Wasei Kingu Kongu (aka Japanese King Kong 1933), Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu (aka King Kong Appears in Edu 1934) and Kingu Kongu Zenkouhen (1938)
Case Date 1933: Here’s an intriguing revelation that’s only known to Mole People, Richard Nixon, and 45 year-old men who work at Forbidden Planet. During the 1930s it would appear that various Japanese studios turned out knock-off King Kong (or Kingu Kongu in Japanese-English) films that were only ever given domestic release due to the incredibly blatant copyright infringement. You’ve got to admire the balls of steel approach by these on-the-fly filmmakers, cashing in on the popularity of Hollywood releases. These were, in effect, 1930s versions of today’s direct to DVD movies.., Outrageousu! (click the poster image to enlarge)
What adds to their mystique is that all three copies are lost to time. The most likely cause of this loss? The US atomic bombings in 1945. Whatever the cause, the image to the left would seem to be the only surviving still from any of these three films, most likely from 1933’s Wasei Kingu Kongu (aka Japanese King Kong 1933)
According to multiple online sources Japanese studio Sochikuh (which still exists in one way or another in Kyoto Japan) produced a quick replica of 1933s King Kong in the same year. Wasei Kingu Kongu or literally ‘Japanese King Kong’ was apparently as good as a literal remake or straight copy. Then there is King Kong Appears in Edu which appears to be some kind of bizarre period drama. Edu being the name for Tokyo prior to 1868. This film was produced by the Zensho Kinema studio which ceased making films in 1940. This, rumour has it, featured Kong fighting giant insects and bashing up old-school Japanese architecture.
As for King Kong Zenkouhen.., No-one seems to know what the hell this is about, or if it really existed in the first place. Indeed it may be the case that King Kong Zenkouhen is in fact King Kong Appears in Edu, but we may never know as all prints are lost. Many state King Kong Appears in Edu as being released in 1934, however records have the production studio, Zensho Kinema, only existing between 1938 and 1940 giving extra weight to the theory that the these two films are indeed one and the same.
Whatever the truth behind these obscure films consider this; It would appear that these Kong rip offs pre-date the man-in-rubber-suit films made famous by Toho’s Godzilla by some 16 years or so. In which case, for better or worse, they deserve their rightful recognition in Monster Movie history.
For more Deadly Movies information on King Kong adsurdities take a look at these gems