King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
|King Kong Films|
— Japanese tagline
Who will win? 2 giant monsters rampage throughout Japan! (どちらが勝つか？日本中を暴れまわる２大怪獣！)
— 1970 Japanese tagline
Monster against monster! Battle of the century!
— International tagline
— American taglines
King Kong vs. Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ is a Kingu Kongu tai Gojira)1962 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho, and the third installment in the Godzilla series as well as the Showa series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on August 11, 1962, and to American theaters on June 26th, 1963. It was released as a part of Toho's 30th anniversary celebration.
The first to feature either of its titular contenders in color, King Kong vs. Godzilla pits the most famous monster from the West against his counterpart from the East. Awakened from his icy slumber seven years after he was trapped within ice at the conclusion of Godzilla Raids Again, Godzilla resumes his campaign of destruction against Japan. Meanwhile, the company Pacific Pharmaceuticals discovers the legendary Giant Demon God King Kong on the remote Faro Island and brings him to Japan for advertising purposes. When Kong escapes and runs loose in Japan, it is only a matter of time before the two behemoths meet in a fight to the finish.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Staff
- 3 Cast
- 4 Appearances
- 5 Production
- 6 Gallery
- 7 Soundtrack
- 8 Alternate titles
- 9 Theatrical releases
- 10 Foreign releases
- 11 Box office
- 12 Reception
- 13 Video releases
- 14 Unmade sequel and remakes
- 15 Videos
- 16 Trivia
- 17 External links
- 18 References
- 19 Comments
The Bering Sea's currents are mysteriously rising in temperature, causing the area's sea ice to melt and break up. The United Nations sends a scientific team to investigate the cause of the phenomenon. The investigation is covered by the Wonderful World Series, a Japanese documentary program, sponsored by Pacific Pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Tako, the advertising department director of Pacific Pharmaceuticals, is frustrated with the television program his company is sponsoring and wants something to boost his ratings. When company botanist Doctor Makioka tells Tako about a giant monster he discovered on the small Faro Island, Tako believes that it would be a brilliant idea "...with a punch" to use the monster to gain publicity. Tako immediately sends two men, Osamu Sakurai and Kinsaburo Furue, to find and bring back the monster from Faro.
Meanwhile, the United Nations submarine Seahawk gets caught in the same iceberg that Godzilla was trapped in by the JSDF seven years earlier in 1955. As an American rescue helicopter circles the iceberg, Godzilla breaks out and heads towards a nearby country's military base. The base's forces are unavailing against Godzilla, who continues southward towards Japan, supposedly returning instinctively. Godzilla's appearance is all over the press, and Tako grows angry as his company's competition profits off of the news. As Tako is complaining about Godzilla's media hype to his employees, one of them exclaims, "And... there's a movie too!"
Meanwhile on Faro Island, a Giant Octopus attacks the local village. The island's giant god, King Kong, finally makes his appearance and defeats the monster. Kong then drinks some red berry juice and falls asleep in the midst of a celebratory dance by the natives. Sakurai and Furue place Kong on a large raft and begin to transport him back to Japan. Back at Pacific Pharmaceuticals, Tako is excited because Kong is now all over the press instead of Godzilla. As Tako is out of the room, one of the employees ask which is stronger between King Kong and Godzilla. Another employee responds, "Stupid, it's not a wrestling match!" Tako walks back in the room and exclaims, "Fantastic! There's an idea!"
Mr. Tako arrives on the Taian Maru, the ship transporting Kong, but unfortunately, the JMSDF also arrive, and order the ship to return to Faro, before boarding the ship to inspect it. During a small scuffle over a detonator, Tako accidentally presses the lever down himself, which fails to blow up the raft, but Kong soon begins to awaken. Sakurai and Furue fire their rifles at the dynamite on the raft, successfully blowing it up. However, Kong survives the explosion and rises from the sea, then travels to Japan alone. As Kong meets up with Godzilla in a valley, Tako, Sakurai, and Furue have difficulty avoiding the JSDF to watch the fight. Eventually they find a spot. Kong throws some large rocks at his opponent, but Godzilla retaliates with his atomic ray, so King Kong retreats.
The JSDF enact countermeasures against both Kong and Godzilla but are mostly ineffective. They set up some power lines around Tokyo filled with a million volts of electricity (compared to the 50,000 volts used against the original Godzilla in 1954). The electricity is too much for Godzilla and drives him away, but it seems to make King Kong stronger. Kong enters Tokyo and kidnaps Sakurai's sister Fumiko, then climbs to the top of the National Diet Building with her in his hand. The JSDF explode capsules full of the berry juice from Faro Island and successfully render Kong unconscious. Tako approved of this plan because he "...didn't want anything bad to happen to Kong." The JSDF then decide to transport Kong via balloons to Mount Fuji, where Godzilla currently is, in hope that they will fight each other to their deaths.
The next morning, Kong is dropped onto Mount Fuji near Godzilla and a great battle ensues. Godzilla eventually knocks Kong unconscious but then a thunderstorm arrives and revives King Kong, giving him the power of an electric grasp. The two clash once again, with Kong shoving a tree in Godzilla's mouth before Godzilla burns the tree with his atomic breath. The two monsters continue fighting, tearing down Atami Castle in the process, and eventually plunge into the sea, causing a small earthquake. After an underwater battle, only King Kong resurfaces, and begins to slowly swim back home to Faro. As Kong swims home, onlookers aren't sure if Godzilla survived the underwater fight, but speculate that it was possible.
- Main article: King Kong vs. Godzilla/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Shinichi Sekizawa, Willis O'Brien, George Worthing Yates
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, John Beck
- Music by Akira Ifukube
- Stock music by Sei Ikeno, Hachiro Matsui
- Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
- Edited by Reiko Kaneko
- Production design by Teruaki Abe, Takeo Kita
- Assistant directing by Koji Kawakita
- Special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya
- Assistant Director of Special Effects Teruyoshi Nakano
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Tadao Takashima as Osamu Sakurai, Pacific Pharmaceuticals television employee
- Kenji Sahara as Kazuo Fujita, inventor
- Yu Fujiki as Kinsaburo Furue, Pacific Pharmaceuticals television employee
- Ichiro Arishima as Tako, head of Pacific Pharmaceuticals advertising department
- Jun Tazaki as Commanding General of the JSDF Eastern Army
- Akihiko Hirata as Dr. Shigesawa, biologist
- Mie Hama as Fumiko Sakurai, Sakurai's sister
- Akiko Wakabayashi as Tamiye
- Akemi Negishi as Chikiro's mother
- Yoshio Kosugi as Chief of Faro Island
- Yoshibumi Tajima as Yukichi Yamamoto, captain of the Shinsei-Maru No. 2
- Ikio Sawamura as Praying Faro Islander
- Somesho Matsumoto as Dr. Onuki
- Ko Mishima as JMSDF officer
- Sachio Sakai as Obayashi, Pacific Pharmaceuticals advertising department employee
- Tatsuo Matsumura as Dr. Makioka
- Senkichi Omura as Konno, interpreter
- Ren Yamamoto as Chief of SDF
- Haruya Kato as Pacific Pharmaceuticals advertising department employee
- Shin Otomo as Captain of the Taian-Maru
- Nadao Kirino as Eastern Army Second Chief of Staff
- Yasuhisa Tsutsumi as Eastern Army First Chief of Staff
- Yutaka Nakayama as Shinsei-Maru No. 2 correspondent
- Toshihiko Furuta as Policeman
- Naoya Kusakawa as Newspaper reporter
- Mitsuo Tsuda as JGSDF officer
- Haruko Togo as Evacuating resident of apartment complex
- Kenzo Tabu as Wonderful World Series announcer
- Takuzo Kumagai as Police executive
- Shiro Tsuchiya as Evacuating man
- Yasuzo Ogawa, Kazuo Suzuki as Onlookers
- Hideo Shibuya, Masaaki Tachibana as Newspaper reporters
- Haruya Sakamoto as Eastern Army facilities manager
- Hiromi Mineoka as Passenger on Tsugaru Express
- Haruo Hirano as Chikiro, boy of Faro Island
- Terumi Oka as Pacific Pharmaceuticals clerk
- Ichiro Chiba as Pacific Pharmaceuticals advertising department employee
- Mieko Kurenai as Pacific Pharmaceuticals clerk
- Douglas Fehn as Captain of the Seahawk
- Harold Conway, Osman Yusuf as United Nations correspondents on Seahawk
- Shoichi Hirose as King Kong
- Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla / Faro Islander on watchtower
- Katsumi Tezuka as Godzilla (iceberg scene)
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Harry Holcombe as Dr. Arnold Johnson
- Michael Keith as Eric Carter
- James Yagi as Yutaka Omura
- Byron Morrow as Newscaster
- Les Tremayne as Commander Roberts / General Masami Shinzo / Narrator (voice)
- Bruce Mason as Misc. characters (voice)
- Paul Howard as Misc. characters (voice)
Weapons, vehicles, and races
One of King Kong's original creators, Willis O'Brien, had created a treatment for a film in the 60's called King Kong vs. Frankenstein. O'Brien planned on using stop motion animation, like he had in the original King Kong, to bring the monsters to life. O'Brien sparked the interest of producer John Beck with some concept art and several screenplay treatments to make the film. However, the cost of stop motion animation prevented the film from being put into production. Beck took O' Brien's main idea to Toho, who was planning to bring Godzilla back to the big screen after his seven year absence since Godzilla Raids Again. Toho also wanted a big movie to celebrate their thirtieth year in production. The O'Brien treatment was changed to have Godzilla battle King Kong instead of Frankenstein's monster.
Eiji Tsuburaya had toyed with the idea of using Willis O'Brien's stop motion technique instead of the suitmation process used in his films, though budgetary and time concerns prevented him from using the process. However, there are a couple of brief scenes where Tsuburaya makes use of stop motion photography. The first use of it is in the scene where the Giant Octopus grabs one of the natives and swings him around. Another is the scene during Kong's fight with Godzilla, where it is used when Godzilla hits Kong with a jump-kick.
- Main article: King Kong vs. Godzilla/Gallery.
- Main article: King Kong vs. Godzilla (Soundtrack).
- King Kong Against Godzilla (literal Japanese title)
- The Return of King Kong (Die Rückkehr des King Kong; Germany)
- (Godzilla-) Battle-Party of the Giants ((Godzilla-) Schlachtfest der Giganten; German video title)
- The Triumph of King Kong (Il trionfo di King Kong; Italy)
View all posters for the film here.
- Japan - August 11, 1962 [view poster]; July 25, 1964 (re-release) [view poster]; March 21, 1970 (second re-release) [view poster]; March 19, 1977 (third re-release) [view poster]; July 14, 2016 (4K digital restoration) [view poster]
- United States - June 26th, 1963 [view poster]
- England - November 1963 [view poster]
- Australia - 1963
- Thailand - 1963
- Mexico - December 25, 1969 [view poster]
- Germany - 1974 [view poster]
- France - 1976 [view poster]
- Belgium - 1976 [view poster]
- Italy - 1973; 1976 [view poster]
- Spain - 1978 [view poster]
An English version of King Kong vs. Godzilla was prepared by producer John Beck, who felt that Toho's version of the film wouldn't play well to American audiences. He hired writers Bruce Howard and Paul Mason to "Americanize" the film. Peter Zinner was brought in as an editor for Beck's version. Among the alterations made for the North American theatrical release are:
- Dialogue was dubbed at Ryder Sound Services, Inc. in Hollywood. The new dialogue often strayed heavily from the Japanese script. Howard and Mason's script is still comedic at times but eliminates most of the humor in Shinichi Sekizawa's original screenplay. The English dubbing session was completed in a week.
- Akira Ifukube's musical score was largely replaced by music from the Universal and Mutel libraries. The composers of the added music included Hans J. Salter (The Golden Horde, Thunder on the Hill, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wichita Town, Against All Flags, Man-Made Monster), Heinz Roemheld (The Monster That Challenged the World), Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter (The Deerslayer), and Herschel Burke Gilbert (While the City Sleeps). Ifukube's Faro Island native chant and an exotic jungle cue are the only tracks carried over from the original soundtrack.
- Deleted: Many of the comic scenes integral in the original storyline. Mr. Tako's initial introduction and other interactions with his staff in the advertising wing of Pacific Pharmaceuticals throughout the course of the film were removed. Tako's motivation for searching for Kong is altered somewhat from simply wanting him to generate publicity for the company to specifically wanting his own monster to compete with Godzilla.
- Deleted: A scene where Osamu Sakurai plays drums while recording a commercial. Later, Furue tells him he is to go to Faro Island.
- Shortened: The dinner at Fujita's apartment. Sakurai is not shown coming home from work to find nary a meal or Fumiko present, who has left to have her "fill" at her boyfriend's instead. Sakurai catching the two off guard in a moment of amorousness is not shown, nor is a longer conversation between the trio about Sakurai's trip to Faro Island.
- Altered: The scenes involving the Seahawk's investigation of the Bering Sea and subsequent destruction by Godzilla have been edited into a continuous sequence.
- Deleted: A farewell party for Sakurai and Furue.
- Altered: The subplot of Fujita aboard the ship Shinsei Maru No. 2 to conduct tests on the strength of his high tensile wire. The scene of Fujita talking to the ship's captain, played by Yoshibumi Tajima, about Fumiko is deleted. After he makes an early departure at Nemuro in Hokkaido, Godzilla is blamed for the sinking of the vessel. In the U.S. version's storyline, a fatal plane crash is substituted as the motivation for Fumiko to search for Fujita in Hokkaido, and Fujita tells Tamiye upon returning to Tokyo he missed the flight instead.
- Deleted: Newspaper inserts headlining Godzilla's attacks.
- Altered: Godzilla originally attacks the Tsugaru express train near Sendai in the Tohoku region, whereas the U.S. version purports the sequence to take place in Hokkaido.
- Altered: King Kong and Godzilla's first meeting is shifted to before the scene showing the preparation for Operation: Burial.
- Altered: The JSDF's preparations and executions of Operation: Burial and Operation: One Million Volts against Godzilla have been condensed into one continuous sequence.
- Added: Stock aerial views of the Ginza ward in Tokyo were inserted. One in daylight as an establishing shot for the scenes set at the Sakurais' and Fujita's apartment complex, and one at nighttime during Kong's liftoff.
- Added: Approximately two minutes of stock footage from the film The Mysterians was inserted at various points throughout the film. This includes shots of a forest fire (Godzilla's immolation of the Arctic base), American, British and Soviet officials arriving in Tokyo (the military council's meeting with the scientific advisors), a landslide (Godzilla falling into the giant pit during Operation: Burial), evacuating civilians (Kong's incursion into Tokyo), an establishing shot of Mount Fuji (Kong's transport to Fuji), and a massive column of water (Godzilla and Kong falling into the sea). Most notably, the climatic earthquake is much more powerful in the U.S version, utilizing shots of the ground splitting open and massive tidal waves which flood nearby valleys, in order to make the earthquake much more violent than the tame tremor seen in the Japanese version.
- The most notable alteration in this version is the addition of new scenes featuring United Nations reporter Eric Carter, played by Michael Keith, paleontologist Dr. Arnold Johnson, played by Harry Holcombe, and Japanese correspondent Yataka Omura, played by James Yagi, in a series of pseudo-news broadcasts. These scenes make changes to the monsters' origins and characteristics, such as suggesting that Kong grew to his gigantic size by eating the berries native to Faro Island (referred to as "Soma" in this version) and that Godzilla has been imprisoned inside the iceberg since the Mesozoic era, ignoring the events of Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again. Stock footage of the Mysterian Space Station from The Mysterians is added into these scenes to substitute as a United Nations satellite. These segments were directed by Thomas Montgomery over a three day period. Despite the new footage, the American version runs 91 minutes, six minutes shorter than the Japanese version.
In a 1963 issue of the American fanzine Spaceman, an article on King Kong vs. Godzilla concluded with an erroneous claim that would endure for decades: "2 endings have been filmed & if you see KING KONG VS. GODZILLA in Japan, Hong Kong or some Oriental sector of the world, Godzilla wins! On the other hand, in the USA & England, for instance, Kong wins!" Spaceman's source for this information is unknown, as even Toho's 1963 international sales brochure makes it clear that Kong is the victor in the original version of the film. The actual differences in the endings are minimal. While in the Japanese version the characters propose it is possible that Godzilla survived the battle, in the U.S. version they merely state they hope they've seen the last of him. Godzilla's roar is also not heard over the end title card, while it is present in the Japanese version before Kong's.
After completing production of the U.S. version, Beck sold his rights to the film to Universal International, which distributed the film in the United States and later in most of the rest of the world starting in June of 1963. To this day, Universal owns exclusive rights to the film in North America. Though the company issued King Kong vs. Godzilla on DVD and Blu-ray previously, it was the last Toho Godzilla film to be released in the U.S. with its original Japanese language track. This was because Universal felt that the cost of acquiring the necessary materials from Toho was too high for such a release to be profitable. Ultimately, The Criterion Collection licensed the film from Universal and acquired the materials for the Japanese version, and released both cuts in the United States as part of its Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954-1975 Blu-ray box set in October 2019.
United Kingdom release
The Rank Organisation brought the American version of King Kong vs. Godzilla to UK theaters in November 1963, as part of a double feature with The Raiders. It received an X rating from the British Board of Film Censors, preventing children under 16 from seeing it. In 1981, The European Video Company Ltd. briefly released it on VHS, possibly without having the rights; CIC Video released a second legitimate tape in 1987. Universal issued it on DVD and Blu-ray in 2006 and 2017, respectively. Sony released both the Japanese and American versions of King Kong vs. Godzilla on Blu-ray in 2019 as part of the The Criterion Collection's Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975 box set.
King Kong vs. Godzilla was released on theaters four different times in different years in Japan. The first theatrical release had an attendance of 11,200,000, the third release had an attendance of 870,000, and the fourth release had an attendance of 480,000, adding up to a rough 12,550,000 attendance. It is the most-attended Godzilla film of all time in Japan, with or without the inclusion of the ticket sales from the re-releases. It was Toho's second-highest earner in 1962, and fourth among Japanese films overall.
The U.S. version of King Kong vs. Godzilla had a $12,000 budget.
King Kong vs. Godzilla is very popular among kaiju fans and hailed as a classic. Its plot, acting, special effects, and musical aspects are often regarded as some of the finest in the Showa series of Godzilla films.
Goodtimes DVD (1998)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (2.0 Mono)
- Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
- Special Features: Production notes
- Notes: Cropped 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Out of print.
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (4.0 Surround and 5.1 Surround)
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special Features: Audio commentary by Koji Kajita and Yu Fujiki, isolated score (2.0 Mono and 4.0 Surround), 5 trailers, cast profiles, image gallery, footage from a 40th anniversary Godzilla event (4 minutes), audio advertisements
- Region: 1 or 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (2.0 Mono)
- Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
- Special Features: None
- Notes: Also sold in a set with King Kong Escapes and King Kong (2005).
Universal Blu-ray (2014)
- Region: N/A
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono)
- Subtitles: English, French
- Special Features: None
- Notes: FYE began selling this Blu-ray in an exclusive SteelBook case in September 2019. Aside from the packaging, this release is identical to the 2014 Blu-ray.
Toho Blu-ray (2014)
- Region: A/1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround, 4.0 Surround, LPCM 2.0 Mono)
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special Features: Audio commentary by Koji Kajita and Yu Fujiki, isolated score (4.0 Surround), Champion Festival edit of the film, 4 trailers, interview with Keizo Murase (20 minutes), footage from a 40th anniversary Godzilla event (4 minutes), Then & Now look at the miniatures and their real-life equivalents (16 minutes), radio spot (3 minutes), publicity material slideshow (3 minutes), publicity brochure (12 images)
- Region: A/1 or B/2
- Discs: 8
- Audio: Japanese (4.0 Surround), English (2.0 Mono)
- Subtitles: English (hard-coded, non-removable)
- Special Features: All bonus features on Criterion's Godzilla Blu-ray, 1990 Ishiro Honda interview by Yoshimitsu Banno, interview with director Alex Cox, interviews with actors Bin Furuya and Tsugutoshi Komada, 2011 interview with critic Tadao Sato, unused effects sequences from Toho releases including Destroy All Monsters, trailers, illustrated hardcover book with an essay by Steve Ryfle and liner notes on each film by Ed Godziszewski
- Notes: Sony distributed a Region B/2 version of the set in the United Kingdom.
Unmade sequel and remakes
In the aftermath of the success of King Kong vs. Godzilla, Toho immediately began production on a sequel, simply known by the working title Continuation: King Kong vs. Godzilla. Shinichi Sekizawa even completed a screenplay for the film, but it was ultimately scrapped. Toho would revisit the idea of a giant version of Frankenstein's monster that was featured in Willis O'Brien's original treatment, this time planning to pit the creature against Godzilla in a film called Frankenstein vs. Godzilla, which itself was replaced by the films Mothra vs. Godzilla and Frankenstein vs. Baragon. Toho would later reacquire the rights to King Kong from Rankin/Bass Productions, which resulted in the 1967 film King Kong Escapes, though it was not a direct sequel to King Kong vs. Godzilla.
In the early Heisei era, Toho attempted to produce a remake of King Kong vs. Godzilla, under the title Godzilla vs. King Kong, but encountered difficulties when Turner Entertainment, by then the owners of the original King Kong film, prevented Toho from using the character. Toho would attempt to circumvent this by considering several projects pitting Godzilla against Kong's mechanical doppelganger Mechani-Kong, but none of them materialized. In 2015, the American studio Legendary Pictures announced production of a new film for 2020 pitting Kong against Godzilla, under the title Godzilla vs. Kong, as part of its MonsterVerse series of films.
- Not only was this the first Godzilla or King Kong film shot in the anamorphic "Scope" ratio (2.35:1), but it was also both monsters' first appearance in color and stereophonic sound.
- Before the movie's Japanese premiere, Toho released side-by-side "interviews" with King Kong and Godzilla, as if they were sumo wrestlers preparing for a bout.
- There were four live octopuses used in the scene where it fights the natives. They were forced to move by blowing hot air on them. After the filming of that scene was finished, three of the four were released. The fourth became special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya's dinner.
- The dream project of Eiji Tsuburaya involved a giant octopus, and early designs for Godzilla himself in 1954 depicted him as a giant octopus. Although Tsuburaya's octopus design was rejected, it is likely that the giant octopus scene in this film is the fulfillment of his dream (Tsuburaya would later shoot giant octopus scenes for two other films, Frankenstein vs. Baragon, although this scene was cut, and The War of the Gargantuas).
- In 1966, Eiji Tsuburaya produced an episode of , the first entry in his , which revolved around a giant octopus named , using the props originally created for this film.
- This film marks the debut of Godzilla's famous theme by Akira Ifukube, although it was completely removed in the American version.
- King Kong vs. Godzilla was re-released at the Spring Toho Champion Film Festival on March 21, 1970 alongside the animated films Star of the Giants: Major League Ball, Attack No. 1 and The Kindly Lion. The film was rather infamously edited down to 74 minutes using the original camera negative.
- When animators working on Davy Jones' tentacles in the 2006 film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest were having trouble finding footage of octopi on land, animation supervisor Hal Hickel hit upon the idea of using the Giant Octopus scene in King Kong vs. Godzilla as a reference.
- Newspapers in the film announce Godzilla's return on June 23, 1962, and profile King Kong on August 23.
- Universal pressbook for King Kong vs. Godzilla
- Comprehensive list of differences between the Japanese and American versions of the film
- German theatrical credits
This is a list of references for King Kong vs. Godzilla. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: 
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