King Kong (1933)



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The mission statement of this blog has been and will always be very simple. To look through the vast genre of shows and movies that star giant monsters and robots and to be as inviting as I can with those who are new to this area. To hopefully steer them in a direction that helps in getting the most enjoyment from the media that they possible can. To this end I make it a point to take the time to review movies that may be thought of as ancient to some but are still staples in the genre. Today we have a film that became pivotal as not only a giant monster movie but as a milestone in cinema history.

Filmmaker Carl Denham is about to cast off to the mysterious Skull Island to shoot a film and casts a young girl named Ann Darrow to be his leading lady. As they sail Ann starts to fall in love with Jack, the first mate of the ship. As they arrive on Skull Island they find that a large gate has been erected and the villagers want Ann as a sacrifice to the monster behind the wall. Soon Ann is kidnapped and offered to King Kong, the Eight Wonder of the World.

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This film grabs you from the start and keeps you engaged until the end. Beginning with the stirring music of the overture and the busy streets of New York we watch as a team is put together for a simple movie shoot. From there we are taken to an island untouched by civilization and bare witness to creatures that were thought lost to time itself. We watch what happens when we try to bring a beast from this lost world back and the terrible ramifications that come from it. It is true entertainment.

One of the best points when looking at this film is the stop motion. It is a site to behold. The dinosaurs that the crew encounters, that Kong fights, and Kong himself look incredible and when you realize that every movement had to be taken frame by frame, it will truly blow your mind. I’d gush over it more but I would much prefer that you go out and experience this film for yourself.

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The film is not without some bad points though. Fay Wray’s screaming is high pitched to say the least. Her performance even gave birth to a legacy of characters known as Scream Queens, whose sole purpose was to look attractive for the audience and scream in terror. There also is the cheesy acting from Ann and Jack as they are flirting which was even poked at with love in the 2005 remake. Still, these are minor issues that don’t subtract from the film as a whole.

For those who are complaining that you don’t want to see the movie because its in black and white, you need to grow up. A lot of classic film is in black and white or has a poor color scheme to it but the films themselves still need to be seen. If you can’t handle watching the film, you might want to ask if your really in it for the long haul as a movie buff.

The original King Kong is a film that live up to the hype and acclaim surrounding it. The fact that the film has been parodied and referenced so many times is evidence to the effect that the film has had on the world. Any giant monster fan needs to take the time to watch the original film and appreciate the greatness that helped to start a legacy of movies and movie creators that came from watching and bearing witness to the greatness that was this film. Kong truly is the Eighth Wonder of the World.

RATING: A

 

Clash of the Titans


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I was originally on the fence on whether to write this review for the blog. I questioned if it really fit into the general message of “all things big” that I set for myself. Eventually I realized that this film has one of the most iconic American giant monsters in it and was definitely one worth talking about. I present to you dear readers, the epic known as Clash of the Titans.

The young son of Zeus, Persues grows up unaware of his heritage. It is only when he falls in love with Andromeda, a cursed princess that his world turns upside down. Now to protect the woman he loves from the behemoth know as the Kraken, Perseus must journey across the globe and back to obtain the head of Medusa, whose stone gaze is the only thing that would slay the unstoppable beast and save Andromeda.

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The greek mythology and more adventurous tone to the movie is what threw me off. Once you break the down the plot it becomes incredibly clear how much of a Kaiju storyline it really is. The hero is introduce, the giant monster attacks, the hero develops and tries to find a why to stop the monster and a final showdown occurs between the hero and he monster. That’s the basic recipe with a Kaiju movie but its what is added to the recipe that really makes it some movies stand out from other. The secret ingredient in this film: Ray Harryhausen. The special effects master brings his trademark stop motion animation in full force and showcases creature not easily replicated or reproduced (yes that was a jab at the remake). The Kraken looks imposing and deadly from the first moment he is on the screen. Of course the first moment he is on the screen he is destroying an entire city so it really reinforces his look.

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Persues is a pretty good hero to watch fight against all the incredible monsters that appear in this film but I would be in the wrong if I didn’t mention Bubo, the robot owl. This cute little guy is the unofficial mascot of the movie and serves to lend aid when he can to the team. I remember watching this movie and thinking, man I’d love to have a Bubo of my own. I wonder if they make replicas. Also, there’s Pegasus the winged horse. Not much of a fan but I know winged ponies are all the rage today right people?

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This film remains a classic that any Kaiju or just movie fan needs to see sometime in their life. The special effects truly are intense and will help someone to truly see the joy that can come from stop motion animation. It’s also one of the most well know interpretations of Greek Mythology on film. More recent generations probably would know the Disney animated Hercules movie more, but I’m pretty sure I should stay away from that one. Or should I? Let me know in the comments.

Rating: A

Earth vs. the spider (1958)



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We now come to my greatest weakness when it comes to Giant Monsters. As a recap number three on the list was the American Giant monster movies and number two was the Ultraman franchise. Hands down my greatest weakness in the giant monster fandom is Giant Spider films. 

Yes for me once a spider gets bigger than the size of a silver dollar I high tale it out of the room. It took multiple viewings of Return of the King before I got fully accustomed to seeing Shelob on the screen. I literally squirmed in my seat during the Desolation of Smaug when the group gets captured by the spiders. That on the table you can understand that there will not that many film reviews of Giant Spider movies. Today’s review though is and I’ll explain later what made me decide to watch this particular film. 

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Carol is worried about when her father doesn’t come home the previous night. When she and her boyfriend Mike go investigating they only to find a giant Tarantula. They inform the police who find the creature and decide to use poison against it. After knocking the monster unconscious, its taken to the local High School for holding until they can transport it to a university for study. What they don’t know is that the spider isn’t done by a long shot and the town doesn’t realize that the Spider will be ready for round 2 soon.

This movie has a lot of plot holes that are impossible to overlook. First off they don’t explain at all how the spider grows to its incredible size. They just discover a giant spider and they have to deal with it. Also, the police got on board with believing the kids a bit too quick. The spider probably should have taken a few more victims for the authorities to really get their collective butts in gear. 

Also, can we talk about these insane high school students for a second. How desperate are these kids for entertainment that they would be able to overlook the corpse of a huge spider and start to swing dance? Personally if I heard such a huge beast existed I would make sure to move at least three states away from wherever that thing ever was. No telling if it left eggs behind or not. My fear of giant spiders aside this movie isn’t really that threatening. The spider itself only really gets to kill like two people and web up a town. For the most part he’s really more of an inconvenience than he is is a threat. 

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It wasn’t really a bad movie but its just so bland. If it wasn’t for my arachnophobia the movie wouldn’t have bothered me at all. I did enjoy the way they were finally able to dispatch the creature but still a good ending after sitting through a crap film will only get you so far. Hence the rating.

Rating: D

The Giant Gila Monster


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My third weakest point in my all things Gigantic Fandom would have to the American live action monster movies. The other two I’ll mention on other posts. Anyways, the American Giant Monster films are a category onto themselves. From their beginning with the original King Kong movie, their evolution into being the prized attraction at Drive-In Cinemas, and their eventually home on the TV movie and Direct to Video market makes this group of films an aspect of Monster Fandom in its category. Still, when I do find myself watching a noteworthy Giant Monster Film in this category I’ll make sure to do a review for this blog. Except for today where I will be reviewing a movie that comes off as “meh” at best.

When strange accidents start happening in a small town, a young mechanic known as Chase takes notice. Adding the Sheriff in the search for his lost friends, they keep noticing that accidents are occurring one after the other with little explanation. When a train is destroyed they find that the cause of the damage is a Giant Gila Monster. Will the Sheriff and Chase be able to stop this giant monster before it destroys the city? Yes, yes they will. 5730cbedee71ff72812b0f2d0e148462bfe39663-700

With American Giant monster movies, the whole concept is that you are generally afraid of the creature on screen will come to eat you in the middle of the night. Frankly, the Gila Monster just isn’t that scary to me. A real Gila Monster was used with models but they didn’t really showcase it going on that much of a rampage. Other than eating like three people, smashing a few cars, a train, and busting through a wall in a building the Giant Gila monsters ins’t that menacing. Kinda makes me wish they had found a way to actually capture the monster and study him. Of course few American Giant monster movies DON’T end with the titular monster getting killed off. It’s easier to just find a convenient stash of explosives and blow the monster to kingdom come.

The main character, Chase does come off as too much of a wonder boy. He’s works in a garage, is helping the family and his disabled sister, is always willing to go the extra mile to help someone out. Considering his hobby is street racing you would think that he would be a hot shot rebel who didn’t take no for an answer. Instead he comes off a boy scout which is a change from what you’d expect but he’s a bit on the bland side. He is the hero of the film and just happens to know where some nitroglycerin is to ensure that they have a way of killing the monster at the end of the film. I guess he might grow on a person after a few viewings or from seeing characters in other giant monster movies who are so self centered and foolish that they bring about their own demise.

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It’s not bad really. Some of the acting is dated and again Chase is too much of an all around nice guy but nothing truly drags the movie down into the depths of the gutter. Unfortunately nothing really raises this film onto the plateau of excellence, except for the fact I think that the Gila Monster (which I know was a live animal) was cool to look at. In the end the film just rests in the middle with a few out there that I know will give it the attention they feel it deserves.

Rating: C