Every day this week, we're going to give you a little hint of the juicy editorial you can get in our new Giant Monsters issue of Birth.Movies.Death. magazine. In this new larger-than-life issue, we go BIG - we talk all sorts of kaijus and mechs, in honor of Kong: Skull Island and Colossal. You'll read about 50-ft Women, kaiju of both American and UK stripes, King Ghidorah, Godzilla and much, much more - as well as, of course, tons of info on both King Kong and the kaiju of Colossal, including incredible interviews with Kong and Colossal directors Jordan Vogt-Roberts and Nacho Vigalondo.
So here's today's sneak! A piece on Willis H. O’Brien and the special effects of King Kong (1933) from Priscilla Page:
On June 3, 1922, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attended a dinner for the Society of American Magicians at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City. He brought a film with him to play for the attendees for the very first time. Huge, life-like dinosaurs flickered onscreen, they seemed to live and breathe. Even Harry Houdini believed. Illusionists and press alike were in awe. The next day, THE NEW YORK TIMES ran a story about the film: “Spiritist mystifies world-famed magicians with pictures of prehistoric beasts — keeps origin a secret — monsters of other ages shown, some fighting, some at play, in their native jungles.” The TIMES wondered whether Doyle had found a new world “in the ether,” and “if fakes, they were masterpieces.” Doyle himself called it “pure cinema.” And he confessed in a letter to Houdini that the film was Willis O’Brien’s test reel for THE LOST WORLD. Out of this kind of magic, 1933’s KING KONG -- the eighth wonder of the world -- was born.
Before California native Willis H. O’Brien (a.k.a. O’Bie) became the founding father of stop-motion animation, he was: a sports cartoonist, a boxer, a cattle-ranch cowboy, a rodeo attendant, a bartender, a trapper, a brakeman, a fossil hunter and a stonecutter. It was during his stint as a sculptor at the San Francisco World’s Fair that a bored O’Brien and his colleague created little boxers made of clay and challenged each other to fight. This was the moment O’Brien conceived of stop-motion animation, realizing that it might be possible to animate his action figure by filming it in increments. His career officially began when Thomas Edison hired him to work at Motion Picture Patents Company after he saw O’Brien’s one-minute film of fighting clay dinosaurs, THE DINOSAUR AND THE MISSING LINK.
Read the whole article - and MUCH more, including incredible, exclusive art and a spread of all of Mondo's greatest King Kong posters - by buying the magazine HERE.