King Kong Escapes (1968)
The magic of Toho Studios during their glory years will always hold a special place for those of us film lovers who grew up in the seventies and eighties when these movies with model landscapes were regularly featured on Sunday afternoon matinees.
This Kong feature was one of those titles that I would see numerous times as a kid enjoying the carnage and destruction that Kong and his lookalike robot version would unleash on Tokyo where they held their battle to the death.
Toho Studio regulars Inshiro Honda directed with Eiji Tsuburaya delivering the model tanks and other special effects for this Kong extravaganza.
King fights a reptile on his island home while rescuing his newest love Linda Miller before being kidnapped by the forces of Dr. Who. Yes you heard right. Our Dr. Who is like a Japanese version of Dr. Pretorius without the humor.
It seems that his robotic Kong can’t mine the mineral ore known as Element X fast enough. The ore will lead it’s owner to world domination through nuclear power.
Getting in on the fun is Rhodes Reason and studio leading man Akira Takarada leading the U.N. forces as they race to stop the evil plot of Dr. Who has teamed with sexy Mie Hama in the struggle for power.
When Linda Miller is grabbed along with our male leads, Kong breaks out of slavery to once again rescue our damsel and lead the charge against his tin can lookalike.
Surprisingly this was produced by Rankin and Bass. The men who brought us the perennial Christmas favorite on television Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It’s all apparently based on a King Kong cartoon show I have no recollection of from the sixties.
The one thing you have to realize while watching this is that it is by no means the American version of King Kong. It can’t compare with the Willis O’Brien version. The Kong in this entry is strictly of the man in a monkey suit variety. It’s just a papier mache head and a bad one at that. Look at it from a Toho perspective and it’ll sit better overall in the digestive system.
The recently released blu ray from Universal of this offers a nice print of the film for those like me who like this kind of thing.