Most Godzilla movies are slugfests between Godzilla and other giant monsters of various magical or pseudoscientific origins, coupled with human drama of different quality. However, one of the few that does belong in the genre was responsible for making a viable series out of the kaiju brawls.
Were not talking about the Legendarys 2021 release, a series that is equally as unrealistic as any kaiju film and as eager to deceive others through tone and style. The original clash of kings from 1962 was a huge hit in Japan when it was first released, and it was a popular draw in the United States as well. The American remake of the film went worldwide, bringing in more money.
King Kong vs. Godzilla was not created in-house. Willis OBrien, the stop-motion pioneer who created the original King Kong, was given the idea to Toho, who swapped out Frankenstein for Godzilla and, according to the book Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, never gave him credit.
The inclusion of Godzilla allowed Toho to use one of their most famous characters, but his career was largely defined as a stable series lead. By the time King Kong vs. Godzilla was finished, Kong was still more well-known than his opponent in Japan, and the quality of television programs had been criticized for their mindless and depressing effects.
The ad campaigns that blunder on Kong's island and their unwillingness to admit that their intention might go wrong are a joy to watch. According to A Life in Film, a relatively small portion of programming was devoted to generating interest from viewers.
The varied world of Godzilla and Kong are explored. Besides the classic rock-volleyball game, there's also anthropomorphized wrestling, as well as more animalistic tooth-and-claw brawling; the King Kong of the 1933 film might be trampled underfoot with lightning. (By the way, check every film from this to Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, and youll notice that Godzilla isnt green. He's either charcoal gray or black.)
Hondas intention was to make the monsters appear ridiculous, but he never fully reconciled himself to the studios pushing the series into monster battles with an ever more humanized monster star, as quoted in a Life in Film. Producer Tanaka would later regretted Godzilla's evolution, and rebooted the series to bring him back to his roots. But Tsuburaya was a big Kong supporter, and his child-friendly remarks remained.
King Kong vs. Godzilla isnt dominated by kaiju slapstick and overly blatant bumbling of ad men. Akira Ifukubes' musical score is characteristically foreboding, and the original Godzilla or subsequent sequels were replaced with equally humorous but less appropriate stock music when Universal-International released their recut, which seemed to miss the humor.
Other horror series have veered into humor, but rarely in a way that was so deliberately controlled (if reluctantly on Honda's part) by the key personnel behind the original film, or so imaginatively successful. If King Kong vs. Godzilla opened the floodgates for new comic moments? It might never have happened without that 1962 battle with his opposing king.