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Blu-ray Reviews

The Beast of Hollow Mountain / The Neanderthal Man Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 9 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted February 01 2014 - 05:56 PM

The Beast of Hollow Mountain / The Neanderthal Man Blu-ray Review

Two 1950s B-movie science fiction/horror films licensed from United Artists make their high def debut courtesy of Shout! Factory’s Scream Factory label, The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956) and The Neanderthal Man (1953). Both films would be fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000, filled with unintentional laughs.


Cover Art


Studio: MGM

Distributed By: Scream Factory

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1, 2.35:1

Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: None

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 20 Min., 1 Hr. 18 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD

Dual-disc keepcase

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer), DVD-9 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 01/28/2014

MSRP: $26.99




The Production Rating: 2.5/5

The Beast of Hollow Mountain: 2 out of 5
At its core, The Beast of Hollow Mountain is a by-the-numbers B-movie western, at least for the first 60 of its 80 minute running time. Jimmy Ryan (western staple Guy Madison) and his partner, Felipe (Carlos Rivas), run a cattle ranch in Mexico, but are being intimidated by neighboring rancher Enrique (Eduardo Noriega) to sell their ranch before taking their cattle to market. Enrique stoops low enough to scare the workers at Jimmy’s ranch by telling them a tale of a giant monster living in the mountain surrounded by a swamp that is devouring the lost cattle in the area, and may come after them next. Enrique is also overly jealous of a possible budding relationship between his fiance Sarita (Patricia Medina) and Jimmy, so much so that he picks a fight in the center of town. As things escalate, the monster finally makes his grand appearance at the 60 minute mark (by way of rubber boots shaped like dinosaur feet), and eventually appears on-screen as a Willis O’Brien-inspired creature (O’Brien received a story credit on the film). The main problems with The Beast of Hollow Mountain are its generic western plot that build little to no tension between its main characters, its shift in tone (and genre) during the third act, and again its lack of suspense and believability in the creature (even by 1950s standards).

The Neanderthal Man: 2.5 out of 5
Fairing only slightly better, The Neanderthal Man tells the story of Professor Clifford Groves (Robert Shayne), an anthropologist experimenting in devolution. The film begins with attacks by a large, menacing tiger in the California Sierras. As Dr. Ross Harkness (Richard Crane) and game warden George Oakes (Robert Long) investigate, it is discovered that Groves has created a serum that, when injected into a subject, causes them to devolve into a previous species. House cats are being changed into sabre-toothed tigers, and Groves turning himself (and his deaf mute house servant Celia, played by Tandra Quinn) into neanderthals. Things go too far when Groves begins killing innocent visitors to the State Park while transformed into a neanderthal, and his eventual fate is much like that of The Wolfman. The film works because it knows that it is a B-movie creature feature, and tells its ridiculous story from beginning to end, with some suspense, yet never veering off course or into a completely different genre. The creatures are a bit ridiculous. A bengal tiger is used as a double for the sabre-toothed tiger during live shots, but the fangs don’t appear until the creature is killed, and the neanderthal makeup on Robert Shayne looks like something out of I Was a Teenage Werewolf.



Video Rating: 3.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The Beast of Hollow Mountain: 3 out of 5
This is a problematic transfer, due mostly to the source material itself. The print contains a lot of minor vertical scratches, and detail is virtually lost during any optical effect. That being said, the transfer provided by MGM to Shout! Factory (compressed using the AVC codec and retaining the film’s intended 2.35:1 aspect ratio) is still very good, with vivid colors, good detail (when an optical is not being used), and decent blacks.

The Neanderthal Man: 3.5 out of 5
The transfer provided for The Neanderthal Man is sourced from much better elements than the previous feature on this disc. Compressed using the AVC codec, the transfer retains the film’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This is a black and white film, and the transfer sports acceptable contrast with whites that never clip, but blacks that never get too inky. Detail is quite good, particularly in the transformation sequences where you can see the hair growing on Robert Shayne’s face and hands. some dirt and scratches are evident, but mostly during the stock footage used during much of the picture.



Audio Rating: 3/5

Both films are presented in their original mono soundtracks using DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Dialogue is clear and understandable, as well as the additional score and sound effects. The lossless tracks do reveal the limitations in the recording technology of the day, but that is to be expected on films such as these.



Special Features Rating: 0/5

DVD Copy: The films are also provided on a DVD in standard definition.



Overall Rating: 3/5

Not sure how large the fan base is on either of these films, which may be why MGM licensed them to Shout! Factory, and why they are presented on a double-feature Blu-ray/DVD combo. The presentations are acceptable, and although there are no special features, I really can’t think of what special features (other than original trailers) would or could be included on this disc.


Reviewed By: Todd Erwin


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#2 of 9 ONLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted February 02 2014 - 12:01 PM

I recently watched Beast on an HD channel within the past year.  I was appalled at how much I disliked the movie.  I had vague memories of liking this movie as a kid.  This dino for sure ain't a Harryhausen or Obrien creature.  Very amateurish and poorly done.  Before the dino appears, the acting is wooden and so is the script.

 

This could be the greatest blu-ray transfer of all time, and it still wouldn't interest me.  Life is too short to watch badly animated dinosaurs that have no life to them.

 

This is a blu-ray for the completist.


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#3 of 9 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted February 02 2014 - 05:29 PM

The director of The Neanderthal Man, E.A. Dupont, was a highly-regarded director of expressionist silent films in Germany, but he was relegated to working mostly on B pictures in Hollywood. He was the original director on Hell's Kitchen (1939), but he was fired after reportedly slapping a member of the cast.


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#4 of 9 OFFLINE   John Sparks

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Posted February 02 2014 - 07:05 PM

I recently watched Beast on an HD channel within the past year.  I was appalled at how much I disliked the movie.  I had vague memories of liking this movie as a kid.  This dino for sure ain't a Harryhausen or Obrien creature.  Very amateurish and poorly done.  Before the dino appears, the acting is wooden and so is the script.

 

This could be the greatest blu-ray transfer of all time, and it still wouldn't interest me.  Life is too short to watch badly animated dinosaurs that have no life to them.

 

This is a blu-ray for the completist.

I guess then "The Animal World" isn't your cup of tea either? But, since I'm one of those completests, it's surely for my collection! 


...retired at last...and Ray Harryhausen at my side!!!

 

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#5 of 9 ONLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted February 02 2014 - 07:37 PM

I haven't seen Animal World, so I can't make a judgement on it.
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#6 of 9 OFFLINE   Dave Lawrence

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Posted February 03 2014 - 08:40 AM

This item looks reminiscent of MGM's much missed Midnite Movies line, so I will try it. Also, it's not mentioned in the review, but Neanderthal Man co-stars Beverly Garland, which to me is a point in its favor and leads me to think I'll watch that half of the double feature first.


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#7 of 9 OFFLINE   Cineman

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Posted February 06 2014 - 06:47 PM

The Beast of Hollow Mountain / The Neanderthal Man Blu-ray Review

Two 1950s B-movie science fiction/horror films licensed from United Artists make their high def debut courtesy of Shout! Factory’s Scream Factory label, The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956) and The Neanderthal Man (1953). Both films would be fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000, filled with unintentional laughs.


ea755323e3dc6550e11573ecc6b76541.jpg

Studio: MGM

Distributed By: Scream Factory

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1, 2.35:1

Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: None

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 20 Min., 1 Hr. 18 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD

Dual-disc keepcase

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer), DVD-9 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 01/28/2014

MSRP: $26.99

 

...The presentations are acceptable, and although there are no special features, I really can’t think of what special features (other than original trailers) would or could be included on this disc.

 

Oh, I can think of some special features that a double-bill like this practically demands. How about a vintage drive-in 10 minute Visit-Our-Snack Bar Countdown, followed by a couple of schlocky trailers from other movies of similar genre/budget from the era (not trailers for these particular movies), followed by a vintage cartoon from the era with an option to view the whole shebang seamlessly from beginning to end as a real "Night at the Drive-in"? Place a version of that kind of special bonus before the first feature, a variation of it in the middle and the classic reminder at the end to replace your speaker on the speaker stand before leaving the drive-in and I'm there for these two turkeys, neither of which I'm much of a fan, at an even higher MSRP than $26.99!

:D

 

Without such bonus features, I probably wouldn't lay out $10 for this double-bill on Blu-ray...

 

I just think Shout!/Scream Factory and other distributors are totally missing the boat on how to market and sell stuff like this to us Baby Boomers who sat in the back seat at the drive-in and peaked between our fingers to hide from the monsters. It isn't the quality or effectiveness of these movies that provides the nostalgic pull (obviously! haha) and motivates us to reach for our wallets. It is the warm memory of one of those Friday nights out, of the "event", of that particular "treat" for the family, of coming home from school and the way we squealed with delight to hear we were going to the drive-in that night, with mom and dad or big brother and his date in the front seat that provides the nostalgic pull.



#8 of 9 ONLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted February 07 2014 - 06:02 AM

Cineman, there's nothing in your post I can disagree with. If this double feature had all the stuff you described, I'd buy it in a flash. All you'd need to make it complete is a tinny drive-in speaker. :)
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#9 of 9 OFFLINE   Cineman

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Posted February 08 2014 - 03:55 AM

Johnny, to my knowledge, Elite Entertainment was the only distributor of this kind of schlock double feature that got it pretty much right with their Drive-In Discs Collection. Virtually all the others were posers, not really delivering much of anything "like" a drive-in experience with the countdown clocks, trailers and cartoon in the right place and in the right order.

 

Elite only released three volumes back in the early/mid 2000s. Was that due to lack of interest? Don't know. I was ready to buy on day one as many volumes as they wanted to release. They did include a version of the special feature you mentioned. As an option, you could choose to replicate as closely as possible the "ambient sound" of a night at the drive-in. If you chose that option, the movie sound would only come out of the front left speaker, all other speakers carried sounds of cars driving slowly by on gravel in search of an empty space, occasional chatter from the back seat about what to get at the snack bar, that sort of thing. That was fun, but I don't think that kind of production is necessary to hit the "nostalgia" factor in these Blu-rays. I think the main thing is to present the audio/video elements that were provided by the drive-in theater proprietors. Leave it to the home theater enthusiasts to provide their own chatter and sounds of munching popcorn.

 

The idea that it is somehow the quality and effectiveness of the schlocky movies themselves that is the emotional pull to buy them and therefore all the distributor needs to do is slap two of them on a single Blu-ray disc and call it a "double-feature" or a "night at the movies" is way off the mark, imho. It wasn't even the quality and effectiveness of those movies on initial release that was the draw. lol! it was merely an excuse to pile into the car on a Friday or Saturday night and spend a couple of hours eating bad pizza and overly buttered popcorn with friends and family without anything on the screen requiring very much thought or attention until the monster jumps out. The countdowns, snack bar teasers, trailers and cartoon were as much if not more of the ritual as the junky movies they surrounded.







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