Shikari (1963) [REVIEW] | Circus Cyclops Bollywood

Meant to get around this one last year, but this time i did manage to find a way to watch it with subtitle, as i don’t speak hindi, and what could be called “the Indian King Kong” – to no one’s surprise – was never dubbed or re-released westward. Still easier to find than the dreaded Bacalhau.

Yep, among the many King Kong knock-off, there’s an old Bollywood (kinda) version from 1963.

Gotta love the shit-not giving use of stock footage “ice skating ballet girls, chimps & clown” that a crowd in India it’s supposedly watching, sure it has a dissonant color that makes it more even obvious, but who cares. And it’s not just 1 minute or two of stock footage from a non-indian ice skating show, when the head of the circus and the sponsor set down to see it in order to understand why it’s supposedly taking away business from them… you’re gonna see a good chunk of the show.

Well, at least we start the movie with some ape action, but not of that kind.

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King Of The Lost World (2005) [REVIEW] | Simians & Dragons

If there’s a big blockbuster movie coming and somehow involving monsters or aliens (among others) or elements that also relate to “B-movies”, you can bet The Asylum has already launched a mockbuster of it one week earlier or after, because they’re the Zoidberg of the film industry…. well, not quite, because they have actual budgets that don’t involve papermaciè monsters and so on.

BUT WAIT, this time we have a rare example of a “mockbuster double combo”, one that ironically did better to skirt around copyright lawsuits than what the later did with mockbuster of first The Hobbit movie from 2012, where they got themselves a lawsuit as they were stupid enough to use the word “hobbit” in the title of their mockbuster movie, resulting in the movie itself being delayed.

Obviously it was released to cash into the Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake (literally released 1 day before the Peter Jackson’s movie hit theathers, classic), but cleverly didn’t use the word “kong” in the title or marketing (which got 1976’s A*P*E in trouble), which also has the benefit of making this one sneak by quietly as you won’t find it by simply searching for “king kong films”, and also attaching itself to The Lost World, as in the original novel by Conan Doyle, not “Jurassic Park 2”. But did – because it was legally fair – put on the cover of the DVD this phrase “the epic story that inspired King Kong and Jurassic Park”. Which is technically true. 🙂

So is this the mash up of both King Kong and The Lost World the title promises?

Basically, yes. Kinda. By that i mean that the basic premise it’s The Lost World, and ultimately the plot follows more the beats of that instead of King Kong’s, but eventually we have natives… not facing other more primitive ape-men, but making ritual human sacrifices to appease the creatures of the jungle. Yep, you’d think it would make sense to have them making tributes/sacrifices to their giant ape god, but i guess that way the company would seem begging to be sued again, so nope, the giant ape in question doesn’t actually have anything to do with anything else besides just existing and being feared by all creatures, he just shows up fighting some giant dragon-flying lizards and accidentally ruins the ritual.

Also, the natives aren’t actually natives (more on that later) oddly brainwash the survivors to join them, those they don’t choose as sacrifices, and since there’s no Empire State Building for “Ding King” to fall over (there are planes and jets, interestingly enough), the giant monster will have to be dealt with the only sensible solution available: nuking his ass to oblivion.

Yep, this is exactly how they dealth with the “dinosaur” in “King Dinosaur”, because when in doubt, ask yourself how Bert I. Gordon would have written the finale for your film. Then at least make your own footage for the rushed resolution.

Speaking of the monkey, it show ups early….. but it’s also hidden at the same time, because the effects are so bad and it’s shown in such quick cuts you can’t even screenshot the darn thing to see any detail of this “vague blurry giant monkey” thing that showed up on screen for a second. Even when it’s finally shown properly (in the last 10 minutes)…it still looks quite blurry.

Here’s the part where i would try to mount a legit, proper critique of the special effects… to just take the piss on them, but to be honest it’s exactly what i expected from an Asylum movie (especially a pre-2010s one), any further elaboration it’s really pointless and devoid of value for anyone.

BUT i didn’t expect them to pull off shit like “mummy mannequin” that’s supposed to be one of the guys being attacked, immediatly encased in giant spider’s webbing and dropped as a decaying mummified corpse 2 seconds later. It’s not that it looks bad, surprisingly, but its the way it’s presented that sucks, you could at least try to make the damn thing look as big as the person it’s supposed to be, or to make it look like it has some weight to it. Come on.

If nothing else, it starts pretty fast with a plane crash… as in, no pussyfooting around with establishing any of the characters or even spending some time on the plane ride itself, there’s no time or money for that, let’s get to the disaster already, we’ll figure everything else (like characters or motivations) later. Maybe.

As you could have guessed, the movie at its heart it’s a very loose adaptation of The Lost World, it’s no period piece of sorts (as it’s not set in the early 20th centhury like the original novel was), to be honest though i really didn’t expect it to be, since even their later 2009’s adaptation of The Land That Time Forgot wasn’t… totally, they at least found a way to kinda do both with the sci-fi twist of a portal/rift… but then again they did went with the Bermuda Triangle angle for that.

Here we don’t have any sci-fi elements, but we have a strange subplot that the tribal people you expect to be natives from the island (as they were in King Kong).. aren’t actually natives, but people that also crash landed there, kinda reverted back to a tribal lifestyle, and also brainwashed other survivors of plane crashes into joining them.

Well, maybe some were natives, but i’m just guessing, it’s never properly explained, and the entire subplot makes very little sense, to the point it would be better to have it cut entirely and just have the tribal people in the “lost world” just being prehistoric humans native to the island, instead of this convoluted non-sense.

But i’m inclined to believe it’s written this way to avoid the script having too many similarities to King Kong (or The Lost Word), deliberately put there to differentiate it enough so to avoid any risk of being properly sued. Or maybe i’m wrong, i could be.

acting is the kind i would like to write off as “ok” for this kind of hokum, with the bigger names delivering the best performances (and they’re names a more general audiences might actually recognize, with Boxleitner and Steves Railsback)…and i will, the bigger actors do a decent enough job to even out the moments where other actors either way over or under act their parts in a noticeable way.

The acting overall leans more to the “decent” side than most Asylum flicks, same for the characters, and you also get giant scorpions, dragons, giant spiders, some of which were not in either King Kong nor The Lost World, but yeah, more monsters it’s a good trade off, all things considered. I’ll take this instead of no monsters or a lot of padding.

So overall, King Of The Lost World….it’s alright, things happen at a decent pace, it’s not overly long, honestly it’s kinda one of the best mockbusters the Asylum spunked out over time, as it’s in itself an entertaining jungle romp, aside from being a double bootleg of two classic tales (leaning definitely more on side of The Lost World than King Kong), despite the very little on-screen presence of “Ding King”.

It doesn’t mean it’s good, it’s not, but it’s NOWHERE as bad as the reception and metascore on IDMB would lead you to believe, there’s definitely some effort, and it’s not a bad effort, considerin the tiny budget it has, i mean, even the aforementioned The Land That Time Forgot -also from the Asylum – had a noticeably bigger budget put to it.

Might be worth a look if you’re up for some low budget jungle adventure mish mash from the infamous company or having a mockbuster marathon.

Not that bad, surprisingly so.

Gappa The Triphibian Monsters (1967) [REVIEW] | ♫ It’s The True Mystery of The Universe ♫

Yes, with a “G”.

One of the minor, less known giant monster, and the only kaiju eiga ever made by Nikkatsu (which almost went bankrupt after releasing it), also known under the mystifing title “Monster From Another Planet” in the US, and directed by Hiroshi Noguchi, better known for the Cat Girls Gambler yakuza series and the Ginza Mighty Guy/Ginza Whirlwind series.

Oddly, the plot is virtually identical to the one seen in Gorgo (hi again), with a grouple of people (in this case a group of reporters and scientists instead of a salvage crew) capturing and bringing a monster from its island (here a place called Obelisk Island) to “civilization” in order to become a media attraction. But this also angers the natives of the island and – more importantly – the parents of the infant Gappa monster, who head to Japan and cause huge havoc in their wake.

If japanese monster movies taught me anything, it’s to never steal children, especially those of literal giant monsters. Just don’t. Or stop.

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A*P*E (1976) [REVIEW] | Flipping Kongs

Sure, Konga wasn’t great, and earlier this year we also spotlighted another King Kong rip-off, the italo-canadian Yeti: The Giant Of The 20th Centhury, which indeed is worthy of being called “craptacular”, as in it’s really bad but also frigging hilarious and with some odd innocence for italian exploitation cinema. Even if there’s a crime thriller subplot that almost kills off Lassie.

But we can go lower down the cinema alphabet, and for theatrically released feature lenght movies about giant apes, you can hardly go lower than the american-south korean A*P*E*, quickly put out to cash-in this wave of Kongsploitation, as it released the same year of the Dino DeLaurentis backed remake, with 3D effects because if we’re gonna do this, might as well make it gimmicky.

Yeah, i’m doing this one because i feel more people are at least aware of The Mighty Peaking Man, also made to cash-in the popularity of the 1976 DeLaurentis’ King Kong remake, but far better than most Kong rip-offs, definitely far better than A*P*E*.

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Konga (1961) [REVIEW] | British Jungle Beat

1961 was indeed the year of british giant monster rip-off movies, heck, this was released just 3 days in the UK before Gorgo debutted in US theathers, and both got a comic book tie-in (which eventually pitted them against each other), even if the production companies were different. But again, exploitation cinema is an universal language.

Where Gorgo obviously ripped off Godzilla, Konga went for the giant primate, even going so far as marketing it with this phrase written on the theathrical poster “Not since King Kong has the screen exploded with such mighty fury and spectacle”. But in this case there were no troublesome legal litigations on the name (the ownership to the name “King Kong” is an incredibly messy subject deserving its own detailed editorial or video), as producer Herman Cohen just paid RKO 25.000 $ for using the name “Kong” in the posters and marketing material.

Ironically, Gorgo’s plot was more akin to King Kong’s (or to be precise, Murders In The Rue Morge) than the one found in Konga, because there are no natives worshipping the giant ape, no company kidnapping him and all that jazz.

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King Kong VS Godzilla (1962) [REVIEW] | Kaiju Klassics

Finally, after years of rumors, delays, a new Godzilla VS Kong movie will hit theathers, and hopefully VOD because i can’t recommend getting the Coronavirus for the sake of seeing this one on the biggest screen possible. At the time of writing, i don’t know if i will able to see this is theathers or not, personally i would love to, but it appears this time we won’t have to wait much more for Godzilla to fight King Kong, as part of Legendary’s Monsterverse.

Like most monster movie fans known, this isn’t the first time the two titans clashed on the big screen, but it has been a while (almost 60 years), so it’s the perfect occasion for the youngins to hear if for the first time and for the old fans to have a refresher on the original King Kong VS Godzilla.

First, let’s go over the plot, before getting sidetracked with the plethora of production history facts you most likely have heard every time this movie is brought up.

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Giant Monster March IS A GO!

As the long awaited Godzilla VS King Kong finally is set to it theathers pretty much everywhere (where theathers are open, not a given due to the pandemic), it’s time to celebrate, with a selection of giant monster movies reviews to showcase mostly lesser known titles or movies that nowadays are not as well known as they once were, despite still being remembered by genre fans.

Sorry it’s not a month of non-stop reviews this time. Enjoy!

Yeti: The Giant Of The 20th Centhury (1977) [REVIEW] | Italo Disco King Of The Kong

It’s still january, it’s still cold as hell (proper Dante Alighieri hell), so it’s time to shovel up and unearth a yeti movie from the motherland, with the forgotten Yeti: Il Gigante Del 20° Secolo from director Gianfranco Parolini (credited as Frank Kramer), often called just “Yeti”, “Big Foot” (yeah, that helps a lot, thanks) or with a direct – and accurate – translation of the title in english, as Yeti: The Giant Of The 20th Centhury,

Italian-canadian kaiju yeti-xploitation, can’t go wrong with that!

Yeah, digging this gem out to also celebrate the new trailer for Godzilla VS King Kong !

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Dino Dicember #16: The Valley Of Gwangi (1969)

While this one slipped into obscurity (and the fact Warner Brothers made few copies means this is one hard to find even as an UK import, and it’s oddly pricey, same as for 50’s stinker From Hell It Came), there’s an interesting production history to tell with The Valley Of Gwangi, so gather round the fire, grill some ‘saurus and listen close.

The film was originally conceived by special effect legend Willis O’ Brien (yes “the King Kong guy”), and was basically a mash-up of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, with the added “Kong flavor” of having the creature captured, brought into civilization only to escape, and was known as “ Valley Of The Mists”, where cowboys discovered and captured an Allosaurus – dubbed “Gwangi” – in the Grand Canyon, brought it to a Wild West show, and having it fight with lions (so much for the Wild West theme), until it breaks free, runs amok and is driven off a cliff by a truck.

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