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Fearsome Facts

Fearsome Facts: King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

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Gojira’s reign of terror was still in its infancy, but the King of the Monsters unknowingly had an enduring franchise on his hands that would flourish into 32 live-action films (counting the 1956 American version and the 1998 travesty that dared to don the Godzilla name). However, it had been seven years since Godzilla Raids Again (1955) which introduced the first monster mash between Godzilla and Anguirus. How could Toho successfully bring back Gojira?

King Kong’s cinematic hibernation had lasted almost 30 years. The gentle giant was forced from his island home in 1933, fell in love with Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and was quickly slaughtered by a squadron of planes. So much for making it big in New York City.

Despite Godzilla and King Kong’s popularity, these titans didn’t share the Silver Screen together until 1962’s ultimate brouhaha: King Kong vs. Godzilla. The mighty ape was given a serious makeover though as Kong’s height was quickly adjusted to match Gojira’s. With the titans now on equal footing, the Toho Company launched the third installment in their Godzilla saga.

Here are 8 Things You May Not Know About King Kong vs. Godzilla

8. Box Office Boffo

King Kong vs. Godzilla resonated with fans as the creature feature made approximately $2.75 million at the box office worldwide; the budget was $200,000. The original Gojira (1954) boasted a budget of $175,000 and ended up with a cumulative worldwide gross of over $4.6 million, while King Kong (1933) cost $670,000 to produce. The ape helped RKO make $10 million domestically.

7. Operation Dinner Out: Octopus!

During the fight sequence between King Kong and the natives, a total of four octopuses were utilized along with one plastic model. The crew blew hot air on all the Octopoda which made them move. After filming their final scenes, the Octopodifores were all released except for one. Special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya ate that one for dinner!

6. Third Time’s the Charm

King Kong vs. Godzilla marks the first time either monster appear in color on the Silver Screen. The 1962 mash-up was also a first for both creatures being filmed in widescreen format. Additionally, the movie is the third installment in each of the titan’s respective franchises, if you don’t count the American remake of Gojira (1954) titled Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956).

5. I Am Godzilla, Hear Me Roar

Godzilla’s trademark, and more recognizable high-pitched roar, was introduced in this film. The famous screech was accomplished by blending together the two roars Gojira used in the original 1954 movie, which was created with a leather glove being scraped against a stringed-instrument. You can hear the King Kong vs. Godzilla version of the roar in almost every Gojira film throughout the franchise that followed 1962 usually with only minor tweaks.

4. This Little Piggy…

Apparently, the number 4 is a very unlucky number in Japan. Godzilla has only three toes in King Kong vs. Godzilla for that reason. As such, the King of the Monsters sported only three toes for the pictures that followed because Godzilla was either the hero or a comical character. In Godzilla 1985, which turned him back into the antagonist, Gojira was given four toes again. Wait, what? Is anyone really counting toes when the King is stepping on them?

3. Gojira Veteran

King Kong vs. Godzilla marks the second Gojira film for actor Kenji Sahara in the Godzilla saga. Sahara became a mainstay of the franchise playing a myriad of characters in 12 of the movies within the series. He starred in eight of the Showa era flicks, three of the Hesei, and the last Millenium entry Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) as the Paleontologist Hachirô Jingûji.

2. Over 12 Million Served

King Kong vs. Godzilla sold over 12.5 million tickets during its initial and re-releases over the years. To this day, it remains the most attended Godzilla film in Japan. Believe it or not, the United Kingdom actually rated the film X during its first run.

1. Method Acting

Actor Shoichi Hirose is best known for playing Godzilla’s three-headed nemesis King Ghidorah in the film franchise, but he took on the role of King Kong before Ghidrah showed up in 1964. During King Kong vs. Godzilla’s final confrontation, Kong throws Gojira over his shoulder. Hirose did this not with an empty Godzilla suit, but with actor Haruo Nakajima inside! Shoichi said he wanted to do it to prove he was the stronger of the two men. Talk about your method acting.

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Which facts from King Kong vs. Godzilla did you find most interesting? Are there any other little-known trivia tidbits you’d like to have seen make the list? Sound off in the comments and on social media!

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Fearsome Facts

Fearsome Facts: American Psycho (2000)

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“Abandon all hope ye who enter here!” Patrick Bateman is an iconic and complex character whose cinematic presence rivals the most memorable Silver Screen serial killers of all time. It is hard to talk about horror movie baddies that have impacted popular culture without mentioning Patrick in the same breath as Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter and Michael Myers. Indeed, Bateman is quite possibly the Darth Vader, or at least the Freddy Krueger, of his generation particularly when it comes to characterizing yuppie greed, banality and apathy.

Christian Bale won the coveted role of Bateman –  not to be confused with Batman – but the actor was hardly a household name at that point in 2000. Indeed, Bale had been working steadily since his television movie debut in Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna in 1986. But in the 14 years prior to American Psycho, Bale’s most noteworthy role was arguably as Laurie in Little Women (1994).

But filmmaker Mary Harron fought for Bale to win the role of Bateman. And make no mistake, Harron’s persistence paid off. American Psycho owes much of its success to Bale’s quirky, impassioned, no-holds-barred approach to the material and the multifaceted character. Harron knew what she was doing when casting Bale in the lead role. Fast forward to today and Bale is an Oscar winner (The Fighter). Bale gives an Academy Award worthy performance in American Psycho, and the movie is a must-see.

Now, here are 15 Things You May Not Know About American Psycho.

15. Box Office Surprise

American Psycho made $15 million domestically which was more than double its $7 million budget. Even more impressive was the film’s foreign numbers: $19.2 million. As a result, the movie adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial novel of the same name cleaned up for Lionsgate with a worldwide take of over $34.2 million.

14. Ménage à Trois

To block the three-way between Patrick Bateman, Christie (Cara Seymour) and Sabrina (Krista Sutton), Mary Harron and Christian Bale viewed several X-rated movies. Harron even said that Bale drew stick-figures to show what positions would work best in the sequence.

13. From Book to Silver Screen And Beyond

American Psycho began as a novel by author Bret Easton Ellis which was published in 1991. The film premiered on January 21, 2000 at the Sundance Film Festival, and eventually spawned a much forgettable direct-to-video sequel American Psycho 2: All American Girl (2002) starring Mila Kunis and William Shatner. In 2013, FX was shaping a television project that followed Pat Bateman as a 50-something serial killer, but it didn’t come to pass. In December of the that same year American Psycho the musical opened in London with Matt Smith in the role of Bateman. The Broadway version followed in 2016 with Benjamin Walker giving an unforgettably haunting and empathetic performance.

12. It is Hip to Be Square

The most expensive part of the production fell on buying the rights to the numerous songs used in American Psycho which included New Order’s True Faith, Katrina and the Waves’ Walking on Sunshine, Robert Palmer’s Simply Irresistible and Phil Collin’s Sussudio among many, many more. Despite Patrick Bateman’s love of Whitney Houston’s music in the film, the singer was vehemently opposed to any of her work appearing in the movie.

11. Another Psycho Shower Scene

Norman Bates has nothing on Patrick Bateman at least when it comes to physique. During the DVD commentary for American Psycho, Mary Harron recalled how several female crew members gathered on set to watch cameras capture the opening shower scene where Patrick Bateman cleaned himself during his rigorous morning routine.

10. Navigating a Star

Willem Dafoe has a rather small part in American Psycho as his character of Detective Donald Kimball appears in a mere three scenes. Filmmaker Mary Harron had an interesting way of directing Dafoe in each of his appearances on film. Harron asked Dafoe to play his character’s suspicions of Patrick Bateman’s guilt differently each time. Dafoe portrays Kimble as knowing Bateman is guilty in one scene, knowing he is innocent in another and being unsure if Patrick killed Paul Allen (Jared Leto). Harron directed Dafoe in this manner so that it gave audiences a sense of uncertainty.

9. David Cronenberg and Brad Pitt

American Psycho’s production went through a myriad of iterations. At one point, a television show starring Kevin Dillon of Entourage (2004-2011) fame was tossed around. Author Bret Easton Ellis himself reportedly wrote scripts for both David Cronenberg and Rob Weiss prior to the final Mary Harron venture. A number of high-profile actors were attached to the early productions which most notably included Brad Pitt.

8. This Isn’t Titanic, Leo

Once Lionsgate got the rights to Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho (1991), Mary Harron became the writer/director. On her shift, many actors were considered for the role of Patrick Bateman including Bill Crudup, Jonny Lee Miller and even co-star Jared Leto. Prior to Christian Bale being cast as Bateman, producers tried to convince Harron to hire actor Edward Norton. Harron refused. Later, Lionsgate tried to get Harron to sign Leonardo DiCaprio, but Harron left the project over that casting argument. DiCaprio joined the production at that time. During Harron’s absence, Oliver Stone came aboard to helm the picture, at least as a producer. Once DiCaprio chose to make The Beach (2000) instead of American Psycho, Stone also abandoned ship which led to Harron’s return and the eventual casting of Mr. Bale.

7. Rated NC-17

Originally, American Psycho was given an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). This would have been a death sentence for the picture since such a rating would have limited the younger demographics from seeing the picture. Mary Harron was forced to make a number of cuts to the film in order to garner American Psycho an R rating instead.

6. Guinevere Turner

Guinevere Turner is one of a bevy of smart, alluring sex kittens appearing in the movie, but she takes on double duty in American Psycho. Firstly, she co-wrote the screenplay alongside director Mary Harron. Second, she portrayed Patrick’s friend Elizabeth who is killed in bed by Bateman. Elizabeth is having a ménage à trois with Bateman and Christie when things go horribly wrong. Christie is murdered with a chainsaw in the stairwell while trying to flee the coital carnage.

5. Faux Pas

American Psycho certainly is not without its faults. In the now famous business card scene, there is a glaring faux pas on the part of the person who printed the cards. Acquisitions is misspelled at the top right-hand of the card under the company name Pierce & Pierce as “aquisitions.” Yikes!

4. All I Want to Do is Dance, Dance, Dance

Christian Bale had some fun with his director Mary Harron as he improvised a couple of scenes in American Psycho. As Patrick Bateman jumped rope, Bale began skipping as a school girl and her friends might. In the sequence where Bateman offs Paul Allen, Bale began dancing uncontrollably which Harron admitted in interviews caused her to collapse with laughter.

3. This Confession Has Meant Nothing

Right before Patrick Bateman makes his closing monologue, and takes a drink, there is a sign attached to a door directly behind him. The sign reads: “This is not an exit.” This is an homage to author Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel of the same name. The final line of Ellis’ book reads: “This is not an exit.” If you want to critically assess the meaning of those words, they can be argued as a reflection of Bateman’s final bit of on-screen dialogue as Bale articulates, “This confession has meant nothing.” There is no escape for Bateman from his lurid fate.

2. The Name is Paul Owen

For whatever reason, Jared Leto’s character of Paul Allen was renamed for the film. The character is Paul Owen in the novel. Another glaring difference between Silver Screen and novel is the graphic nature in which Owen is murdered in the book compared to how tame the death appears on screen. Even the American production of the Broadway play American Psycho (2016) offers a bloodier demise for Paul Owen than the film.

1. Tom Cruise

While he doesn’t appear in the film version, Tom Cruise makes a cameo in both the novel and Broadway production of American Psycho. Cruise lives in the same building as Patrick Bateman and the pair finds themselves alone in the elevator for one scene. Bateman tells Cruise how much he likes his film “Bartender.” Cruise seems a little disobliged when Bateman doesn’t know the movie’s real title: Cocktail (1988). The actor quickly corrects Patrick.

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Which trivia tidbits did you find most interesting? Were there any other little-known facts you’d like to have seen make the list? Please, share your thoughts! Sound off in the comments and on social media. And thanks for reading Dread Central’s Fearsome Facts.

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Fearsome Facts

Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

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Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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