Review of “King Kong Escapes” (1967)

trailer from YouTube. You really have to watch it.

This was this week’s Saturday night pizza and bad movie offering. This pizza was good, and we had a nice cab. The flick was more Saturday afternoon fare. We watched it with Svengoolie.

Plot:

Mad scientist/Bond villain Dr. Who (not that one) (Hideyo Amamoto), who sometimes spells his name Dr. Hu or Dr. Wu, has created a mechanical King Kong, Mechani-Kong (Yū Sekida), to mine radioactive Element X, found only at the North Pole. Madame X’s (listed as, but never called, “Madame Piranha”) (Mie Hama) country is financing his scheme. Alas! Mechani-Kong’s brain is not up to the task. The next logical step is to kidnap the real Kong. Of course!

Meanwhile, a U.N. (?) research sub stops at remote Mondo Island to repair a rudder damaged in an underwater rockslide. Mondo Island is reputed to be the home of the legendary King Kong. Commanding the sub is Commander Carl Nelson (Rhodes Reason) (…hmmm wonder if his cousin commands The Seaview…). Second is Lt. Commander Jiro Nomura (Akira Takarada). Also aboard is a “pretty nurse” who threatens the ogling crew with castor oil, Lieutenant Susan Watson (Linda Miller).

When they land on the island, a man shouts at them from a hilltop. Commander Nelson, handy with local dialects, says they’re being warned the island is taboo and the home of King Kong.

That deters our intrepid heroes not a bit—not even when Gorosaurusu (Yū Sekida again) a goofy lizard/T. rex-ish-looking monster appears. Kong falls in love with the lovely Lt. Watson and can’t stand to see her harmed. Not content with dispatching Gorosaurusu, Kong follows the trio in their hovercraft (yes… hovercraft) back to the sub and whops a sea snake for his gal. Then, he rocks the boat.

Thoughts:

Forget about things like plot or suspension of disbelief. This is just silly. Poor old Kong has his heart broken, but that’s just the beginning of a long, lousy couple of days for him. He’s kidnapped in a scene that really should have had “Ride of the Valkyries” playing as background music. Mechani-Kong has eyes and some sort of flashing cone on his head that allows him to control Kong for a while—at least for a few minutes. Kong is forced to dig for Element X, but the control device in his ear slips out…

One does not watch these movies for their artistry. Yes, you can see the zipper. It’s clearly a couple of guys stomping around and smashing models. The dubbing wouldn’t convince a toddler. The dialogue itself—perhaps it loses something in translation:

Madame Piranha: Kong was apparently gentle with Miss Watson. May I ask why?

[Susan can provide no answer]

Madame Piranha: Miss Watson, do you know a reason you could tell them?

Commander Carl Nelson: It’s very easy for us to understand. You see, as ridiculous as it may sound, Kong is a male and, uh, Miss Watson is… Well, see for yourselves, gentlemen.

The dialogue and even the humans exist only to introduce the monsters and the fights, of course. Determined outcome notwithstanding, these are fun. The final rumble, atop the Tokyo Tower, a radio tower built to resemble the Eiffel Tower, is quite enjoyable. The Bond villains get their comeuppance and all that.

This is clearly aimed at children. The violence is minimal, sex non-existent, and gore left up to the imagination. Just the same, it was entertaining, the sort of thing I would have watched in college after finals.

I could not immediately find this for free download. I advise only the determined to pay for it.

Title: King Kong Escapes (1967) Kingu Kongu no gyakushû (original title)

Directed by
Ishirô Honda…(English language version) as Inoshiro Honda)

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)
Takeshi Kimura…(as Kaoru Mabuchi)
Edgar Wallace…(Kingu Kongu Created By)

Cast (in credits order)
Rhodes Reason…Commander Carl Nelson
Mie Hama…Madame Piranha (Madame X)
Linda Miller…Lieutenant Susan Watson
Akira Takarada…Lt. Commander Jiro Nomura
Hideyo Amamoto…Dr. Who (as Eisei Amamoto)

Released: June 19, 1968
Length: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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