Creature from the Black Lagoon
R2 - United Kingdom - Fabulous Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (10th March 2016).
The Film

***This is an A/V and Extras review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Not since the beginning of time has the world beheld terror like this!

Captured and imprisoned for scientific study, a living “amphibious missing link” becomes enamored with the head researcher’s female assistant. When the creature escapes and kidnaps the object of his affection, a crusade is launched to rescue her and cast the terrifying monster back to the depths from which he came. Featuring legendary makeup artist Bud Westmore’s brilliantly designed monster, Creature from the Black Lagoon is an enduring tribute to the imaginative genius of its Hollywood creators.

Video

Fabulous Films continues with it's mystifying range of Universal reissues in which they use the decade old or older glass masters to punch out these new DVDs. Sadly, there are no new extras and the transfers, whilst serviceable reflect the know how of 2000-2005.

In the case of Creature from the Black Lagoon we have a perfectly decent B&W transfer of this classic scfi flick; decent black levels with no crush and good contrast (for standard definition) and I detected no chroma issues - the image is perfect, inky B&W. Detail is acceptable but can't compare to the more recent HD master which also debuted the film in the proper aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This disc has the 1.37:1 open matte variant that has been the mainstay of the VHS-Laserdisc era. I detected virtually no damage on the print used; it looks as clean and fresh as the day it was made.

The film works pretty well in the open matte ratio as in 1954 there was a good chance that some cinemas that hadn't yet converted to widescreen would have screened in this way. However, it was composed for 1.85:1 and the film works much better in that ratio. Also, the Blu-ray version also presented this film in the original 3D, and it's one of the finest vintage 3D presentations. I have no idea which eye is the one used for this transfer.

1.37:1 / PAL / 75'59"

Audio

Audio:
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English, Arabic, Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Turkish, Romanian.

As with the ten to fifteen year old Universal DVD, this Fabulous films clone has a basic lossy, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track which is serviceable and replicates the the films original soundtrack. No fancy 5.1 or 2.0 stereo upgrades here. Sound has been distributed evenly to the front two speakers. Dialogue is clear and the bombastic score (Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter, Herman Stein) never overwhelms the actors.

Extras

Back to the Black Lagoon (2000) (39'38") - A superb retrospective hosted by the great David J. Skall who has written many books on fantastic cinema, particularly the period from the silent era through the 1950s. This primarily covers the first film, but also touches on the two sequels. Features contributions from David J. Schow (author, screenwriter and creature connoisseur), Ben Chapman (actor), Julie Adams (actress), Vincent di Fate (science fiction illustrator / historian), Bob Furmanek (Curator, 3D Film Archives), Ricou Browning (actor), Bob Burns (collector), David Schecter (Producer, Monstrous Movie Music), Paul M. Jenson (film historian) and Lori Nelson (actress).

Feature length commentary with author and monster fan Tom Weaver - A first rate yak track in which Weaver fills the films brief 75'59" running time with so much info and trivia that at times he seems to become slightly breathless....or at least the listener becomes pummelled by sheer amount of fascinating information.

Theatrical Trailer (3'53") - The usual cheesy, hyperbolic '50s style trailer. Great fun!

Production Photographs (slideshow set to the film's score) (11'28") - Plenty of great posters, lobby cards, behind the scenes stills, production photos etc.

Overall

One of the all-time great monster movies, and the last of Universals great monster characters gets a decent standard definition release, but it's just a reissue of the DVD that first hit the shelves of collectors back in 2000. Now, we have the superb Blu-ray release which presents the film in the correct ratio and in 3D so stick to that. If you're buying this for a child who's going to back the disc around in and out of their budget DVD player then this disc is fine for that. You get all of the great extras with the commentary and retrospective documentary especially good.

The Film: A Video: B Audio: C Extras: A+ Overall: B

 


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