IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE
I grew up watching all of those great classic Ray Harryhausen movies on television and am delighted to see them being revisited on DVD with the kind of cool special features that reflect how special these films really are. IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA ($25) features another of the wonderful personality-rich stop motion creatures that the master of special effects built his reputation on. Sure, the monster in IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA is cloaked in mystery for a good portion of the film, but it also proves to be one of Harryhausenís most entertaining creations, thanks to the movieís slow reveal, which keeps the audience guessing.
IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA stars Kenneth Tobey as Pete Mathews the commander of a nuclear submarine that has the filmís first encounter with the creature. After the submarine barely escapes the deadly grasp of something from the murky depths, the vessel is forced to put in for repairs, which allows a scientific team time to investigate the evidence of the encounter, which remained attached to the sub. Scientists Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue) and John Carter (Donald Curtis) eventually identify the mysterious sea creature as a giant octopus that has been driven from the bottom of the ocean by nuclear testing, which has forced it to seek new prey closer to the surface- in manís domain. As with many other Harryhausen movies, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA climaxes at recognizable landmark- in this case, San Franciscoís Golden Gate Bridge.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA available on DVD in a 1.85:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Utilizing the multi-angle feature, the DVD offers fans a Chromachoice- or the ability to toggle between the film in its original black and white, or a new colorized version overseen by Harryhausen and produced by Legend Films. As a purist I will state my preference for the original black and white presentation that I grew up with. Still, the colorized version adds a new level of enjoyment to watching IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA. Again, itís very interesting to see the colors choices that Harryhausen originally envisioned for the production of IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA. Like the other Harryhausen titles receiving the colorization treatment, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA was originally produced in black and white for budgetary reasons, even though the effects master envisioned his work in color. As I stated on my review of 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, the colorization process used here is of excellent quality and it applied with some artistry to prevent the process from calling too much attention to itself. Moving on to the black and white transfer, it is quite appealing, producing a reasonably sharp image, with very respectable grayscale. As for the film elements, they appear very clean, with little beyond minor blemishes to detract from the presentation. Stock footage is footage looks a bit beaten up, but the film proper is just fine. Film grain is present, but not excessive. Digital compression artifacts are not a problem on either presentation.
IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA comes with a re-mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The remixed track is expectedly front heavy and generally come across as nicely spread monaural. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves a generally smooth sounding track. IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA has the expected fidelity limitations of a half-century-old movie. Dialogue is always completely understandable. English, French, Portuguese and Spanish monaural tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are subtitles in the same languages.
The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well the supplements, which have been spread across both discs of this set. Disc one features a running Audio Commentary by Ray Harryhausen, Arnold Kunert, Randy Cook and John Bruno. Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming. Ray Harryhausen On It Came From Beneath The Sea is an interview program with the effects master talking about the production. A Present Day Look At Stop-Motion offers a film student demonstrating how stop-motion animation is done today. A Video Discussion Of It Came From Beneath The Seaís 1955 Marketing And Advertising Campaign features producer Arnold Kunert talking about the film.
Tim Burton Sits Down with Ray Harryhausen features the famed director sitting down with one of his idols to talk about his work. The Colorization Process features an enthusiastic Harryhausen talking about finally being given the opportunity to offer his black and white films in color, plus what Legend Films brings to the table. David Schechter On Film Music's Unsung Hero talks about the contributions of musical director Mischa Bakaleinikoff, who massaged stock music into countless B productions, in addition to composing snippets. A digital Comic Book and Ad Artwork, plus a Photo Gallery close out the supplements.
IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA is another wonderful Ray Harryhausen movie given first class treatment on DVD. Highly recommended.
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