Cast and Crew: Shinichi Sekizawa (Writer); Kenji Sahara, Akihiko Hirata, Mie Hama, Akiko Wakabayashi
What It’s About: A pharmaceutical company sends two bumbling underlings to Faro Island. The men are there to investigate reports of a berry that produces a narcotic effect without the usual addiction problems. There’s just one problem: the island also houses King Kong whom the natives sedate with the berries. Once again a capitalist brings an enormous ape to civilization in the hopes of somehow making a quick buck, only this time Kong escapes. Godzilla, meanwhile, reappears in the arctic, and makes his way to Japan. Soon both monsters are on the island and battling to the death. Can Japan survive, and can any means be found to stop the enormous beasts?
Why Watch it Today?: King Kong vs. Godzilla‘s American cut actually opens with, for reasons that are still unclear, a quote from Hamlet. The bard was baptized today in 1564 (his exact date of birth is unknown), and although I could have gone with one of the many fine adaptations of his work I went with this film, for that intro, for two reasons. One, it is most likely that the first time I ever heard Shakespeare was watching this film when I was a little kid, and it shows just how influential and highly regarded the bard was if his work could be counted on to class up a monster movie. The other is that picking just one of the adaptations of Shakespeare’s work is a fool’s errand, and this is far more fun. King Kong vs. Godzilla may not be Godzilla, Toho, or director Ishiro Honda’s finest hours, but it is one of the most goofy, especially the American version which grinds the film to a halt to give us “U.N.” reporters spouting off preposterous paleontology and biology, at one point incorrectly identifying dinosaurs in a picture book.
Where to Get It: Rent it from Netflix or Amazon