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THE BLACK SCORPION ($20) is another fun offering from the giant insect on the rampage science fiction sub-genre that sprung up during the 1950s. Sure, there are a few moments that look a little cheesy and some of the dialogue comes across as silly, but it all adds to the innocent charm of the movie. Also in the film’s favor are the highly enjoyable stop motion special effects created by the legendary Willis O'Brien and his assistant Pete Peterson. The plot of THE BLACK SCORPION follows a pair of geologists that are investigating volcanic eruptions in Mexico. Unfortunately, the eruptions and subsequent quakes have opened up an unobstructed passageway to the surface, which have unleashed giant scorpions that begin terrorizing the countryside. However, when the Mexican military seal up the opening, the scorpions find another way out- one which leads them directly to Mexico City. The cast of THE BLACK SCORPION features Richard Denning, Mara Corday, Carlos Rivas, Mario Navarro and Carlos Múzquiz.

Warner Home Video has made THE BLACK SCORPION available on DVD in a pretty nice looking black and white transfer that frames the film in a 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. There are some signs of age on the film elements, as some blemishes and scratches are evident, especially on the stock footage. However, for the most part, the element used for the transfer holds up rather well. The image is reasonably sharp and nicely defined; although opticals and sequences with rear screen projection do appear somewhat softer than the main body of the film. Blacks appear accurately rendered, as do the whites. Contrast is generally good, but there are some inconsistencies in regards to the rear screen projection work. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is very nice for a film of this vintage, with background hiss and other audible anomalies having been cleaned up in the mastering process. Fidelity has its limitations, but there aren’t any noticeable signs of distortion with a bit of amplification applied to the track. Dialogue is crisply rendered and is always totally understandable. While no other language tracks are provided English, Spanish, and French subtitles have been encoded onto the DVD.


Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as Stop-Motion Masters- a brief Ray Harryhausen interview in which he talks about Willis O'Brien. Also included is the Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen animated sequence from The Animal World, as well as test footage from un-produced projects Las Vegas Monster and The Beetlemen. Theatrical trailers for THE BLACK SCORPION, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, CLASH OF THE TITANS and THE VALLEY OF GWANGI are also provided.

If you enjoyed the rampaging giant insect cycle of the 1950s, then you cant go wrong by picking up a copy of THE BLACK SCORPION. Warner’s DVD presentation looks and sounds just fine, plus there are some thoughtful extras included on the disc.


The Black Scorpion (1957)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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