Willis O’Brien, who did special effects for King Kong (1933) wanted to pit this epic monster against another epic monster…Frankenstein. Huh? Not surprisingly, he couldn’t find an American studio who was interested in making the movie. Next he turned to Japan and the result is King Kong vs. Godzilla. If you’re looking for a movie with horror elements and sharp social commentary, this is not it! If you approach it as a Saturday morning kid’s cartoon, it works quite nicely.
Ishiro Honda, who directed the original 1954 Godzilla film, gave this incarnation of Godzilla a sense of fun and adventure. This is NOT a stinging commentary on the nuclear age. Instead it has more in common with TV Westling than it does with the horror genre. They toned down the look of Godzilla and gave his roar a higher pitch to make him look less menacing. They also designed the expression on King Kong’s face to be more comical so that it didn’t frighten younger children.
So, how is the movie? As a kids movie it works quite well. It’s fun, entertaining and not the least bit scary. The effects are fine for a young audience and comparable to others in the same time period. The storyline is a bit contrived but how else are you going to get these two monsters together in the same city?
As a movie for adults, however, King Kong vs. Godzilla definitely has it’s faults: 1) The scenes involving Kong and the island natives are ridiculous. They have bad face paint, awful costumes, and sing and dance like central casting extras (which is exactly what they are), 2) The miniatures used are inconsistent. Sometimes they look really good and at other times they are god-awful, and 3) The American scenes cut into the original Japanese film have a different visual quality to them and don’t match very well.
So, it all depends on what you like in classic horror films. This is definitely not Freddy vs. Jason. It’s more like Rick Flair vs. Hulk Hogan. Enjoy it for what it is, and try not take it it too seriously.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.