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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Monster of Piedras Blancas [Blu-ray]


(Irvin Berwick, 1959)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Vanwick Productions

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:11:12.935

Disc Size: 20,849,846,472 bytes

Feature Size: 20,737,130,496 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 13th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1810 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1810 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English, None



• None





Description: "The sleepy little lighthouse community of Piedras Blancas has a big problem when bodies begin piling up (thankfully there s the ice room at Kochek s Store for meats and groceries) and a scale from a thought-to-be-extinct prehistoric amphibian is found nearby. Could this be the work of ... The Monster of Piedras Blancas?

For a town photographed in black & white, Piedras Blancas is teeming with colorful characters. There's Sturges (John Harmon, Monsieur Verdoux), the lighthouse keeper who makes it a ritual to leave food out near a secluded beach cave for, well, something; Lucy (Jeanne Carmen, Born Reckless), Sturges' zaftig daughter, a free thinker who clearly doesn t pay attention to daddy's warnings about skinny dipping near the cave; Lucy's boyfriend Fred (Don Sullivan, The Giant Gila Monster), a young man more than willing to keep an eye on Lucy; and the dedicated man of science Dr. Sam Jorgensen (Les Tremayne, The Fortune Cookie) who s out to solve the mysterious murders. It will become painfully obvious to Sturges (and the unfortunate inhabitants of Piedras Blancas): never miss a feeding! The Monster of Piedras Blancas, directed by Irvin Berwick (Malibu High), co-stars Forrest Lewis (All That Heaven Allows), Frank Arvidson (The 7th Commandment) and Wayne Berwick (The Naked Monster) and is photographed by Philip Lathrop, two-time Academy Award nominee for Best Cinematography (The Americanization of Emily, Earthquake)."



The Film:

Lonely lighthouse-keeper Sturges (John Harmon) keeps mostly to himself, doing his job, which includes warning people away from the beaches and caves near the Piedras Blancas lighthouse. But when two fishermen are found dead, all-but-beheaded and without a trace of blood in their bodies, that brings Constable Matson (Forrest Lewis) and Dr. Jorgenson (Les Tremayne) snooping around. And suddenly the village is being stalked by some kind of monstrous creature, capable of killing anyone in its path. Sturges reveals what he knows, but this may be too late to save his daughter Lucy (Jeanne Carmen) or himself.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

If The Monster of Piedras Blancas plays better than its low-budget, independent origins tell you it should, that's because there was more to the production than met the eye. Producer Jack Kevan, who also designed the monster suit (and may have worn it -- it depends which account you believe, as to whether it was Kevan or supporting player Peter Dunn inside the suit), was a veteran of Universal and had worked on such movies as Jack Arnold's Creature From The Black Lagoon; and Irvin Berwick -- making his directorial debut here -- had been in the business for a decade as well, first at Columbia (where he worked as a dialogue coach on pictures directed by William Castle) and later at Universal (where he worked with Jack Arnold). When work started to dry up at Universal in the second half of the 1950's, Kevan and Berwick formed their own production company, Vanwick, and The Monster of Piedras Blancas was their first project. Berwick's and Kevan's connections in the industry allowed them to draw on some very able talent from the affordable end of the acting and production spectrum, with the result that for around $150,000 or so, they got a picture that looked like it was made for (and worth) two or three times that much. Don Sullivan (The Giant Gila Monster) is a decent young male lead, convincing in his role and conveying sincerity, which is exactly what was needed; and Jeanne Carmen could pull off the role of the not-quite-ingenue daughter, and was sufficiently . . . pneumatic-looking to hold a special appeal for older male viewers.

Excerpt from AllMovieGuideE located HERE

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

The Monster of Piedras Blancas arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films. This is only single-layered but has a max'ed out bitrate and the print used is in excellent shape. The image quality is very impressive. There is frequent depth, layered contrast and gives a fine presentation in the bastardized 1.78:1 aspect ratio (from 1.85:1). The Blu-ray gets high marks for the surprisingly strong visuals that actually add to its nostalgic 'B' charms.

















Audio :

Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1810 kbps - 24-bit. There is no real score credited but the film's audio and music add to the 50's creature-feature atmosphere. The effect sounds are hokey but directly in-line with the original theatrical viewing I'll wager. Crisp and tight - pretty much on par with the strong video. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.



Well, what can you say? Surely the title alone should give you an idea of what we have here. The Monster of Piedras Blancas is better than I was anticipating. It offers all the usual late 50's monster-flic conventions - including surmising the creature's appearance through most of the film. I always lean to these and this was a decent effort - I loved the isolated venue. The Blu-ray (amusing cover) has value, typically bare-bones but an exceptional presentation - well above expectations. Charming nostalgia. Go for it. 

Gary Tooze

September 15th, 2016

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.

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Gary W. Tooze





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