Wednesday, September 24, 2008

KING KONG (1933) 'Spider Pit' re-creation and 'FX'

One of the most talked about sequences in the stop-motion world is the lost Spider Pit sequence from the 1933 King Kong. The sequence was meant to have been cut for being too horrific at the time, but there's also evidence it was cut because it broke the pace of the story. A few years back during the filming of the remake of King Kong by Peter Jackson in New Zealand a group of FX men and animators under the guidance of Jackson re-created the lost sequence. The King Kong Collection DVD, which features also Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young, has a wonderful documentary about the making of the 1933 classic, one section is devoted to the making of the Spider Pit sequence and it's history. Using a few remaining stills and illustrations and what was in the original script, Jackson with help from the likes of Rick Baker, Frank Darabont and Randall Cook piece together the sequence and how it should have played. It turns out the reason the sailors don't just run back along the log when Kong starts shaking it as they attempt cross the ravine is that a sequence was cut with a Styracosaur chasing them.
A team from WETA Workshop under the supervision of Richard Taylor build replicas of the original creatures using the same sort of techniques that would have been employed by Willis O'Brien and model maker Marcel Delgado back in the early 30's. WETA crew are employed as actors to film new live action sequences and a model making team create replicas of the miniature sets for the stop-motion models to be animated on. The final sequence was made only as a 'What if ?' and hasn't been put back into the main film and only features on the special features disc. There's talk that the original version of the sequence may still be out there sat in a film archive just waiting to be discovered, but for now the Peter Jackson re-creation gives a good insight as to how the sequence probably looked.

The whole Spider Pit re-creation can be seen here on this You Tube post somebody so kindly posted.

Also on the DVD in the documentary is great retrospect of the films FX, again a new King Kong model is constructed and animated on miniature sets complete with glass paintings for foreground foliage just like the original. They say getting a likeness for Kong spot on is quite difficult as his faces changes during the course of the original movie, as evidenced in the picture on the top row of the DVD grabs.

On a King Kong related theme, this early 1970's advert for Volkswagen was animated by the late David Allen, who animated on such films as Flesh Gordon, Caveman, Young Sherlock Holmes and Robotjox


Niel Bushnell said...

I prefer the Chewits ad from the 70's!

Michael G Clark said...

Great chewits ad.

Looking at the spider pit scene made me wonder why they bothered keeping it in the Jackson remake. I could have cut an hour off that movie and it would still have been dull.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Jackson knew that the original was cut because it slowed down the pace, then makes the same mistake and puts the same sequence in his own remake, which slowed the pace ! The remake could have done being an hour shorter at least !

Anonymous said...

That was excellent. One day those trims will turn up. Like Tomb of the Cybermen. But that was fun.

Personally I would have kept the pit sequence and cut the ice skating bit. And most of Jack Black.

Anonymous said...

The original wasn't cut because it slowed the pace. It was cut because it frightened the crap out of the test audience and they totally forgot about the main plot. At least according to Kong lore.

Strangely, the remake suffers from the same problem. When I saw it in the cinema the audience went nuts when Cookie got eaten by the cock monster. And they didn't get back to focusing on the film again for 10 minutes.

Jim said...

another great post, Andrew!