Wednesday, December 14, 2005

King Kong menaces small Southern town

My aunt Maude didn't speak English. She spoke a language of her own made up of not-always-easy-to-understand euphemisms. I was an adult before I realized that when she spoke of a girl she knew having "boogers" in her head that she meant lice and not the nostril by-product we all try to avoid. The described phenomenon had always puzzled me up until my epiphany.

The King arrives
Any anecdote from Aunt Maude required a bit of interpretation. So I have this story from her lips but not with precise details. I never heard her actually say that it was King Kong she and her siblings went to see, but I believe 1933 would have been a reasonable time frame for the incidents she described.

On the night in question, several members of their large family went to see a scary movie. I can't remember what clues helped me ascertain it was Kong, but somewhere over the years I did.

Watermelon dreams
After the movie, everyone returned home for watermelon, and then they all went to sleep.

Dozing with a stomach full of watermelon, my aunt began to have vivid nightmares, so vivid she woke believing they were real. She went to my uncle's room and got him convinced something was wrong as well. I've never heard the words "giant gorilla" so I'm not sure what fueled their planned evacuation.

Even though he had not been dreaming, he tossed on a coat and they started waking other members of the household in preparation for a grand escape from the sketchily defined evil. Luggage may have even been involved, so apparently it was a persistent threat.

Folie à deux or more
Somewhere in the flurry, my Grandmother was awakened. Not having attended the film, she provided the voice of reason that finally quelled the shared psychosis.

The homestead was not abandoned. Heartbeats returned to normal, but for all of their adult lives, the family members there that night laughed about the time Maude woke everybody up.

I tell this now because I think it's a clear sign of the original film's power, and an indicator of why 70 some odd years later there's a remake.

After I see it, I think I'll be careful about what I eat.


Anonymous said...

The reviews on this one are fawning...I sure hope it lives up to them. The King deserves it -- and come to think about it, so do we.

Sidney said...

Yeah, I hope it is good too. Kongalways makes me sad. "He's always been a king in his world but we'll show him fear!"

It's quite a commentary on many things. I did not realize until hearing an NPR podcast that the original movie's ending was based on the deaths of two komodo dragons that were brought to the U.S. and died of illness in captivity.

Cooper chose the then recently constructed Empire State Building as the icon of modern civilization to symbolize it's destruction of the "nobel" beast.

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