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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Another Godzilla Versus After King Kong


Monsters Meet For Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964)

I'd need Godzilla lessons from a Toho expert to properly manage these notes, but here's the little I know: AIP distributed Godzilla vs. The Thing in the US ... they didn't use Mothra's name for some reason (legal?), so Zilla's opponent was called "The Thing." We briefly wondered in 1964 if Howard Hawks' arctic monster had been thawed again for Round Two. Maybe a most brilliant aspect of G vs. T was posters by Reynold Brown, imagery of the Thing being "censored." Peek-a-boo art made it look like octopi sprung off It Came From Beneath The Sea, but word-of-mouth, and monster mags, weren't long in tipping us that this was indeed Mothra come to rescue Japan from further Godzilla drubbing. There's almost resignation when news reports announce G has risen again, for what was this, his fourth visit to Nippon shores? Question arose too as to how Mothra would combat, let alone overcome, Godzilla. Lethal wing-flaps and dragging the lizard by his tail were but distractions --- this was no even match like one engaged a previous year between King Kong and Godzilla.


The tiny twins who sing are back from Mothra --- did AIP consider a soundtrack album? Hearing their plaintive tune called up memories of seeing G Vs. T at the Liberty, and months later when we talked a neighbor into carrying us out to the Starlight Drive-In for another go. Was it really necessary to see this twice? Godzilla was a charmingly clumsy monster, tripping through power lines and over buildings. If Tokyo had but cleared a wider boulevard, he might have passed peacefully through, brisk urban walks invariably going bad for him. Godzilla moved slowly, and that may explain his weight issues. I don't recall a film where he actually ate anything, my assumption being that trains off trestle buffet were quite indigestible. Interesting factoid per Variety's 5/12/65 survey of Japanese features in US distribution during 1964: Almost half of $1,124,000 earned by Nippon films in the US market came from ethnic houses on the coast and in Hawaii, with "most of remaining coin brought in ... by Godzilla vs. The Thing."  The latter did OK for AIP --- $534K on 9932 bookings, but wait --- Universal's King Kong vs. Godzilla had crossed a million in 1963. Was KK a more meaningful selling point than a censored-out-of-ads "Thing"?

7 Comments:

Blogger Stewart McKissick said...

Hi John -
Always enjoying your great posts!
G Vs.tT is a personal favorite along with KK vs. G as I saw them both at the theatres at a very young age.

THING is in fact a favorite of many Godzilla fans, and is the most in need of a fresh release in its full widescreen version with the English dubbing as I know you know.

Not sure how likely this may ever be sadly -
the version we now have is cropped to 1:85 unless you have the very old Simitar disc that was from a compromised source and not "enhanced" for widescreen sets and projectors.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Randy Jepsen said...

I remember one Sunday in 1964; the family was gonna go visit the grandparents in a small town 44 miles away. So us kids asked our parents if we could go to the movie when we got there. They said okay. The theater was in a quonset hut shaped building. Anyway, my dad left so late we didn`t get there in time for the one matinee showing of GvtT. I was soooo disappointed. I didn`t see it for another 6 or so years on TV. Not a favorite in the series for me.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

Went to see this when it came out. Walked out on it. The cartoon on the program was better.

11:22 AM  
Blogger opticalguy said...

Mike … you were unfair to the film. I saw it in colorful CinemaScope at one of the movie palaces in downtown Norfolk (at age 9) on it's initial release and had a grand time with it. I loved Godzilla in his CinemaScope glory and I even loved Mothra. Also liked the tiny princesses (the Peanuts as they were billed)and felt like it was time well spent.

9:55 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Donald Benson poses an interesting question re sci-fi and its audience:


Like the Universal horrors before them, the Godzilla films and their imitators seem to have started out as "real" movies for adults before focusing expressly on kid audiences. Was there a point where distributers and exhibitors visibly latched onto this? Was there pushback from parent groups and such?

5:51 PM  
Blogger Jerry Kovar said...

I remember walking out of the RKO Palace after seeing this and checking the poster art again to see if there was any sign of Mothra - not my favorite screen creature. Went home feeling ripped off. (AIP paired this with Voyage to the End of the Universe in NYC.)

6:37 AM  
Blogger Tom Ruegger said...

I had gone to the local Forum Theater in Metuchen NJ the year before with my brothers to take in Godzilla vs. King Kong. Having seen the original 1933 King Kong multiple times on WOR's Million Dollar Movie, I expected something similar, so sights were set high. But even at the age of eight I knew the quality difference between stop motion animation and a guy in a monkey suit. Disappoint was considerable. Never paid theater admission for any other Godzilla mash-ups but tuned in frequently to TV airings -- which were met with plenty of vocal peanut-gallery ridicule.

3:06 PM  

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