King Kong Escapes (1967) starring Mie Hama, Rhodes Reason, Linda Miller, Hideyo Amamoto
King Kong Escapes is, in fact, one of the cheesiest monster movies of all time — with special effects by Rankin-Bass. No, seriously. It’s enjoyable, cheesy fluff that doesn’t take itself very seriously, which is a good thing. The plot is convoluted, but here goes:
Plot synopsis for King Kong Escapes
Evil dictatorship bent on world domination hires the evil Dr. Who (Hideyo Amamoto, no relation to the BBC, TARDIS, etc.) to provide them with “Element X” so they can make the most powerful bomb the world has ever seen. The dictatorship’s liaison to the mad doctor is Madame X, aka. Madame Piranha, played by the beautiful Mie Hama. She is cold, calculating, hard-nosed and heartless … until she falls helplessly in love with Commander Carl Nelson (played woodenly by Rhodes Reason), who’s in charge of the expedition that found King Kong, along with nurse Lieutenant Susan Watson (played by Linda Miller) — who King Kong has a hopeless crush on.
Despite the various romantic triangles, the evil Doctor is creating a robotic duplicate of Kong to mine the Element X — which fails miserably due to the radiation. So, the mad Dr. literally decides to kidnap the live Kong, use Watson to control him, and ignore the various times that Madame X double-crosses him throughout. And, of course, the anticipated battle between the emancipated Kong and his mechanical duplicate, which is as cheesily enjoyable as the rest of the movie — probably more so.
Trivia for King Kong Escapes
- This film was a live-action tie-in to the animated TV series King Kong (1966), which was also produced by Rankin/Bass Productions, and not a sequel to King Kong vs. Godzilla
- Even though Linda Miller was an American that spoke fluent English, her voice was dubbed by Julie Bennett.
- The way Kong kills Gorosaurus, by splitting his jaws apart, is the same way the original Kong kills the Tyrannosaurus in the original King Kong (1933).
- This was the second and last film by the Toho Studios to use the King Kong character. Their rights to use it again lapsed after this film.
- Rhodes Reason took the lead role even though he “knew the film was lousy”. His incentive was a trip to Japan.
- The film ran in the US in a double bill with the Don Knotts comedy, The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968).
- The voice of Dr. Who is the legendary Paul Frees, the man of a thousand voices, who also voiced Burgermeister Meisterburger in another Rankin/Bass production, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.
Updated February 10, 2020