And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


King Kong Escapes (1967)
"Damn giant, mutant therapods just don't learn, do they?"

“Damn giant, mutant therapods just don’t learn, do they?”

Why yes, this is my favorite King Kong movie. Is my enthusiasm showing? Well, I’ll do my best to tuck it back as we explore this rarely-mentioned, esoteric bit of late-60s kaiju eiga. It’s about as far from Kong’s first adventure as you can get without being Mighty Joe Young…but that just means this movie’s escaped its prequel’s shadow…right? As far as my inner-twelve-year-old’s concerned, King Kong Escapes kicks ass. The rest of me would still recommend it to you…with the following 3000 words of reservation.

I mentioned how Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster began life as a King Kong movie, similar to how King Kong vs. Godzilla began life as King Kong vs. Frankenstein (which instead spawned Frankenstein Conquers the World). Behind Sea Monster and tonight’s film you’ll find a 1966 collaboration between Japan’s Toei Animation studio and America’s Rankin/Bass productions, The King Kong Show. As its title and production company credits suggest, the Show was a half-hour animated series reboot of Kong’s origin for an audience of mid-60s kids. So they replaced the ship full of filmmakers with a family of scientific adventures named…Bond…just not that Bond. Continue reading

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X-Men (2000)
"What did you expect...a group shot full of action? Go back to your Rob Leifeld comics then, you posers,"

"What did you expect...a group shot full of action? Go back to your Rob Leifeld comics then, you posers,"

Now here’s a case study in adaption, a simultaneous example of how to successfully make a comic book movie and how to cock it up even as you’re supposedly doing “right” by both your fans and your studio backers. An unqualified box office success, X-Men ignited what I’ve come to call the Silver Age of Comic Book Movies, inaugurating trends and best practices that hamstring the genre to this day, despite elevating superhero flicks up to a level of respectability they’d never previously enjoyed…save, perhaps, for about a minute and a half there, after Tim Burton’s Batman.

Batman was a filmmaker’s film by a man who’s gone on to admit he’s never read a comic book in his life. (“Which,” as Kevin Smith put it, “explains Batman.”) At least X-Men‘s Bryan Singer had the good since to claim making his “comic book” movie helped him see the light. Before this, Singer was known for one decent thriller (Unusual Suspects) and one half-decent Stephen King adaption (Apt Pupil). Seeking to do a sci-fi picture, he nonetheless turned X-Men down three times…until producer Avi Arad convinced him to actually read the damn books…and watch some of the wonderful animated series Arad brought to Fox Kids for five season’s in the 90s. Continue reading



Willard (1971)
January 1, 2001, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Movies, Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

For some reason I can’t possibly fathom, people hate rats. I mean, sure, they spread the Black Plague through Europe casing a famine that wiped out thirty millions people over the course of several centuries, but come on! Were those peasants really all that important to history? I ask you…Never had a problem with rats myself. Not as long as they’re relatively clean. (Those big brown ones that crawl around in industrial waste can just stay the hell away from me, thank you very much.) Thankfully, rats in today’s movie are some of the cleanest vermin I’ve ever seen.

Willard centers around a boy named (did you guess?) Willard (Bruce “Senator Kelly” Davison in his second feature role). Willard is, in technical, psychological terminology, about ready to fucking snap. Willard’s Evil Boss, Mr. Martin (Ernest Borgnine) stole the shipping company Willard works for from Willard’s father…somehow. Consequently, he hates the Willard with a passion. Also, Willard’s mother (Elsa Lanchester) is a dotting leech who (gladly) dies before the halfway mark. {More}