Then again, I was obsessed with my King Kong view finder and I wanted a Kong toy for my Godzilla toy to fight. Even though it scared me, I couldn't wait to watch it again. I think it's weird that Kong scared me so much when Jaws or Alien didn't scared me at all.
That '76 Kong really isn't scary in any way shape or form. In fact, it's pretty cheesy. The effects don't
Seeing actual Kong films in the pre-internet/pre-VCR days wasn't always easy. The only one I caught before 1986's King Kong Lives was 1962's King Kong vs Godzilla, which I found rather boring, truth be told. Both monsters were far too good for such a lackluster film. Fortunately, King Kong Lives was much more fun, serving as a follow up to the '76 Kong, with Guillerman returning to the director's chair.
By the time I saw Lives, I was already starting to dip my toes into the horror genre, for real. I always made the distinction between horror and monsters. I sympathized with Frankenstein's creature and was scared to tears at the sight of Jason Vorhees. So I was at a point where I was less and less forgiving of the sillier moments of Lives.
My school library had a book about classic monsters of film and it was the source where I learned all
Around the time of Lives, I got the box of horror and war comics I've talked about in previous editions of My Heroes Have Always Been Monsters. Weird War from DC Comics was an amazing title, featuring the likes of GI Robot and Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos. The greatest story I read out of all those comics was a short feature called "The Hand Of Glory."
"The Hand Of Glory" was about a fighter pilot who lived in the shadow of his war hero brother. This pilot served during peace time and dreamed of the hand of glory, of his time coming. One day his squadron is scrambled and they're sent to New York City. Everyone is confused, what's happening in New York?? Our hero continues obsessing over the hand of glory right up to the point of his plane being crushed by the giant hand of Kong! The End.
I LOVED that story. Finally, a Kong story worthy of the character. It was the scariest most menacing version of Kong and he was really only on one page of a story that was probably five pages long. In a way, I think most of my early stories, probably into my twenties, was me trying to capture that shock I experienced with "Hand Of Glory." (Note; I have been unable to find reference to this damn story anywhere on the web. If anyone can help me out...)
It was bullets and a glorified carny that killed Kong, not AnnKong, and the '76 and '05 remakes, that Denham didn't get crushed for his arrogance. To me he was the real villain. And he got away with it.
The '05 remake was something to be excited about, fresh off the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson tackled the Kong story backed by the WETA SFX team. Jackson loved Kong and this was a passion project and it shows. As creature features go, Kong '05 is a masters class in filmmaking. The fully CGI Kong looks incredible, as does most of the CGI in the film, with the sole exception of a horribly rendered brontosaurus stampede, that should have been left on the cutting room floor. Starring Naomi Watts, Adrian Brody, and Jack Black, Kong was funny, touching, exciting, and just really cool. Not to mention, a nice left turn from the Tolkien world Jackson had been consumed with. Previously he had done some amazing gore films (Bad Taste, Dead Alive), a twisted and perverse puppet movie (Meet The Feebles), and a touching bio-pic/romance/crime story (Heavenly Creatures). Kong is the closest Jackson has been to making a horror film since Dead Alive and is probably the definitive version of the classic story.
Skull Island calls to mind Francis Ford Coopola's Apocalypse Now a lot (I know I'm far from the first person to point this out), from it's Viet Nam opening to Jackson's Col. Packard who at turns is Martin Sheen's Willard and Marlon Brando's Kurtz, to the pounding rock and roll soundtrack, and even the characters going up river to complete their mission. Hell, John C Reilly basically stands in for Dennis Hopper. None of which is accidental, I'm sure. For me, this marriage of a truly kick ass, dark Kong story with one of my all time favorite films is just cinematic Heaven. Spider-Man Homecoming is probably the only other movie this year that was as much fun and well made, so far (we still have Thor Ragnarok and Justice League coming).
Skull Island has a lot going for it outside of referencing Apocalypse Now, it also carves out some Cannibal Holocaust reference!) My absolute favorite shot in the film shows a stone faced Jackson staring down an oncoming Kong while one of his soldiers runs past him engulfed in flames. It's a dark, haunting, gorgeous shot. Auteur level stuff, really.
Legendary Pictures, where Kong and Godzilla now reside, has the aforementioned Godzilla vs Kong and Kong 2 coming in the next few years. In his near 90 year history, right now is the best time to be a Kong fan.
So, hey! Welcome back to My Heroes Have Always Been Monsters! 50 chapters! It's been almost a year since the last chapter, which is the longest gap I've had since I launched Stranger With Friction back in 2012. The wait for Part 51 won't be nearly as long, in fact I'm taking on Shocker vs Horror Show (aka House III) this October. In the mean time, check out my Heroes Have Always Been Monsters Pinterest page. Thanks for coming or for coming back and keep watching the skies, nerds!