King Kong's Counterattack
International Title
 King Kong Escapes
Music By: Akira Ifukube
Record Label: Toshiba EMI
Running Time: 51:03 Discs: 1
Release: April 1997 CD Number: TYCY-5507
Anthony Romero
First, thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this in for review!

After a half decade break from the character, maestro Akira Ifukube returns to score his second and final King Kong production: King Kong Escapes. The score has the usual show-stopper from the composer, but suffers from an incredibly repetitive music style.

To get it out of the way, the Achilles' heel of the score is how often theme motifs are repeated. The worst offenders, and what tends to grate on the listener the most, are the Mechani-Kong and King Kong themes. Both are repeated over and over again, with the new King Kong motif used for his fight with Gorosaurus, Mechani-Kong and finishing off Doctor Who among many other themes. The theme itself is something that is good in moderation, and part of the reason why it works so well when they reused it for Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), but starts to become an endurance match with how often Ifukube relies on it for this particular score.

Thankfully, the disc has a few themes which are great and don't suffer from being dragged into the ground with how often they are used. Leading the way is the very majestic "Kong and Susan", a mixture of piano and violin work with just a faint hint of drums. It's easily the star of this score, and well liked enough that Ifukube would later adapt it into Baby Godzilla's theme in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) and Godzilla Junior's theme in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995). For a film set in an exotic location for the first third, the score doesn't do much to take advantage of this beyond two gems. One is the "Mondo Island" theme that is a heavily drum focused cue that gives the correct vibe for the lost island that Kong and the other monsters inhabit. Rounding out the selection of great themes, and the other to take advantage of the Mondo Island location, is the "Main Title" which is a great introduction to the score and to setup the narrative in the movie itself, also using drums to convey a more expedition-like feeling to the material.

In terms of the bonus material, although it technically falls out of the range, the "Madame Piranha" themes are not particularly great, but lead to the type of completest attention to detail one can only find in Toshiba's Futureland releases(and later, most likely, Toho Music). The first is a long piano motif that played rather low in the background in Madame Piranha's room. Very little of it was heard in the film, although here there is almost 5 minutes of music for the cue. This is way too long, but it's interesting to note how long the theme was originally before it was cut down for the movie. The other Madame Piranha theme appears to be an unreleased outtake from Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965), originally for the "Biwako Cruise Dance Music", that was also heard in Madame Piranha's room. As for the King Kong Escapes outtakes, they actually break the norm (where Ifukube records almost identical sounding themes) and manage to be notably different from the used source for ones like the "Main Title". In fact, the first take for the "Main Title" is especially noteworthy as it sounds so off key compared with the final version, and makes for an interesting note to see how the cue developed during the scoring before they ultimately chopped up some of the "Hypnosis Machine" track to the start for the final movie edit.

Overall, the disc is classic Ifukube, but is one of his scores that is better suited to compilations than hearing the full soundtrack from start to finish.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Main Title (M1-T3)
  2. The Base at the North Pole (M2-T2)
  3. Activating Mechani-Kong I (M3)
  4. Activating Mechani-Kong II (M4)
  5. Mondo Island (M5-T1)
  6. King Kong Appears (M6 + M7)
  7. King Kong vs. Gorosaurus I (M8)
  8. King Kong vs. Gorosaurus II (M9)
  9. Kong and Susan I (M10)
  10. The Explorer Returns (M11-T2)
  11. Operation Capture King Kong I (M12)
  12. Operation Capture King Kong II (M13)
  13. Kong at the North Pole (M14)
  14. Kong's Chance Encounter (M15)
  15. Hypnosis Machine (M16)
  16. Element X (M17)
  17. King Kong Escapes I (M19)
  18. King Kong Escapes II (M20)
  19. Kong in Tokyo (M22)
  20. Kong and Susan II (M23)
  21. Kong Showdown (M24)
  22. Confrontation at Tokyo Tower I (M25A)
  23. Confrontation at Tokyo Tower II (M25B)
  24. King Kong's Triumph (M26)
  25. King Kong Goes to Tokyo Bay (M27)
  26. The End of Dr. Who (M28)
  27. Ending (M29)
  28. Madame Piranha I (M18)
  29. Madame Piranha II (Frankenstein vs. Baragon M18A-T1)

  30. Alternate Takes
  31. Main Title (M1-T1)
  32. Main Title (M1-T2)
  33. The Base at the North Pole (M2-T1)
  34. Mondo Island (M5-T2)
  35. The Explorer Returns (M11-T1)
  36. Main Title (M16 + M1-T3 Final Edit)

    Sound Effects
  37. Mechani-Kong's Roar
  38. Mechani-Kong's Eye Lights
  39. Gorosaurus' Roar
  40. "King Kong's Counterattack" Trailer