Anchor Bay Entertainment has begun releasing the lesser-known Hammer films in an economical 'two-fer' format, following behind MGM and their 'Midnight Movies' format. That's great news for those of us who haven't gotten around to purchasing these films individually, as they were originally offered, but bad news from those who have already bought the films when they were originally released to DVD in the single movie format at full price. The discs and special features offered though this set are the same as when they were offered in a single disc format, but now they are two for the price of one. I can't help but wonder if the original releases weren't selling very well, so Anchor Bay recovered them and re-released them in this more economical 'limited edition' sets. Who knows?
Anyway, the first film, The Four Sided Triangle (1953) is a decent melodramatic science fiction thriller dealing with, what I figure was a relatively new concept at the time, of human cloning. The story involves mainly three individuals, Bill, Robin, and Lena. Bill, coming from a solid background and a wealthy family, is the practical one, while Robin is the flipside of the coin, coming from a poor family, exhibits the dreamer-like qualities of a true visionary, but also suffers the highs and lows of what could be considered a manic-depressive personality. Lena is sort of in the middle, obviously desired by both men, although she can only choose one.
The men, fresh back from college, develop a machine that can perfectly reproduce anything, and this opens up a wealth of possible opportunities, and also allows Bill to profess his love to Lena, prompting their marriage, much to Robin's dismay. Robin, bored with the practical applications of the machine already, looks towards new frontiers of duplicating organic matter, and decides one the process is perfected, he should like to duplicate Lena. It works, but not without complications. All in all, not a bad movie, and it seems pretty original for the time, even though it does borrow from the Frankenstein mythos a little bit. The film is slow moving, so patience is required. The surprise ending seemed a bit contrived and fantastical, but the production values were pretty good, making for an interesting, if drawn out, experience.
X - The Unknown (1957) is the much better of the two films here, presenting a very intelligent and wonderful science fiction story that presents the notion of an ancient life form that lives within the Earth and rises through a fissure, seeking out sustenance in the form of radioactive materials. Dean Jagger stars and presents a thoroughly likable character surrounded by a strong supporting cast. Some of the horror elements were quite a bit more visceral that I would have expected, but made for fun and interesting viewing leading up to a suitably climatic finish.
I really liked the notion that the creature, a giant blob of inky, gooey material, wasn't from outer space, but something that has been on this terrestrial plane for a long time, much longer than man. I also appreciated the complications that developed as the characters discerned information about the creature, providing real depth to the story, and elevating this film above the average 'creature feature'.
Both films look and sound great, with minimal deterioration present in the prints provided, and contain the special features related to their original, independent releases, with The Four Sided Triangle disc containing a Hammer World of Horror episode titled The Curse of Frankenstein and X- The Unknown disc the World of Horror episode titled Sci-Fi and an original trailer for the film. Also included in the case are two reproduction cards for promotional material on each film. A great value if you are coming in late in the game, and it does say limited edition on the front of the case, so supplies may be limited.