|Available at Amazon.com|
Going to drive-in movies and sitting in a parked car while a giant, fake-looking monster in black and white devoured small towns was never something I got to enjoy. Being able to sit around on a Saturday afternoon and wait for the weird and the unusual to come bursting onto my small screen set wasn’t an activity that was part of my childhood. No, I’ve lead a life of big theatres with comfortable seats. A life that has giant television screens that show one of the thousands of DVDs I possess. It’s a life that watches a film costing millions of dollars to make because of the computer imaging and special effects. It’s amazing just how underprivileged I truly am.
It’s not like you have to put a lot of thought into any of these films to follow along or totally understand them. Most of them consist of giant monsters or things that could never possibly happen. Or could they? We never know and that is the beauty of horror/science-fiction. Those genres allow us to see things that we may never be able to experience in our lifetime or anyone’s lifetime for that matter. Collections like this are the reason people began enjoying the cinema in the first place, and it’s the first place people should come running to when they are complaining about Hollywood not having any creativity any longer. Newer flicks such as Piranha, Ringu, and The Hills Have Eyes are being remade; it’s surely only a matter of time before someone delves back even further and does these up with new technology.
Take Tarantula as the first example. It is your classic run of the mill giant monster film, but done in such an elegant way. The contrast of size is remarkably done for the time period in which this was filmed because sometimes you actually believe you are staring at a gigantic spider that is preying on people and killing them. It takes a top spot in my “giant monster movie” favorites because it is just incredible to watch.
Jumping into other films such as The Incredible Shrinking Man and you’ll realize that the premise is quite simple. A normal-sized human being starts shrinking all of a sudden and has to deal with being a very tiny person in a big world. He has to deal with huge insects trying to eat him. He has to worry about being stepped on or casually swept off of a counter top. It’s not incredibly scary, but it really makes you think what it would be like if either we started shrinking in size or the world around us began to grow enormously. Later on there would be somewhat of a “sequel” in 1981’s The Incredible Shrinking Woman starring Lily Tomlin. It was more of a comedy but even through all the laughs; there were a couple frightening moments.
A couple of the others have monsters in them like The Mole People, The Deadly Mantis, and The Monolith Monsters. Few have actual plot lines that go further then monsters trying to eat people and one of those is The Leech Woman. In it a beautiful woman wants to stay young looking and gorgeous forever so she searches and eventually finds something that will keep her looking good for all eternity. The only problem is that she needs to mix the compound with fluid taken from the bodies of those who have recently died. Hmmm…maybe scratch what I said earlier because it does appear as if every one of these films has something to do with some sort of monster killing or eating people. But that’s the fun of it all.
I’m not speaking to my true horror fans or those who are lovers of all cinema. I’m talking directly to those who are fans of giant explosions, endless CGI, and brilliantly written scripts. You have to take these films with a light heart and allow them to be corny or cheesy because they are. But it’s those characteristics that make them so much fun to watch. People back in the forties, fifties, and sixties weren’t bombarded with giant robots or animation that was in more then two dimensions or a man surviving on an island alone for years. They were watching a huge ass spider climb on top what was probably a bunch of doll houses and then seeing close-ups of people screaming, and the best part is that they believed it enough to get scared. Let your mind go here and watch these with an open mind and a sense of a simpler kind of movie.
Directed by: Jack Arnold. Starring: John Agar, Mara Corday, Leo G. Carroll, Nestor Paiva, Ross Elliott. Written by: Robert M. Fresco & Martin Berkeley.
Directed by: Virgil Vogel. Starring: John Agar, Cynthia Patrick, Hugh Beaumont, Nestor Paiva, Alan Napier. Written by: Laszlo Gorog.
Directed by: Jack Arnold. Starring: Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent, Paul Langton, Raymond Bailey. Written by: Richard Matheson.
Directed by: John Sherwood. Starring: Grant Williams, Lola Albright, Les Tremayne, Phil Harvey, Trevor Bardette. Written by: Norman Jolley & Robert M. Fresco.
Directed by: Jack Arnold. Starring: Arthur Franz, Joanna Moore, Judson Pratt, Nancy Walters, Troy Donahue, The Beast. Written by: David Duncan.
Directed by: Ernest Schoedsack. Starring: Albert Dekker, Janice Logan, Thomas Coley, Charles Halton, Victor Kilian, Frank Yaconelli. Written by: Tom Kilpatrick.
Directed by: Francis D. Lyon. Starring: Faith Domergue, Richard Long, Marshall Thompson, Kathleen Hughes. Written by: Jerry Davis, Cecil Maiden, & Richard Collins.
Directed by: Virgil Vogel. Starring: Jock Mahoney, Shawn Smith, William Reynolds, Henry Brandon. Written by: Laszlo Gorog.
Directed by: Nathan Juran. Starring: Craig Stevens, Alix Talton, William Hopper, Florenz Ames, Donald Randolph. Written by: Martin Berkeley.
Directed by: Edward Dein. Starring: Coleen Gray, Grant Williams, Gloria Talbott, Phillip Terry. Written by: David Duncan.
The films are mostly shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and look pretty damn good for their ages. Some damage can be seen here and there, but nothing that’s going to bother you too much unless you purposely look for it. Leech Woman and Cult Of The Cobra are shown in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, The Incredible Shrinking Man in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, and Land Unknown in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen.
The films are heard in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono Sound and it is more then enough for films that are of this age. There wouldn’t be anything coming out of the surround sound speakers so allowing that option would be pointless. Everything can be heard clearly from conversations and screams to the little weird sounds of the giant tarantula.
So all you get in the special features section of this set are the trailers for each film; you’re not getting anything else. Big deal! The beauty of this entire collection is that films are so cheesy and fantastic that you’ll get tons of replayability out of both volumes. Each flick from Tarantula all the way to The Leech Woman will be something you’ll want to watch over and over again. Can you imagine the fun you’ll have with this set as Halloween comes around? Nothing in any of them is going to blow you away and that includes the plots, acting, and special effects. Back in the day, these all generated some serious scares and were taken very seriously. Today you can sit back and enjoy these films as they are meant to be enjoyed; with plenty of creepiness, lots of cheesiness, and an extreme amount of fun. It’s a hope of mine that those who aren’t true horror fans will get as much entertainment out of this set as I have. And what’s even better is that Volume One has been out of production for quite some time so this is the only way to get it now. Better grab it before too long or you may miss out again. Please folks. I beg you…grab some popcorn, gather your friends together, and witness what true horror film cinema was all about.
Universal presents The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection: Volumes 1 & 2. Running time: 789 minutes on 6 discs. Rating: Unrated. Released on DVD: May 13, 2008. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: sci fi