King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

The showdown that impressed you as a kid

Not very good

Movie Info

Movie Name:  King Kong vs. Godzilla

Studio:  Toho

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/FantasyB-Movie

Release Date(s):  August 11, 1962

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

king kong vs godzilla giant octopus criterion

Looks like Kong’s having octopus for dinner tonight!

A drug manufacturer named Mr. Tako (Ichirō Arishima) is looking for a new angle for his product when he learns about a giant ape on a remote island.  While Tako’s men sets out to get the ape, a chance encounter between a U.S. submarine and an iceberg frees Godzilla.   Godzilla is threatening Japan again, and an idea to pit King Kong against Godzilla could be the chance to stop the threat of Godzilla once and for all.  It is King Kong vs. Godzilla, and winner takes all!

Directed by Ishirō Honda, King Kong vs. Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ or Kingu Kongu Tai Gojira) is the third film in the Godzilla series.  Following Godzilla Raids Again in 1955, King Kong vs. Godzilla actually started out as a King Kong movie.  The movie was intended to be King Kong vs. Frankenstein (with a giant Frankenstein monster), but Godzilla was brought in as King Kong’s adversary.  The movie (like many Godzilla films) developed a cult following over the years through repeat airing on TV and is also the most successful of all of the Godzilla films.  The Criterion Collection released the film as part of its Godzilla: The Showa-Era 1954-1975 (Criterion #1000).

king kong vs godzilla catches tail criterion

I’m not sure what King Kong and Godzilla are “into”, but we might find out soon…

Godzilla was  a staple of weekends growing up.  It always felt like Godzilla movies were airing and the “king” of the Godzilla movies would be when King Kong vs. Godzilla aired.  The movie featured a showdown of two powerhouses and was the ultimate if you were a kid.  The movie is bad, goofy, and boring, but I still get a thrill from the idea of the throwdown.

Like most Godzilla films, there isn’t much of a plot to the movie.  The film just has to find a way to get the two creatures together so they can punch each other.  It takes too long to get to it and the fight is a bit of a letdown due to all the anticipation, but that is forgettable if you remember what it was like to see it as a child.

There is a lot of discussion about the tone and feel of this Godzilla.  The movie considerably lightened Godzilla and featured a lot more goofiness than previous Godzilla films (or King Kong films for that matter).  It is also noted that King Kong is much, much taller than the previous King Kong entries.  The Godzilla suit also was altered for the movie (the filmmakers also considered using stop-motion and there is a brief stop-motion animated scene in the final fight).

king kong vs godzilla claymation stop-motion criterion

I think the bigger story here is how the two monsters can turn into Claymation for a scene…

When I was growing up (pre-internet), King Kong vs. Godzilla possessed a legendary second ending.  In the United States, King Kong beats Godzilla and walks off into the ocean.  In Japan, Godzilla triumphed over Godzilla.  I always wanted to see the Godzilla ending…but in post-internet world, that dream was shattered.  There was no second ending to the film.  The ending you’ve seen is the ending you get (though the Japanese version of the film is slightly longer).

King Kong vs. Godzilla features one of the most well-known throwdowns between two big franchise holders.  Most of the fun of this film comes from childhood memories than the actual film itself.  Toho followed King Kong vs. Godzilla with King Kong Escapes in 1967.  The Godzilla franchised continued with Mothra vs. Godzilla in 1964.

Preceded By:

Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

Followed By:

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

Related Links:

King Kong Escapes (1967)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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