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The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection 1 & 2

 

The Mole People (1956)     Tarantula (1955)

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

Monsters on Campus  (1958)  

Cult of the Cobra (1955)     Dr. Cyclops (1940)

The Land Unknown (1957)      The Deadly Mantis  (1957)

The Leech Woman  (1960)

 

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

Cult of the Cobra
Director: Francis D. Lyon
Theatrical Release Date: August 5th, 1955
Starts off with six boisterous US soldiers (including Richard Long and David Janssen) who are caught sneaking into the temple to watch a cult of cobra-worshippers, who reputedly have turned women into cobras and vice-versa. After they return to the States, they begin dying one by one, and it's all seemingly tied to the appearance of a mysterious beauty (Faith Domergue). Domergue is an awesome enough reason to indulge and it flows quite smoothly with an expected conclusion. Great fun!

Gary Tooze

Dr. Cyclops
Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack
Theatrical Release Date: April 12th, 1940
Marvelous performance by Dekker as the villainous Dr Cyclops - as bald as Lorre's Dr Gogol and going blind behind his pebble glasses, hence the echo of Homer's Polyphemus in his name and his ultimate fate - who lurks in the Amazonian jungle conducting experiments in which he shrinks people to manikin size. An engaging fantasy with brilliantly executed (though mostly rather unimaginative) special effects which look back to The Devil Doll and forward to The Incredible Shrinking Man. Let down by a dull supporting cast, but retrieved by the attractively pale, tremulous Technicolor.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

The Land Unknown
Director: Virgil W. Vogel
Theatrical Release Date: August, 1957
On route to an isolated Antarctic outpost a helicopter must make an emergency landing in a storm and three men and a woman crash-land in a deep crater several thousand feet below sea level. They encounter strange prehistoric creatures and a psychotic doctor who has survived, stranded in the area for years. It's the old Lost World/Land that Time Forgot thingy, but I liked it better than the Doug McLure version(s). It doesn't step too far beyond its boundaries but the monitor lizards with taped on fins is always a giveaway. The dinosaurs (men in suits aside a miniature helicopter) were much better in my opinion. How can you not love this?

Gary Tooze

The Deadly Mantis
Director: Nathan Juran
Theatrical Release Date: May, 1957
After tarantulas and ants, it was only fair to give the praying mantis a crack at world domination and Nathan Juran's cult classic does just that.
Thawed out from its polar icecap prison, the prehistoric ancestor of today's sensible sized predators lays siege to both American bases and Inuit villages in the frozen wastes before heading for New York where an army man (Craig Stevens) and scientists William Hopper and Alix Talton fight to save the city.

Excerpt from Channel 4 located HERE

The Leech Woman
Director: Edward Dein
Theatrical Release Date: May, 1960
A woman, worn by alcoholic abuse and, at the end of a failing marriage to a doctor travels with him to Africa in search of a secret to youthful restoration. One catch - the potion requires the fluid from a pineal gland of a man hence the film's edict 'Forever young! Forever deadly! She lived off the life blood of male victims! ' . Grim and amusing film flawed by its incongruities but folks you are supposed to accept the faux-pas... and if you do it is more 'B' fun! 

Gary Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1940 - 1960

 DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Universal (6-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime

Respectively:

1:20:06 + 1:17:24 + 1:20:39 + 1:07:32 + 1:16:27 

1:19:51 + 1:17:03 + 1:18:27 + 1:18:03 + 1:17:00 

Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio (except The Incredible Shrinking Man that is 1.78 anamorphic and Leech Woman, Cult of the Cobra 1.85 anamorphic and Land Unknown 2.35 anamorphic)
Average Bitrate:
6.3 - 8.69 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
Audio English (original) 
Subtitles English (Hoh), French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio (except The Incredible Shrinking Man that is 1.78 anamorphic and Leech Woman, Cult of the Cobra 1.85 anamorphic and Land Unknown 2.35 anamorphic)

Edition Details:

• Theatrical Trailers for each feature
 

DVD Release Date: May 13th, 2008
4 - tired Digipack (2X2 overlapping)

Chapters: various

 

Comments:

We are making a not-so-extraordinary assumption that this is, as advertised, a package combing the first Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection (now, way out-of-print) and The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection Vol. 2.

The 10 films are spread over 6 single-sided discs - 4 dual-layered and 2 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.

They look very good with Monsters on the Campus and The Leech Woman 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. From Vol. 2 - all look quite consistent. 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 which remain quite a hoot in their own right. NOTE: Although on The Deadly Mantis it's the same one they added to the VHS edition which has no representation of the film.

Pretty smart of Universal to release these together as so many people are desirous of the unavailable Vol 1. If you are keen on this genre and don't already own either (how would that be possible?) then this package is essential in my mind - at a good price (around $40.00 - $4/film). The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Mole People, Tarantula, Cult of the Cobra and The Deadly Mantis standing out as the most fun - the latter must have been the inspiration for Joe Dante's Matinee (1993).  I prize this part of my DVD library with these flawed gems which resonate such innocence and evoke personal memories of childhood bliss. If these titles have any appeal for you then we can vouch that this DVD collection is great fun - the type of nostalgic cinema that I love to recommend... and all in one large package!  out of

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus (Samples)


 


Subtitle Sample

 

The Incredible Shrinking Man

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

Tarantula

 

 

 


The Mole People

 

 


 

 


The Incredible Shrinking Man
 

 

 


 


The Monolith Monsters

 

 


 

 


Monster on the Campus
 

 


 

 


 

 


Cult of the Cobra

 

 

 


 

Dr. Cyclops

 

 


The Land Unknown

 

 

 

 


The Deadly Mantis
 

 

 


The Leech Woman
 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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