Tail of the Tape
Tonight is a very special night. One of the most special of special nights. Coming to you from the middle of Hong Kong, Hawaii, Sydney or some other recognizable world metropolis: I’ll be your emcee for these proceedings. We have a face-off decades in the making. On March 31, for the first time since 1962, when the result was up for debate, two terrifying titans will (maybe!) tangle to the death in Godzilla vs. Kong.
In this corner, at 393 feet tall and weighing in at a husky 164,000 tons, sporting a bowling-pin bod, lethal fiery breath and a 550-foot tail, we have the Raging Reptile, Lethal Lizard … that Psycho Sea Monster. It’s Gooooodzilla.
And in that corner, standing at almost 400 feet and weighing somewhere between 90,000 and 158,000 tons, all the way from Skull Island, flaunting a powerful primate physique and a pummeling punch, we have the Angry Ape, the Menacing Monkey, the Savage Simian. It’s Kiiiiiiing Kong.
But before they go paw-to-claw, let’s take a look back at how this fearsome twosome went from kitschy mid-century horror to Adam Wingard’s latest creations on the big screen (and HBO Max).
Real-life American nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands that contaminated the 23-person crew of a Japanese tuna fishing boat in 1954 is cited as the inspiration for the origin of what would become Godzilla. The crew’s ordeal serves as an entry into the Japanese horror film that soon followed: Gojira — later translated into the anglicized name we know today.
Eventually, time has a way of defanging even the most fearsome creatures. The green guy from Tokyo is no exception, as evidenced by the many traditional and animated iterations, including Toho’s cutesy Son of Godzilla, TV’s educational Godzillaland, the better-than-we-deserved Fox animated series and even the Hanna-Barbara series featuring Zilla’s Johnny Quest-like gang. (The lone exception may be 2017’s more serious-minded Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters.)
While Blue Oyster Cult’s song “Godzilla” may be the most famous song revolving around the icon, Pharoahe Monch’s “Simon Says” may very well be the most infamous, thanks to an uncleared sample of composer Akira Ifukube’s theme in its hook.
Cementing its pop-icon status once and for all, the monster was even featured in “Homerzilla,” the 15th installment of The Simpsons’ annual “Treehouse of Horrors” series, with Homer featured as a giant green monster that needs doughnuts to quell his rage.
Of course, Simpsons aficionados know their leading man was also once King Homer, a large, angry, stupid ape who could only be satiated by the love of a beautiful woman with tall, blue hair in the third “Treehouse of Horrors.”
While Godzilla’s origins are rooted in anti-war protest, King Kong’s creation was born out of a pure, lifelong fascination with gorillas. Co-creator Merian C. Cooper spent years working on the idea of a “terror gorilla picture” for RKO Pictures, with partner Edgar Wallace working on the script.
The first time the “Eighth Wonder of The World” got the animated treatment was in the Canadian-American-Japanese series, The King Kong Show, where he went on humanity-saving adventures with the Bond family. Meanwhile, in 2000’s Kong: The Animated Series, we saw a Kong clone brought to life for even more adventures. Then on Netflix, kaiju series Kong: King of The Apes gives us a 2050-era Kong saving us all from the terrors of robotic dinosaurs.
King Kong is even into the wine game. When not reediting and rereleasing his past works, Francis Ford Coppola is busy making King Kong Cabernet, described as “powerful wine” offering “big, bold flavors and a dramatic finish,” thanks to “rugged tannin structure and fragrant oak frames luscious flavors of black raspberries, blueberries and plums that are woven between notes of tobacco, incense, and baking spices.” Whatever you say, Francis.
Without further ado, let’s put all of this folly and nerdy trivia aside! Let’s get ready to rummmbllle!
Godzilla vs. Kong premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on March 31.
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City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.