NES Challenge: King Kong 2

Welcome back to Rotten Ink and another NES Challenge.  This time around in honor of my favorite giant movie monster King Kong coming back to the silver screen in “Kong: Of Skull Island,” I decided to try my luck at beating King Kong 2 from Konami on the good old RES! I am sure many of you are scratching your head and saying “King Kong 2 that was never made for the Nintendo, this must be a homebrew game!” This is only half true as the game was made by Konami for the Famicon in Japan and thanks to the team up of my friend Brett from Bad Or Rad, Pac N Sac Dave and Todd The Fox, I was able to get a custom version of this game that plays on all American systems and even has a custom box and label! So sit back, relax and take a trip with me as I look back on King Kong Lives and try to beat King Kong 2 on the good old RES!

So before we play the game, let’s discuss a little more about King Kong 2 that’s American title is King Kong Lives!

King Kong Lives (1986)

“A giant ape King Kong, which was shot and fell off the World Trade Center tower, appears to be alive, but is in coma for 10 years and desperately needs a blood transfusion in order to have an artificial heart implanted. Suddenly, in the rainforest, another gigantic ape is found – this time a female. She is brought to the USA, and the heart is successfully implanted. But then King Kong, having sensed the female ape, breaks loose.”

When I heard about a new King Kong movie in 1986, I was hyped as the giant monkey has always had a special place in my heart, but I would not get to see the film in theaters as my parents had no interest in seeing it.  In fact, my Dad made fun of the concept of King Kong living with a over sized pace maker. So I would not get to see it until it appeared on Home Video, and I will get to my thoughts after we touch a little on the films history and production. The De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, headed by the famed movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, decided that after the hit King Kong remake they made in 1976 the world needed a sequel ten years later, and so King Kong Lives was put into production and unleashed onto the movie going masses. The film had John Gullermin in the director’s chair again as he was for the 1976 remake, and the film cast such actors as Linda Hamilton, Brian Kerwin, John Ashton and Michael Forest and had a huge marketing campaign around it before and during its release. The film’s score was done by John Scott and is solid work; while not memorable, it’s still good. The film was a major flop when released in theaters, and critics and fans both panned the film for the silly storyline and its overall “boring” nature. Famed and respected film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 1 out of 4 stars and as of this update it holds a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes! The film had a budget of $18 million and only brought in $4,711,220.00 making it lose lots of cash.  It was # 113 of the year, only beating out such other cult films as “No Retreat, No Surrender”, “The Wraith”, “Deadtime Stories” and “Night Of The Creeps” at the box office. And while before it hit theaters it had a massive roar, once in it went out with a whimper.

When my parents rented King Kong Lives for my brother and I, I can remember I was pretty hyped to watch it as the box cover was amazing and had King Kong looking pissed off on it! When watching the film, I can remember my brother not being into it as I was glued to it with wonder.  While the film was not good, in my young mind it didn’t matter as on our TV screen was a new adventure of Kong! As a kid I always took that stand with bad movie sequels: at least we got to see the character again.  Sadly I still have that thought pattern to this day with some films like Halloween, which had some bad sequels under its belt, all of which I enjoy. After seeing King Kong Lives for the first time via a VHS rental, I would go on to watch it on cable tons of time as well as on TBS when shown edited for TV. And later on, I would go on to own it on both VHS and DVD and still dust this silly movie off from time to time and enjoy Kong’s rampage to save his lady. The things I really like about this film are that King Kong, Lady Kong and Son Of Kong look great for the time, and the rubber suits, while dated now, captured my young imagination! Another thing I liked about the film is the quick shot of actress Linda Hamilton’s boobs; as a kid that was always a highlight! I also liked the score music and the scenes when King Kong took on the army. The downside of this film for me was the fact that in many spots it does drag, and at times it seems to forget that viewers are watching to see King Kong.  The other part that’s silly is how they explain that Kong is still alive after falling off the World Trade Center and must have a pacemaker put in so that his heart will function, only to die of a heart attack in the end. While King Kong Lives is not a perfect sequel and is riddled with silly scripting and flaws, I still find it to be a fun entertaining film that I enjoyed from my past. If you have not seen it, go in with a clear mind and enjoy King Kong doing what he does best and that’s be a giant gorilla on a rampage.

While the film was a flop, it still sparked some merchandise that includes the film itself being released on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD. Plus the Famicom game “King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch” was released and entertained the gamers of Japan. Movie posters for the theaters and for video rental stores were made to try to entice movie watchers to check it out. The score soundtrack to the film found its way to vinyl, cassette and CD, and yes indeed, I own the CD and have played it on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO! These are just the items I can think of that came out based on this film, as I am sure other merchandise was made, official and unofficial! I wish at the time of release that a comic book adaptation, paperback novel and action figures were made as I would have loved to have owned them all. So if you’re a fan of King Kong Lives, there is some cool stuff that you should add to your collection.

In 1986, to go along with the film King Kong Lives, video game company Konami decided that the world was in need of a video game version.  So they made King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch to satisfy the demand from gamers in Japan that wanted a game based around the film. The game allows players to take control of King Kong as he goes on a rescue mission to save Lady Kong from the government scientist and must battle the army as well as other large creatures in a top down maze adventure that lasts for a total of nine levels. The goal of course is to rescue Lady Kong who is the love of your life and who also saved your life by giving blood when you were in a coma for 10 years. The game was not a major hit in Japan and never made it to the US for a release. I should also note that a game based on King Kong Lives was also made in 1986 for the MSX home computer called “King Kong 2: Yomigaeru Densetsu,” once more only for Japan and also made by Konami.  This time around you played as the human Mitchell, and it was a role playing game! While neither game set the world of video games on fire, they still left their mark for gamers who have played them.

So we have taken a look at King Kong Lives the movie, and we learned about the video game that I am about to challenge and hope to conquer! I have failed at trying to beat Werewolf: The Last Warrior and Adventures Of Bayou Billy for the NES, but I am going into this game with a positive attitude and the will to beat this game! So here it is, my NES Challenge: King Kong 2!

I selected the day March 7, 2017 to have my showdown as the weather outside was in the 50’s and rain fell most of the day with grey skies in between. After running a few errands that involved Sparkle Comics business I filled up my glass with water and heated up a chicken leg and was ready to save Lady Kong! Once settled into my chair I turned on my RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) and grabbed my NES Controller and was ready to save Lady Kong. I started my adventure and punched and jumped my way through what looks like a valley leading to a military base that is protected by green blobs and collected rocks and also found hidden doors! Each of these doors led Kong to a new area and finally to a giant bad guy who reminded me of a shell throwing shells! After dying and wandering around some more, I ended up finding a giant spider to get another key in my quest! My next challenge was fighting three green dragons who wanted me dead, but thanks to my trust rocks that was not on the menu! So far in the game I was feeling pretty good, while I did die a few times I was doing really well and collecting the keys and stomping out enemies with my punches, jumping stomps and rocks. I was also puzzled as to why the underground levels looked like the military base was an alien star ship, but I guess they needed to spice it up to make the video game pop more. After wandering around more and smashing and jumping over things I kept on my goal of collecting keys and smashing monsters! While wandering around the same areas and going into doors that lead nowhere was the majority of the game up to this point, I would get lucky and find a door that would lead to a enemy. The areas would change as I found myself also wandering the streets and smashing things, but mostly I found myself just jumping over bad guys to usher Kong into the next area and collecting more keys. Finally after a few hours of playing, I was lucky enough to make it to the end and fight three rows of giant robots that my rocks helped me smash through and after beating them I was at the door and rescued Lady Kong! In the end, I got a cool cut scene of King Kong and Lady Kong back on Skull Island and it shows Son Of Kong! Finally I did it! I conquered a NES Challenge and beat King Kong 2, and I find this to be a perfect way to celebrate the release of Kong Of Skull Island in theaters! While the game was somewhat of a challenge I found it to be more puzzling than hard as most of the game I found myself just wandering around looking for the right doors. The enemies of the game were hard with the final three rows of bosses being the most difficult. To sum it up, this game is worth playing if you like King Kong and movie tie-in games otherwise it would be very forgettable to most gamers besides diehard Kong fans. But once more I have to say…I did it!

The majority of this game offers the same enemies, blobs and helicopters, but some of the bosses at least put up a good fight! So here is to all of the military forces, the blobs and all the bosses that did their best to keep me away from rescuing Lady Kong. So while they didn’t stop me, here is to all the bad guys from this game who tried their best to keep me at bay; from the weird Shell Monster all the way to the three rows of suited assassins, thanks for making this game a challenge! Below are some pictures of the bad guys from King Kong 2, and I should also note NONE of these baddies are in the movie.

I also just wanted to touch up on one bit of King Kong bizarre news before we get to the comics.  For the premiere of Kong: Skull Island in Vietnam, they had a huge event planned that showcased live actors & dancers and a huge set complete with a 16 foot King Kong! There was dancing and a light show, and for the main attraction the giant King Kong was to shock and fill the crowd with wonder and excitement, but sadly it filled them with fear as King Kong burst into flames and became a towing inferno as the crowd fled the area while others armed with their cellphones took video and pictures of Kong burning to the ground! Lucky for everyone, no one was hurt, and the massive fire was put out 15 minutes after it started, but sadly by that time old King Kong was roasted and toasted. No one is sure how the fire started some say that it was caused by the heat from the lights, others claim that it was a misplaced torch from one of the actors on stage while others blamed Godzilla! One thing is for sure that while King Kong might have turned to ash his box office draw is legendary…you get it…never mind. Check out the picture below for the flaming Kong in all his glory.

So with a win under my belt, I think it’s time we put away the RES and turn our attention toward the main attraction of my blog the comic book reviews! While doing this update, I thought long and hard about which King Kong Comic series I wanted to tackle.  I really had three choices: the 1991 King Kong adaptation from Monster Comics, the 2007 mini series by Markosia or the current 2016 series going on by Boom, and to be honest, I almost considered the 2017 comic series by Legendary that ties into the film Kong Skull Island! After sitting and thinking about it all, I decided to go with the Markosia series called “Kong King Of Skull Island” as I felt it was a wise choice and added new adventures for King Kong to go in the comic book world. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for ordering me these issues years back for my pull file, and I can hear the Kong worshipers telling me to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready let’s walk away from the video game and head through the giant wooden gates and into the world of comics and see what King Kong has in store for us! I should also note that I really do love King Kong and when he clashes with Godzilla for Legendary Pictures in 2020, I will be cheering on the big gorilla as he has always been one of my favorite giant movie monsters, and that’s no disrespect to Godzilla as I love him as well….just not as much as Kong. Oh and I want to also alert you my friends and readers that this comic series is based on the novel by Joe DeVito who tried to sue Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures as he claimed they stole his idea for their movie from his book! Did they who knows but one things for sure I am looking forward to reading this comic series again and some issues for the first time!

Kong King Of Skull Island # 0  **
Released in 2007    Cover Price $1.99    Markosia    # 0 of 5

Carl Denham is on a massive ship on his way back to Skull Island after the events of New York that left King Kong dead and his reputation dragged through the mud and piled with lawsuits against him. His friend Englehorn is the Captain of the ship an they are remembering back to their first time on Skull Island when a pterodactyl attacks and picks up Denham and once over the ocean a giant sea monsters pops out of the water and attacks the pterodactyl causing Denham to plunge into the cold water below.

Issue 0 acts as a very small build up for the comic mini series and follows Carl Denham and Captain Englehorn heading back to Skull Island after King Kong was shot down and killed on top of the Empire State Building. While on this journey back dinosaurs attack and leave Denham floating in the ice cold water, leaving us the reader wondering how he will survive and just why he has left America in order to return to Skull Island. Carl Denham in this issue seems lost and upset over the death of Kong and all the lawsuits he faces from New York, but while down and out he seems very happy to be at sea along with his friend Captain Englehorn whom seems not to be judging him on the incident.   Captain Englehorn seems to be just along for the ride even if he doesn’t want to go near Skull Island again he is willing to do so to help his friend. This issue has some drama and action but is a little weak as with no Kong and mostly talking on the boat its does not have the “epic” feel that most King Kong comics and films have. The cover is eye catching and has Kong looking over Skull Island and the interior art done by Dan O’Connor is fantastic as is the story by Chuck Satterlee based on the novel work of Joe DeVito. Not much more to say about this very short issue 0 besides it good and does it’s best to build up the coming story.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 1  **1/2
Released in 2007     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 1 of 5

The year is 1957 and Vince Denham the son of Carl is a paleontologist who doubts that his dad’s discovery King Kong ever truly excited and was nothing more than a hoax. His friend Jack Driscoll witnessed Kong and tries his best to prove and tell what he knows about the event that shocked New York as Kong’s body has been missing and never seen again and he wants them both to travel to Skull Island and see the legend for himself. Jack Driscoll takes Vince to the island and things get bad when the massive ship takes some damage and needs major repairs. As Jack and some of the crew work on the ship Vince and others take a row boat to the island but don’t make it to shore when they are attacked by a underwater creatures that leaves the crew dead and Vince badly injured. Jack himself makes it to the Island and goes on a hunt to find Vince and comes across the bodies of past explores as Vince is having his wounds treated by a Islander story teller and her young female assistant and neither will tell Vince of his fathers whereabouts.

This first issue tries to bring us up to date on the characters from the classic film. Ann and Jack are now married and Jack owns his own shipping boats, Carl Denham has went missing some time back and his son Vince is wanting to find his father and get answers about King Kong. Captain Englehorn is also missing and no one seems to be on the look out for him. And King Kong’s body has gone missing after his tragic death in New York and some think he was nothing more than a hoax. The plot of this issue has Vince getting family friend Jack to take him to Skull Island to find answers and all he has found this far is wounds and weird Islanders who will not answer his questions. Vince Denham seems like a young man who had his life in order and loves his job as a paleontologist but also seems to have a black spot on his soul, as he really wants answers from his father who has vanished and left him and his mother to answer for the crimes he committed with Kong. Jack Driscoll is a man who is loyal to the Denham family and found his true love thanks to the original trip to Skull Island, he seems to be wise in age now but also loves the thrill of adventure. The Storyteller Islander seems to know more than she is sharing and I cant wait to see what her story is. The comic is very wordy and not much action happens till the end of the issue but it does a great job of setting up our story and introduce and reintroduce our cast of characters. This far I think my favorite character is Jack Driscoll as I find him to be the classic hero type and knowing what he has been through thanks to the movie he is just a great classic character. The cover for this issue is eye catching and has Kong beating up a giant snake and the interior art is done by Dan O’Connor and has a classic comic feel that brings this story to life. Over all this first issue is lots of fun and like issue # 0 is a great way to build the mini series. Lets see what adventure issue two has in store for us.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 2   **1/2
Released in 2007      Cover Price $3.99       Markosia       # 2 of 5

Vince’s fever from his wounds has broken and The Storyteller and her assistant Kara show Vince a old statue of Kong and she decides to tell him a story of the past the was about one of the Islands Princesses who wants to save her people and bring peace and the old wall’s gate being struck by lighting and man eating creatures called Deathrunners escaped and how the young Princess became friends with The Storyteller, but this does not interest Vince who wants to know about his father and Kong. Meanwhile Jack must fight his way through the jungle and even must kill a giant lizard with a stick! Vince soon finds that Kara hates him and wanted him to die in the water as The Storyteller stops her rant and gears up to share more of the story of the past.

This second issue is once more very wordy and packs some action and adventure but is more about the story of the past and Vince wondering why he is hated so much by one of his rescuers. This issues plot has Vince regaining his strength and listing to a tale from The Storyteller who is speaking of the wall, the political tribe tension as well as Kong. And all the while we follow Jack who is trying to find Vince and is trying his best to survive the jungle. While the story this far is interesting I am also getting a little annoyed that we are only getting brief moments of King Kong in flashbacks and I for one want more of him and less of long winded story telling of events of the past. I mean a book about Kong should have more than a few panels of Kong over the course of three issues at this point. The only other funny thing I noticed in this issue is that Vince seems to be more of a whiner and is very concerned why Kara dislikes him and less about the fact every one on the rowboat with him is dead. We also get to see Deathrunners strange lizard like creatures who clearly eat humans and they are pretty cool but again have very little panel time. Not much more to say about this issue besides more plot build up, less action and adventure and the cover is great and show Kong beating up Dinosaurs. Oh and the interior art is done by Dan O’Connor and is still great. Lets just move on to issue three and see if we get more stories or more action.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 3   **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 3 of 5

Vince Denham listens as The Storyteller gives him a little more of the story as in the past a tribes holy man is wanting to give human sacrifice to a giant lizard they named Gaw, this does not set well with the Princess who along with her lover a warrior head into the jungle to find herbs that they think will make the giant beasts tamable. As they get deeper into the jungle they come upon a young Kong and his father under attack by Gaw and Deathrunners and after a brief fight the larger father Kong is killed and the young escapes into the jungle with Gaw and his minions hot on his tail. The Princess and The Warrior move a little further and find a ship and white men looking for help! As she tells this Kara enters and is mad that The Storyteller is given all this information to Vince as she still thinks he is a bad person and will bring more explores to their island. While all this story telling is going on Jack is still roaming around looking for the son of his friend and is getting closer to his goal.

The story telling continues and this issues plot has the Princess and her warrior boyfriend traveling to the jungle in order to find some herbs they think will help make the giant monsters around them more controllable, but some of the tribes are starting to worship the giant monsters as Gods and worst the one named Gaw has made Skull Island his and even has killed a Kong and is on the hunt for a smaller one. All the while Vince is listing to The Storytellers tale and is also still on watch as Kara truly wishes him dead. So as you can see we get more tribe politics but we do also finally get a quick Kong fight that leaves one of them dead and shows that our books main villain is an evil reptile killing machine. Vince at this point is getting a little stronger but is brain is now an open to the tales of the old woman as he is trying to understand the history of the island and how his father ties in. Jack is still just stuck in the jungle looking for his friend and is doing his best to survive. The Storyteller and Kara are at odds with one another over how much they should share with Vince, but the while at odds respect is still in play. The Princess and The Warrior while in the past are doing what they can in order so save peoples lives as the primitive ways are trying to come back and with that means human sacrifice. The two Kong’s are father and son and while strong the father is just out numbered and killed as the younger giant ape is now on the run and I am sure he will be the one we will later know as King Kong. The Gaw is a red skinned lizard giant monster who is brutal and attacks with fury and worse the Deathrunners seem to help him bring down his prey. While we do get some action and adventure this issue is much like the others and more about the story of the Island and I am ok with that I just hope we get a great fight in the end between Gaw and Kong. I must say the cover for this issue is very eye catching and is sure to please fans of King Kong but the interior art this time around is done by artist Scott Larson and I must say I am not a fan of his style of art as I found it sloppy and not able to capture the epic nature of Kong and the world of Skull Island. While this issue is not amazing it still was fun and for all the lack of Kong action I am enjoying the tale of Skull Island and lets see what issue four has in store.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 4  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia      # 4 of 5

The Storyteller continues her tale of the past to Vince as she shares that the white sailors where lead by Captain Magwich and their boat was in need of major repair and they are welcomed in by the villagers who in turn ask them for help to capture the last Kong. The Warrior and the sailors enter the jungle and disappear for awhile but finally return with the captured young Kong. The Holy Man still pushes for human sacrifice and with one they set up Gaw and pour super hot boiling oil on him and this also sets the captured Kong off who breaks free and rushes into the jungle looking for a final fight. Sadly for the Princess her father the King has passed away and her people are still at odds as the Holy Man and the Sailors are still around and could be ready to cause problems. Meanwhile in modern times Jack wonders the jungle and soon finds tribe people who have a Kong under their control and he himself is now taken captive and lead to Vince who is happy to see his long time family friend and for the major surprise The Storyteller takes him to see his father Carl who has lived this whole time on the island!

This time around the story is how in the past the islanders captured the young Kong in order to control and defend them from Gaw who has been their tormentor for way to many years, but also how outsiders are starting to influence some of the people and with their firearms they could help the Holy Man gain control of the island. All the while Vince is hearing this history lesson and by the end of this issue Vince is reunited with both Jack and his father Carl. The Storyteller and Kara seem less at odds and seem to get slight joy of letting Vince see his father again. I really like how the outsiders are a factor now in the past storyline as it’s clear they could tip the scales into the favor of what ever side they decide to take if they take any by the end. I also enjoy the fact that the Princess is the only one who showed the young Kong compassion and brought him food, drink and tended his wounds from being captured. I also like how the villager’s fights back against Gaw and catch him on fire with oil and this also makes you wonder what he will do in the next issue for revenge against them for turning on him. It’s nice to have Carl Denham back into the story and see him and Jack Driscoll reunited as it gives a real classic feel to see the films two main heroes together again. Kong while he does not do much its still great to at least have him around and know that in the final issue coming up he is going to have a battle to the death with Gaw! The cover for this one is awesome just like the all the covers that came before it. The Interior art is a team up of Dan O’Connor and Scott Larson with the later’s sloppy art sticking out like a sore thumb. Over all a good issue while nothing special I found it to be a good read that made me look forward to the Kong vs. Gaw final fight, so with that lets move onto the final issue.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 5  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 5 of 5

Carl Denham and son Vince exchange words and son is not happy with his father as he feels that he left him and his mother to deal with the drama of King Kong, but The Storyteller calms everyone down and they all enter Skull Islands skull cave and find that Carl brought the remains of King Kong with him to return him home! Meanwhile in the past The Queen finds the herbs that helps tame the beasts in the lost city but she and her people also soon find that Captain Magwich have other ideas that is not about helping them kill Gaw but to help himself to the islands gold! But when the Holy Man finds out that the sailors have turned on them he summons Gaw who kills the Captain and turns his sights on the others but they humans are saved when King Kong shows up and kills Gaw and ends his path of revenge! When back at the village The Warrior is killed, The Holy Man rises to full power and The Princess goes into hiding and has become The Storyteller and she shares that Carl has been writing their stories down and when he is about to get praise they find that he has died in his sleep. Vince and Jack return to the fixed ship and they sail home and Vice has a new respect for his father and Skull Island.

In this fifth and final issue we get every storyline from this series tied up, King Kong’s body has been brought back to Skull Island, Vince finds his father and gets the answer as to why he has been missing all these years, Carl has spend years helping the Islanders teaching them English as well and taking down their story, Jack gets out of the jungle and finds his missing friends and The Storyteller passes down the tales and lets Kara know that she is now Queen of the people! This comic is more drama than adventure and while the story was lots of fun I really did wish for more King Kong fighting action. King Kong in this comic series goes from being a frightened youth to a vengeful fighting machine and while not in the mini series that much when he is shown he demands the reader’s attention. Vince and Carl Denham serve their parts in the story as two outsiders to Skull Island whom are trying to find answers and peace and must find it not only with the people of the island but also with each other. Jack Driscoll is a man who is friends with the Denham family and even when the odds of survival looks grim he still never gives up. Captain Englehorn we are to guess has died on the island as besides issue # 0 he never makes an appearance. The Storyteller and Kara as well both have a purpose to the story as they are tools to share the past as well as share forgiveness and fear as Kara is clearly fearful of what the white man can bring to their island. The Holy Man and most of the Sailors from the past as well show that greed and power can make people do sinister and evil things to benefit themselves. Gaw the giant god lizard was also a very evil beast who ruled Skull Island with an iron claw and seemed to get joy out of killing, so its fitting that he is killed by Kong by being impaled! What worked for this comic mini series based on a book is the fact it had a fun story that opened up the past and history of King Kong as well as Skull Island plus most of the characters are likeable and all feel like golden age Hollywood stars. The downside of this series is that in some parts is boring, not enough King Kong and some issues the art is blah! This issue has yet another amazing cover but the inside art was done by Scott Larson and is a little weak for the final fate of our characters. To sum this up this comic mini series based on King Kong and a book is a good read for fans of Kong but does have flaws that distract from what could have been an epic four star comic adventure. Check out the artwork below to see the styles used in this comic series for King Kong and Gaw that has both artists work.

I have always had a soft spot for Giant Monster movies and grew up watching them on TBS and shows like Super Scary Saturday and while I love Godzilla I have always had a place at the top of my heart for King Kong and with the release of “Kong Of Skull Island” to theaters this year I knew I had to revisit the giant ape here on Rotten Ink and I am glad I did as I have had this comic series in my boxes since they came out and never got around to reading the full series. But for our next update I am leaving Skull Island and heading to the golden age of comic book heroes as we take a look at the one and only Red Demon a sadly mostly forgotten hero from the late 1940’s! So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, see you back very soon for our look at Red Demon.

Advertisements

The 8th Wonder Of Giant Classic Comics King Kong

My mother was 7 or 8 when she attempted to watch the 1933 film King Kong with her mom when it aired on TV.  She watched as a group set out to sea to make a movie and landed on an island, and when King Kong showed up just the sight and sound of the beast scared her enough to make her hide behind her mom’s chair! She would peek around the corner and shiver in fright of the sight of the giant ape. Way before the gross out films of the 60’s made by the likes of Hershel Gordon Lewis became the norm in what’s “scary” about horror films, the likes of a giant ape with a love for blondes paved the way and terrified the young and old. While many not consider it a horror film, I have always viewed it as one as King Kong is a giant ape creature that caused panic not only on his home island but also New York, and he does kill and eat humans so yeah, it spells horror film to me. I saw the film when I was about 7 or 8, the same age she first saw it, and I can remember my Mom telling me about her first viewing and this set the bar very high as I sat down on the couch ready to watch it alongside my parents and my brother on a VHS that we rented from Waynesville’s library. From the moment the film started, I was hooked on every word and when Kong showed up I became a fan, and to me every gorilla toy became King Kong. The watch with my family was a great one and was one of many fun family night of watching a flick on the old VCR while eating popcorn and being entertained. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away of the film as that will happen as we review the Gold Key comic adaptation a little later on so I will give you the cliff notes version. The film is about a filmmaker and some sailors who take a fresh faced new actress to an island were the natives take her to appease King Kong, a giant gorilla who rules the land.  They save her and also take Kong to New York as a stage attraction, and he escapes running wild in the city until he is killed in the end. It’s an amazing classic film with special effects that were way ahead of their time.  If you have not seen this film, do yourself a favor and watch it!

King Kong 1933 1King Kong 1933 PosterKing Kong 1933 2

In the 1980’s Ted Turner owned Turner Classic Movies wanted to do something fresh and new to King Kong so they did the unthinkable…. they colorized it! To be honest it seemed like an odd kick Turner was on, taking old classic black and white films and turning them into color films to air on his classic movie station, and on the top of the list that sparked the most debate was what they did to King Kong. I can remember that my mom and dad were not pleased that they messed with a classic film this way, but being so young I was a little curious to see what the classic Kong would look like in color. I seen the color version after the black and white and still preferred the original to the tampered with version. King Kong was the first movie on VHS that I owned two versions of as I had to own them both, and I would say I watched the black and white more than I did the colorized one that I got dirt cheap brand new at Blockbuster Video.

King Kong 1933 Color 1King Kong 1933 Color VHSKing Kong 1933 Color 2

Now if you look at King Kong as a horror film like I do, then you would have to look at Fay Wray as the original scream queen, and she proves she has a set of lungs as she screams her head off at the first site of Kong. She began her acting career making short films and making westerns for Universal but left once she became a WAMPAS Baby Stars meaning she was listed as an actress to watch. As a teenager Wray was signed to a contract with Paramount Pictures where she made over a dozen films like the failure 1928 silent film The Wedding March.  Wray was able to make the transition from silent to talkie films and left Paramount to make other films for other companies, the most notable being RKO that hired her for her first horror films like Doctor X, The Most Dangerous Game and her most famous film King Kong.  She was proud of her work in Kong and that film saved RKO from going bankrupt! During that time as well she was in a few other horror films like The Vampire Bat and Mystery In The Wax Museum. By the 1940’s, Wray retired briefly from acting but came back to make more films and take TV parts being on such shows as Perry Masson and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Wray continued to act for many years and even turned down a part in James Cameron’s 1997 smash hit film Titanic. Sadly at the age of 96 Fay Wray passed away of natural causes in 2004 while she slept.  After her passing, the Empire State Building shut off all its lights for 15 minutes to honor her legacy. Wray was a true beauty, a talented actress and could possibly be the first scream queen of cinema.

"King Kong"Fay Wray1933 RKO**I.V.fay wray 2fay wray 3

Because King Kong was such a huge hit at the box office, a sequel was made in 1933, coming out only 9 months after the original. The film follows the film director from the first film who is now in hot water for King Kong running wild in New York and travels to find that the giant ape might have had an offspring.  That film was called Son of Kong! In Japan in 1962, they made a film called King Kong vs. Godzilla where they pit the world’s top giant monsters against each other, and in 1967 they made another King Kong film called King Kong Escapes that has our lovable Kong fighting a robot version of himself called Mecha Kong. Paramount Pictures in 1976 decided to make a remake of King Kong and added in more modern touches to the film and even trades in the Empire State Building for the Twin Towers as well as the stop motion Kong for a stuntman in a suit done by FX God Rick Baker. In 1986 the remake got a forgettable follow up called King Kong Lives that had the giant ape getting a pacemaker put in to replace his damaged heart and finding a mate who has also been brought to the USA. In 2005 a longwinded Peter Jackson remake of King Kong was made and besides more minutes added to the runtime, it was a good but unnecessary film. With all these spin off films, sequels and remakes this just shows you how much impact this film had on classic cinema, and I agree with James Rolfe who said that film students should watch the original in film school right alongside Citizen Kane. While none of them are as good as the original film, they are all still fun watches that help add to the legacy of Kong and prove that this primate of fright, this ape of terror, is truly a legend of cinema.

Son Of Kong PosterKing Kong Escapes PosterKing Kong 1976 PosterKing Kong Lives PosterKing Kong 2005 Poster

In 1966 America and Japanese animation studios teamed up to make The King Kong Show, an animated adventure kid show that had King Kong befriending the Bond Family and stopping the likes of Dr. Who (and no, not the BBC version) from capturing Kong for his own evil gain. This animated cartoon was teamed with another show about a tiny special agent called Tom of T.H.U.M.B. and the show would last till 1969 with a total of 3 seasons and 25 episodes. This cartoon also helped Toho make the film King Kong Escapes and also was to be inspiration to the film that became Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, which Kong was suppose to star in, not Zilla. The cartoon over the years did not hold up well and was mostly forgotten until it got released on DVD as volumes a few years back. I never remember seeing the show when I was a kid, and I think it would have fit perfect on early morning Saturday’s back in the 80’s and could have also found a place on the USA Cartoon Express. I saw the show when I was older and in my 20’s found it to be pretty cool but only from a retro standpoint.

kIng kong Cartoon 1King Kong Cartoon 2King Kong Cartoon 3

So as we all know Toho studios made two films with King Kong in them in the 1960’s, but did you know that there are also two others made in Japan way before this that are now lost films? The first was a short silent film called “Wasei Kingu Kongu” made in 1933 the same year King Kong was released and was a team up from RKO and Shochiku Studios. Not much is known about the film besides RKO asked them to make it and that instead of a stop motion Kong, it was a man in a suit.  It was directed by Torajiro Saito with Isamu Yamaguchi playing King Kong and all that is left of the film is one single picture that was printed. Next was a 1938 film called “King Kong Appears In Edo” that made by Zensho Cinema with permission from RKO and was directed by Soya Kumagai and had a size changing King Kong attacking Edo (Tokyo) during Medieval times! Fuminori Ohashi who some 16 years later would make the original Godzilla costume made the Kong costume in this film.  Just think about that, King Kong was really Japan’s first giant movie monster and not Godzilla like we all thought! Both films are believed to have been destroyed during the bombings of World War II and neither ever showed outside of Japan making all master prints being only stored there. I learned about these missing films thanks once more to James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd) when he did a top 10 list of lost Horror Films and the Japan Kong films were his # 1, and I agree with him when he said he hopes all the films he picked won’t always be lost films. Below are some pictures of Japan’s King Kongs, the first being Toho’s with the second being the 1933 version and last being the 1938 one.

King Kong JapanKing Kong Missing 1King Kong Missing 2

Tiger Electronics who are best known for making handheld games in the late 80’s and 90’s also made some console games in the age of Atari 2600 under the brand name TigerVision. And would you know it that in 1982 they made a game based on King Kong that was a follow up to their handheld games made about the big ape the year before. The game was a total rip off of Donkey Kong and had you playing as a guy who was trying to get to the top were King Kong was.  The graphics were bad and Kong was a stiff looking pixel mess. I have played the game several times and even own it and I must say that it really is a bad game. Though I do find it funny that Donkey Kong was a clone of King Kong who in turn had a game made about him that was just a bad clone of Donkey Kong. The game on release only sold moderately well and was by no means looked at as a classic.

King Kong Atari 1King Kong Atari 2600King Kong Atari 2

Ideal made a board game in 1976 based on the remake movie that had 2-4 players trying to get to the top of the Twin Towers before King Kong so that they can capture him, or you can win the game by saving the woman from his right hand via a special mission. But Kong won’t make your trip easy as he is flipping all around trying to knock your player back to the start. I own this game and played it with the fellow members of The Dayton Board Game Society who are Stephen Alexander II, Josh Weinberg, Jeremy Hoyt and Garrison Kane on one of our past meetings ,and I can remember that while the game was not all that ground breaking we all had fun trying to knock each other off the building using Kong as our puppet and it was a blast seeing just how competitive it got. If you get a chance and like classic board games based on movies then I would say check this one out, play time to complete is about 20 minutes give or take a few. I should also share we played this game on February 6th 2013 in Josh Weinberg’s basement and we also played the LJN A Nightmare on Elm Street video game for the NES and we ate Wing Zone.

Josh Playing King Kong Board GameKing Kong Board GameUs Playing King Kong

King Kong not only has been made into many video games and board games but he has also had pinball machines based around him, many comic books, novels, magazines, t-shirts, toys, Halloween costumes, soundtracks, stickers, dolls, drinking glasses and so much more. If you’re a King Kong fan, then there is something for you out there in the world of merchandise. Some of my favorite King Kong merchandise that I owned was my Imperial King Kong action figure that I use to make fight my Godzilla figure and even Kong was wrapped up in my epic Toy Wars, also would be my Crestwood Monster Series Book based on King Kong that gave the history of the film as well as some sweet photos. I also really liked my adaptation novel by Delos W. Lovelace and can remember reading it before bedtime many nights. It’s odd looking back at my youth now being 35 years old and seeing just how much of an impact King Kong has had on my life.  It’s a neat feeling knowing that a giant ape with a love for blondes truly means something to me. And for those of you who listen to Alpha Rhythms on WYSO (91.3 FM) on Sunday nights, I have played soundtrack pieces from the original score by Max Steiner as well as tracks from King Kong Lives by John Scott.

Movie Maniac King KongImperial King KongBen Copper King KongKing Kong Novel

Before we move onto The Gold Key Comic Review I of course have to talk about a ride I have wanted to go on since I first heard about it; that’s the one and only KongFrontation ride at Universal Studios Orlando that opened on June 7th 1990 and became a major attraction at the park. The ride was based on the 1976 remake as well as a ride Universal Studios had at their Hollywood park called King Kong Encounter that opened in 1986. The 5 minute ride would place you and others inside a tramcar but not before you walked down a mock New York street complete with newscasts playing on TVs to build up that King Kong is roaming the streets.  Once inside the car you are treated to explosions as well as giant animatronic King Kong’s that would roar and knock your little car around given the effect that he was attacking. In the end he would attack while you’re on the bridge but your driver would get you out safe and unharmed. This ride seemed amazing to me and just the thought of being close to a life size version of Kong was enough to make me want to go, but being a kid and having parents that didn’t like to travel out of state put a damper on getting to go. The attraction closed in 2002, and two years later a lame ride based on the terrible Mummy Remake took its place, marking the sad fact that I never got to ride the one roller coaster/attraction that I always wanted to. As far as King Kong Encounter, it had guests on a tramcar as King Kong would knock a helicopter from the sky and would end with you being eye level with the great ape on the Brooklyn Bridge as he tries to break it apart.  Of course you would make it off the bridge and would be safe thanks to your driver. The Kong animatronic was at the time the world’s largest and was so detailed that it’s “breath” smelled of bananas!  This ride as well lasted a total of 5 minutes and was one of the main attractions to the park. Sadly it as well came to an end when in 2008 a massive fire broke out and burnt the attraction up, but in Universal Hollywood they didn’t give up on King Kong and replaced it with an attraction called King Kong 360 3-D. I really would have loved to have ridden these attractions and sadly with both of them gone for good I will never get the chance to do so. But I can watch videos of them on YouTube and hear stories from my friends who did get to experience it…sigh.

King Kong RideSo I think our voyage through the sea of King Kong is over and we looked at the movies, video game, cartoon, missing films, merchandise as well as a theme park attraction but now it’s time for us to take a walk on Skull Island alongside Gold Key comics and see what this 1968 adaptation has to offer to the Kong legacy. I want to think Bell Book And Comic for having this comic in stock, and I would like to remind that I graded on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So let’s man up and walk through the giant gates into King Kong’s lsland and hope he doesn’t stomp us into the mud!

King Kong 1

King Kong  # 1    ***1/2
Released in 1968     Cover Price .25    Gold Key   # 1 of 1

Carl Denham is a filmmaker who can’t find a lead actress for his top secret next project.  He even has rented a boat called the “Wonderer” along with all its crew and after an agent tells him that he will not supple him with an actress, the director walks down the streets of New York and finds a pretty thief woman named Ann Darrow who was stealing an apple due to hunger.  Denham buys it for her and hires her to be in his new film. While on board the first mate Jack Driscoll falls in love with Ann, and the two start up a relationship.  They find out that they are to port at an unknown island called Kong Island. But while at the island they find that the natives are worshiping and sacrificing women to an unknown “God” and they have set their sights on Ann who they kidnap off the boat and take to the altar where a giant gorilla named King Kong falls for her and takes her deep into his jungle home! Driscoll and Denham lead some crew members on a rescue mission and while in the jungle they find that Kong is not the only giant monster as dinosaurs and sea serpents all blocking their trail to save Ann from Kong’s grip. Kong finds that he is being followed after he beats up a pair of Triceratops and knocks all the crew members off a log killing them leaving only Driscoll and Denham left.  As Driscoll follows Kong, Denham goes back to the ship for more men and gas bombs. King Kong while trying to grab Driscoll from a cave is attacked by a T-Rex and a major battle breaks out between the giant beasts! As Kong climbs to his cave home he must fight off all types of attackers and during this Driscoll saves Ann, and the two escape via the river below. As they reach the gates Kong is in hot pursuit and it’s here that Denham uses his gas bombs to knock Kong out and then takes him to New York to use the giant ape as a sideshow, but when Kong see’s Ann again he breaks his chains and escapes his cage and takes Ann to the top of the Empire State Building where he is attacked by fighter planes that lead to his death as they use machine guns on him while he is distracted by Ann being saved by Driscoll again and he falls to his death. In the end Ann and Driscoll are safe in each other’s arms, Kong is dead in the middle of the street and Denham learns that it was beauty that killed the beast.

This is another amazingly done comic film adaptation of a classic horror film much like Comic Library International’s Edison’s Frankenstein 1910 that holds just so true enough to the source material but still adds its own flare to spice it up. The plot is your simple Beauty and The Beast and follows a young actress who gains the affection of a tough sailor as well as a giant ape and when the big primate is taken away from his home and placed in the big city, his only comfort when he escapes is his blonde bombshell but even love can’t save him from being slain. Ann Darrow is a sweet woman who turns her misfortune of being poor into fame when she takes the part in a movie that leads her to charming King Kong to be put on display. Even though Ann fears Kong she also still feels some affection for him and wishes him no ill will and even tries to save the beast as the planes shoot him down. King Kong is neither good nor bad and it’s clear he is very territorial of his land and very protective of Ann who he has fallen in love with. I love the fact that he keeps not only the natives in check but also all the other giant beasts that live on the island proving he really is the King. Carl Denham, while a money grubbing rich film making geek, still really shows he cares about his friends as Ann’s safety when being taken is a big priority to him, though he does mistreat King Kong by keeping him in chained up and taking him away from his home to be looked at by New York’s rich snobs and press. Jack Driscoll is your very classic tough guy who only cares about the woman he loves and will risk it all for her. The major changes I noticed between the comic and the film is that in the comic the ship is called The Wonderer, while in the film it’s The Venture; in the comic the island is called Kong Island, while in the film it’s Skull Island. I also noticed in the film Jack is annoyed that Ann is on the ship and it takes awhile before he falls for her, in the comic it happens fast. This was the second time I have read this comic and I found that I enjoy it more and more after each read and find something very magical about the whole reading experience. The copy I have is a classic example of Rotten Ink as the smell of the decomposing ink fills your nose when you flip through the pages, while not a beat up copy, it’s still very yellowed on the pages. The artwork is done by ummm….an unknown artist as no credit is given, but I must say the art is perfect for this comic and while Kong doesn’t capture the full look of his movie appearance it still looks the part enough to draw this comic reader in. The cover as well is very eye catching and I am sure drew kids attention to it by using lots of orange and putting a giant ape crushing planes on the cover. If you like the film or like classic horror comics, than this is for sure one you should check out. I am glad I got it and I am sure a few years from now I will read it again.  Below is a piece of art from the comic just so you can see the style Gold Key went for in this comic.

King Kong Art

Really this is a great comic with great classic artwork and really is going to help us kick off our two month long horror comic countdown to Halloween 2014! So on this update we traveled to Skull Island and got to know King Kong and see what that massive beast was about, but how about next time we travel to a black lagoon and celebrate the 60th birthday of the Universal Monster Gill-Man.  So until then read a comic or two, watch a horror film and support your local Horror Host.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Logo 2