‘This Island Earth’ Re-Issue Is Another Must For Science Fiction, Classic Movie Buffs Alike

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal International

Universal International’s 1955 science-fiction flick This Island Earth is one of the most notable entries in the genre.  That is because up until that point, no movie within the genre had to that point, taken viewers into the cosmos.  Every movie within the genre had instead seen beings from other worlds come to Earth.  That and the movie’s overall story makes the movie interesting in its own right.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory, viewers will get to enjoy that collective content for themselves in a new Blu-ray re-issue of the timeless sci-fi classic.  That noted element will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content featured in the movie’s recent re-issue strengthens its presentation even more and will be addressed a little later.  Considering the breadth and depth of the movie’s bonus content and the engagement and entertainment offered through the movie’s main story, its average price point proves to be money well-spent.  It will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this movie’s re-issue.  All things considered, This Island Earth proves to be one more of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.

Shout! Factory’s recent re-issue of Universal International’s This Island Earth is one more of this year’s top new BD/DVD re-issues.  That is due in part to the movie’s central story.  As already noted, the movie was — in its debut — the only sci-fi flick of its kind.  It was the only one that took its characters into outer space instead of bringing the aliens solely to Earth.  It would not be until a year later when Forbidden Planet made its debut that another science fiction flick would take viewers into the cosmos.  This is just one important aspect of the story.  The fact that it stays largely true to its literary source material (which is noted in the movie’s bonus content) adds even more enjoyment to the story.  Given, there are variances, but the fact that its so commonplace today for moviemakers and script writers to change so much from the printed page to the big screen makes that loyalty even more deserving of respect.  That is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is the importance of the movie’s story.  Whether it was intentional or not, the story presents itself as an anti-war allegory.  That allegory is presented as Dr. Meacham and Dr. Adams are swept away to a war-ravaged planet that is on the verge of being destroyed because of the war.  The interstellar voyage happens after the duo is made to help Exeter and a group of other scientists develop a death ray of sorts.  The group has no clue that they are making the ray for the purpose of the Metalunans’ war on their home planet.  There is also the whole discussion on nuclear power and its dangers, especially with warfare.  Again, these discussions may not have been intentional statements about the dangers of warfare, but they are most definitely there.  The thing is that even if the message is intentional, it doesn’t come across in the preachy fashion of so many other message movies of its time and even those that have come along since.  To that end, it makes the story all the more enjoyable.  For all of the enjoyment that the movie’s story brings viewers, the story is not the movie’s only source of entertainment.  The bonus content featured with the movie’s recent re-issue provides its own engagement and entertainment for audiences.

The bonus content that accompanies This Island Earth’s recent re-issue adds its own engagement and entertainment because of the background that it develops for the movie.  Author/ visual effects specialist Robert Skotak’s feature-length audio commentary is the most notable of the movie’s bonuses.  Skotak delves into a variety of topics throughout the course of the movie’s 86-minute run time, such as the story’s noted loyalty to its source material, the principal photography and the use of the infamous Metalunan mutant.  Skotak notes in his discussion that while much of the movie does stay loyal to the original book from it was adapted, it does reach a point late in its nearly 90-minute run where some variances start to appear, though the majority of the movie stays largely true to the original literary work.  The note of the principal photography is interesting in its own right because of what Skotak reveals here.  He notes that the scenes that were supposed to be shot in Washington, D.C. were in fact filmed in California.  He notes that much work had to be done in order to hide the hills in the distance in said scenes so as to maintain suspension of disbelief.  That makes for a certain level of appreciation for that work.  In terms of the mutant, Skotak reveals that while it has become a fan favorite in the decades since the movie’s debut, it almost did not make the final cut.  The reasoning for it remaining in the movie will put a smile on any viewer’s face, considering the statements made by so many in the bonus content about how old they were when the movie debuted.  That is the most of the clue that will be given to that item.  Everything noted here is just a preview of everything that Skotak discusses throughout the movie in his commentary.  He also addresses Russell johnson’s performance (Johnson is best known as the Professor from Gilligan’s Island), the matter of the “thermal barrier” and even the use of the “starfield” as a backdrop in the movie’s opening credits.  Between those discussions, the talks more directly addressed here and more, Skotak’s commentary adds quite a bit of insight and enjoyment to the movie.

Skotak’s commentary is just one of the movie’s notable extras.  The bonus “making of” featurette adds its own share of insight and entertainment to the movie.  This featurette includes actual audio of the movie’s cast talking about the work that went into its creation.  Audiences get to hear Faith Domergue (Dr. Adams) talk about how cold the water was in the pond where she and costar Rex Reason shot the car chase scene.  Viewers also hear from Reason about the movie’s production.  As if this is not enough, viewers also learn an interesting tidbit about the “car” in which Reason and Domergue rode in the Metaluna set.  It is revealed here that the car in question was used in the much more lighthearted movie Abbott & Costello Go To Mars.  Considering the heavy nature of This Island Earth and the much lighter feel of Abbott & Costello Go To Mars, that contrast makes for a good laugh for any viewer.  All of this is just a small sampling of what the “making of” featurette reveals to viewers.  There are more revelations about Domergue’s place in Hollywood when she signed on to star in This Island Earth, the marketing for the movie and even the Metalunan Brack.

The revelations made in the “making of” featuette are still not the end of the interest generated by the movie’s bonus content.  Film historian David Schecter’s audio commentary, which is not feature length, focuses primarily on the movie’s soundtrack.  It is clear throughout his discussions that he is reading direct from a script, as none of his discussions line up with the movie.  Keeping this in mind, it would have made much more sense to have just given Schecter his own featurette instead of his own audio commentary.  That aside, the things that he reveals in his discussions make for their own interest.  Viewers learn through his commentary, that as with so many of Universal’s classic science fiction flicks, Henry Mancini played a role in this movie’s soundtrack, but never got a credit for his work.  The same applied for the soundtrack’s lead composer Herman Stein.  According to Schecter, Stein never received the credit that he deserved, either.  On another note (no pun intended), Schecter reveals that the movie featured 31 minutes of original soundtrack music, which is far less than the movie’s 86-minute run time.  That means there was a lot of recycled music.  Despite that, the discussions on the original compositions makes for more appreciation for that original music.  Between all of these noted discussions, those on the making of This Island Earth and the back story of the movie, the bonus content in whole makes this latest re-issue of This Island Earth that much more enjoyable for classic movie buffs and sci-fi fans across the board.  When it is considered along with the movie’s deep story, the whole of that primary and secondary content makes the movie’s average price point a cost that every one of those noted viewers will be okay with paying.

The average price point of Shout! Factory’s re-issue of This Island Earth is $23.69.  That price is obtained by averaging prices listed at Shout! Factory’s store, that of Amazon, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Walmart.  It was not listed at Target, Best Buy and Books-A-Million at the time of this review’s posting.  Walmart’s listing of $21.96 is the least expensive of the movie’s listings, while Shout! Factory’s is barely more expensive, by only cents at $21.99.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ price listing of $26.99  and Amazon’s listing of $23.80 both exceed the noted average price.  Considering that the difference in price between Walmart and Shout! Factory is only pocket change, viewers will not lose out much regardless of which retailer they choose.  What’s more, the amount of content – both in the primary and secondary content – and the type of content that viewers get in this re-issue, that price of roughly $22-$23 with s&h, is a price worth paying.  That is something to which most viewers will agree.  Keeping all of this in mind, the collective average price point of This Island Earth, the movie’s primary content and its secondary content make this re-issue a welcome addition to the library of any classic movie buff and science fiction fan and one of the year’s top  new DVD/BD re-issues.  More information on this and other titles available from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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Sci-Fi Purists Will “Dig” Shout! Factory’s BD Re-Issue Of ‘The Mole People’

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Forbidden Planet. Invasion of the Body SnatchersEarth Vs. The Flying Saucers.  Each of these movies is considered to be a timeless sci-fi cinematic work.  Each movie was also released in 1956 – obviously a good year for the sci-fi industry.  That year also saw the release of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, World Without End and the equally beloved The Mole People.  That latter movie, released by Universal International Pictures (also known as Universal Pictures), is scheduled for re-issue on Blu-ray on Feb. 26 via Shout! Factory’s horror division, Scream! Factory.  The movie’s upcoming re-issue is a wonderfully entertaining work for any and every sci-fi purist out there.  That is proven in part through the movie’s very story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bonus material featured with the movie’s forthcoming release does just as much to make this presentation appealing for sci-fi fans.  It will be examined a little later.  The movie’s average price point adds even more to the interest of its upcoming re-issue.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Mole People.  All things considered, they make Shout! Factory’s upcoming re-issue of The Mole People the first of this year’s great new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

Shout! Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Mole People is the first of this year’s best new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.  That statement is supported in part through the movie’s central story.  The story follows a group of archaeologists that is studying an ancient Sumerian site somewhere in Asia.  The somewhere is noted as the story never precisely notes where in Asia.  The men are led to the top of a snow-covered mountain through its investigation, where they discover a hidden Sumerian temple.  That discovery ends up leading the men deep into the mountain and yet another discovery – that of an ancient society whose people are not overly happy to have them there.  The story leads to plenty of action as the explorers investigate the pre-historic people and their ways, including run-ins with a group of giant creatures, and of course some romance.  While on the surface, the movie is just a fun rainy day watch (as is noted in the bonus features, which will be discussed a little later) on the surface, it is also a little bit more than that.  There is a certain allegorical element to the story, too.  Not to give away too much, but that allegorical element comes as the ancient people mistreat their mutant “creatures of the dark.”  The creatures are used as slaves for the much lighter-skinned figures, who interestingly enough are dressed a la Romans of eons ago even though their temple has Egyptian hieroglyphics with Roman architecture.  That crossing of cultures in the costume and set design is so awful that it’s entertaining.  Getting back on track, the matter of the treatment of the “creatures of the dark” by the albino people is certain to create plenty of discussion.  As a matter of fact, it is addressed in the movie’s bonus “making of” featurette, which oddly enough is not listed on the back of the movie’s box, despite being included as a bonus.  That discussion and others included in the bonus content will be addressed later.  Getting back on track again, the simple story of the adventurers finding a “lost” civilization and their attempt to escape the slightly homicidal peoples makes for plenty of action and adventure for audiences.  That secondary element of the story’s seeming allegorical nature combine to make this story one that is certain to appeal to plenty of audiences.  To that end, the movie’s central story is key to the movie’s overall presentation.  It is just one of the important elements to examine here.  The bonus content featured with the story adds even more appeal to the movie’s presentation.

The bonus content featured with The Mole People offers plenty of insight – and entertainment – for audiences.  The previously noted “making of” featurette, which again is oddly not listed on the movie’s packaging, despite being present, is just one of the most important bonuses included in the movie’s presentation.  Audiences learn through this featurette, about topics, such as the cost-cutting measures taken in the movie’s creation, the allegory in the story, which even in its original theatrical run, apparently was not lost on audiences and even the change in the movie’s ending.  That discussion on the movie’s ending is directly related to the topic of the story’s deeper message.  It is certain to create its own share of discussion about censorship, civil rights and other related topics.  On a lighter note, the “making of” featurette also includes discussions on the costumes for the “creatures of the dark” and the connection of the costumes to other movies of the age.

The discussions featured in the movie’s bonus “making of” featurette offer lots of insight into the movie, and in turn, making the movie’s presentation that much more appealing.  It is just one of the bonuses that should be noted in examining the movie’s presentation.  The dual feature-length audio commentary from Tom Weaver and David Schecter offers its own share of insight for audiences.  Audiences learn from Weaver, about the use of the Sierra Canyon set’s use not only in this movie, but in a variety of other movies from the time.  He also offers his own commentary about the use of the stock footage from the documentary Conquest of Everest (1953) for the movie, going into a bit more depth along the way than was offered in the movie’s bonus “making of” featurette.  Schecter takes his time addressing items, such as the seeming discussion on race relation presented within the story, as well as the movie’s production and cast.  Each man offers plenty of insight in his own right.  The only real downside to the discussions is that each is clearly scripted.  They are not natural at all.  This honestly detracts from the experience of hearing them discuss the movie.  It makes one feel as if discussing the movie was a chore for each figure.  In their defense, maybe it wasn’t a chore, but the delivery just feels so flat and lifeless.  To that end, their commentary is a toss-up.  It is enlightening, but at the same time, it is also not natural.  When the commentaries are considered with the information shared through the “making of” featurette, that overall breadth of information creates even more appeal for the movie and strengthens the movie’s presentation even more.

The discussions on The Mole People’s aesthetic elements featured in the movie’s bonus content goes a long way toward making the movie’s upcoming re-issue a positive presentation.  Those discussions are just part of what makes the movie’s companion bonus content so noteworthy.  The inclusion of the full-length 1997 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in which Mike and his robot pals riff the classic flick adds yet another level of enjoyment to the movie’s presentation.  This episode’s full-length presentation is a win for audiences and for Shout! Factory.  The full presentation gives audiences a glimpse into what made the classic series so great (and important).  In turn, that understanding can lead audiences to want to start adding the full volumes of MST3K that have been released, to their own home libraries.  When this episode – with its nonstop entertainment – is considered along with the movie’s bonus commentaries and “making of” featurette, the whole of the noted items shows clearly why the bonus content included in this movie’s presentation is so important to its presentation.  When they are collectively considered along with the movie’s entertaining story, the whole of these elements more than makes The Mole People worth the watch.  Keeping all of this in mind, the average price point for the movie’s upcoming re-issue proves to be money well-spent.

The average price point for Shout! Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Mole People is $25.34.  That price point is reached by averaging the movie’s listed price at Amazon, Walmart, Books-A-Million and Shout! Factory’s own store.  It is not listed at Target, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  Walmart and Amazon’s price of $25.19 is just below that average, while Shout! Factory’s price point of $22.99 is well below that average.  Books-A-Million’s price of $27.99 is the most expensive of the listings.  In other words, at this point, Shout! Factory is the most economical choice for those choosing to purchase the Blu-ray, which again is a great addition to any sci-fi purist’s movie library.  It is especially well worth the money considering everything that has been discussed here.  When the movie’s primary and secondary content is considered along with this price point information, the whole proves to be a welcome re-issue.

Shout! Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Mole People is a welcome new addition to the home library of any sci-fi purist out there.  That is proven in part through its story.  The concept in the story is actually believable, as it can be compared – to a point – to famed author Jules Verne’s classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.  Suspension of disbelief is actually quite possible because of that ability to compare the story to Verne’s classic literary work.  This is even despite the issues of the costumes and sets not exactly matching up.  The bonus content included with the movie’s upcoming re-issue adds plenty of entertainment and insight for audiences, in turn giving audiences even more to appreciate here.  The movie’s average price point is affordable, and is money well-spent, considering the breadth and depth of the bonus content featured in this presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of The Mole People.  All things considered, they make The Mole People a welcome addition to the home library of any sci-fi purists and the first of this year’s best DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.  It can be pre-ordered via Shout! Factory’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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