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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Horror Histories Vol. 14 - King Kong Appears in Edo

What if I told you that there was a Japanese giant monster film that predates Gojira by 16 years?  If you’re a film buff, you’d probably tell me I’m full of shit, but I could show you some stills of a giant ape terrorizing Tokyo that would blow your mind.

Not so sure I’m wrong now?  Well, to be honest you’d still be correct.  Technically, I’m full of shit, but those stills tell a fun story.

When the film industry first boomed in the U.S., a series of studios sprung up that are affectionately referred to as “poverty row”.  They created cheap, quick films that tended to try to cash in on whatever the latest movie craze was at the time.  The film industry in Japan was no different and in 1938, Zensho Cinema was one such company.  They were so cheap that even after the invention of sound, they continued to produce silent films all the way up until their demise in 1941.  So why would a cheapo movie studio even consider taking on the expense of a movie that required special effects?

The answer is simple:  King Kong.

In 1938, King Kong was getting a Japanese release.  Zensho knew this and commissioned a quickie film about a man whose daughter is kidnapped.  The villain who kidnapped her did so with the help of a trained pet gorilla named… 

wait for it… 

wait for it…

King Kong.

The only problem is the gorilla isn’t a giant.  It’s just a normal gorilla.  I won’t bore you with the details of the rest of the plot.  You can find that on Wikipedia. 

Zensho titled the film King Kong Appears In Edo and to drum up the connection with the American film, they produced stills that make the ape appear king-sized.  These were used in all of the advertisements of the time, leading moviegoers to believe they were paying for a special effects extravaganza when in fact it was a drama with a normal sized (though admittedly murderous) gorilla.

The film has since been lost and all that remains are the stills, so those who find them and don’t know the story can be forgiven for thinking that Gojira wasn’t the first giant monster to terrorize Tokyo.

Want something horrifying that won't leave you feeling cheated?  Check out my Amazon Author's page.

See you next week!

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