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Just what a sick man needs -- King Kong vs. Godzilla

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I spent two days on the couch this week battling the Gastrointestinal Illness from Outer Space, which is how I came to watch one of the best bad movies in history.

For those of you who are not snotty cinema buffs like me, I am referring to King Kong vs. Godzilla, a 1962 Japanese sci-fi creature flick, the third instalment in the Godzilla series, which was dubbed into English in an act of unspeakable cruelty against innocent moviegoers.

Today, in a humanitarian effort to continue receiving a paycheque, I have decided to devote this space to an in-depth critical analysis of this historically bad film, which, once you have seen it, is impossible to un-see.

Get comfy, because our story begins when Mr. Tako, head of Pacific Pharmaceuticals, bravely sends two guys in Hawaiian shirts to Faro Island to capture King Kong to boost the ratings of TV shows sponsored by his company.

On the island, Kong, as portrayed by a Japanese actor in a moth-eaten gorilla suit that is less realistic than Donald Trump's hair, is locked in a battle with a giant killer rubber octopus, which he defeats, a victory he celebrates by sucking down several jars of red berry juice, which cause him to pass out. The local villagers, decked out in grass skirts and coconut brassieres, and the Hawaiian-shirt guys, mark this historic moment by gyrating wildly to highly suggestive drum music, then loading Kong onto a giant wooden raft for the voyage back to Japan.

Meanwhile, the iceberg where Godzilla has been trapped since another bad film in 1955 is rammed by an American submarine, freeing the giant reptile, who (why not?) heads for Tokyo to steal headlines from King Kong.

Much of the plot is conveyed by random scenes of lab-coat-wearing scientists who provide important dialogue, such as: "The fact King Kong and Godzilla have appeared at the same time is interesting, scientifically."

Before you know it, the actor in the mouldy Godzilla suit is wreaking havoc on a train portrayed by a plastic model.

Voice on train's PA system: "Attention! Attention! Godzilla is approaching."

Passengers on train (in unison): "AIIIEEEEEE!!!"

Hero at checkpoint: "Hey, let me through! My girlfriend is on that train!"

At this dramatic point, Kong and Godzilla meet in a valley -- "My money's on Kong," chirps a TV reporter hiding in nearby bushes -- and the actors in bad suits begin wrestling, but Kong runs away after his cheap suit is zapped by Godzilla's atomic breath. Next -- and this is exactly what I would have done -- the army lures Godzilla into a giant pit filled with explosives as the announcer on the military PA system advises: "Godzilla has been sighted! Please work as quickly as possible."

Godzilla escapes but is driven off by a barrier of power lines stretched around Tokyo. In contrast, we discover Kong (why not?) feeds off electricity. We discover this from a helpful conversation between the random scientists:

First scientist: "For some reason we do not understand, King Kong gains strength from electricity."

Second scientist (shocked): "So electricity would not stop him?"

First scientist (frowning): "No, it would not."

In a nutshell, Kong attacks Tokyo with a girl clutched in one hand, but the guys in Hawaiian shirts suggest firing rockets containing intoxicating berry juice over his head, knocking him out so they can use helium balloons to float him to Mount Fuji for the climactic scene with Godzilla, who has been waiting there patiently for most of the movie.

What ensues is a brawl that makes televised wrestling seem like a PBS documentary. Here is how it was described in our onscreen TV guide: "The monster ape and dinosaur toss around a boulder and slug it out on Mount Fuji."

After playing catch with the boulder, Godzilla gains the early advantage, rendering Kong unconscious by battering his head with his fake tail, but, just as he tries to use his atomic breath, a timely electrical storm zaps Kong, giving him the power to shoot bolts from his hairy fingers.

Hawaiian-shirt guy No. 1 (in a helicopter): "Lightning makes Kong stronger. Watch now."

Hawaiian-shirt guy No. 2 (confused): "Lightning makes him stronger?"

Hawaiian-shirt guy No. 1: "Uh-huh."

Sadly, in the end, this confrontation for the ages spills down to the coastline, where the monsters fall into the ocean and battle underwater, with Kong eventually surfacing all alone.

"Kong is swimming out to sea," explains one of the random scientists. "No Godzilla."

Chirps another in the final stirring line: "That's fantastic! Hopefully, we won't see them again for a long time."

As an expert, let me assure you no truer words have ever been spoken on film.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 11, 2014 A2

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