Wednesday, May 02, 2007


King Kong Appears in Edo

This is just one more reason why, if Jess Nevins didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him.
I know there are worse blows to cineastes than this: the full, ten hour-long version of Greed, say, or the German version of Metropolis, not to mention the films of Theda Bara.

And yet I mourn, more than those, the loss of Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu, a.k.a. King Kong Appears in Edo. Made in either 1934 or 1938--there are contradictory references on this--it was released in 1938 and was arguably Japan's first kaiju movie.

What did it have, besides Kong? A hunchback, expressionistic architecture, a hunchback, Kong fighting a giant bumblebee, and Kong fighting an enormous ant lion.

This wasn't the only pre-WW2 Japanese King Kong movie; there was also Wasei Kingu Kongu (1933) and Kingu Kongu Zenkouhen (1938), the latter featuring a Kong-versus-samurai throwdown. But neither of those had Kong fighting giant monsters or the surreality of Kong climbing on Dr. Caligari-style architecture.
Having been the one to find it, Jess obviously had dibs on this one. But I'll admit that it's cross-polinating interestingly with a half-idea I hae about sixteenth-century explorer Filippo Pigafetta's Relatione del reame di Congo, better known by its Latin title, Regnum Congo (which is cited in Huxley's "On the Natural History of Man-like Apes", and from there ends up referenced in Lovecraft's "The Picture in the House"). Or else the story about how the volcanic island Helekea from Set the Seas on Fire--after nearby US atom bomb tests in the post-war years widen the existing fissures between our world and other continua--ends up home to a host of extradimensional creatures.

But come on! King Kong in feudal Japan?! How awesome is that?

No, no, I don't consider it mine. It's Intellectual Public Domain, as far as I'm concerned. Go wild with it!
This is marvelous -- just what we need is King Kong and samurai. It's like Tarzan and the Foreign Legion only with extra value added of the Big Ape. Hey -- just got email from TwoMorrows that the preview PDF is up for their Comics Gone Ape! book coming out next week:

Some good Tarzan, Tarzan knockoffs, and good ape stuff just in this PDF. I've had my order in for a while.
I realize now that I was thinking about ERB's The Mucker and not the WWII-era Tarzan and the Foreign Legion. In the latter, Tarzan encounters modern Japanese soldiers in the Dutch East Indies. In The Mucker, the main characters (the titular Mucker, Billy Byrne, and Barbara Hastings) are marooned on an uncharted South Seas island, Yoka, and captured by degenerate head hunters descended from Samurai ruled by their Daimo.
Whether Mucker or Tarzan, Stu, if you add a giant gorilla to the mix, that's gold, so far as I'm concerned.

And thanks for the heads up about the TwoMorrows Ape book. Been looking forward to that one for a while.
French sf writer Xavier Maumejean's League of Heroes (Black Coat Press)refers to one of Tarzan's adventures being on Skull Island. Love to read that one.
from the timeline in the book:
April - LOH #11. The Giant Gorilla of Sumatra. Lord Greystoke lands on Skull Island, off the western coast of Sumatra. But its native cannibals are the least of the threats that await him..."
League of Heroes is awesome, isn't it? My review of it is here if you've any interest in seeing it.
I keep hoping that Black Coat will get around to doing a English language edition of the sequel.

I kept wondering if the "Kid Colt" of the novel was based on the comic book character.
'King Kong Appears in Edo' is a hoax! The film never existed. You've been had!
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