Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s Latest Creature Feature Re-Issue Is Another Great Classic Flick

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures’ classic 1950s creature features are among some of the greatest cinematic works in Hollywood’s rich history.  During their original theatrical runs, they were considered scary.  By today’s standards, they are anything but.  That’s okay though.  That is because they are examples of moviemakers doing so much more with so much less.  They are examples of movie making done right, and later this month, Shout! Factory and its horror arm Scream Factory will resurrect yet another of the studio’s classic creature features in the form of the 1995 classic Tarantula.  The latest of the studio’s movies to be re-issued by Shout! Factory, it is set for re-issue on Blu-ray on April 30.  It is another great addition to any true movie’s buff’s collection.  This is proven in part through the movie’s story, which will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content featured in the movie’s forthcoming re-issue supports that statement even more, and will be addressed a little bit later.  The movie’s average price point proves to be money well-spent considering the re-issue’s combined primary and secondary content.  When it is considered with those noted elements, all three elements make the movie yet another of this year’s top new DVD and BD re-issues.

Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of Universal Pictures’ 1955 creature feature is a must have for any true movie buff.  It is one more of this year’s top new DVD and BD re-issues.  That is thanks in part to the movie’s story.  The story at the center of Tarantula actually somewhat defies the movie’s title.  As a close watch will reveal, the real core of the movie was Professor Deemer’s misguided efforts to create a solution that will create super-sized animals and other foods to feed the world’s exploding population.  The result of Deemer’s tests are shown right in the story’s opening scene.  Of course, this is not fully realized until later in the story.  It would be wrong to call Deemer a mad scientist, but he is clearly misguided, as he wants to keep the findings and results of his work secret.  It is because of those efforts to hide what he is doing that the story’s titular character escapes from its enclosure in his home laboratory and wreaks havoc on a nearby town.  The majority of the story is spent with lead character Dr. Matt Hastings (John Agar – The Mole People, The Brain From Planet Arous, Night Breed) investigating a series of deaths around the unnamed town that slowly leads him to the killer spider.  During the course of that investigation, the spider is rarely shown.  When it is shown, it is barely presented.  This is both good and bad.  It is good in that it builds the suspense in the story.  The bad side is that the buildup leads to some noticeable pacing problems.  The pacing problems are not so bad that they make the movie unwatchable, but are problematic enough that they lead one to get the urge to fast forward every now and then.  Luckily, the story does eventually find its footing, and when it does so, finally starts moving forward much more easily.  One can’t help but wonder if this approach played a role in how famed author Peter Benchley approached his book Jaws when he wrote that novel.  Its big screen adaptation followed a similar approach, not really fully introducing the movie’s killer title creature until late in the movie.  Getting back on the subject at hand, once the story finally finds its footing, it does well keeping the action moving, and in turn keeping viewers engaged and entertained. The ending seems a bit abrupt, but still works, regardless.  Keeping this in mind along with the entertainment offered throughout the rest of the story, there is no question that the script, despite some minor bumps, is still an enjoyable work that will gives audiences plenty to appreciate.  The enjoyment created by the movie’s story is enhanced even more by the movie’s bonus feature-length audio commentary.

The commentary, presented once again by film historians Tom Weaver and David Schecter, adds its own share of enjoyment to the movie.  The pair has previously provided commentary for Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s Blu-ray re-issues of The Deadly Mantis and The Mole People.  Weaver also previously provided commentary for The Man From Planet X with Dr. Robert J. Kiss, who joins Weaver and Schecter for this outing.  The trio’s commentary offers lots of insight about the movie’s casting, its connection to other sci-fi and horror flicks of the time and trivia directly connected to the movie.  One of the most interesting revelations presented in the audio commentary comes from Schecter as he reveals that famed composer, conductor and musician Henry Mancini played a role in the movie’s soundtrack.  It’s not the first time that Mancini’s role in the movie industry has been noted.  Schecter reveals in the audio commentary for The Deadly Mantis, that Mancini played a key role in that movie’s soundtrack, too.  Weaver, meanwhile reveals late in the commentary, that allegedly Agar was not entirely happy being cast just in the studio’s creature features, while his more well-known counterparts, such as Tony Curtis and others were receiving more high-profile roles.  Weaver reveals in this anecdote, that Agar was so unhappy that he freelanced for other companies, but sadly was typecast because of his work with Universal. Kiss meanwhile, reveals that when Tarantula originally debuted in theaters, it actually ran as part of a double feature in many U.S. theaters alongside the cop action/drama Running Wild.  The movie starred Mamie Van Doren (Teacher’s Pet, Voyage To The Planet of the Prehistoric Women, The Navy Vs. The Night Monsters) in one of its lead roles.  The revelation that the movie did not run by itself in many theaters is important because it shows some theater owners might have thought at the time that it was not strong enough to run solo.  As if everything noted here as to the movie’s commentary is not enough, there are also notes of possible link between Them! and Tarantula, between This Island Earth and Tarantula (the prior of which Shout! Factory/Scream Factory is set to re-issue on June 25 along with Monster on the Campus) and even info on at least one goof and some background on how the tarantulas used in the movie were chosen.  Between all of this and so much more shared throughout the course of the movie’s audio commentary, the breadth and width of material shared throughout the movie is more than enough for audiences to take in.  Given, it once again sounds and feels entirely scripted by all involved, which does detract from the presentation once more.  However, the commentary’s clear scripting is not so bad that it makes the commentary a loss.  It just would be nice to have commentary shared naturally rather than scripted.  Either way, when the commentary couples with the movie’s story, the two elements go a long way toward making the movie enjoyable for all audiences.  Keeping that in mind, the movie’s average price point proves to be money well-spent.

The movie’s average price point, using price listings from Shout! Factory’s own store, Books-A-Million and Target, is $26.22.  The movie’s previous DVD release is listed at Walmart, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers, but not its upcoming Blu-ray re-issue.  Shout! Factory’s listing of $22.99 is the least expensive listing at the time of this review’s posting while the most expensive listing — $27.99 – is at Books-A-Million’s store.  Regardless of which outlet movie buffs use, the prices will not break anyone’s bank, and as already noted, the movie’s upcoming re-issue offers plenty for audiences to enjoy.  When all of this is considered together, it becomes easy to see why this flick’s re-issue is a welcome addition to any purist movie buff’s library and why it is one more of the year’s top new DVD and BD re-issues.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at:










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Classic Creature Feature Gets Great Re-Issue Thanks To Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Scream Factory/Universal International

Shout! Factory and its horror arm, Scream Factory are taking sci-fi fans back in time again next month with the release of yet another one of Universal Pictures’ timeless creature features.

The Deadly Mantis is scheduled for release on March 19 on Blu-ray.  The classic low-budget b-flick was lambasted by critics following its theatrical debut on May 26, 1957.  The criticisms focused on items, such as its overt use of stock footage and re-use of sets.  While it hardly received a warm welcome in its debut, The Deadly Mantis has since gone on to become a cult favorite among sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike, but has been difficult to find on DVD and Blu-ray.  That is until now.  This new re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is another welcome addition to the library of any of the noted audiences.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  Its bonus content adds even more interest and appeal to its presentation as its story.  The Blu-ray’s average price point rounds out the most important of its elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they make The Deadly Mantis’ new Blu-ray re-issue another welcome watch for sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike.

The upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of Universal International Pictures’ 1957 creature feature The Deadly Mantis is a presentation that will appeal to cinephiles across the board.  That is proven in part through its story.  The story focuses on the introduction of a giant prehistoric praying mantis into the 20th century world and mankind’s efforts to stop the creature before it has any chance to reproduce.  The story was hardly the only one of its kind at the time, having been preceded by Them! in 1954, Tarantula in 1955, and Attack of the Crab Monsters only three months prior to the debut of The Deadly Mantis.  The latter of that trio – one of famed director Roger Corman’s creations – was an Allied Pictures presentation, unlike the other two mentioned here.  This is important to note as it was just one part of what was a much bigger cinematic trend at that point in time.  Considering the bigger trend being presented, what makes this movie stand out is that it did not center on giant mutant creatures that came to be as a result of the military’s nuclear testing.  Rather, the mantis simply existed millions of years ago, and was freed from its cryogenic slumber (of sorts) as the overarching result of a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away in the Earth’s southern hemisphere.  Film historian Tom Weaver addresses this scientific approach during his bonus commentary.  This will be discussed a little later on.  Getting back on the subject at hand, the story at the center of The Deadly Mantis might have seemed silly at the time, but considering the scientific advancements and discoveries that have been made in the current age, it makes the story more believable.  That ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief (even today) due to the story’s setup, ensures even more, viewers’ maintained engagement and entertainment.  Now given, missiles and fire being unable to bring down the giant beast seems a bit of a stretch, considering it is just a giant praying mantis.  That thing must have had an exoskeleton made of titanium, especially considering what ultimately ended its reign of terror.  That aside, the reality that giant beasts did in fact exist at one time in reality, and that scientists even today are in fact, trying to clone other giant beasts (E.g. wooly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers) makes this story that much more believable, and in turn enjoyable.  The ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief with this movie’s story is just one part of what makes the movie such a joy for sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike.  The movie’s bonus content adds even more enjoyment to the movie’s presentation.

The bonus content featured in this movie includes the previously noted feature-length audio commentary from film historian Tom Weaver and fellow film historian David Schecter, and the full-length episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that featured The Deadly Mantis.  Unlike The Mole People, which was re-issued by Shout! Factory/Scream Factory last month, this movie’s re-issue is lacking a bonus “making of” featurette.  The lack of that featurette is disheartening, but not enough to ruin the movie’s presentation.

The feature-length commentary from Weaver and Schecter reveals quite a bit of interesting information.  Viewers learn from the commentary, that principal photography — the main part of a movie’s production involving capturing scenes in which the cast is on camera – took only 13 days, and that the use of stock footage in the movie played a direct role in the movie.  Weaver reveals that approximately 14 minutes (or 1/5) of the movie was composed of stock footage.  Considering that the movie’s run time is listed as just 79 minutes, that 14 minutes is actually a large portion of the movie.  Additionally, viewers learn through the duo’s commentary, that the movie’s original opening scene was actually different from what is in the final cut.  Weaver notes that the final cut was presented, as the movie’s director – Nathan Juran – wanted to ensure the story was believable, right from the opening sequence.  The end  result was that the frozen mantis was freed as the result of a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away.  This is actually believable, considering what we know today about the effects of volcanic eruptions.  Now, could the weather patterns that might have resulted from said eruption been enough to thaw out the mantis?  That is debatable, even today.  However, knowing mankind’s impact on climate change, it actually does not seem overly unbelievable.  Keeping this in mind, the right move was taken to change the opening.  As if all of this is not enough for fans, audiences also learn the identity of the film used for part of the stock footage – S.O.S. Iceberg (1933) – through Weaver’s scripted commentary.  It is revealed that the Eskimos in the noted scenes were reacting to a seaplane circling their community in Greenland, not to a giant praying mantis.

Schecter’s portion of the movie’s commentary will appeal just as much to music lovers as it will to movie lovers.  Schecter notes in his portion of the movie’s commentary, that legendary composer/conductor Henry Mancini played a specific part in the movie’s soundtrack.  The full depth of his involvement in the soundtrack will be left for audiences to learn on their own.  He was just one of the famed musical figures who were connected to the movie, according to Schecter.  Fellow composer Irving Gertz also had a tie to the movie’s soundtrack, as Schecter notes.  He makes note that the soundtrack to The Deadly Mantis and The Monolith Monsters were indirectly connected to each other.  Again, the full discussion will be left for viewers to take in on their own time.

The items listed here are just a portion of what Weaver and Schecter discuss throughout the course of The Deadly Mantis.  Far more is discussed, such as ties that certain members of the crew had to the now infamous “Red Scare” and the various ties that the cast had to other movies of the age. While Schecter’s (and Weaver’s) commentary are quite insightful, the one negative to their insight is that each man’s commentary is once again scripted.  This is made clear through their delivery.  Each man is obviously watching the movie as he shares his insight.  The problem is that each man is watching the movie only for timing purposes with his commentary.  This detracts from the commentary at least a little bit. It is not enough to make the commentary unenjoyable, but cannot be ignored.

Speaking of things that detract from the experience, the movie lacks a “making of” featurette this time out.  It doesn’t ruin the viewing experience, but it would have been nice to see what could have been told through such a feature that maybe was not addressed in the bonus commentary.  In defense of Shout! Factory/Scream Factory, there had to have been a good reason for omitting it this time out.  Luckily, the commentary from Weaver and Schecter does provide enough insight and entertainment to make up for that omission.

While The Deadly Mantis lacked a “making of” featurette, one thing that was thankfully included was the full episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that focused on the classic creature feature.  Shout! Factory/Scream Factory did the same with its recent re-issue of The Mole People, and once again, it is a welcome addition to the movie’s presentation.  This time out, Mike and his robot pals are trying to escape Pearl Forrester once again, and luckily escape her after her ape friends inadvertently activate a thermonuclear device that destroys Earth.  Of course Pearl and company managed to escape the blast.  How they escape and what happens from there will be left for audiences to discover on their own.  In the meantime, plenty of riffing happens as the crew of the Satellite of Love take in The Deadly Mantis.  Early on there is a joke about Minnesota (the state in which the show was based), that audiences will enjoy.  As the movie progresses, there is a joke about one of the unidentified cast members because of a certain shot.  “Shot in bald spot vision,” one of the robots cracks.  There are also pop culture references about Wheaties and Vicks Vapo rub later in the movie, along with a joke about the famed comic opera, the H.M.S. Pinafore and so much more.  Between the constant riffing and the live segments, the laughs that result from this episode of MST3K prove to be nonstop.  When that entertainment is coupled with the insight offered through the movie’s bonus commentaries, the end result is content that truly is a bonus in every sense of the word.  When it is collectively considered along with the story, which itself guarantees just as much engagement and entertainment, the movie proves that much more welcome in any cinephile’s home library.  Keeping all of this in mind, the breadth and depth of the movie’s primary and secondary content makes the movie’s average price point money that is well-spent.

The average price point for Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s upcoming re-issue of The Deadly Mantis, using price listings at Shout! Factory’s store and those of Amazon and Books-a-Million, is $25.39.  The movie is not listed at Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Barnes & Noble Booksellers at the time of this review’s posting.  Research shows that Shout! Factory’s price of $22.99 is the least expensive of the three listings, and is will below that average price point.  Books-A-Million’s listing of $27.99 is the most expensive, while Amazon’s list price of $25.19 is barely below that average.  In other words, at the time of this review’s post, Shout! Factory’s price for the re-issue is the most affordable.  It is money that sci-fi purists and movie buffs alike will agree, is well-spent.  That is because of the already noted content overall.  Add in that right now, the only outlets that audiences have for such a movie are occasionally on Turner Classic Movies and Me-TV’s hit show Svengoolie (both of which are themselves wonderful outlets), it makes that money even more well-spent, as it will allow audiences to watch this timeless classic any time that they want.  Keeping all of this in mind, it can easily be said that the upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is one more of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.

Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story (its primary content), which is actually quite believable considering what science has discovered to this day, and through its bonus content (its secondary content).  The insight and entertainment offered through the bonus content is just as certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the story.  Add in an average price point that once again won’t break viewers’ banks, and the movie proves a completely welcome addition to any cinephile’s movie library.  It will be available March 19.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:










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20 Million Miles To Earth Is A Must See For Any Lover Of Classic Cinema And Sci-Fi

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

The annual countdown to Halloween is on once again. With Halloween only a few more weeks away at the time of this review, everyone’s busy looking for a way to bring some frights and fun to their yearly celebrations. Mill Creek has given audiences two more wonderful options for their Halloween parties thanks to its release of the Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature. This new double dose of classic monster movies includes two of Ray Harryhausen’s great sci-fi/horror classics in the form of 20 Million Miles to Earth and It Came From Beneath The Sea. The second of the features will be discussed at a later date. For now, the focus will be solely on the first in the pair. 20 Million Miles To Earth is a wonderful watch not only for those Halloween parties this year, but for anyone that is a lover of classic cinema in general. The main aspect of this classic sci-fi flick that makes it work is its script. Yes, there’s at least one minor issue with the writing. That will be noted later. But by and large, the script for this movie is a big part of why audiences will love it. Just as important to the whole are the movie’s special effects. Compared to nearly every one of today’s way-over-the-top special effects blockbusters, the effects used in this piece are outstanding. And last but most definitely not least of all worth noting is the movie’s cast. The movie’s lead actors were no strangers to their crafts. They were quite versed as a matter of fact. The importance of this aspect will also be noted later. Suffice it to say that all three of these factors together make 20 Million Miles to Earth a must see whether at this year’s Halloween get together or any other time of the year by any lover of classic cinema. And together with its companion piece It Came From Beneath The Sea, it makes Mill Creek’s recently released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature an absolute must see.

Mill Creek Entertainment’s recently released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature is an absolute must see by any lover of classic cinema. While not the first time that the movies in this set have seen the light of day, they are very difficult to find on DVD or Blu-ray. So taking that into consideration, anyone with any love for the golden age of cinema will appreciate this double movie presentation. Looking specifically for now at the first of the features, 20 Million Miles to Earth, this movie works so well here for a number of reasons. One reason that it works so well is its writing. The story behind this movie was nothing new for the film industry when it debuted in June 1957. It sees an ever-growing lizard creature from Venus terrorizing the Sicilian countryside after having been released by a young boy named Pepe. The end result is the hunt and eventual killing of the unnamed creature. Legendary B-movie director Roger Corman had already churned out ten sci-fi classics when this movie debuted. And It Came From Beneath The Sea, the other film featured in this collection, had already debuted two years previous. Adding in to the believability of the story, the birth of the “space race” was only months away as Russia went on in October of that year to release Sputnik, the world’s first satellite. So it goes without saying that the fascination with worlds and beings other than our own was at an all-time high when this movie made its premiere. That makes the movie’s very plot so fun.

The plot behind 20 Million Miles to Earth, when set against the other B-movies of its era, is just as enjoyable as those churned out by fellow sci-fi legend Roger Corman and by Harryhausen himself. The plot is just one minute part of what makes this script work, too. The manner in which the movie’s writing team executed the story adds to the overall enjoyment. If not for young Pepe’s greed (he even tries to extort money from the American military officers when they come to investigate the crash), none of what happened might have happened. In turn there might not have been a story. One could argue that if not a child, then an adult might have done the same thing as Pepe. That’s true, too. So taking this aspect of the movie’s writing into consideration, one can’t help but wonder if the writers were trying to make a statement about the cost and danger of human nature a la 1951’s The Day The Earth Stood Still.   In the same vein, Col. Calder (played wonderfully here by William Hopper) makes a statement regarding the creature being docile unless provoked right before provoking the creature so as to capture it. That is so subtle but so powerful a statement about human nature, too. If Calder knew the creature was docile, why not try a peaceful means to corral it? Some might argue this to be a major plot hole. A more thoughtful analysis though, reveals that it could have been another lightly veiled commentary about the contradictory nature of humans in terms of their behaviors and thought processes. It’s really something to think about. It is that writing and commentary (intended or not) that along with the script makes 20 Million Miles to Earth such a wonderful watch.

The seemingly lightly veiled commentary aside, another reason that the script’s writing works so well is that the movie’s writing team even made certain to explain how the unnamed lizard creature managed to grow so fast. As was explained by one character, the Earth’s atmospheric make up was to blame for the creature’s growth. As long as it was breathing the air on Earth, it would keep growing every day. That most important of all of the story’s aspect is answered so quickly and easily. It’s one more way in which the movie’s writing team made sure to cover all of its bases when crafting the story. It’s the final part of the movie’s writing that makes the script (and the movie in whole) so enjoyable so many years after its premiere.

The writing that went into 20 Million Miles to Earth is a big reason for the movie’s success nearly sixty years after it debuted. That should be obvious by now. Another reason that the movie continues to be so beloved to this day is its special effects. Special effects have evolved so much throughout the history of the movie industry. While the special effects used in movies such as this might be considered simplistic by some, it is that simplicity that makes them so wonderful. The special effects of today’s major name blockbusters have completely jumped the shark for lack of better wording. They are almost entirely created via computer. Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion special effects in this movie (and others that he worked on) were done entirely by hand. Sure there was some movie magic incorporated along the way to help. But again in comparison to so many of today’s special effects extravaganzas, those effects are a product of their time. They are used as a part of the overall story rather than as the star of the film. Today’s action blockbusters are the polar opposite. That factor alone makes 20 Million Miles to Earth worth the watch. Together with its outstanding writing, the movie’s special effects make this movie even more of a must see for any lover of classic cinema and sci-fi.

The writing and the special effects that went into 20 Million Miles to Earth both play their own important role in the movie’s overall enjoyment and success. As important as both factors are to the whole presentation, there is still one more aspect worth noting in examining the movie. That final aspect is the movie’s lead cast. Anyone with any love of classic movies and television will appreciate the history lesson presented through just the movie’s cast. William Hopper leads the movie’s cast as Col. Robert Calder. Hopper is best known for his role of Private Detective Paul Drake in the classic courtroom drama Perry Mason. Drake was a major character in that series as he helped Mason solve a number of cases throughout the show’s run. Perry Mason, by the way, can still be seen today on Me-TV. He also starred opposite film legend James Dean in the 1955 hit drama Rebel Without A Cause. He starred alongside a then young Natalie Wood as the father to her Judy. On a side note, Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo, Gilligan’s Island) also starred in that movie. Adding to Hopper’s resume, 20 Million Miles to Earth wasn’t Hopper’s first creature feature. He starred in another well-known creature feature that premiered only months before this one. That movie, released by Universal Pictures, is called The Deadly Mantis. For those that haven’t seen that movie, imagine Godzilla with a giant, radioactive praying mantis in place of the giant, radioactive lizard. Yeah. And instead of taking place in Japan, the giant mantis thaws out in the North Pole and comes to America to cause all kinds of havoc. It’s still a great watch, regardless. These are just some of the pieces in which Hopper starred. It goes without saying that Hopper’s experience in both action and drama roles proved him to be a good choice for his role. His wasn’t the only good choice, either. Hopper’s co-stars Joan Taylor, Thomas Browne Henry, and John Zaremba starred together in another of Ray Harryhausen’s hits Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers in 1956. So they were both just as natural for their roles in this film, too. It was probably Zaremba’s work on these sci-fi favorites that led to his casting in the cult hit sci-fi series Time Tunnel. That series ran for only one year from 1966 – 1967. It is still a fan favorite to this day, though. The movie’s other cast members each starred in some of the movie industry’s biggest names, too. Arthur Space played the supporting role of Dr. Sharman in 20 Million Miles to Earth. Only months before, he starred alongside famed actor James Stewart in The Spirit of St. Louis as Donald Hall, the chief engineer of Ray Airlines. There are plenty of other actors whose resumes add plenty of credit to 20 Million Miles to Earth. But it would take far too long to note each one and their resume. Needless to say, one should have quite the clear picture by now of just how important the cast of 20 Million Miles to Earth was to the movie’s success. The cast’s collective experience shines through from start to finish here making it entirely clear once more just why this movie is still one of the greatest sci-fi/horror films in modern film history and why this movie was a wise addition to Mill Creek’s newly released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature.

20 Million Miles to Earth is one of the greatest sci-fi flicks in modern movie history. So much went into the movie in such a small span of time. Its writing was simple yet so in-depth. The special effects headed up by screen legend Ray Harryhausen are so much better than those presented in today’s major blockbusters. Harryhausen’s special effects are part of the story rather than the star. They do so much to help advance the story. And last but not least of all is the movie’s cast. The cast—both the lead and supporting cast—came into the movie with quite the collective resume. That vast amount of experience shared between the movie’s cast shines through here from start to finish. It is the last touch in a movie that any lover of classic cinema and of sci-fi in whole must see at least once. Now that Halloween’s on its way again, that’s one more reason to pick up this new release from Mill Creek Entertainment. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Mill Creek Entertainment at More information on this and other titles from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online at:




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MST3K Vol. XXVII A Laugh Riot For Film Buffs

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The latest installment of the cult classic, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), keeps the laughs coming yet again.  MST3K Volume XXVII brings audiences four more episodes and four more movies that are so bad that they’re good.  And of course, what volume of MST3K episodes would be complete without the absolutely hilarious commentary by Mike, Joel, Crow, and Tom Servo?  It’s all here in one more collection that any fan of this classic series will love to watch again and again.  Audiences even get to see a young Ron Howard away from his more well-known role as Opie Taylor in one of the movies.

From giant dancing teens to Cold War propaganda to a giant killer bug to subterranean creatures coming to take over the surface world, this volume has more than its share of campy greatness in its four discs.  The set is anchored by what is one of Universal’s best of the bad in The Deadly MantisThe Deadly Mantis is just one of the many classic horror/sci-fi flicks that Universal Studios churned out after the success of its original monster movies (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon).  This terribly campy flick features a giant prehistoric praying mantis wreaking havoc on the world when the iceberg in which it was encased breaks loose from the arctic and thaws out in warmer waters.  This sci-fi classic was one of the campiest of Universal’s monster movies.  But by comparison to today’s over-the-top movies claiming themselves to be horror, it is a welcome inclusion for fans of real sci-fi and horror flicks.  Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo’s irreverent commentary makes it even better.  There are pop culture references, some slightly politically incorrect jokes, and even some that are so nonsensical that one can’t help but laugh at them.  The jokes are just part of what makes this movie the anchor to this new set.  Fans of classic movies will appreciate the bonus feature on the life of William Alland.  “Chasing Rosebud: The Cinematic Life of William Alland” explains the importance of Alland in the history of monster and sci-fi movies.  Whether viewers are watching this movie for the first time or for the first time again, this feature will make audiences appreciate his work and The Deadly Mantis even more as a campy yet highly important piece of movie history.

If a classic monster movie from Universal isn’t enough, then perhaps audiences will enjoy the Cold War era propaganda piece, Rocket Attack U.S.A.  This black and white movie was centered on tensions between the United States and Russia and what would happen if the two sides both launched their nuclear warheads.  It would be no surprise if this 1961 classic was at least partially the influence behind the far more influential 1964 drama, Failsafe.  The movie’s criticisms don’t’ stop during the film.  Just as with the other movies in this and previous volumes of MST3K episodes, this episode is presented exactly as it aired, complete with intermission segments.  The killing of the movie keeps going with its intermission segment as Joel and company go off on the evil Dr. Forrester about all of the movie’s inconsistencies.  It’s so funny hearing them filet the movie because viewers know that what Joel and company have to say is exactly what they themselves would have said.  That ability to relate to viewers event today makes both this flick and The Deadly Mantis (as well as the set’s other pair of movies) as enjoyable as they are campy. 

The movies included in this latest volume of MST3K episodes are funny and enjoyable.  It should be noted that Village of the Giants probably isn’t entirely proper for younger viewers.  If anything, it comes across as a little bit of an exploitation film, as the “teen” girls outgrow their clothes when they grow.  They do keep themselves covered.  But some parents might find this a little unsuitable for children.  That aside, there is one more factor to note in this new set of episodes.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  Each episode is set in its own slim case within the larger box.  And each box has its own hilarious artwork that goes along with the movie.  The artwork used on each episode’s box is just as campy as the movies themselves.  So even before viewers put in each disc, they get a good laugh from the artwork on each case.  That each disc has its own slim case, this protects each disc from scratching.  It’s one more positive—along with the set’s other factors–that will impress fans from the very first time they pull the wrapping from the box.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXVII will be available Tuesday, July 23rd.  It will be available in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory online store at  Fans can find out about all of the latest releases from Shout! Factory on its official website, and its official Facebook page,

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