If you were a little kid on Long Island in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, then you remember Channel 9’s annual Thanksgiving monster movie marathon. Dear God, did I love watching it with my Dad. It was an EVENT. I loved it far more than any Thanksgiving turkey — if they played monster movies all day, I think I’d cheerfully just enjoy Cocoa Puffs nonstop in front of the color TV in the family’s living room.
The Holy Trinity of monster movies, of course, consisted of “King Kong” (1933), “Son of Kong” (1933) and “Mighty Joe Young” (1949). It’s a testament to these films’ staying power that they could still appeal to both children and adults roughly a half century after they were made. Retrospect suggests it was probably a nice little father-son bonding exercise … my Dad was watching me thrill to the same monster action he enjoyed as a boy. Special effects legend Ray Harryhausen truly blessed my childhood.
The DVD Drive-In website has a neat little nostalgic rundown right here:
I can’t believe I actually remember this — the 1976 “King Kong” jigsaw puzzle produced by H.G. Toys. I received it during a backyard birthday party on a hot summer day … either that year or 1977? I guess that would have made me four or five years old.
I mostly remember the box occupying the disastrous floor of the bedroom closet that I shared with my older brother. I’m pretty sure the pieces fell out; I never assembled it. The target demographic for this 150-piece puzzle was well beyond my age group. That didn’t bother me. I had no interest in jigsaw puzzles — as a tot, I just liked examining the illustration on the box.
That is indeed a version of King Kong straddling the World Trade Center. It depicts a movie poster from the truly forgettable, 70’s-awful version of the classic monster story — the one starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. The 1933 original, so beloved by my father and me, was far better than this version. It even had better special effects. (Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion photography is still fun to watch; this stinker gave us a man in a gorilla suit.)
That illustration is still pretty cool, though, even if the fate of that bomber clutched in Kong’s hand is somewhat confusing. (Is is just disintegrating? Was it made of Legos?)
I never saw this “King Kong” in the theater. My family didn’t do that much. But I remember being excited to see the movie on broadcast television a few years later.
As I’ve noted before on this blog, jigsaw puzzles for kids were kind of a thing in the 1970’s and maybe early 1980’s. (I have since never seen or heard of a child older than a tot playing with one.) Some of the 70’s puzzles, just before my time, were bizarrely sold in cardboard cans. (I remember seeing those among my older brother’s possessions.)
… then I hope that H.R. Giger is now having a blast in an endless art and monster-making studio with Ray Harryhausen. And who knows? Maybe Lon Chaney, Sr. and Lon Chaney, Jr. could stop off with some beer.