King Kong Escapes 1967 ***

With the current monsterverse toplined by Godzilla and King Kong seemingly running out of steam before it gets started, it’s fun to look back to a more low-fi time. The success of Toho’s Godzilla franchise led to exhuming the rights to the 1933 King Kong, and then reworking it so that there’s a fair fight at the end. So we still have an expedition to a remote island, called Mondo here, and we still have a giant ape who falls in love with a comely Susan (Linda Jo Miller). But there’s a new and absurd frame; Kong is working for the mysterious Dr Who (Hideyo Amamato) who, alongside Madame Piranha (You Only Live Twice’s Mie Hama) is hoping to use Kong to replace his Mechani-Kong, a metal replica of the ape. King Kong Escapes is much like many of Ishiro Honda’s films, good to look at if patchy in effects by today’s standard, although some of the models are delightful. But Mechani-Kong steals the show here, walking like a wrestler, with big boggly eyes and a metal smile that suggest an invention of Wallace and Gromit in the vein of Crow T Robot, he’s a wonderfully silly creation that causes mirth every second he’s on screen. With Kong looking somewhat threadbare, Mechani-Kong is considerably more amusing here than anything in the Pacific Rim series so far.


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