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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Joseph Newman and Jack Arnold
USA 1955

Let us start with a plot that rarely gets more appealing for a young adventure-seeking lad of any era: Dr. Cal Meacham (played by tall, dark and absurdly deep-voiced actor Rex Reason) is a handsome scientist, able to dabble in nuclear energy and expertly pilot  jet planes. Cal and his Jimmy Olson-like sidekick Joe, played by Robert Nichols, have received a strange metal-paged instruction manual on how to build an "interocitor".  This reviewer looks skyward rubbing his jaw as an eerie sequence of single organ notes plays in the background "hmmmm... interocitor you say".

 

Cal and Joe curiously begin their IKEA-like project with the parts for the interocitor arriving as mysteriously as its instruction manual. This electronic contraption proves to be a communication device, among other vague attributes, and through a triangular shaped TV screen introduces us to Exeter (played by Jeff Morrow, who would follow up "This Island Earth" with a couple of Douglas Sirk pictures the following year!). Keeping up the high level of secrecy, Exeter requests Cal's presence for an undisclosed scientific project. As well as flippant, yet still brilliant, our hero Cal also exhibits enough curiosity to fearlessly board a pilot-less, window-less plane to an unknown destination.

 

Upon arriving, Cal is greeted by the only female in the film, attractive Dr. Ruth Adams (played by Faith Domergue, who is straight out of the Howard Hughes assembly line of gossamer-breasted wannebe movie stars). Ruth is a colleague and former muted love interest from Cal's past, but her inscrutable demeanor suggests a further air of mystery than your typical coy, eyelash-batting, science babe. On Exeter's magnificent estate we find a host of international scientists including Steve Carlson, played by future Gilligan's Island professor Russell Johnson.

 

Exeter and his right hand man, Brack, both with unusual and similarly misshapen-foreheads (but a curiously unmentioned physical anomaly to the surrounding think-tank ), are actually aliens! They are communicating with their home planet Metaluna who have decreed that they steal our most gifted scientist knowledge, under the guise of obtaining world peace, to help their alien planet from extinction and destruction by a hostile race from neighboring mud-ball Zahgon!

 

Later proving benevolent, Exeter kidnaps Cal and Ruth, the nostalgic science proms reigning King and Queen, transporting them back to Metaluna in a hopeless attempt to stave off imminent obliteration of his home world. We arrive in Meatluna, quickly find a dying planet bombarded with programmed comets and no time left for valiant human gestures.  The only hope for the survival of the Metalunian race is to relocate to Earth, unfortunately this too is overly time sensitive. Only Exeter, Cal and Ruth are able to board the massive space craft and start the journey back to mother Earth, after first fighting off a swollen-brained mutant Metalunian slave.

Philosophically, Exeter leaves us with a few passing thoughts before entering our atmosphere and nobly gesturing Ruth and Cal back to their piloted plane for their safe passage before crashing into the ocean and ending his own life.

It is very hard to rationalize and rate such a campy film, but I will do it regardless with a very enthusiastic out of Let your guard down and enjoy yourself! 

Gary Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Release: June 1st, 1955

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DVD Comparison: 

Image Entertainment (OOP) - Region 1- NTSC vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Universal - Region  2,4,5 - PAL

(Image Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC LEFT vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Universal Studios

Region 1 - NTSC

Universal Studios

Region 2,4,5 - PAL

Runtime 1:25:54 1:25:51 1:22:24 (4% PAL Speedup)

Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.79 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.63 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.31 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate : Image Entertainment

Bitrate: Universal Studios

Bitrate: Universal Studios PAL

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) English (Dolby Digital 2.0) English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles None English, Spanish, French, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Open Matte - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date: April 8th, 1998
Keep case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Studios
 

Aspect Ratio:
Open Matte - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Trailer (2:20)

 

DVD Release Date: August 22nd, 2006
Keep case

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Studios
 

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• none

 

DVD Release Date: February 4th, 2008
Keep case

Chapters 15

 

Comments
NOTE: Big thanks to more than one Beaver-ite who informed us about this new PAL release!

ADDITION: Universal PAL WIDESCREEN EDITION - April 08': Although also single-layered this UK DVD resonates pure pleasure at having this classic finally shown in 'original' widescreen. 

As stated on DVDSavant HERE "The years 1953 through 1955 saw an exhibition transition brought on by CinemaScope. Flat films originally shown 1:37 were matted to 1:66 and finally as wide as 1:85 and called "widescreen." The Universal handouts for 'It Came from Outer Space' say that it is in 'widescreen', which indicates at least 1:66.

In practice, all of these films were exhibited at different ARs depending on whether or not individual theater screens had been updated. There's a wide discrepancy between: 1) The Aspect Ratio intended by the director of photography (which could be superseded by the studio), 2) The studio's records, 3) Projection instructions accompanying the prints themselves and 4) The information handed out in suspect publicity announcements. Often negating all the above, the exhibitors showed the films in whatever way they felt like showing them, anyway! "

So it was shown in widescreen - perhaps as little as 1.5:1 but evidence suggest some degree of scope ratio was utilized in virtually all theatres it was originally shown. The new PAL DVD shows more information on the sides and less on top (removing some of the gaping spaces above character's heads). So composition adheres to widescreen as well.

As for the rest - colors on the Universals' seem to support each other. Light speckles are duplicated. The anamorphicity should make the PAL appear sharper (dependant on the system you watch it on) and there are no extras. They have included some optional English subtitles. It is coded for region's 2, 4 and 5 in the PAL standard. One note: I've seen the film so many times that the PAL speedup (4%) is noticeable in the dialogue - it brings Rex Reason's baritone voice up to an almost believable pitch. :)

I've owned this film in many formats (VHS and LaserDisc as well as these three DVDs) and this is the first time I am seeing it as it was shown theatrically. This UK DVD is not perfect but it's the best of this lot and we encourage fans of the film to indulge - seeing it in original widescreen is like watching the film fresh - and the price is sure right. Recommended!

***

ON THE NTSC EDITIONS: Short story - for the most part the new Universal image is improved, although slightly cropped. It is brighter (where it should be brighter) and colors are much more consistent. It is less grainy, with less artifacts (see Faith Domergue's face image below). It is far from perfect as they are light speckles throughout. I detected no extreme advancement in the audio department. Extras are disappointingly barren with only a trailer on the new Universal release, but this appears to be in keeping with their standard of limited packages offered at reasonable price tags. Frankly, I wasn't expecting too much more - perhaps a more vibrant image and my fingers were crossed for widescreen (original).

 

I have championed this film for years, realizing that it is the butt of Mystery Theater 3000 sarcasm-fests. Something about this production hits me right in my childhood-sci-fi fantasy-breadbasket. I have returned to it often and at least now have no need to worry about my way out-of-print Image release getting digital rot. If you like this genre of film - then this is the best ever made - in my opinion.     

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus

(Image Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC LEFT vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

 

 

Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL

 


Screen Captures

 

NOTE: Only the. Universal Studios editions offer subtitles

 

Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL BOTTOM
 

 

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Image Entertainment - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 

 

Image:

Universal PAL

Sound:

-

Extras: Universal NTSC (it has a trailer)
Menu: Universal PAL (animated)

 
DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Universal Studios

Region 1 - NTSC

Universal Studios

Region 2,4,5 - PAL



 

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