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The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection

 

The Mole People (1956)     Tarantula (1955)

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)      The Monolith Monsters  (1957)

Monsters on Campus  (1958)

 

Titles

 

 

 

The Mole People
Director: Virgil W. Vogel
Theatrical Release Date: December 22nd, 1956
As a 13-year-old, I liked this low-budget Universal-International production (1956) about ancient Sumerians, but older people told me it was bad and, roughly a decade later, lots of others decided it was camp.

Excerpt of Capsule by Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader Located HERE
 

Tarantula
Director: Jack Arnolds
Theatrical Release Date: December 14th, 1955
This 50's sci-fi staple has all the expected clichés... from the small isolated town (Desert Rock in rural Arizona) to the skeptical Sheriff (Nestor Paiva) - from the suspicious young doctor (John Agar) linked to the ultra feminine heroine (Mara Corday). Plus where would we be without the loner experimenting professor (Leo G. Carroll) whose scientific, but well meaning, intrusion in nature's scheme produces the titled monster. The effects are better than average as the Tarantula was an actual spider manipulated on miniature sets with air jets. This is hokey of course, but it is still fabulous stuff - director Arnold, who brought us The Incredible Shrinking Man among many others, really had these B-movies nailed. The script is competent and the acting believable enough. Ohh... and yes that Jet Squadron Leader is a young Clint Eastwood. How could we not recommend this to fill space on my DVD shelves with such classics as 'This Island Earth' (where Arnold did much of the re-shooting) and 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' (1954)?

Gary Tooze

The Incredible Shrinking Man
Director: Jack Arnold
Theatrical Release Date: February 22nd, 1957
I was continuing to shrink, to become... what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world..."

When Grant Williams is subjected to a radioactive mist while on holiday with his wife, he falls ill and then starts to shrink. It's a simple premise, but the result is a masterpiece of the science-fiction genre that plays to the human emotion of the situation rather than overwhelming the audience with special effects. First his wife begins to order him around, then, as he gets inexorably smaller, the household cat becomes a savage predator, a splash of water threatens to destroy him and he fights to the death against a spider before advancing to the next stage in his strange and lonely existence. Director Arnold came to science fiction from a background of documentary-making (he later moved again, to comedies), and his sparse direction allows the tension to build naturally so that the terror and poignancy of the story work their way into the audience's brain without being forced. A total classic.

Excerpt from Channel 4 located HERE

The Monolith Monsters
Director: John Sherwood
Theatrical Release Date: December 10th, 1957
The original 'rocky horror': a Jack Arnold-originated, quite effective Universal sci-fi paranoia yarn featuring the alien-induced metamorphosis of men to stone, and a subsequent stampede of towering crystal structures across small-town America. Grant Williams (The Incredible Shrinking Man) is again dwarfed by his adversaries, though he plays the only possible hero: a geologist.

Excerpt from Time Out Film Guide located HERE

Monster on the Campus
Director: Jack Arnold
Theatrical Release Date: December 17th, 1958
'Is this fish really one million years old?' asks Troy Donahue, pointing at the new specimen at Professor Donald Blake's lab. It sure is, and what's more, if you get infected then you revert to primitive instinctual behavior. With that in mind, Jack Arnold's hijacking of the Wolf Man plot onto a campus terror tale needs all his talent for making the incredible seem possible: giant dragonflies and million-year-old fish don't quite look so strange as the '50s finned creatures known as automobiles that glide down the campus and suburban avenues.

Excerpt from Time Out Film Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1955 - 1958

 DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Universal (3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for matching the captures!

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:20:06 + 1:17:24 + 1:20:39 + 1:07:32 + 1:17:09 + 1:16:27 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio (except The Incredible Shrinking Man that is 1.78 anamorphic)
Average Bitrate: 6.56 + 6.63 + 7.49 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:  Disc 1
Tarantula / The Mole People

Bitrate: Disc 2
The Incredible Shrinking Man / The Monolith Monsters

Bitrate: Disc 3
Monsters on Campus

Audio English (original) 
Subtitles English (Hoh), French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1 - Except The Incredible Shrinking Man that is 1.78 anamorphic

Edition Details:

• Theatrical Trailers for each feature
 

DVD Release Date: September 19, 2006
3 - tired Digipack (2 overlapping)

Chapters: various

 

Comments:

The 5 films are spread over 3 single-sided discs - 2 dual-layered and 1 single layered. They are encoded in the NTSC standard for region 1. All are progressively transferred and have trailers. Each have original audio and optional English, or French, subtitles.

I don't think we need to do extensive comparisons to the PAL counterparts that we have already reviewed (HERE and HERE) - the captures below (matched by Gregory! - thanks) indicate the image quality is virtually the same with little to gripe about. The PAL have far more subtitle and DUB options, but no trailers. They look very good with Monsters on the Campus looking the best followed closely by Monolith Monsters and Tarantula. There is some digital noise in The Incredible Shrinking Man and even less so in The Mole People. Minimal damage and decent contrast help round out these transfers as well above-average (considering the age of the films).

No extras save the theatrical trailers for each - they are quite a hoot in their own right.

This package is a real cracker - at a great price (under $20.00). I'd love to see a 'Jack Arnold Boxset' one day - loaded with extras and commentaries. If these titles appeal to you then we can vouch that this DVD collection is fun, nostalgic cinema that we strongly recommend!  out of    

NOTE: This edition of The Incredible Shrinking Man, compared to the other movies in this collection, has serious grain issues, poor sharpness, as well inconsistent and pointlessly flat contrast in many scenes (where dark areas revert to black far too easily) even before Scott winds up in the cellar. Moreover, except for exterior scenes in the opening segments of The Mole People, none of the other movies exhibit any concerns to speak of re sharpness, grain or contrast – certainly nothing remotely on the order of TISM. The Region 2 (Universal/UK) is marginally, though noticeably better in all respects than the R1 edition in the Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection, and makes for a more agreeable viewing experience if you're going to watch the entire movie instead of a few isolated frames.

Judging these discs on a 7-foot wide screen via a 3-LCD 720p projector on a ten point scale, I would give this new R1 of TISM 4 points, the R2 edition closer to 5; Mole People (except, as noted, for some of the exterior scenes) getting on to 6; Tarantula a skosh better, and The Monolith Monsters and Monster on the Campus approaching 7. In short, we both placed the films in about the same order, but the differences in quality between TISM and all the other films was monstrous when viewed on a large screen. (Thanks Leonard!)
 

Gary W. Tooze

 





DVD Menus (Samples)

 


Subtitle Sample

 

The Incredible Shrinking Man

 

(Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL REVIEWED HERE - TOP vs. Universal (Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection) - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

Tarantula

 

(Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL REVIEWED HERE - TOP vs. Universal (Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection) - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL REVIEWED HERE - TOP vs. Universal (Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection) - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


The Mole People

 

 


 

 


The Incredible Shrinking Man
 
(Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL REVIEWED HERE - TOP vs. Universal (Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection) - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)
 

 

 


(Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - REVIEWED HERE TOP vs. Universal (Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection) - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)
 

 


The Monolith Monsters

 

 


 

 


Monster on the Campus
 

 

 


 

 


 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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