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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Creature from the Black Lagoon - part of the Universal Classics Monsters Boxset [Blu-ray]

 

(Jack Arnold, 1954)

 

Available individually June 4th, 2013:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal

Video: Universal

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:19:13.749

Disc Size: 39,018,405,021 bytes

Feature Size: 21,683,447,808 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.97 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 2nd, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1859 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1859 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 448 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Tom Weaver

Back to the Black Lagoon (39:40)

• Production Photographs (11:29)

• Theatrical gallery

• 100 Years of Universal: The Lot

My Scenes

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: From the era of silent movies through present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection showcases 8 of the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature From the Black Lagoon. Starring Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these original films set the standard for a new horror genre with revolutionary makeup, mood-altering cinematography and groundbreaking special effects. Featuring over 12 hours of revealing bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate classic monster experience.

 

 

The Film:

Universal Pictures introduced audiences to yet another classic movie monster with this superbly crafted film, originally presented in 3-D. The story involves the members of a fossil-hunting expedition down a dark tributary of the mist-shrouded Amazon, where they enter the domain of a prehistoric, amphibious "Gill Man" -- possibly the last of a species of fanged, clawed humanoids who may have evolved entirely underwater. Tranquilized, captured, and brought aboard, the creature still manages to revive and escape -- slaughtering several members of the team -- and abducts their sole female member (Julie Adams), spiriting her off to his mist-shrouded lair. This sparks the surviving crewmen to action -- particularly those who fancy carrying the girl off themselves. Director Jack Arnold makes excellent use of the tropical location, employing heavy mists and eerie jungle noises to create an atmosphere of nearly constant menace. The film's most effective element is certainly the monster itself, with his pulsating gills and fearsome webbed talons. The creature was played on land by stuntman Ben Chapman and underwater by champion swimmer Ricou Browning -- who was forced to hold his breath during long takes because the suit did not allow room for scuba gear. The end result was certainly worth the effort, proven in the famous scene where the Gill Man swims effortlessly beneath his female quarry in an eerie ballet -- a scene echoed much later by Steven Spielberg in the opening of Jaws.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

The routine story - members of a scientific expedition exploring the Amazon discover and are menaced by an amphibious gill man - is mightily improved by Arnold's sure sense of atmospheric locations and by the often sympathetic portrait of the monster. Interestingly, the threat is perceived as partly sexual (notably in the scene where the creature swims mesmerised beneath the tightly swimsuited Adams), and thus the film can be seen as a precursor of Jaws.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Creature From the Black Lagoon is the odd-duck of the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection being the only widescreen effort and released over a decade after the last entry; the Technicolor Phantom of the Opera. On Blu-ray it looks quite strong - perhaps a notch below some of the others in the set but I expect that is directly related to production. This was helmed by Jack Arnold and corners were cut here and there. This is also dual-layered with a strong bitrate. Contrast is a shade muddier (not just the underwater sequences)  - but consistent and in the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This Blu-ray appears to do its job well from a less-perfectly maintained source than the other seven. It provided a strong presentation.

NOTE: This disc also has the 3-D version of the film - accessible from the main menu!

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Standard for the set a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1859 kbps. It exports the effects well but the score - among the uncredited composers is Henry Mancini! - is intense and loud for scenes with the monster or even glimpses of its body. Depth is apparent with a boisterous horn section. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Following the others in the package this has the duplicate extras from the Legacy set with a commentary - this one by by Tom Weaver, a Skal documentary from 2000; 'Back to the Black Lagoon' runs for almost 40-minutes and has Julie Adams and other reminiscing about the production. There are some photographs, a theatrical trailer gallery and 100 Years of Universal: The Lot. The disc has the My Scenes referencing ability.

NOTE: This disc also has the 3-D version of the film - accessible from the main menu!

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Creature From the Black Lagoon has enough accolades to be in the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection with the more iconic titles. Contrast advances over SD and this Blu-ray is an enjoyable addition. It too resonates to a more impacting level in the higher resolution. I'm a huge fan of 50's fodder like this and I was very pleased with the presentation. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

September 25th, 2012

 

Available individually June 4th, 2013:


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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