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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Thriller > Action > Suspense > Robots > Medical > Murder > Drama > Soundtracks > Futureworld (1976/MGM Limited Edition DVD) + Coma/The Carey Treatment/Westworld Soundtrack (FSM/Film Score Monthly LImited Edition CD Set)

Futureworld (1976/MGM Limited Edition DVD) + Coma/The Carey Treatment/Westworld Soundtrack (FSM/Film Score Monthly Limited Edition CD Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+/B     Extras: C-     Film/Music: B



Science Fiction based in real science is too rare, especially since the genre became grounds for space operas and bells & whistles action films as al the studios look for the next tentpole franchise since Star Wars overly commercialized the industry by accident.  However, the best films in the genre are the smart ones and that includes thrillers that really integrate the futuristic elements into their scripts.  In this, the late Michael Crichton was very good at combining the two, even getting experimental in the 1980s before the blockbuster success of Jurassic Park.


In 1973, he wrote and directed Westworld, a film MGM did not want and it landed up becoming its #1 box office moneymaker that year.  Still, they were not interested in doing a sequel, so B-movie company American International (looking to expand into a major or mini-major) surprised everyone by picking up sequel rights and the result was a hit in Richard T. Heffron’s Futureworld (1976), as the Delos Corporation rebuilds its robot-populated amusement park with better technology so the mass murder caused by the robots gone mad never happens again.  Too bad something new and ugly is about to take place.


Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner play competing reporters invited to see how much better the new Delos is and are there to be shown how great a vacation place it is.  That it is worth what would be thousands of dollars a day to visit.  To be convinced by those running the place (including Arthur Hill and John Ryan) that nothing can go wrong… this time.


An underrated sequel and underrated thriller, it was lost in the Star Wars shuffle, though it and Westworld actually featured some of the earliest CG animation and imaging before most films did.  Unlike today’s shallow digi-fests, that was incidental to a real-world story and this film gets outright creepy.  Very effective, it is as relevant as ever, holds up very well and rarely hits any false notes.  You can see it without seeing Westworld (out in the same DVD, first issued by MGM/UA in a plastic case, then by Warner in a cardboard snapper), but seeing Westworld makes this even more effective.  It is the very first film to ever use an outright computer generated image.


So with all that, after waiting for MGM to issue Futureworld on DVD and Blu-ray, they have decided to release it as a Limited Edition DVD from MGM’s DVD-R program.  The film has been issued for years in a very soft, old 1.33 X 1 transfer overseas, but the best previous edition was the 12” LaserDisc Orion (then owner of the American International catalog before MGM bought out both) licensed to Image Entertainment with a very nice print with great color and few flaws.


It is nice to see it available on DVD finally and is worth going out of your way for.  Yul Brynner, Stuart Margolin, John Fujioka, Robert Cornthwaite and Allen Ludden (in a very amusing cameo as a game show host) also star.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on this new DVD-R is from the exact same video master.  The disadvantage is that not all the shots look good, you get some aliasing errors and some shots do not look as good, but the advantage is that the presentation here has digital clarity (no analog waves) and gets some of the solid look out of the master the LaserDisc could not, so that’s the trade-off.  Gene Polito (Westworld, Spikes Gang) and the very capable Howard Schwartz share Director of Photography duties.  While the LaserDisc had a nice PCM 2.0 Mono soundtrack, we get a somewhat more compressed Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track here that holds back the film a little, including the sound effects and music score by Fred Karlin (Westworld, Bad Ronald, Spikes Gang).  At least the single extra of an Original Theatrical Trailer is in great shape and sounds good, but this also deserves a Blu-ray release.


Warner has yet to issue Westworld on Blu-ray, but the DVD has Dolby 2.0 Stereo sound that was not bad, yet it is no match for the Limited Edition CD soundtrack set issued by Film Score Monthly Magazine’s FSM CD soundtrack label.  A collection built around Crichton’s produced works, it also includes Jerry Goldsmith’s effective score for the 1978 Michael Douglas thriller Coma and the underrated Roy Budd’s score for The Carey Treatment with James Coburn.


They all sound excellent in PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo in a pressing limited to 3,000 copies, so you might want to get it now before they run out and Carey was also issued that way.  The original 1978 Coma here was issued on Blu-ray recently, but we received neither of those, so we’ll pass on comment unless we catch up with them later, but we have covered the 2012 TV mini-series remake of Coma and you can find out more about it at the link below.  You can already tell I am a Westworld fan and this includes its music score.


Budd’s Carey score was for a film directed by the late Blake Edwards, who may have been known for his Pink Panther films, but was capable of more.  Released in 1972, the film has a dated abortion plot, but the music is done very intelligently.  As for Coma (1978), the idea of organs for profit is as relevant as ever and even creepier, not seen as a problem like it should be.  Crichton directed this adaptation from his script and though it is better thanks to a score from a genius like Goldsmith in prime form.


That leaves Westworld, which has its innovate electronic music made by Karlin, with his electronic music being the sonic highlight here with remarkable fidelity and dynamic range that will surprise many.  Those masters should be used for any lossless DTS-MA Blu-ray and is very impressive here.  Note that this is also the debut of the complete soundtrack, while Carey debuts on the CD and Coma is here in an extended and alternate version.


You can read about the 2012 Coma TV mini-series remake at this link:





As for the title covered here, both releases are absolutely, highly collectable.


You can order Futureworld DVD from Amazon or at this link:



You can order the Westworld/Coma/Carey Treatment CD set at this link:




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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