Top positive review
21 people found this helpful
The Ray Harryhausen Collection - Three classic creature features, now in glorious colour!
on 25 February 2011
This collection contains the colourised versions of `It Came From Beneath The Sea', 20 Million Miles To Earth' and `Earth vs. The Flying Saucers'. Each film is the two disc edition, each comes in a normal size DVD case, all collected into a card slipcase.
It Came From Beneath The Sea - Another entertaining creature feature with special effects by Ray Harryhausen. The basic plot is along the lines of giant squid is forced to rise from the depths in search of food, and finds man to be a tasty snack. The American Navy set out to stop it, and there is a final show down in San Francisco involving the destruction of the Golden Gate bridge and a rail station. For various reasons of the plot, the navy decide the only safe way of destroying it is to explode a bomb inside the creature's brain. It's supremely daft hokum, but as entertaining an 80 minutes as you are likely to watch.
The real joy of this film is Harryhausen's special effects. These never fail to entertain and amaze. The giant squid is pretty well realised and this lends a certain air of professionalism to the film. A must see for all creature feature fans.
Earth vs. The Flying Saucers - Someone is knocking Earth's space probes out of the sky. Dr. Russell Martin and his new bride don't know it yet, but it is the work of aliens in flying saucers, who are specifically trying to contact Martin and give him a message. The message is that Earth will comply with their demands or die. For reasons best known to the aliens they then give Earth 56 days to surrender, giving Martin time to build a new super weapon to defeat the invaders. But will it work? We find out in a thrilling climax as the aliens invade Washington.
At times the film almost feels like a follow on from `Day The Earth Stood Still', due to the likeness of the invaders to the robot Gort in that film, and the presence of Hugh Marlowe. At other times you can see the clear debt that the makers of `Independance Day' and `Mars Attacks' owe this film. It is an entertaining slice of classic `50s sci fi hokum, complete with some bad acting, shaky premise and terribly scripted lines. But when Harryhausen starts to work his magic and most of Washington's monuments are sestroyed by the invaders you cannot help but be entertained.
20 Million Miles To Earth - This is an entertaining creature feature from the height of the genre. A manned mission has flown to Venus and back, picking up a specimen of the local life form whilst there. We enter the story just as the space ship is returning to Earth. It crashes in the Mediterranean, killing all but one of the crew and casting the specimen jar adrift. The jar is found and opened by a young boy who sells the contents to a local zoologist. The egg contained therein hatches and a Ymir is born. The film then follows the struggle between Ymir and man, as the creature starts to grow in an unfamiliar world. The Ymir just wants to be left alone and is by nature not an aggressive creature. But after unprovoked attacks it is driven mad, leading to a final thrilling showdown in then Coliseum of Rome.
It's a reasonably well constructed plot, and moves along at a good pace from one incident to the next. The acting is of variable quality, from the good performance of William Hopper as the space ship captain through to the terrible Italian accents of some of the Sicilian fishermen. But this is all part of the fun of these old B movies. The real joy of the feature is Ray Harryhausen's model work. He manages to imbue the Ymir with a real personality, and we feel much sympathy for the creature. The special effects are quite something, especially in the elephant fight and the rampage through Rome. From a technical and artistic point of view it is as good as only a Ray Harryhausen film can be.
These films have been colourised, though there is an option to watch the original black and white version, and one can even toggle between the two using the angle button on the remote. The colourisation works very very well. The films were originally conceived in colour, and would have been filmed as such except that the cost of colour film was prohibitive, and apparently colour film stock of the era was not of a good enough quality for Harryhausen to make his special effects. I feel that seeing them in colour is how they was originally intended, and the colourisation process has been done so proficiently you cannot see any running or overlay. The discs of special features are all fairly similar, containing a short piece about the colour process which is interesting, an interview between Tim Burton and Harryhausen and a short piece about the composer. All in all it is an excellent package.