually stock footage taken from this film.

The July 15, 1968, issue of Film Bulletin, however, gave it a more positive review, saying, "Grown-ups who like their entertainments on a comic-strip level will find this good fun and the Universal release (made in Japan) has plenty of ballyhoo angles to draw the school-free youngsters in large numbers."

And Now You Know!

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