For the second year in a row, Universal Home Video has released a set of vintage science fiction thrillers in a DVD set that can only be purchased from the Best Buy chain.... assuming you can find them.
Last year's set included Tarantula, The Monolith Monsters, Monster on Campus, The Mole People, and, the gem of the set, the classic The Incredible Shrinking Man – in its proper widescreen ratio. for the first time on home video.
Although a number of fans hoped that Uni would offer the movies to the mass market soon after, they still have not done so.
So, when this year's set – which includes Dr. Cyclops, Cult of the Cobra, The Land Unkown (my favorite of the batch), The Deadly Mantis and The Leech Woman – went on sale last week, I convinced the wife to let me make the 50-mile drive to the closest Best Buy store to pick it up. (They're opening a new Best Buy store closer next year, fortunately.)
Frankly, this year's set is pretty weak. 1940's Dr. Cyclops, by the guys behind the original King Kong, is kinda fun, and is in three-strip Technicolor. And, I've been fond of 1957's The Land Unknown (cheesy dinosaurs and all) ever since seeing it when I was a kid on Channel Six's "Sci-Fi Theater," which, for several years in the Seventies, ran on Saturday afternoons during Summer vacation. But the rest of them – including the admittedly entertaining Mantis – are among the studio's weakest SF efforts. In a way, it's too bad This Island Earth and It Came from Outer Space had already been released seperately... but at least the studio issued It as a nice special edition a few years back.
Nonetheless, I still prefer vintage sci-fi and fantasy films over 99% of today's genre flicks, and I'm thrilled to have these in my library. The transfers are gorgeous, and it was great to finally see The Land Unknown in widescreen, which allowed me to even better appreciate the marvelous jungle sets and flawless compositing work of the FX crew.
(Now, I'm planning my trip to BB in late October for the exclusive "classic horror" set.)
Anyway, I was also hoping to pick up a couple of the new wave of MGM/Fox "Midnite Movie" releases – I have my eye on The Witchfinder General and Food of the Gods dics, as well as a few of the double feature sets (Return of Dracula/The Vampire, Yongary/Konga, Tales From The Crypt/Vault of Horror)– but the Best Buy in question didn't have any of them on their poorly-stocked shelves. Neither did our local WallyMart or Circuit City ... looks like Deep Discount DVD will be getting my business again.
Ah... the annual Halloween DVD "surge".... I love it, but if they'd release these things gradually over the year, it would be a lot easier on my limited budget....