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DVD Review The Black Scorpion DVD Review (1 Viewer)

Richard Gallagher

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The Black Scorpion DVD Review

The Black Scorpion is a fairly routine 1950s giant insects film which is highlighted by stop-action animation supervised by the legendary Willis O'Brien (King Kong, The Son of Kong) and engaging performances by Richard Denning (Creature From the Black Lagoon, Target Earth) and Mara Corday (Tarantula, The Giant Claw). It is now available from Warner Archive with a very nice anamorphic widescreen transfer.

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Studio: Warner Brothers

Distributed By: Warner Archive

Video Resolution and Encode: 480P/MPEG-2

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English 1.0 DD (Mono)

Subtitles: None

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 28 Min.

Package Includes: DVD

Standard DVD Keep Case

Disc Type: DVD-R

Region: A

Release Date: 12/04/2014

MSRP: $14.95




The Production Rating: 2.5/5

An erupting volcano in rural Mexico has brought American geologist Hank Scott (Richard Denning) and his Mexican counterpart Artur Ramos (Carlos Rivas) to the area to conduct a geological survey. Along the way they discover a police vehicle which been mysteriously crushed and the body of a dead policeman, as well as an abandoned infant who is alive. They take the child to the village of San Lorenzo, where ranch hands have fled in order to get away from the molten lava. While in San Lorenzo the two geologists are introduced to Teresa Alvarez (Mara Corday), the owner of a ranch which has barely escaped devastating damage. Teresa has come to San Lorenzo to try to coax her employees to return to her ranch.Hank is immediately attracted to Teresa, and he and Artur accept her invitation to stay at her ranch. Her workers also agree to return after she makes a heartfelt appeal to them. However, while in San Lorenzo the geologists hear fantastic stories about farms being destroyed, people disappearing, and livestock being slaughtered. The local people are inclined to blame these occurrences on a demon bull.The truth comes to light after telephone repairmen are attacked and killed by giant, drooling scorpions. Hank and Artur confer with Mexican scientists and conclude that the scorpions are prehistoric creatures which are able to escape their underground lairs through a fissure in the ground which has opened up. They observe that the scorpions come out only at night, so Hank and Artur convince the Mexican Army to help them descend into the fissure during the day to see if they can exterminate the scorpions with chemicals.Richard Denning does a typically competent job as Hank, and Carlos Rivas is effective as his Mexican partner. Mara Corday, a former Playboy Playmate of the Month, is quite fetching and feisty as Teresa. There is a silly sub-plot involving a boy named Juanito who repeatedly does stupid things which create "child in peril" moments. The real stars here are the scorpions and other giant insects which were created under the supervision of Willis O'Brien. There are several fine scenes of those creatures gobbling up humans and fighting among themselves. Director Edward Ludwig keeps the story moving along without too many lulls.The Black Scorpion is a lesser effort than such 50s films as Them! and Tarantula, but viewers who enjoyed those movies will find much to like in this new DVD-R.


Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

The Warner Archive has done a very nice job with this transfer. The black & white 1.85:1 image appears to be properly framed and detail is good, with solid contrast and decent shadow detail. Stock footage of volcanic eruptions is a tad on the ragged side, but that is the fault of the film elements rather than the transfer. Overall the transfer is very nice, with no age-related anomalies or evidence of damage.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The Dolby Digital mono audio is fine and probably is as good as it can be, given the inherent limitations. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout, and there is some pleasing punch in the scenes involving the scorpions and other creatures.There are no subtitles.


Special Features Rating: 2.5/5

There is a rather nice array of extras on this Warner Archive disc."Stop Motion Masters" features special effects guru Ray Harryhausen talking about how he met Willis O'Brien and worked with him on such films as Mighty Joe Young.Also included is the Harryhausen-created prehistoric segment from the Irwin Allen documentary The Animal World.Another extra shows some age-damaged test footage of stop-motion animation which was filmed by Pete Peterson, who worked with Willis O'Brien on Mighty Joe Young and The Black Scorpion. The footage was found in a trunk following the death of one of Peterson's colleagues.Lastly, we have the theatrical trailer for The Black Scorpion, as well as trailers for The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, Clash of the Titans, and The Valley of Gwangi.


Overall Rating: 3/5

The Black Scorpion is not exactly a classic in the genre of giant insects et al., but it is a fun film with very impressive stop-animation. It can be ordered directly at the Warner Archive website.NOTE: The Amazon listing for this title shows a list price of $17.99 but the Warner Archive site shows that the MSRP is $14.95, so I am going with the Warner Archive listing.


Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher


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Johnny Angell

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Rich, I think you have properly evaluated this film in relation to its peers. Never the less, I'm a sucker for this type of film and will add it to my library. And yeah, the kid is incredibly stupid and I keep hoping that on the next viewing the kid will get what's coming to him. He is incredibly irritating. .
 

bujaki

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This one has downright nostalgia value for me. I recognize its shortcomings, but I saw it when it came out, and I was an impressionable child who loved monster movies. My first movie memory is of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (2D). I was 4, and was scared and titillated by the strange goings-on in that story. Ms. Adams in her white bathing suit; the Creature tickling the soles of her feet...WOW! Unforgettable!
 

stevenHa

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Other than a change with the aspect ratio from the previous dvd, is there any other difference in the picture quality that would prompt us to buy the dvd again ?
 

Matt Hough

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I pulled my old open matte DVD off the shelf and watched it this afternoon. My Panasonic player zoomed it to 1.78:1 and it lopped off no heads and appeared just fine to me, so I'll just keep what I've got.

For me, it's not in the same league with Them! or Tarantula, but it's still a fun monster movie of the 1950s.
 

John Sparks

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stevenHa said:
Other than a change with the aspect ratio from the previous dvd, is there any other difference in the picture quality that would prompt us to buy the dvd again ?
I just compared them both in my HT and the new one is a little lighter in contrast. It's different seeing it fill the whole screen.

It's worth the double dip 'cause it's in its proper aspect ratio!
 

mackjay

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Agree it's not as good as Them! or Tarantula! but The Black Scorpion is a highly entertaining ride with enjoyable special effects. Nice review!
 

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