Conceived originally as a sequel to the 1933 film ‘King Kong’, ‘King Kong Vs. Frankenstein’ was thought up of by Willis O’Brien, stop motion animator on the original film who came up with the idea to get his career back on his feet, much like Carl Denham, by bringing back the Mighty Kong to the big screen. The plot roughly went like this…
The Monster of Frankenstein is created somewhere in South Africa by Frankenstein’s Grandson. His body is made from parts of animals, his skin that of an elephant etc. Two groups of explorers set out in a race to bring back the world’s greatest monsters. One group heads to South Africa to Hunt down Frankenstein’s Monster. The other group, led by Cael Denham Jr, sets out to get King Kong (I’m not sure which King Kong they refer to, the original and his son were both killed. Perhaps grandson? After some research it’s apparently the original that survived the fall from the Empire State Building). Both Monsters are brought back to San Francisco, they escape and have an epic battle destroying much of the city before both being destroyed at the Golden Gate Bridge. Jasus!
O’Brien brought the idea to Producer John Beck who quietly stole it and sold it Toho Studios under the title ‘King Kong Vs. Prometheus’. Toho studios had been interested in making a Frankenstein movie for a few years and would eventually do so in future in ‘Frankenstein Conquers the World’.
Toho eventually dropped Frankenstein from the plot and replaced him with Godzilla and thus ‘King Kong Vs. Godzilla’ was born. A film which would see a very shabby looking King Kong taking on Godzilla who would have to use all his tactics to fight King Kong. These tactics included Karate Kicks…. Kong’s weakness would be his messy hair that Godzilla sets on Fire with his atomic breath.
My idea has always been that Godzilla represents the Atomic bomb. He is born from atomic testing, he has atomic breath and he brings terrible devastation to Japan. I have said in my previous reviews including Space Battleship Yamato that Japan is one of those countries that takes a terrible event and turns into into something powerful and positive. Godzilla eventually becomes a Hero rather than staying a Villain in Japan. In the Book ‘Monsters in the Movies’ by John Landis he theorizes that Godzilla represents Japan’s relations with the United States and the growing warmer relations between the two is represented through Godzilla who starts out as a terrible monster destroying cities to becoming Japan’s protector. His face even changes to take on more human tendencies and cartoony eyes almost like that of Micky mouse. I like Landis’ examination of the character and he might be right. At the time ‘King Kong Vs. Godzilla’ was made a security treaty had been signed between Japan and the U.S.
‘Frankenstein Vs. Godzilla’ was intended to be a sequel to this movie but the idea was eventually dropped. There was also once an idea for ‘Batman Vs. Godzilla’. Lets not go there…
Interestingly enough King Kong had appeared in Japanese cinemas before 1962. ‘Wasei Kingu Kongu’ a 1933 silent film which is unfortunately lost along with about 90% of Japanese silent cinema. There was also ‘King Kong appears in Edo’ 1938 which has also been lost. It is unfortunate as these films predate the Godzilla movies and show Japan’s earliest foray into the Monster movie franchise. Fuminori Ohashi who created the monster suit for the Japanese King Kong in 1938 would later go on to create the very first Godzilla monster suit.
As much fun as ‘King Kong Vs. Godzilla’ is (or isn’t depending on how you view it) I would have really loved to have seen a black and white movie of a stop motion Kong go at it with Frankenstein. Could you imagine a movie that combined the continuity of the 1930’s King Kong and Frankenstein movies? That would have been a classic film. If they ever make the movie in future I want it made exactly the way they would have made it in at the time. Sometimes putting guys in suits just seems a bit easy. Not that there isn’t an art to that way of making monster movies. Probably the majority of the world would prefer a King Kong Vs. Godzilla movie over a Vs. Frankenstein movie. I remember getting King Kong and Godzilla toys in my Christmas stocking on separate years and having them stand on my shelf locked in battle. Maybe these ideas will come to fruition in future.
Now, supposedly there is an actual script for this movie and Toho studios have it. I would love to read it. I wonder how much of it was cannibalized between ‘King Kong Vs. Godzilla’ 1962 (in which Kong has powers of electricity), ‘ Frankenstein Conquers the World’ in which the heart of Frankenstein’s monster is grown into a Giant Monster version and ‘War of the Gargantuas’, a quasi sequel to ‘ Frankenstein Conquers the World’ where we would see the monster face off against his evil offspring.