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Showing posts from December, 2005

Rating Systems and That Darned Third Rule

I'm taking some time out of my busy Kong schedule to conclude the year, and my first three months of blogging, with a couple of features that I promised to post, but have thus far failed to fulfill. This would be the explanation of my #9 Ratings System, and the grand unveiling of the third of my Movie Attendance Mottos.

THE #9 RATINGS SYSTEM
I find that 4-and-5 numbered ratings systems, however starred, ticketed, monkeyed, breasted or whatever gimmick you might wish to employ to display it, are too truncated for my purposes. Too tight. I need room to spread out. The other standby is the #10 system, but I find that slightly too, too long. Roger Ebert goes with a #2 system on his show, thumbs up or thumbs down, but in his column he resorts to a 4 star system, which is actually a #7 system once you count his 1/2 ratings. I chose to roll with a system based on 9, with the list broken into three sections:
9: Classic
8: Excellent 7: Very Good
6: Good (Above Average) 5: Average 4: Bad (Below Ave…

Well, What'dya Know! A Little Kong! [The Ballad of Kong Pt. 8]

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[Kong crazy? Read Pt. 1Pt. 2Pt. 3Pt. 4Pt. 5Pt. 6 and Pt. 7 too!]


The general consensus regarding sequels is that they are invariably disappointing. The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part 2 are generally considered by most critics of note as being those rare exceptions, actually not just equaling their progenitors, but also slyly improving on their respective formulae in many ways.

Such is not the case with The Son of Kong, the quickie buck-grabber that RKO squatted out late in 1933 after Baby Kong's Big Daddy took the world for the biggest cinematic thrill ride yet seen at that point in history. It rides the usual course of sequels, especially those that attempt to follow the successful first film too quickly to grab those too appealing consumer dollars. The original KingKong took a couple years to plan and produce, so it is not surprising that a followup jammed into theatres only a few months later was not going to fulfill the promise of the first one.

The only rea…

My Corns Always Hurt When They're Near A Monster! [The Ballad of Kong Pt. 7]

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[Want more Kong? Read Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt. 5, and Pt. 6 first!]

Let's get this straight right from the beginning: Even in a flat-out test of pure strength, Godzilla is going to nail King Kong to the wall. Godzilla, even in his clownish hero persona of the late '60s-early '70s, is still going to clean the clock with the mighty Kong. Godzilla, even at the lowest estimates of his height (say around 200') is still several times bigger than the true Kong, who ranges from 25 to 50 feet, depending on the scene in which he appears.
Remember, Godzilla is sung about in the theme song to the '70s Hanna-Barbera cartoon series as being "40 stories high". Using ten feet as an average for a story in a building, that's 400 feet tall right there, people. Even at half that size, Godzilla can easily step on Kong and then scrape him off his foot onto Mt. Fuji, if he chose, and I haven't even begun to factor in his radioactive breath, which is far more effect…

Recently Rated Movies #10: Before the Kiss, A Recap...

Before I got lost in the Happy Holidays Blizzard of Insanity, and before I got mentally trapped yet again on Skull Island for the last month or so, I had been regularly posting my movie ratings. I've also been bad about keeping notes on the films that I've been watching, so I probably have left a handful of titles out.

It has now been almost a month since my last batch of freshly viewed titles, so I will make this quick and painless. Which means that, for once, I will say very little. I did have things to elaborate on for many of these movies, but that will now have to wait for a later time.

All I know right now, is that "I want to be a producer!"

The List:
Bride and Prejudice (2004) - 7
Pride and Prejudice (2005) - 7
King Kong (1933) (DVD) - 9
Son of Kong (1933) (DVD) - 6
Mighty Joe Young (1949) (DVD) - 8
Where the Buffalo Roam (1980) (Sundance) - 5
The Hulk (2003) (Sci-Fi) - 4
Millions (2005) (DVD) - 7
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) - 7
De…

Video Kong the Second [The Ballad of Kong Pt. 6]

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[Did you know this is part of a series? Read Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4 and Pt. 5 first!]

About a year after I finally acquired a prerecorded version of the 1933 King Kong on videotape, I ran into a second version, this time from a company called Nostalgia Merchant. As far as I can tell, a lot of Republic and RKO films came out under this label, and through the 1980s, I ended up with many of their tapes, including the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Plan 9 from Outer Space, the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Thing From Another World, Mighty Joe Young, Son of Kong, the Randolph Scott version of The Last of the Mohicans, Invaders from Mars, and my very first copy of Citizen Kane.

It certainly wasn't the cover of this second copy that sold it to me. The cover was far more garishly colored than my RKO Classics tape; in fact, the cover beheld a colorization of the classic image of Kong's feet gripping the top of the Empire State Building, biplane in hand as…

Video Kong the First [The Ballad of Kong Pt. 5]

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[Stop! Have you read Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3 or Pt. 4? Well, you should...]

After the summer of 1977 and the couple of summers that followed, where I saw it regularly a couple of times a year, I only ran into King Kong sporadically after that. Odd televised airings of the movie on Saturday afternoons or late night here and there. But with the addition of cable television to my life, I would search constantly for a viewing of the movie, and finally captured the great beast on videotape when I recorded a WTBS airing. This tape became like unto a holy object for me for the next few years, as poor a quality as it happened to be, and I cherished it wholeheartedly. That is, I did until 1985.

I had started out working in the Hallmark warehouse of a news agency in Alaska (or rather, the news agency in Alaska, and in a moment of superlative marketing clarity, such a business happened to be named the Alaska News Agency). Actually, I worked for the Book Cache, a chain of stores that were owned by the …

Yes, Jack! A Prehistoric Beast... Let's Kill It! [The Ballad of Kong Pt. 4]

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[Before stomping on any further, read Pt. 1, Pt. 2, and Pt. 3 here...]


Getting back to the real Kong, once I managed, with great difficulty it seems, to sneak around the readily apparent charms of Fay Wray, there was still the matter of the dinosaurs, my raison d'être for wishing to view the original 1933 version of King Kong again in the first place. Besides seeing the original Kong three years earlier, I had filled the dinosaur void in my soul with other films featuring the prehistoric creatures. 
My first experience with dinosaurs on film was like to have been The Beast of Hollow Mountain, which I saw at the age of five and which served to solidify my dinosaur love. In the previous summer of 1976, I had discovered Ray Harryhausen'sThe Valley of Gwangi for the first time and found myself unable to function at all for a few weeks. At that time, I never really knew the connection between both of those films and Kong until much later (both Beast and Gwangi, which feature battles …

Some Gigantic, Turned-On Ape... [The Ballad of Kong Pt. 3]

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[Before traipsing deeper into the jungle, read Pt. 1 and Pt. 2...]



A side-trip to another Kong: As I hinted at briefly before, something else happened in the summer of '77 that didn't start out as having anything to do with King Kong, but ended up furthering my giant ape obsession regardless. Star Wars fever had slammed into the earth like a meteor, and my brothers and I were no exceptions to the rest of humanity that year. I had already read the paperback novelization (with the original, purplish Ralph McQuarrie-painted cover released the winter before, not the gold-colored movie poster-draped cover that was in circulation that summer) five times, I had the first couple issues of the comics, and was already buying the trading cards. I was a primed and raring-to-go convert to the Lucas cult before I had even stepped into the theatre.

Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for our parent's pocketbooks, we lived in a town without a movie theatre. In fact, we lived a good fiftee…

Say... I Guess I Love You... [The Ballad of Kong Pt. 2]

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[Before plodding forward, read Part 1 of this article here.]

So... you finally end up taking that long ocean voyage back to the legendary Skull Island, whose mysteries have built up in your youthful imagination in the three years since you last saw it, and you know that from the tales that you have heard and from the pictures that you have seen that the dinosaurs and pterosaurs and plesiosaurs that you will encounter will be bigger and grander than you remember them. But before you can finally make landfall on the beach of that much vaunted island, there is the not-so-small matter of making that voyage through thousands of miles of dangerous, barely charted waters. Such voyages take a lot of time -- at the beginning of the 1933 King Kong, it takes somewhere in the vicinity of twenty minutes or so -- and you don't know if you can stand the wait any longer.

But then the strangest thing happens during that seemingly endless twenty minutes while you wait to finally see the monsters and …

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