I thought it might be good to occasionally use this blog to discuss some of my favorite topics, such as Classic movies and Classic rock music as well as the usual writing and publishing. These topics bring the blog back to some of the origins of the name Classic Camp. So today, I thought I would blog about one of my all time favorite movies, King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963) and the first time I had the opportunity to see this movie. Some sources might place that film at 1962 because that was the year of the original Japanese release, but because I have not seen the Japanese version (but I would love to) and this is mainly about the American version of the film, I place it in its American release date of 1963.
This film always had an aura about it for me. I mean, how could it not? The two biggest and baddest monsters of all time duking it out on screen. I had seen photos of the movie in several books about horror movies, which were my first introduction to the genre. I wanted to see so badly, but it seemed to only come on cable, and my family did not have cable yet. I asked friends and relatives to record it on their VCRs for me when it came on cable, but it never seemed to work out. We didn't have our own VCR yet, so I would have to see at their place.
Finally, in the spring of 1984, when I was 11 years old, my family got cable. I used to the check the TV schedule every week to see when some of my favorite movies that I had never seen were going to come on, like the 1933 King Kong or the one for this blog. At last I saw it there on the schedule, in black and white. King Kong vs. Godzilla was coming on WGN channel 9 in Chicago, but at 4 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday night. I contemplated if I should even attempt to see it, but decided I just had to. I would not tell my parents I was going to do this.
I slept on the couch that night, which was not unusual for me then since I used to stay up late watching all the great television, such as Night Flight on USA network, which introduced me to many Poverty Row Horror movies. I set an alarm next to the couch and set it for a few minutes before 4 am so I could wake up and see the movie. I stayed up until around 2 or 3 am, as I usually did, watching late night movies. But when my head hit the pillow, I could not sleep a wink. I was too excited to see the greatest movie battle of all time. So I just laid there for over an hour until my alarm went off. I stopped the alarm instantly so my parents would not wake up and tell me to get back to sleep, or worse yet, make me go to bed in my own room.
So I got up and turned on the television, but kept the volume down low, again so I would not wake up the parents. Because it was so low, I had to sit about two feet from the screen. And I stayed up for the whole thing. My heart was pounding so hard, I never even felt sleepy. I don't think it's much of an exaggeration to say I lived for that moment.
At 6 am the movie ended. The sun was starting to glow over Lake Erie, the first time I stayed up until the sun started to show. I went to bed, but even then I still found it hard to sleep. I figured I would sleep until noon or later since I stayed up so late, but I wound up waking up around 10 or 11 am to the sight of my mom sitting in the living room reading the Sunday morning paper. I told my mother I stayed up to watch the movie, and she actually said that was fine, like she knew I would be doing this at some point after we got cable.
After that, I caught that movie every chance I could, and found it often came on WOR Channel 9 in New York, which has since gone defunct. When we finally got a VCR around 1989, one of the first VHS tapes I purchased was, of course, King Kong vs. Godzilla, and I used to watch it about once a week for the first few months after I got it. Then I slowed down to about once a month. I'm surprised the tape did not grow worn out. In fact, the DVD version of that film I own today is still a transfer of that old VHS copy I purchased so long ago. And I still watch that film about once a year to this day. I would say it is the movie I've watched more times than any other in my entire life.
I assume most monster kids have similar stories about a movie they were forbidden to watch, either because of the content or the time it came on. But don't those make the best memories? Don't they make those movies the most special? There is something about the forbiddeness of horror movies and horror stories that make them that much more special. Feel free to share any of your own similar stories and memories in the comments.