Let's Make a Woman and The Insatiable Goo
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 03/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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.Cookieman108"
Great bargain! A "Quatermass" clone, and an original classic
Mark Shanks | Portland, OR | 02/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""X - The Unknown" rests squarely in the "Quatermass" camp of an intelligent scientist facing off with the British military against a bizarre threat to humanity. The movie was specifically made to follow-up on the commercial success (and critical acclaim) of the very first "Quatermass" movie ("The Quatermass Xperiment) made just the year before. American actor Dean Jagger (probably best known for his role as "General Waverly" in "White Christmas") plays the "Quatermass" character (here named Dr. Adam Royston), called in to investigate when an Army unit doing geiger-counter training exercises witnesses an earthquake and the opening of an apparently bottomless fissure. (Another tidbit - his investigative partner, police inspector McGill, is played by the most well-known of "The Prisoner"'s Number Twos, Leo McKern!) Soon afterwards (as is always the case) there's death and destruction, and Royston has to come up with something to neutralize the menace of a creeping, radioactive blob. (The American "The Blob" wouldn't show up for two more years.) Gruesome (for their time) special effects of melting and smoking flesh raise this apart from more timid US efforts of the day, and the soundtrack is by "Quatermass" composer James Bernard. Extraordinarliy atmospheric, filmed almost entirely at night with authentic-feeling Scottish locations, a terrific and over-looked classic from Hammer.But wait! There's more! Watching the opening of "The Four-Sided Triangle", and you will be forgiven if you think immediately of "How Green Was My Valley". We're treated to a nostalgic look at a small English village, with a winsome voice-over by the town "Doc" (played by James Hayter, seen in "Oliver!" as well as a few "Avengers" shows). Doc tells us the story of three children, two boys and the girl they both loved. The girl (Lena) grows up to be Barbara Payton ("Bride of the Gorilla"), and the two boys Robin and Bill (John Van Eyssen and Stephen Murray) are inventors both still under her spell. She (finally!) decides on.....Robin, but Bill isn't willing to leave it at that. With the help of a "replicator", he creates a perfect duplicate of Lena. Too perfect, it seems, because even the duplicate prefers Robin! VERY good acting, much better than we usually see in this kind of movie. And the music is by classical composer Malcolm Arnold! These two discs show British science fiction at its best (well, except for "Quatermass" ;-) and are a bargain at this price. I recommend them most highly!"
Dynamic Duo Mirrors Other Classics
mattrattler | Iowa | 02/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased this with just reviews and a general understanding of the movies. I was pleasantly suprised. Four Sided Triangle is an interesting story on cloning and the obligitory warnings of playing God. Pretty good acting and original story. Not a lot for true "horror" but a good sci fi movie none the less. Special effects were interesting and relates to what was seen in the original "The Fly". As for X The Unknown you will be reminded of "The Blob" although you need to remember that X came out a year previous. The idea is releatively the same. A bunch of goo terrorizes a local area. Although The Blob has been shredded by some, I think it is still a good movie. X rates up there as well. It is in black and white which true "old" movie fans will appreciate. The acting is solid and the story is interesting and will keep your attention. A worth while twosome to add to your collection."