Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection, Vols. 1 & 2

Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection, Vols. 1 & 2

Edward Dein, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Francis D. Lyon, Jack Arnold,




Universal's rather awkwardly (not to mention ungrammatically) titled triple-DVD Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection (Volumes 1 and 2) is an uncommonly generous 10-movie package, originally released as two separate collections available exclusively through Best Buy, and then combined here for wide-relesse. The package features two classic titles that transcends the genre (The Incredible Shrinking Man, Dr. Cyclops), one supremely clever sci-fi thriller (The Monolith Monsters), and one first-rate sci-fi/horror chiller (Tarantula), a pair of adventure/horror titles (The Land Unknown, The Mole People), one good and one bad, respectively; two unusual Jekyll/Hyde-type stories (Monster On The Campus, The Leech Woman), and a monster-on-the-loose thriller (The Deadly Mantis) as its highlights. As they were all made at the same studio, and all but one (Dr. Cyclops) within a period of just four years, three of them by the same director (Jack Arnold), and one of the others by Arnold protege John Sherwood, there's a certain unity to some of the material, but never really a "sameness." Arnold was a creative and clever enough director so that no two of his movies look or feel exactly alike, and the work of Sherwood and director Virgil Vogel is different enough so that neither of the other two is repetitive. The new film-to-video transfers are superb -- Tarantula (1955), in particular, runs circles around the laserdisc edition from 15 years earlier, to the point where, in the medium shots, you can see the texture in the fabric of the suit that Mara Corday is wearing in her first scene; and for the first time one can actually make out the monster in the night scenes, even as the latter are still lit convincingly as night shots; the transfer is crisper and generally brighter than anything seen on the laserdisc edition, which was a major step forward from the earlier transfers for the television market. The aspect ratios vary from full-screen (1.33-to-1) to anamorphic widescreen (2.35-to-1), depending upon the movie, although all seem to work well within the framing accorded them. Strangely enough, the transfer isn't quite as good on The Incredible Shrinking Man as it is on the others, with a bit more grain in evidence. The second group of five movies are not as well made as a group, but they are, in many ways, more outrageously entertaining. Ernest Schoedsack's Dr. Cyclops (1940), the oldest picture here, is -- along with Jack Arnold's The Incredible Shrinking Man -- one of the two most technically adept productions here; both movies involve size-alterations of their characters, with Schoedsack's picture adding the further challenge of Technicolor. Cult Of the Cobra is a fine thriller with a colorful cast of B-leading men (several of whom became TV stars); The Land Unknown is the only one of these pictures shot anamorphically (2.35-to-1), and while it's not too special as a thriller -- apart from the presence of Henry Brandon in one of his more offbeat roles -- it does look great (and better than it ever did full-screen); The Deadly Mantis was the one of these pictures that kids seemed to resonate to best, a traditional monster-on-the-loose thriller with above average acting credentials (starring a pre-Peter Gunn Craig Stevens); and The Leech Woman is just creepy, with Colleen Gray piling up a significant body count as a woman bent on preserving her youth at all costs. The Deadly Mantis and Dr. Cyclops are presented full-screen (1.33-to-1), while Cult Of The Cobra and The Leech Woman are shown in 1.85-to-1. The movies have all been given a reasonably generous allocation of chapter breaks, and there are trailers, but that is as far as the bonus materials go. And that brings us to the only frustration here -- the missed opportunities where Tarantula, for one, and The Incredible Shrinking Man, especially, are concerned. Tarantula was based on a half-hour television production entitled No Food For Thought, directed (and, if memory serves, co-authored) by Jack Arnold, and it would have been nice to have tried to secure the latter as a bonus feature here. And The Incredible Shrinking Man is a good enough movie (and based on a good enough book) -- and had an involved enough production history -- so that one could reasonably have expected something in the way of a "special edition" release on it; apart from the many incarnations of the book and art associated with the story, there's even a performance clip of Ray Anthony leading his band in a live performance of the title-theme from a 1957 television variety show, which could have been included here.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/13/2008
UPC: 0025195033015
Original Release: 0000
Rating: NR
Source: Universal Studios
Region Code: 1
Time: 13:09:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Albert Dekker Dr. Thorkel
Arthur Franz Dr. Donald Blake
Coleen Gray June Talbot
Craig Stevens Col. Joe Parkman
Faith Domergue Lisa
Grant Williams Dave Miller,Scott Carey,Neil Foster
Jock Mahoney Cmdr. Harold Roberts
John Agar Dr. Matt Hastings,Dr. Roger Bentley
Cynthia Patrick Adad Gizelle
Janice Logan Dr. Mary Robinson
Joanna Moore Madeline Howard
Lola Albright Cathy Barrett
Mara Corday Stephanie "Steve" Clayton
Randy Stuart Louise Carey
Richard Long Paul Able
Shawn Smith Margareth Hathaway
William Hopper Dr. Ned Jackson
Alix Talton Marge Blaine
April Kent Clarice
Hugh Beaumont Dr. Jud Bellamin
Judson Pratt Lt. Mike Stevens
Leo G. Carroll Prof. Gerald Deemer
Les Tremayne Martin Cochrane
Marshall Thompson Tom Markel
Phillip Terry Dr. Paul Talbot
Thomas Coley Bill Stockton
William Reynolds Lt. Jack Carmen
Alan Napier Elinu High Priest
Charles Halton Dr. Bulfinch
Don Randolph Gen. Mark Ford
Gloria Talbott Sally
Henry Brandon Dr. Carl Hunter
Kathleen Hughes Julia
Nancy Walters Sylvia Lockwood
Nestor Paiva Sheriff Jack Andrews,Prof. Etienne Lafarge
Paul Langton Charlie Carey
Phil Harvey Ben Gilbert
Douglas Kennedy Capt. Burnham
Jack Kelly Carl Turner
John van Dreelen Bertram Garvay
Patrick Conway Sgt. Pete Allen
Raymond Bailey Dr. Thomas Silver
Ross Elliott John Burch
Troy Donahue Jimmy Flanders
Victor Kilian Steve Baker
William Flaherty Police Chief Dan Corey

Technical Credits
Edward Dein Director
Ernest B. Schoedsack Director
Francis D. Lyon Director
Jack Arnold Director
John Sherwood Director
Nathan Juran Director
Virgil Vogel Director

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