King Kong Escapes

Year: 1967
Studio: Toho
Director: Inoshiro Honda
Writer: Kaoru Mabushi
Cast: Rhodes Reason, Mie Hama, Eisei Amamoto, Linda Miller, Akira Takarada

This movie is so bad it's like a parody of a bad Japanese creature feature from the 1960s. If it isn't the square-jawed hero who even the evil Contessa in league with the villain wants to go to bed with, it's the Kong suit that's so bad with its bug eyes and sewed-on Filipino pubic hair it will give kids nightmares for all the wrong reasons.

The plot completely defies logic as an evil cabal straight out of a bad James Bond satire wants to mine a rare element to power a new weapon. Why they need a giant gorilla to dig it up doesn't even come close to being explained, but because they can't get the real thing, they build a giant metal version... as you do.

The nasty Dr Who, with his huge shock of white hair and Dracula cape/countenance, talks much bigger than he deserves to about world domination when almost every plan he has falls flat on its arse and the ice queen paymistress Madame X warns him constantly about the patience of her employers running out while she gives him one more last chance after another, making the whole enterprise pretty consequence-free zone, really.

Meanwhile there's a trio of beautiful heroes – chiselled Hollywood hunk-a-like Submarine Commander Nelson, the ship's nurse Susan (who inexplicably gets to go on every dangerous mission there is while a ship full of presumably far-better qualified soldiers stay behind to jabber in amazement in Japanese at everything that happens and not much else), and non-nonsense first mate Jiro.

They're on the trail of the flesh and blood King Kong on Skull Island, and when Dr Shocking Hair and Madame No Discernible Acting Talent hear about the mission of their old rival, they realise they can kidnap and use the real Kong to dig up the weapons fuel because their steel one keeps shitting itself.

What's more, Price Cheap Asian Dracula can command both the steel and biological Kongs using telepathy by hypnotising them with a trinket that looks like a Chinese Restaurant lantern. Even more strangely, it stops working on both of them at the worst possible moment and the movie never explains why.

All that's left is two guys in rubber suits that make the original Godzilla look like state of the art motion capture to stomp around a cheap model of Tokyo, climb Tokyo Tower and fight to the death.

A lot of the tropes of the original Kong canon are there – Kong falls in love with the blonde and carries her up the tower at the end, etc, as are a lot of corny movie stalwarts, such as when the useless heroine falls over and just lays there screaming, waiting for the hero to come back and pick her up.

But the rest is utter, utter camp, rendered all the more hilarious because of how serious it's all played with almost no resources or talent behind or in front of the camera.

A lot of the movies in this sort of era (and genre) this sort of thing should only be enjoyed in amusement with an audience of like-minded moviegoers, and this has to be one of the funniest. If you see it with a group of Tarantino cineastes who appreciate the legacy of monster movies and the subtext of the nuclear horror, you'll just embarrass yourself trying to stifle laughter.

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