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The Monolith Monsters [Blu-ray]
(John Sherwood, 1957)
Review by Gary Tooze
NOTE: Screenbound DVD added - March 2016: Just a short note, yes the Anolis Blu-ray seems like it is out-of-print. We had some interest in this title by the UK distributor since our reviews of their The Atomic Submarine and Monster on the Campus. The new Screenbound SD is 1.33:1, single-layered, PAL, and only has a trailer as an extra. It's image is a shade weaker than the Universal SD - but quite comparable. Nice cover, too.
Theatrical: Universal International Pictures (UI)
Video:i-catcher Media (Anolis Film Entertainment)
Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 24,624,646,822 bytes
Feature Size: 23,246,376,960 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.76 Mbps
Case: Black slim Blu-ray case
Release date: March 28th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 2.0:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DUB: DTS-HD Master Audio German 1565 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1565 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1566 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1566 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• Advertising Gallery (7:45)
Description: In some ways, the coming-attractions trailer for The Monolith Monsters is more exciting than the picture itself. The plot gets under way when a meteor crashes in the desert, leaving behind huge black chunks. While being analyzed in a science lab, the crystaline stones are accidentally drenched with water, whereupon they begin to grow to gargantuan dimensions. In a twinkling, these monster monoliths are running amok, "petrifying" whomever and whatever gets in their way. A sudden rainstorm further exacerbates the situation, causing the monoliths to grow to hitherto unimagined heights. Can the world be saved by the saline solution which the scientists are hurriedly developed in the lab? The notion of killer rocks was certainly a novelty: it would have been nice if Monolith Monsters had consistently lived up to the promise of its premise.
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.
The only movie about killer rocks you'll ever see. It's hard to believe such a story pitch was ever greenlighted, and just as unbelievable to see that it actually works. Concept is similar to that of J.G. Ballard's creepy novel 'The Crystal World', and execution follows the pattern of other more well-known genre films of the time: it has an ominous opening narration (usually a prerequisite for these films); a desert setting (always popular, since this gives the monster more time to roam about killing wayfarers before it reaches the already-alerted community nearby); a hero who works for the government with some military/scientific background; his girlfriend (subject for possible paper: Why are the leading couples never married in 1950s SF/horror films?); a quasi-scientific rationale for the monster's creation; and a race against time to find a means of defeating the invading creature.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The new feature of this German Blu-ray of The Monolith Monsters is the aspect ratio change from the 1.33:1 transfer in the The 6-disc Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection to SuperScope 2.0:1 widescreen (as was 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers Blu-ray). We've added a couple of capture comparisons below. You can see you are losing and gaining information (mostly losing top and bottom). This was the time of the ambiguous ratios - some theatres equipped for widescreen - others not. The 2.0:1 was considered an 'in-house' ratio used by Universal and although filmed 'full' was matted depending on each individual theater's projectionist. 1.85:1 would probably be more 'correct' but we should respect the multiple possible ratios the film was potentially shown. 2.0:1 can look tight in the opening title (see above) and credits but I like that it is different and another option beyond the one I saw on the past SD. I'm certain there will be those unhappy - citing it as inaccurate. Let's consider it an option at this point. The image quality shows a fine layer of grain and looks sweet. This is single-layered but has a max'ed out bitrate for the 1 1/4 hour film. Contrast is pristine and lines are tight with solid sharpness. Visually this gets high marks.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1566 kbps in original English and a similarly robust German DUB. Effects are basically limited to the crumbling rock noises but there is a score - by uncredited combination of Henry Mancini (Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation), Herman Stein (This Island Earth) and Irving Gertz (The Fearmakers). Unfortunately, it doesn't promote itself and stays in the background with minor support sounding decent overall. There are fully optional German subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Not much - a couple of slideshow galleries and two trailers. I'm sure there is something to be said about the film - but it we have to suffice with the interesting 'Advertising', 'Posters' + 'Stills' images.
NOTE: This Blu-ray disc is limited to 1000 copies - so if you are keen, best not to wait!
April 23rd, 2014
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 3500 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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