Friday, April 11, 2014

Godzilla Vs. King Kong, King Kong Escape BR Review

Tradition. That's the way it was back in the 1970's til 1985 when Ch. 9 in NYC would show the King Kong marathon on Thanksgiving. It would start with KK, Song of Kong, Mighty Joe Young and most of the time it would end with KK versus Godzilla.
And of course there would be Monster week on Ch. 7 at 4:30- 6pm. Sometimes they would show Apes week where they would show Planet of the Apes, Beneath...Escape..Conquest. all cut up beyond belief to make room for commercials. Other weeks would be space movies like Conquest in Space, When Worlds Collide, War of the Worlds, etc. or Giant insect week like Them, Black Scorpian, Tarantula, etc., well you get the picture. This was B.O. (Before Oprah) and it started with watching the original Dark Shadows at 4 pm.
But if never saw these films in the theatres you would never know how much was missing from these movies, heavily edited and pan & scan, not letterboxed. Only with cable later on did you see these films in the entirely but often P&S and VHS hazy quality. Well with that said....

Note: This is mainly for the Quality of the Blu-rays and not the movies themselves for as a GZ fan obviously I'm not going to fault the films. A bigger review of that will happen when the other films get release in May.

King Kong Vs. Godzilla: 4 (Quality)
Yes it the American version and not the original Japanese version.  Since I never saw the original I was glad to see this version on BR. Of course these films are dated somewhat for the time they were made that has nothing to do with the total outlook. But my main problem with this new transfer is the look. A good example is the blue screen used at the time for the Octopus scene. When the villagers throw the flares, the effect was awful and very noticable. The natvies were surrounded by a bad outline that superimpose them over the main scene. While they manage to fix that for all the scenes they processed the film kind of dark where you can't tell what's going on. The native mother grabbing her kid and running away from the Octopus can hardly be seen. It starts being grainy which you get use to very quick and the outdoor scenes are all bright and colorful where you do see some scratches frs across the screen but not much of a distraction. But the night scenes suffer and are very noticeable. Guess it's a give and take for this method.
But what you see is what you get so if you're thinking of picking this up with KK Escapes, like I did, see this first as the quality is slightly less better than KK Escapes. Hopefully if they release the remastered original we won't have these little drawbacks.
Update: By request, yes you can freeze frame at 1:24m mark and see the only stopmotion used in the movie. I moved it with my remote control frame by frame and it was VERY clear.

King Kong Escapes: 5 (Quality)
Yes I know, stuntman in a very bad Kong suit, those plastic eyes. Sometimes the arms are long or sometimes short. The toy boats, the plastic submarine and the remote control helicopters if not hanging by a thread and of course the mandatory plastic tanks. Great Cheesy Fun!!! I was surprise on how this look. Very bright and colorful, very few scratches (film is old y'know) and the blue screen actually works! Only one scene at the very end where Kong picks up Blondie before the big Robot fight is where this techniques fails at 1:20minutes mark. Most of it worked great. It was so annoying seeing this on TV and on VHS. They really worked on this and the quality shows. Considering when this was made I couldn't believe how great this looked, bright and fresh. This was a real treat for the memories this brought to me.

My favorite part:
The end with Blondie yelling:
Schlong! Schlong, come back Schlong, you forgot to give me your Banana!
KK: Nag Nag Nag, I'm outta here. Gonna keep on swimming till I can't swim no more......

Final note: Regardless of my nick picking it's great to see these on BR with no frills, not even a trailer!
But considering how old these are, just the thought of fixing these the best they can, I can't wait for the other releases coming in May. Time to make room on the shelves and blow out my bank account.

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