King Kong (King Kong Escapes)
|King Kong incarnations|
King Kong (キングコング is a giant ape Kingu Kongu)kaiju who appeared in the 1967 Toho film King Kong Escapes. He is the second incarnation of the character to appear in a film produced by Toho.
A legendary giant ape said to inhabit Mondo Island in the Java Sea, Kong was the subject of a great deal of research by Carl Nelson, who was hired to develop schematics for a giant robot based on the ape monster. Nelson resigned over concerns that his research would be used to create a weapon and went on to work for the United Nations, while his former colleague Dr. Who stole his blueprints and used him to create his own personal weapon designed to mine the highly radioactive Element X: Mechani-Kong. While on a research mission aboard the UN submarine Explorer, Nelson and his comrades Jiro Nomura and Susan Watson made a stop on Mondo Island where they witnessed Kong emerge to defend Susan from the giant dinosaur Gorosaurus. Kong tried to pursue Susan back to the Explorer, but was attacked by a Giant Sea Serpent. After defeating the creature, Kong grabbed the Explorer only standing down after being convinced by Susan. Upon learning that Nelson had discovered Kong and following the failure of his robot, Dr. Who and his men kidnapped Kong from Mondo and brought him to their Arctic base, along with Nelson and his allies. Who's plan to control Kong and force him to mine Element X failed and the beast escaped. Dr. Who pursued Kong to Tokyo, and unleashed Mechani-Kong into the city to subdue him. Mechani-Kong grabbed Susan and held her hostage as it scaled the Tokyo Tower with Kong in pursuit. Kong was able to catch Susan as his robot double dropped her, while Dr. Who's business partner Madame Piranha turned on him and destroyed the robot's controls, causing it to fall to its destruction. Kong then hunted down Who's ship and destroyed it, killing the mad scientist. Kong then began to swim back to his home on Mondo Island, with his human friends bidding him farewell and thanking him for what he had done.
King Kong's name was conceived by the character's creator, Merian C. Cooper, after he read his friend Douglas Burden's account of traveling to the island of Komodo and encountering Komodo dragons there. In Burden's book, Dragon Lizards of Komodo, he referred to the animal as the "King of Komodo." Fond of hard-sounding words beginning with a "k" sound, Cooper was inspired by this phrase as well as "Congo" to give his giant ape creation the name of Kong. David O. Selznick eventually added "King" to the title of Cooper's film in order to prevent audiences from confusing it with a docudrama, as Cooper had previously produced multiple such films with one-word titles.
Official books denote this incarnation of Kong as 2nd Generation King Kong (２代目キングコング Nidaime Kingu Kongu) in order to distinguish him from the individual which appeared in King Kong vs. Godzilla. In-universe, this version of the character is generally only known by the name "Kong," but the natives of Mondo Island refer to him as Bon Kong (ボンコング Bon Kongu), which in the language of the island means "King Kong." In a public event displaying the King Kong suit used for the movie, there was a board referring to him as King Gorilla (キングゴリラ. Kingu Gorira)
Following the success of King Kong vs. Godzilla, Toho intended to produce another film starring King Kong while it still held the rights to the character. Plans for a direct sequel pitting Kong against Godzilla once again fell through, but Rankin/Bass Productions approached Toho with a proposal to co-produce a live-action adaptation of The King Kong Show, an anime TV series on which it collaborated with Toei Animation. Toho's initial story proposal was entitled Operation Robinson Crusoe: King Kong vs. Ebirah, and pit Kong against a terrorist organization known as the Red Bamboo and the new crustacean kaiju Ebirah. The proposed film would have also included an appearance by Toho's most popular monster after Godzilla: Mothra. However, when presented with the idea, Rankin/Bass objected on the basis that it did not follow the anime closely enough. Toho repurposed the story into Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, simply writing Godzilla into Kong's role, and went back to the drawing board for their second Kong film. This time, they took care to incorporate many elements from The King Kong Show, including Kong's mechanical doppelgänger Mechani-Kong, his home of Mondo Island, recurring antagonist Dr. Who, and a heroine named Susan. Rankin/Bass approved of this idea, which became the film King Kong Escapes.
Teizo Toshimitsu once again modeled Kong's head as he did on King Kong vs. Godzilla, while Yasuei Yagi again handled the body, this time without the assistance of his brother Kanju. In response to criticism about Kong's appearance in the prior film, the new suit was modeled to more faithfully resemble a gorilla, much like the character's original design. The head of the suit was built with a radio control system which allowed the eyelids and mouth to open and close. Like what had been done in 1962, two masks were made for the Kong suit: one for action and one for close-ups, both constructed from the same plaster mold. Haruo Nakajima, who had battled against Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla as Godzilla, was cast as Kong's suit actor for this film. Nakajima closely studied the movements of real gorillas in preparation for the role, allowing him to more faithfully capture the ape-like movements required for Kong. Rather than the poles which caused Kong's arms to appear to be missing an elbow joint in King Kong vs. Godzilla, the new suit's arms were constructed in such a way that Nakajima's arms independently moved the supports within Kong's forearm, allowing for more natural arm movements. In addition to the suit, full-scale right hand and ear models were constructed, along with various Guignols (hand puppets) and miniature dolls.
Kong with actress Linda Miller, who played Susan Watson in King Kong Escapes
Haruo Nakajima (Kong) and Hiroshi Sekita (Gorosaurus) take a break between filming of their fight scene
Eiji Tsuburaya provides direction for Kong's fight scene with Gorosaurus
Small models of Kong and Mechani-Kong used to film the climactic battle atop the Tokyo Tower
The original Kong suit from King Kong vs. Godzilla had been returned to Toho by Tsuburaya Productions following its use to portray the giant monkey kaiju Goro in an episode of Ultra Q. The tail added by Tsuburaya was removed and a new head resembling that of the newer Kong suit was affixed to this suit, which was utilized for water scenes in King Kong Escapes.
The 1962 Kong suit refurbished and utilized as the water suit in King Kong Escapes
Toho lost the character rights to Kong following completion of the film, but continued to make use of the newer Kong suit. The suit was displayed publicly, though under the copyright-friendly name "King Gorilla." Toho went on to use the suit to portray the villain monster "Gorilla" in their low-budget tokusatsu series Go! Greenman. The Kong suit had badly deteriorated by this time, and the supports in the forearms had apparently been removed, causing the suit's arms to flail wildly onscreen.
The King Kong suit from King Kong Escapes, under the name "King Gorilla," displayed next to a model of the Tokyo Tower
The 1967 Kong suit in use as the kaiju Gorilla in the Go! Greenman episode "Greenman vs. Gorilla"
The 1967 Kong bears a close resemblance to the 1962 incarnation, standing upright on two legs and possessing brown fur covering most of his body. However, his design is altered in order to make him more closely resemble a gorilla. Kong's skin is a brownish color, and is visible on his face, pectoral muscles, hands and feet. This Kong's head is larger than the previous incarnation's, and has a bigger mouth, bigger eyes, and a shorter neck. This Kong is more stocky in build, with a muscular, rounded body and short legs. Kong's arms are very long, and he either holds them at his sides or suspends them over his head while walking. He is considerably smaller than the 1962 Kong, standing less than half his height and weighing less than half of his weight.
This incarnation of King Kong is more friendly and gentle than the two previous incarnations. Kong never intentionally causes destruction except when attacking Dr. Who's base or ship, and is generally not hostile towards humans. Kong is infatuated with Susan Watson, and will go to great lengths to protect her and respond to her commands.
King Kong is a legendary giant gorilla-like ape that is said to live on the remote Mondo Island. A large stone staircase and an underground tunnel on the island are even believed to to have been built by Kong himself. Carl Nelson spent a great deal of his life studying the legend of Kong and searching for him, while his former colleague Dr. Who even stole Nelson's anatomical drawings of Kong to build the giant robot Mechani-Kong. When Nelson and his crew finally discovered Mondo Island, they encountered the real Kong, proving the legends to be true. How long Kong has been living on the island is unclear, but an old native man on the island seems to view him as a god.
King Kong Escapes
Commander Carl Nelson of the United Nations spent years studying the mythic Kong, even creating anatomical drawings of him and blueprints for a robotic version of the giant ape. When the Explorer, a UN submarine under Nelson's command, sustained damage in the Java Sea and was forced to surface, Nelson decided to go ashore on the nearby Mondo Island, held to be the home of Kong. Accompanied by Lieutenant Commander Jiro Nomura and Lieutenant Susan Watson, Nelson traveled to the island aboard a Hover Car. Upon disembarking, the trio were accosted by an old native man, who warned that they were trespassing on the domain of "King Kong." Nelson and Nomura went after the old man to question him, leaving Susan behind with the Hover Car. The gigantic dinosaur Gorosaurus emerged from the jungle and menaced Susan, but her screams caught the attention of Kong, who came to her rescue. Kong was instantly smitten with Susan, taking her in his hand and admiring her before setting her down atop a nearby tree. Kong battled with Gorosaurus, seemingly defeating him by pummeling him with his fists. Kong grabbed Susan again, who pleaded with him to set her down. Kong complied, and Susan reunited with her comrades. Suddenly, Gorosaurus stirred back to life and clamped his jaws onto Kong's legs. Despite Susan's protests, Nelson and the others headed back for the Explorer aboard the Hover Car, leaving Kong to contend with the dinosaur. Kong managed to defeat Gorosaurus by prying apart his jaws and breaking them, then ran after the Hover Car. A Giant Sea Serpent surfaced from the ocean and attacked the Hover Car, but Kong saved the craft by throwing a boulder at the serpent. Kong ran into the water and grappled with the serpent, while soldiers aboard the Explorer opened fire on both kaiju. Nelson ordered the men to stop firing, allowing Kong to dispatch his enemy without trouble. Nelson and the others boarded the Explorer, which had still not finished repairs. Kong began shaking the submarine, prompting Susan to go above deck and try to calm him down. Kong grabbed Susan in his hand, forcing her to jump into the sea to try and swim back to the sub. Kong panicked and grabbed Susan again, then finally placed her back on the sub. Susan thanked Kong and went below deck. Kong sat lonesomely on the shore of the island as the Explorer departed.
Nelson and the others spoke about their adventure at the United Nations in New York City, causing a sensation. When the mad scientist Dr. Who learned of this, he schemed to kidnap Kong so he could mine the radioactive Element X for him, after the robotic Mechani-Kong built from Nelson's stolen blueprints failed to resist the radiation. Who sent a fleet of helicopters to Mondo and began dropping ether bombs onto Kong, causing the gigantic ape to collapse and fall asleep. Who's men attached restraints to Kong's wrists and ankles and airlifted him to Who's ship. Kong was then brought to Who's Arctic base and hypnotized so that he could be forced to mine for Element X. However, as he was digging for the material, Kong broke free of Who's hypnosis and tried to escape. Who dropped a giant metal door in front of Kong, trapping him. Who was forced to move on to his second plan to control Kong. He had Nelson, Nomura, and Susan brought to his base and held prisoner. He stated he would free them if Susan helped him control Kong, but she refused. Kong began breaking free of the door sealing him, causing Who's base to sustain damage. Kong finally escaped and jumped into the sea, evading Mechani-Kong's pursuit. Undeterred, Who pursued Kong in his ship, bringing Mechani-Kong along with him. When Kong came ashore near Tokyo, Who planned to send his robot to subdue him. Unwilling to allow thousands to die in the inevitable battle between the two Kongs, Who's benefactor Madame Piranha set Nelson and the others free. The trio reached Tokyo and convinced the JSDF not to attack Kong. Susan then ran to Kong to calm him down. Kong picked Susan up again, but their reunion was interrupted when Mechani-Kong smashed through a nearby building.
Kong set Susan down and prepared to battle his mechanical double. Kong and the robot exchanged blows, with Mechani-Kong managing to knock its organic counterpart down. Who ordered the robot to grab Susan and scale the Tokyo Tower. Kong pursued his double, which broadcast Who's voice from loudspeakers in its mouth. Who demanded that Kong return to his ship, or else he would drop Susan. Kong refused to comply and continued pursuing Mechani-Kong as it climbed higher and higher. Mechani-kong finally dropped Susan, but Kong caught her and set her down safely on the tower. Kong continued chasing after Mechani-Kong, which kicked and punched him as it neared the summit of the tower. In a final act, Madame Piranha destroyed Mechani-Kong's controls aboard the ship before Dr. Who fatally shot her, causing the robot to fall from the tower and break apart into pieces as it collided with the street below. Nelson, Nomura, Susan, Kong, and the JSDF headed after Dr. Who's ship, which began to flee from Tokyo Bay. Susan told Kong to stop the ship, and the beast promptly dove into the bay. Kong grabbed onto the ship and began smashing it with his fists, causing it to take on water and sink and killing Dr. Who in the process. Susan called out after Kong as he began heading out to sea, but Nelson told her to let him go, as he had likely had enough of civilization.
This incarnation of Kong is incredibly strong. He demonstrates this strength in his battles with Gorosaurus, the Giant Sea Serpent and Mechani-Kong. During his battle with Gorosaurus, Kong is able to pry apart and eventually snap Gorosaurus's jaws, and during his battle with the Giant Sea Serpent Kong pulls the creature off his body as it tries to constrict around him and throws it. Kong utilizes his strength to dig through layers of rocks when Dr. Who forces him to mine for Element X, and later is able to easily smash through Dr. Who's base and eventually destroy his ship.
As a primate, Kong is reasonably intelligent. Not only is Kong able to outsmart most of his enemies, but he is also capable of communication with humans. Kong understands the commands given to him by Susan Watson. When he is captured by Dr. Who and sees Mechani-Kong for the first time, Kong hallucinates the machine as being another member of his kind and seems to attempt to communicate with it by waving and roaring.
Kong is also able to override and remove Dr. Who's mind control device, potentially due to the device malfunctioning from the effects of Element X. It is further suggested that Kong was responsible for constructing a giant stone staircase on Mondo Island as well as a large underground tunnel.
Kong is immune to the effects of the highly radioactive Element X, a substance coveted by Dr. Who and used for the construction of nuclear weapons. Dr. Who forced Kong to mine for Element X after Mechani-Kong succumbed to its radioactive and magnetic effects and broke down. Kong's resistance to Element X allowed him to escape Dr. Who's mind control, as the mind control device malfunctioned after being exposed directly to Element X.
- King Kong Escapes (1967)
- Main article: King Kong/Gallery.
This Kong's roar is recycled from the roar of the 1962 King Kong, which was previously used for Sanda in The War of the Gargantuas. This roar would later be reused for King Caesar in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and would be combined with Godzilla's roar to create the Tyrannosaurus's roar in The Last Dinosaur. The growling sounds Kong makes in the film are derived from Manda's rasps and grunts from Atragon, and were also used for Gaira and Godzilla.
- While this Kong is not the same individual as the one featured in King Kong vs. Godzilla, both incarnations exist within the same continuity, which also incorporates all of the Showa Godzilla films and many other kaiju films produced by Toho during the Showa era.
- This incarnation of Kong also exists in the continuity of the Millennium Godzilla films Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, having appeared and battled Gorosaurus and the Giant Sea Serpent in 1967.
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