News for Jul. 16, 2005

Comic-Kong: Friday Report

7/16/05, 9:49 am EST - Xoanon

Mr. Grooism writes: I forgot to mention during last night's Comic Kong report that Weta Design Supervisor Ben Wootten "ranted on endlessly" while being interviewed. Hee hee, actually, he insisted I say that, he really was an enthusiastic and friendly contact, a helluva guy!

The Ackermonster announced during the Spotlight on Forrest J Ackerman (Famous Monsters of Filmland, of course) panel that he will be in New Zealand in December to film a cameo in PJ's King Kong! I would imagine a scene where Forry is sitting eating popcorn somewhere oblivious to Kong's rampage, hee hee!

Forry told a great story about a waitress writing the phrase "SF Boy" on his restaurant check. He asked if she knew him, she said no, he quizzed her for a bit and finally asked why she wrote SF Boy, which he had assumed meant Sci-Fi Boy. She said, well, you DID order the Sugar Free Boysenberry pie, didn't you?"

Spoke to a couple of the guys at Weta and asked to explain the designation V-Rex. They said it was an abbreviation for a longer latin name which they forget, but I should ask Ben. I came back later, Ben was still gone, but I found Richard Taylor again, who greeted me like a long-lost friend. (I could learn to love this guy, hee hee). He explained that they presented PJ with a list of 400-500 latin names for their unique dinosaur species, each based on latin phrases they found interesting, but that he too forgot what the V stands for! "Ask Ben, though, he'll know!"

Well, when I caught up with Ben, he couldn't quite remember (they've all just been using the initial V-Rex for so long they got used to just using the abbreviation!). However, I spied Playmates rep Michael Pinzler, who with fellow rep Herb Mitschele had shared with me some Action Figure mock-ups previously (more on that ina moment), and I asked if he had the name on a box.

Playmates saves the day!

Mike showed the box around as he proudly produced the name "Vastatosaurus Rex", so now I throw this out to those of you KiKN scholars who know latin to tell us what this means!!!

Mike showed me a great model for a Roaring Kong figure that is really cleverly rendered, with a mouth that properly opens and closes for the roar. Herb promised to contact me and advise us when the Playmates Web Site will go live with Kong content, so I'll keep you all informed! The V-Rex and another predator called the Venatosaurus (latin translation?) were pretty KiKN too!

The King Kong 1933 Panel featuring Ray Harryhausen, Joe Devito and Brad Strickland (Kong, King of Skull Island) and Mark Cotta Vaz (upcoming Merian C. Cooper biography) was an amazing panel, one of the absolute best I've ever been lucky enough to take part of, even if the idiot next to me was jabbering on his cell phone part of the time! (GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!)

Regarding Max Steiner, Ray said that in 1933 no score like Steiner's had ever been attempted; there had been films with incidental stock music, but Steiner refused to go that way and insisted on composing all new music; what he did greatly enhanced the visual fx of the scene in a new and groundbreaking manner!

Mark discussed at length how autobiographical King Kong really was, as Carl Denham really was Merian Cooper, and Ruth Rose really was Ann Darrow! Cooper apparently referred to King Kong as "My Gorilla Picture", and originally envisioned capturing live gorillas and komodo dragons and making them fight on film. Cooler heads prevailed, and when he met Obie he realized his vision was better served through stop-motion animation. Ray says Obie did glamorize The Gorilla and Dinos and humanized them for dramatic purposes, making them more than just gorilla and dinosaurs. However, for Harryhausen Son of Kong was simply way too human!

Joe DeVito was born in Hell's Kitchen, NYC, and grew up during a Dinosaur Rennaissance (as did mrgrooism at the same time in NYC).Seeing KK03 and the dinosaurs he'd read so much about visualized so strongly as they really seemed to come alive mesmerized him and changed his life. In order to watch the Million Dollar Movie Marathons where they would play King Kong twice a day for seven days straight; he invented interesting illnesses so he could stay home from school and watch Kong 14 times in one week!!!

Joe used to go to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC and ask the staff "where's King Kong, where are HIS bones?" He spent years developing the story for KKOSI in order to answer lingering questions (such as why a Kong-sized gate if it's meant to keep him out) and too slake a thirst for more Kong!

Ray Harryhausen said it wasn't until about ten years ago that he even considered the question of why the gate was so large, he'd always just accepted it without question, and didn't see a NEED for an answer!

Brad's notes from when Joe brought him on board show that they were writing KKOSI as early as 1994, and Joe admitted he started work on it two years before Jurassic Park!

Joe admitted that basing the book on the original novel freed them from Son Of Kong continuity; although Obie and Harryhausen never liked SOK, Joe DeVito admitted having tremendous affection for that flawed work, becuase at least we got to revisit Skull Island!

Ray Harryhausen said it was hard to analyze why Kong has been such a phenomenal success for over 70 years, but cited Obie's cutting edge stop-motion FX , more groundbreaking in its day than even the advent of CGI because at first nobody could understand how those spectacular FX were achieved!

Harryhausen said "I think there's a point where you can analyze a thing out of existence."

My favorite quote was of his disdain for KK76. Said Ray, "If I had seen THAT PICTURE in 1933, I would have become a plumber!"