Steven W. Hill | Chicago, IL United States | 06/13/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"S.O.S. COAST GUARD is a flavorful 12-chapter serial featuring Ralph "Dick Tracy" Bird as eager Coast Guard Lieutenant Terry Kent and Bela Lugosi as his adversary Boroff. The nasty Boroff has invented a disintegration gas and is trying desperately to sell it to foreign powers. Boroff employs the services of Thorg (Richard Alexander), a burly henchman with a good talent for swimming. On Kent's side, ace reporter Jean Norman (Maxine Doyle in a spirited performance) and photographer Snapper McGee (Lee Ford providing comic relief) help move things along.The plot may be simple, but it's perfect serial stuff. Boroff is a clever foe, but human (in other words, he's not "supervillain" material) and almost likeable. Kent is a live wire, like a butterfly he never settles in one place very long. Along the way we're treated to wall-to-wall action, and that's really no exaggeration. Boat crashes, car and motorcycle chases, underwater fights, gunboats firing, buildings disintegrating... it's all here, along with more male fistfights than FIGHT CLUB.In comparison with FLASH GORDON, another serial with which I am very familiar, S.O.S. COAST GUARD's action and adventure is just as exciting, just far less sci-fi-fantastic thanks to its earthbound setting. Whereas a boy could only imagine himself to be on one of Ming's spaceships, he could actually find himself on a boat, dock or in the mountain valley in which once stood Lt. Kent fighting the evil Boroff. Nevertheless, there is a certain element of science fiction in Boroff's disintegrator gas and Lugosi himself fulfills this standard "evil scientist" role more than admirably. I very much enjoyed the special effects showing the gas doing its work - the scene with the mountains melting, for example, is quite simply but very effectively done.The chapter lengths vary; Chapter One is about thirty minutes long while later chapters can be as short as fifteen minutes. The total running time is approximately 3 hours 40 minutes and each chapter is presented with full opening titles, recaps and end cards. Chapters are spread over both sides of the single-DVD release. Picture quality is good; not as sharp as the FLASH GORDON serials but clear and with good contrast. I did notice a bit of pixelation at times, but it certainly did not detract from my enjoyment. Chapter stops are a bit odd - they use multiple titles (for example, the serial's Chapter 3 might be coded as Title 2, Chapter 1) but you have the option of selecting any chapter individually or playing them all straight through.S.O.S. COAST GUARD is one of the best examples of the world of movie serials, full of excitement and adventure. With this DVD and the excellent Image FLASH GORDON discs leading the way, I'm hoping we'll see many more of the classic chapterplay films released in the future."
Lugosi's Finest Serial
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 10/05/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
""S.O.S. Coast Guard" is a terrific showcase for Bela Lugosi. Most Lugosi serials were no-budget affairs, but this 1937 Republic effort remains a noted exception. Bela portrays the diabolical Boroff, who wants to control the world with his deadly disintegrating gas - giving the heroic Ralph Byrd a run for his money. Republic pulls out all the stops in a memorable finale. Lugosi never made a better chapterplay than this one."
Where are the last six chapters?
John S. Marr MD | Richmond, VA | 08/13/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the first cliff hangers available on DVD, and (I truly hope), one of many future Republic Studios serials. It is quite good for the genre and evokes the pre-War atmosphere of America, as well as the old autos, fashions, argot and naive fears of things scientific in the late 1930's. However, try as I may, I cannot access the last six chapters. I have checked the case the DVD came in for another disk, tried the single disk on the other side, tried to scroll down after Chapter six on the single disk, but I cannot (or do not have)the last six chapters.The VHS reviews do not mention any trouble with subsequent chapters. I cannot locate a website for Roan Group Archival Entertainment. Has Roan neglected to add the last chapters, or am I a dolt? Please send advice to me at email@example.com. Thanks, jsmarr"
Best Version Available
G. Ratcheson | Washington | 03/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As far as picture quality goes, not only is this the best version of SOS I've seen, it's currently the best looking DVD of any Lugosi serial. Roan tends to do excellent work at great prices, I've never seen a Roan dvd with a bad picture. Mine does have all 12 chapters, the previous reviewer may have gotten a defective copy."