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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Special Effects Collection -- in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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For anyone with an interest in special effects, sci-fi cinema, or the history of cinema in general, this set (or the individual releases) are a no-brainer purchase.  The boxed set is the obvious deal, at $11 per disc.

Spanning three decades, with films from 1933 (Son of Kong, directed by Ernest Shoedsack), 1949 (Mighty Joe Young, directed by Ernest Shoedsack), 1953 (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, directed by Eugene Lourie), and 1954 (Them!, directed by Gordon Douglas), the set allows us to peer inside the production arena, and see how film stocks, and changes in stop-motion, and other animation changed over the years.

​An aside on Mr. Lourie.  He worked on Abel Gance's Napoleon, and later lent his expertise in art  and production design to the films of Jean Renoir.  Worth reading his bio.

I believe three of the film are from original negatives, while one, Mighty Joe Young, is derived from a beautifully produced fine grain master.

While all four films are classics in their own right, with the two Kong sequels probably at the top of most cinephile's lists, the one that grabs my interest, from a production, post, and printing perspective, is Them!  I saw it at a theater in Miami in 1954, and it scared the bejesus out of me.

Stop-motion allowed effects to be captured on original negative.  Dupes, and there are some, inclusive of printer functions and titles, can be obvious.  Them! had numerous effects, from the addition of sand/wind to stock footage.

And while some of the shots in Them! are apt to have a odd look to them, the one that caught my eye was the main title sequence.

A background plate shot in black & white, like the rest of the film, was originally duped, and combined on color stock with the main title graphic.  Original prints were produced in Warner Color.  In the intervening decades the Warner original dupe of the main title faded, and a replacement was probably produced from the faded original on IP stock.

For this unavoidable reason, the main title sequence is soft, and appears precisely like the dupe of a dupe of a dupe, that it is.

The grain structure in Them! will also be noted, as grain rises and falls with the various generations of dupes and printers functions throughout the film.  That's what Them! looks like, and looked like in 1954.

Had the film been produced as originally planned, things might have actually been far worse.  The original concept was to first shoot in 3D and WarnerColor, then WarnerColor alone.

Had they given the film a higher budget, and gone color, we would have been left with a bit of a mess, as it would have been printed single strand, with all Color printer functions duped in.  It would have been as pretty as Giant.

Son of Kong

Image - 5

 

Audio - 5

4k Up-rez - 5

 

Pass / Fail - Pass

 

Very Highly Recommended

 

 

Mighty Joe Young

 

Image - 5

 

Audio - 5

4k Up-rez - 5

 

Pass / Fail - Pass

 

Very Highly Recommended

 

 

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

 

Image - 5

 

Audio - 5

4k Up-rez - 4.5

 

Pass / Fail - Pass

 

Recommended

 

 

Them!

 

Image - 4.75

 

Audio - 5

4k Up-rez - 4.5

 

Pass / Fail - Pass

 

Recommended

 

A great set from WB, that should be included in every serious library.

 

RAH

 

Robert Crawford

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ahollis said:
Now that I have read Mr. Harris' thoughts, I need read no further. I am now anxiously awaiting my copy of the collection to arrive. Thank you for your thoughts and comments.
Yup! I can't wait until next week. My plan is to watch all four films within 24 hours of receiving this box set.
 

bigshot

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If you look at the shot of the man and woman in front of the plane speaking to the cop, it appears that the blu-ray is correct and the DVD looks squeezed. The only shots that look stretched are the extreme closeups, which might be a result of the optics of the lens being used. In any case, the caps of Them! look fine to me. Perhaps the contrast is a little flat, but I can correct that when I project it.
 

Yorkshire

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There's certainly a difference.


It's one of those instances, if you saw either one on its own, and didn't mention squashing, it'd look fine.


Steve W
 

CraigF

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Randy Korstick said:
Yep another reason why I don't regularly read reviews from DVDbeaver. Too many questionable reviews.

That may be, but I am wary of anything that comes from WB since about 2005, DVD or BD. Over-compression, odd audio choices, recycling barely-HD-quality scans used for the DVDs.


I have no idea about these BD titles, and while I don't always agree with DVDBeaver (an understatement!), I welcome more opinions before buying (not released here yet, expensive, and I have DVDs).
 

Robert Harris

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CraigF said:
That may be, but I am wary of anything that comes from WB since about 2005, DVD or BD. Over-compression, odd audio choices, recycling barely-HD-quality scans used for the DVDs.


I have no idea about these BD titles, and while I don't always agree with DVDBeaver (an understatement!), I welcome more opinions before buying (not released here yet, expensive, and I have DVDs).

Could not agree more.


I've had a near rage/hatred for WB, since they virtually destroyed the motion picture industry in 1927, along with quite a number of careers.


Watch their version of The Jazz Singer today, and it creaks, with its part talking, part inter-titled garbage.


Can't image it was any better back then. Black & white to boot...


RAH
 

Mark-P

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It was a blind buy for me. I bought it for two titles I was interested in: Mighty Joe Young and Them! and figured it wouldn't hurt to get the other two as a bonus. Looking forward to Tuesday's delivery (which will also contain MFL and Miss Fisher season 3)
 

Colin Jacobson

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I don't much care for the movies themselves, but I think "Son of Kong" and "Mighty Joe Young" look pretty terrific on BD. I was impressed by the transfers...
 

rdimucci

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If the DVDBeaver screencaps are accurate, the Blu-ray of THEM! has more picture information on both the left and right sides of the frame.
 

John Sparks

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I saw "Them" when I was 5 years old. My mother told me about it after her and my father got back from the drive-in. I can still remember the little girl walking in the desert talking to giant ants.


Ah, the theater of the mind. Wasn't until years later that I finally got to actually see it.
 

smithbrad

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Received my order today. Unfortunately, I won't have time to watch anything until at least tomorrow evening.


I was glad to get all four for a cheaper price within the collection, but as I suspected I would be doing all were moved into separate blu-ray cases. It's almost impossible to remove the disks without getting fingerprints on them and the booklet fits awfully tight in the outer sleeve/holder. Nice and solidly constructed, but just not for me. For occasions like this I keep a supply of dual disk blu-ray cases so i can keep both the older DVD and blu-ray in the same case. Now I just have to either wait for someone to create custom blu-ray case art, or do my own from the DVD case art.
 

David Weicker

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smithbrad said:
Received my order today. Unfortunately, I won't have time to watch anything until at least tomorrow evening.

I was glad to get all four for a cheaper price within the collection, but as I suspected I would be doing all were moved into separate blu-ray cases. It's almost impossible to remove the disks without getting fingerprints on them and the booklet fits awfully tight in the outer sleeve/holder. Nice and solidly constructed, but just not for me. For occasions like this I keep a supply of dual disk blu-ray cases so i can keep both the older DVD and blu-ray in the same case. Now I just have to either wait for someone to create custom blu-ray case art, or do my own from the DVD case art.
Since these were also sold as singles, you should be able to find scans of those to use
 

smithbrad

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David Weicker said:
Since these were also sold as singles, you should be able to find scans of those to use

That is true, and is more likely then custom covers. It is just a question of how long to wait. Since the blu-ray covers use the same art work as the DVD's, and DVD cover scan are readily available, I might just go the route of manipulating those instead. But for others that don't want to go to that trouble, one would think original scans should be available at some point.
 

John Sparks

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I put a finger print on one of my discs from Hammer Horrors until I figured out how to take them out of that cardboard sleeve.


Once I get this box set, they're going in the cases that held their SD counterparts, like I did with the Hammer Horror set. One fingerprint was one too many.
 

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