Friday, February 24, 2012

Two Bombs for Two Kings

Second only to the classic, bolt-necked Frankenstein, King Kong has the most expansive pop-culture legacy of any movie monster. Even when the film was first released in 1933, it was clear that Kong was destined for an iconic status. It wouldn't be long before imitators and spin-offs started to crop up.

In fact, before the year was over, Japan had produced their very own Kong. Shochiku Studios had made a nice profit distributing King Kong in Japan and sought to replicate their success. Called Wasei Kingu Kongu (or literally "Japanese King Kong"), it was a short, silent movie that featured a giant ape on the rampage. The giant ape effect was achieved using a man in a costume and tiny model cities; a technique that would become the standard operating procedure for all the giant monster (or kaiju) films to follow.

Five years later, a different studio decided to try their own variation on the King Kong story, but they wanted it to be official. Zenshō Cinema approached RKO Pictures and received their permission to do a Kong film. The result was King Kong Appears in Edo (or "Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu"), a period piece that featured a Kong-like beast attacking feudal Tokyo, warding away samurai, and running off with a geisha. 

Sadly, beyond these scraps of information, along with a poster and single photo, nothing more exists of Japanese King Kong and King Kong Appears in Edo. During World War II, the bulk of Japan's films were lost, and it is believed that all the prints were destroyed in the fiery nuclear blasts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The devastation wrought by the bombs that finished the two Kongs of Japan would ultimately inspire their successor. Sixteen years later, Japan produced a home-grown creature with Godzilla (or Gojira for the purists out there). The film drew heavily upon the dread of atomic warfare, and Godzilla's radioactive flame scorched Tokyo just like Hiroshima. 

But don't take my word for it!
You can read about it in a book.


  1. An' that's two King Kongs all for th' one money. Annn we'll start with thirty-five. Thirrrrrtyfivewillhegothirtyfivewillhegothirtyfive? Thirty. Twenty and start it someone. Fifteen. Fifteen for the two Japanese King Kongs. These are two nice, nice King Kon-- fifteen. (Thank you.) And twenty. And twenty-five. And thirty. Thirty-five. Thirtyfivewillhegosevenandahalf. Thirtyfiveandwillhegosevenandahalf?

    Sold for thirty five bucks to numbuh eight.

  2. Gordon: No doubt you noticed more than bit of the old phoenix legend lurking there in the atoms.

    And LeonK: Don't bid up unless you previewed the auction.Caution is advised
    Good rule of thumb -set a maximum bid in your mind and don't exceed it.
    And keep hitting those auctions!