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They’re big… they’re angry… they’re ferocious…and they’re out to do some major damage! NO! It’s NOT your mother-in-law. THEY are the villainistic duo of those legendary pop icons King Kong and Godzilla……… Let’s get acquainted with them, shall we?
1. Ok… places everyone… and lights, camera… and … rolling…King Kong… he’s the big one……a colossal ape that has been in various media presentations since 1933. The release of that year’s King Kong film made a huge impression on the viewing public and the movie received universal acclaim. In 1976 and again in 2005, the King Kong movie was remade and received mixed reviews. Since the King’s debut, he has not only appeared in movies, but has inspired cartoons, books, comics, video games and theme park rides. He has played the part of terrorizing monster to a tragic antihero.
Now Godzilla, oh yeah, he’s the other big one This giant fictional monster first appeared in the 1954 film Godzilla, which was directed by Japan’s Ishiro Honda. He pretty much looks like the Geico lizard on some heavy-duty steroids. And like his creature-from-another-mother counterpart Kong, this guy has spawned worldwide attention through various means, including comics, video games, novels, television shows. Godzilla has been featured in 29 films and is commonly referred to as “King of the Monsters.”
Ok…. Who’s yer daddy? King Kong was the brain child of American filmmaker Merian C. Cooper, who died in 1973. The moviemaker created the story of a film crew landing on Skull Island in the middle of the Indian Ocean to film some of the island’s larger-than-life creatures, such as plesiosaurs, pterosaurs and other dinosaurs. But they didn’t expect an even bigger find in that of King Kong. So Carl Denham and his crew devise a plan to capture the great ape and take him back to New York to be displayed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Godzilla was born from the mind of Tomoyuki Tanaka, who died in 1997. But Tanaka had some assistance in fully bringing about the green monster who sparked terror in the hearts of millions. Helping him with the creation were film director Ishiro Honda, special effects expert Eiji Tsuburaya and music composer Akira Ifukube.
And …. Cut!
Way back in 1899, when Cooper was only 6, his uncle gave him a book called Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa. The young boy was fascinated by the book, particularly the gorillas contained within its pages. The book, written in 1861, chronicles the African adventures of Paul Du Chaillu and his many encounters with the natives and wildlife. Du Chaillu wrote about coming upon an enormous gorilla that natives called the “King of the African Forest.” He went on to describe the animal as a “hellish dream creature” that was half man and half beast. From that point on, the seed was planted in Cooper’s head. Many decades later, while filming The Four Feathers in Africa, he came across a group of baboons and it gave him the idea of shooting a movie about an extremely large gorilla. Thus, emerged the beginning of the famous gorilla King Kong.
Now, Godzilla, on the other hand, came from the deep, fanciful imagination of Tanaka while he was in a plane high above the ocean heading back to Japan. When he looked out the window, he stared down at the dark waters below. He wondered what secrets lied deep in those waters. His thoughts crisscrossed with the very real atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The mix of his imagination and the reality of the Japanese fearing radiation brought about the monster from the ocean, with Godzilla being the ultimate metaphor for nuclear weapons.
But why the name King Kong. Well, as it happens the giant gorilla’s creator had a very strange obsession with the letter “K”, or, least words that started with a hard K sound, like the word Cooper, for instance. Actually, some of his favorites words, he said, were Komodo, Kodiak and Kodak, as in the camera film. So, from his love of K words, came Kong, who eventually became King.
Interestingly enough, Godzilla started out as a cross between a whale and a gorilla, and, of course, you can even hear a little gorilla in the name Godzilla. In an Americanized version of the film Godzilla Raids Again, the producer wanted to change the name of the creature to Gigantis to separate it from the Japanese version. But quite honestly, would you rather see a movie with the terrifying Godzilla in it, or the terrifying Gigantis?
Here’s what they had. In the 1933 RKO release of King Kong, the star of the film was described as a “prehistoric type of ape” with a somewhat humanoid look. He possessed some degree of human intelligence and had incredible strength. Kong has actually been different sizes, depending on what scenes you seen him in. In some, he was 18 feet tall, in another, 24 feet tall, and yet, in another his height was estimated at 60 feet.
Then there’s Godzilla. His skin texture was comprised of keloid scars, the same left on survivors of Hiroshima. And his big weapon, aside from his all-out destructiveness, was his atomic breath. An old boss comes to mind here. The monster possesses incredible strength and muscle. Its rugged skins makes it invulnerable to those pansy conventional weaponry used against it. As the result of surviving a nuclear blast, it cannot be destroyed by anything less.
Kong’s roar was a combination of lion and tiger sounds slowed down and played backwards. The model of the giant ape was constructed by artist Marcel Delgado out of metal, rubber, cotton and rabbit fur.
Actors used to wear a heavy suit to portray the monstrous Godzilla. In the 1984 movie, a model of its head was constructed that had 3,000 computer-operated parts.
King Kong has fought bat-like rodents and human. While clinging to the Empire State Building, he fought off Navy Fighter planes. He also fought against Godzilla in the 1962 film, “King Kong vs. Godzilla.”
Godzilla fought the likes of King Ghidorah, Gigan and Mechagodzilla, as well as one-time allies Mothra, Rodan and Anguirus.
Ok… here are some creature oddities. In 1972, an 18-foot tall fiberglass statue of King Kong was erected in Birmingham, England. And Universal Studios has quite some time had popular King Kong rides at their theme parks in Hollywood and Orlando.
Godzilla was given his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004 to celebrate its 50th anniversary film. In 1996, the green monster received the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award.
And finally, here are some upcoming movies featuring our big guys.
King Kong will be featured in Skull Island, set to be released in 2017.
Godzilla will be starring in Godzilla 2, set for release in 2019.
And happily for all of us, both will attack movie theaters in Godzilla vs Kong, scheduled for release in 2020.
Ok, that’s a wrap for today. So now that you know some of the back stories of our lovable but gigantic and angry creatures, let’s put them in a ring… a really, really big one. Which one wins….and how? Let us know in the comments section below. Don’t forget to like us and be sure to subscribe for more stories like this. Get addicted to the good stuff.