SciFi Japan

    KING KONG ESCAPES Theatrical Screening

    KING KONG ESCAPES, But Not From the Universal Fire! Source: Thrillville Productions On June 12, "Thrillville Goes Ape" at the Cerrito Speakeasy Theater with a rare big screen showing of KING KONG ESCAPES, courtesy of Universal Studios: The criminal mastermind Dr Who is hired by a villainous nation looking for the Element X needed to build their nuclear arsenal. Who constructs the massive Mechani-Kong to mine the rare mineral, but radiation from Element X shorts out the robot. After the real Kong is discovered on Mondo Island by a UN research team led by Carl Nelson, Dr Who kidnaps Kong and Nelson`s team. Will the evil scientist force the strongest creature on earth to dig up Element X, or will King Kong escape? (1967, Universal, 96 min, English Dub)

    KING KONG ESCAPES was Toho`s second Kong film (following KING KONG VS GODZILLA) and was based on the American animated series KING KONG by Rankin/Bass Productions (SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER). The movie was directed by Ishiro Honda, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, and a cast featuring Rhodes Reason, Akira Takarada, Linda Miller, Mie Hama, and Hideo Amamato. KING KONG ESCAPES marked the film debut of the cartoon show`s Mechani-Kong and also introduced the giant dinosaur Gorosaurus who would return the following year for the Godzilla classic DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. Despite the only existing print of KING KONG ESCAPES being lost in the recent Universal Studios fire, next week`s screening of the movie at Thrillville will go on as scheduled! According to Thrillville`s host, promoter and programmer Will "The Thrill" Viharo, "I was particularly anticipating my West Coast premiere of the single existing 35mm print of KING KONG ESCAPES next week [editor’s note: The 35mm print of KKE was previously shown at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood back in 2005]. But I just got word that rare print has indeed gone up in flames, and it is highly unlikely it will ever be replaced, because of its, shall we say, selective appeal. However, due to the proximity of this catastrophe to the play date, the show will go on - via the magic of big screen DVD. "Initially I wasn`t planning to send out a public alert for fear of alienating some of the purists, but that would be dishonest, so the hell with it - this is how it is, shit happens. The positive fact is this format change will have very little, if any noticeable effect on the presentation. At the Cerrito, unlike the Parkway, we have screen masking and an adjustable lens so that the movie, even on DVD, will be presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio, with clear resolution. To most eyes, there won`t be any difference, and even to some like me who know the difference, it`ll be negligible. The studio knows this, which is why they charge just as much to rent a DVD as a film print. In fact, since digital media is easier to store and cheaper to ship, this will be the wave of the future, even for repertory cinema. "Maybe I shouldn`t have even said anything but hey, I`m not running for office, why should I hide the truth?" In addition to the feature film, "Thrillville Goes Ape" will include a return appearance of Gorilla X and the tropical sounds of Apocalypso Now. "Thrillville Goes Ape" will take place Thursday, June 12 at 9:15pm. The Cerrito Speakeasy Theater is located at 10070 San Pablo Ave in El Cerrito, CA. Tickets are $8.00 each. For more information on this and other shows, go to Thrillville.net. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    End of an Era, Part 1

    What does the future hold for film? Author: Aaron Cooper "It is with great sadness that I must inform you that [the Universal Studios] fire destroyed nearly 100% of the archive prints kept here on the lot. Due to this we will be unable to honor any film bookings of prints that were set to ship from here. Over the next few weeks and months we will be able to try and piece together what material we do have and if any prints exist elsewhere." - Paul Ginsburg, Vice President NBC Universal Distribution.

    I found myself very disturbed when I listened to the recent news of Universal Studio’s fire that destroyed much of their film vault. I felt like I was hearing of the death of a classic actor. I mean, it was nice to know that the negatives existed at a different site, but with rising costs of striking prints and the onslaught of digital distribution and digital projection methods, it is very possible there may never be a reason to strike these prints. That means the prints of the English versions of KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, KING KONG ESCAPES and Hammer Studio’s CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF are gone. Two of these films were confirmed gone, as they had bookings that had to be canceled or replaced by screening by different methods. No one’s quite sure just how many films were affected in the vault’s disaster, so the question still remains regarding Universal’s Monsters and many other genres of films. Meaning, the only way we may ever be able to see certain Universal films again is strictly by DVD or another video means outside the classic 35mm projection method. Oddly enough, I’ve embraced digital distribution in other realms without qualms. I would fall asleep at work if I didn’t have an iPod full of digital music. My DVD collection is one of my pride and joys. Digital TV? The higher the definition the better I say! I’ve even given up personal camera film for digital pictures. I guess there are only so many ‘bad’ shots of the family one can afford to develop, while it’s easy to erase a bad digital picture.

    I miss movie film though. I mean the actual honest-to-goodness presentation of film (35mm, 70mm, even 16mm and beyond), and I’m going to continue missing film for as long as I live. I’ve already seen the differences. In 2000 at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, there was a marked difference between the 35mm print of SON OF GODZILLA and the video projection of ULTRAMAN TIGA – THE FINAL ODYSSEY. I’m not talking the quality of the content of either film (both excellent, in my opinion) but in the actual quality of the print and the way it looked on the big screen. [editor`s note: Digital projection has improved quite a bit since 2000 and although not up to the same quality as film quite yet, is getting a lot closer]. Currently, the only way to screen GAMERA THE BRAVE is by video projection. The only way audiences saw DEATH NOTE was by digital satellite uplink. A few Godzilla films are left that at this point that may only be available for DVD projection. While it might be cool to be able to see these films on a big screen with others that appreciate it, I question the quality of the print and the validity of such screenings (especially at exhibitor’s prices) when we can take the very same digital methods into our own home. As these projection methods become more commonplace, I’m sure the quality will improve also. Did I mention I’m going to miss film though? I guess that leads into what the future may hold for film screenings and events, but we’ll save that question for part 2!

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