Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I Was There: King Kong Vs Godzilla

Ages ago, they used to show Godzilla films in theatres just like any other film. One of the great memories of my youth was catching a screening of the classic monster slugfest King Kong Vs Godzilla way back in the late 60s.

At the time, I was living in a small town in Illinois called Plano that had a very small theatre called, appropriately, the Plano Theatre. In the summertime, every Wednesday afternoon would be their "Summer Matinee" series of movies: a hodge podge of flicks for the kiddies (though some were definitely not so) : from 5 Million Years to Earth to Thunderbirds Are Go or The Ghost and Mr. Chicken to The Nutty Professor. A regular part of the films shown there were Toho's giant monster films. If my memory serves me KKVG was the first one I saw in a theatre.

The house was packed with excited kids ready for a big fight (or maybe just hoping they would win a bike at the end of the show... 2 each week, one for a girl, the other for a boy).

You all know the film and how it plays. It probably won't surpise you to hear that right from the get go, the crazed kid audience was gung ho for Kong. We knew Godzilla was cool, too, but he was the bad guy. Kids were yelling and screaming as the movie progressed, but at the final battle, we all settled in like wrestling fans. This was real, and we had to encourage our hero, Kong, to beat the daylights out of the big lizard. So, everytime Kong got in a good hit on Godzilla, we cheered with joy. Everytime Godzilla got Kong, we booed. We almost thought all was lost at one point, with Kong unconscious, buried in rocks, getting wacked in the head by Godzilla tail. Fortunately, a very quick storm moved in and recharged our ape hero with lightning power. We didn't even care that that made no sense at all as our hero rose up and kicked lizard butt.

We were nervously quiet again though filled with hope when the leviathans rolled into the ocean... and cheered again when King Kong came up, swimming for home. The movie stopped abruptly. Still, all was well in our kid world as we walked home with dopey smiles on our faces while our stomachs were stuffed with popcorn, some kind of sour Starburst-like candies that came in a box with a small monster pin or ring, and super sweet soda.

...well, except I never won a bike.

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