Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Original Monkey VS Robot


Following the current trend of exploiting big apes we present to you the American prevue for the Rankin Bass/Toho co-production of KING KONG ESCAPES(1967). That's right, a kaiju movie from the same folks who brought us SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, (which was animated in Japan.) Believe it or not this movie is actually based on a Rankin Bass cartoon series named KING KONG from 1966, (that was also animated in Japan.)

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3 comments:

Chris Sobieniak said...

Funny thinking of the many productions under the Rankin/Bass name that do get made in Japan over the past decades. They've had only a few that weren't, such as the Jackson Five cartoon that was done in Britian, but a majority of their holiday specials and other projects were mostly farmed out there.

Should be noted that Rankin/Bass on their own wasn't really much a production house than just being a bunch of guys who come up with an idea and then do some quick sketches and send everything overseas for completion. This kind of method was pratically new 40 years ago when most US studios still did their animation in-house (except for Jay Ward who farmed his TV work to Mexico, and for the brief stint that companies delt with having Gene Deitch and a band of Czech animators produce Tom & Jerry and Popeye cartoons). Nowadays, it's already a standard. Hardly any studio in North America hardly has anyong on staff who can 'draw' at all it seems, mostly relying on sending work to Asia where it would be cheaper. I still laugh thinking of how Dreamworks had to had "Father of the Pride" sent over to Shanghai rather than find a team of CGI people to finish it here.

I still need to see Rankin-Bass' "Mad Monster Party", one of their "animagic" efforts as a feature-length flick.

Getting back to King Kong, two DVD volumes released of the 1966 cartoon series is currently available if you're interested in checking it out...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000AM4P6S/qid=1135008557/sr=1-9/ref=sr_1_9/103-2139339-1943023?s=dvd&v=glance&n=130

Obviously they're only releasing this to tie in with Peter Jackson's latest rehash, but it's probably best to get it before it's gone back into the closet (at least not within the confines of a fanboy's pirated copies section)!

Tohoscope said...

I picked up those Rankin/Bass KONG cartoons as soon as I spoted them. For some reason I remember them being much worse, but I'm guessing it was because the quality of my VHS tapes was low. But they're not that bad. Kind of fun in an old skool way.

My first copy of MAD MONSTER PARTY was taped from a Japanese laserdisk release. That's where I first found out that it had been animated in Japan. A wonderful little movie with a great performance by Boris Karloff.

What really makes KING KONG ESCAPES one of my favorite movies ever has to be the voice of Paul Frees as Dr. Who. Sure, it's almost the same voice he did for Berger Meister Meisterburger in SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, but somehow it fit the tone of the movie perfectly. Maybe I'm biased, but it makes Dr. Who eviler then the Japanese version. Dr. Who could've been a great Bond villian. (There's a movie I'd love to see: 007 vs King Kong...)

Chris Sobieniak said...

Last time...
I picked up those Rankin/Bass KONG cartoons as soon as I spoted them. For some reason I remember them being much worse, but I'm guessing it was because the quality of my VHS tapes was low. But they're not that bad. Kind of fun in an old skool way.

Glad to see you've had some enjoyment of it. I personally haven't seen it myself but heard of it. This kinda came out of that period when RKO apparently didn't mind licening it's famous ape to a few of these projects that stirred greatly from the origianl movies and into something that is as campy as it appeared.

Of coruse, there was taht Godzilla/King Kong flick that came out a few years prior to the Rankin/Bass toon.

My first copy of MAD MONSTER PARTY was taped from a Japanese laserdisk release. That's where I first found out that it had been animated in Japan. A wonderful little movie with a great performance by Boris Karloff.

I'm more interested in seeing one of the writers of this was Harvey Kurtzman. I keep thinking he's a distant relative of mine since my mom's maiden name is Kurtzman and my creative talent is near close to his (what with being one of the creators of MAD), though sadly he passed away before I had a chance to contact him.

What really makes KING KONG ESCAPES one of my favorite movies ever has to be the voice of Paul Frees as Dr. Who. Sure, it's almost the same voice he did for Berger Meister Meisterburger in SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, but somehow it fit the tone of the movie perfectly. Maybe I'm biased, but it makes Dr. Who eviler then the Japanese version. Dr. Who could've been a great Bond villian. (There's a movie I'd love to see: 007 vs King Kong...)

Funny they hardly ever done a animated 007 flick before (basides the "James Bone Jr." cartoon done in the '90s). Paul Frees is one of those rare talents behind the mike that you just don't see much of anymore. He's mostly been playing the villainous roles for many animated projects, but also have done narration in some of the least suspected places, like the "Spirit of Adventure" in "Donald in Mathmagic Land", or the narrator of Ernie Fossilius' "Hardware Wars."

 
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