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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Creature > Alien > Science Fiction > Thriller > Terror > Murder > Supernatural > Roger Corman's Cult Classics: Attack Of The Crab Monsters/Not Of This Earth (1958)/War Of The Satellites (1957/58/63/Shout! Factory DVD)/HD Cinema Classics Corman Films: Coppola’s Dementia 13 + The Te

Roger Corman's Cult Classics: Attack Of The Crab Monsters/Not Of This Earth (1958)/War Of The Satellites (1957/58/63/Shout! Factory DVD)/HD Cinema Classics Corman Films: Coppola’s Dementia 13 + The Terror (Blu-ray/DVD Combos)


Picture: B-/C+/B-/C+/C+     Sound: C/C/C+/C/C     Extras: B/B/B/D/D     Films: C/B-/C/B-/C



Roger Corman is a legend among filmmakers and fostered many budding artists as they tried to gain footing in the industry.  Known primarily for the speed at which he was able to work more than the actual quality of his films, that does little to take away from the fact that he is responsible for a load of films that continue to please audiences to this day.  As of late, Shout! Factory has been meeting demand by turning out excellent editions of many titles that have either fallen out of print or are just now getting their due and other companies are joining in, with DVD and even Blu-ray debuts.


One of the best of these releases is their Sci-Fi Classics Triple Feature, containing not only three of his earlier directorial works, but a multitude of trailers for films that he has directed over the years - beginning with those for Attack Of The Crab Monsters and Not Of This Earth, and ending with his last directed feature, 1990’s Frankenstein Unbound.  There's also a great featurette, A Salute To Roger Corman, which collects a series of interviews with filmmakers discussing their time spent as part of his stable of young talent.


The earliest of the films here, Attack Of The Crab Monsters is a little bit out there as far as believability goes, and the plot is stretched paper thin.  As soon as you catch a glimpse of the papier-mâché-looking crabs of the title, however, you might just fall forever in love with this drive-in classic.  The result of atomic bomb tests, not only are these creatures enormous, but they also absorb the minds of whoever they eat, have telepathic abilities and want to take over the world.  If that's not guaranteed to put butts into seats, I don't know what is.


Not Of This Earth is paired on the same disc, and is technically speaking the better film.  Paul Birch stars as a vampire-like alien on the hunt for blood to send back to the residents of his dying homeworld.  Corman would go on to produce two remakes of the film, the first being made 30 years later by Jim Wynorski, followed by a lesser known one for television in the mid-‘90s.


During their initial run, these films went out to the drive-ins back to back, so it is fitting that they be released together here.  Each of the two includes a commentary track as well as some weathered television prologues that were intended to pad things out and provide a tad more explanation, so as not to lose anyone watching at home.


Bringing up the rear of this triple feature is War Of The Satellites, a film that isn't nearly as fun or imaginative as the other two, and failed to keep me riveted.  The saving grace is the starring role of Dick Miller, a Corman regular that most will remember from his lead role in A Bucket Of Blood or as Mr. Futterman in both of Joe Dante's Gremlins films.  Miller does crop up briefly in the featurette mentioned earlier that shares this disc, but it would have been great to see some extra stuff with him discussing this film in particular.


HD Cinema Classics has also gotten in on the act with a couple of solid releases of Roger Corman titles, coming up with two new hi-def transfers of Dementia 13 and The Terror.  Much improved editions of these and other public domain films are a specialty of this label, and they do some impressive work.  Who'd have thought that with all the crummy looking copies floating around of these two films, someone would step up to the plate and see that they be made to look respectable again.  These and the rest of their titles are offered as Blu-ray and DVD combo packs, which takes the guesswork out of which format to go with; not only that, but these are offered at low price points that make getting these a no-brainer.


Admittedly, not all is perfect here, but its as good as we're likely to get.  The 35mm prints that these have been transferred from seem to be release prints that were kept in good condition... so don't expect these to be as clean and clear as if they were taken directly from a camera negative.  The trailers provided on each disc are faux-vintage and not original promos as they might appear.  Another issue is that the method of cleaning the frames wipes out a small amount of detail from the picture, but it's surprisingly negligible.


All five films covered here are presented in their original black and white and are anamorphically enhanced, with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1; the lone exception being War of the Satellites, which is presented in 1.33:1 full frame.  There are some moderate signs of wear throughout the Shout! Factory triple feature, with seemingly a bit more grain to be found on Not Of This Earth, but the prints overall look pretty sharp, making the occasional scratch seem insignificant.  As mentioned earlier, the cleanup work done by HD Cinema Classics has softened some detail, but at the level of work they're doing here it wasn't easily avoidable.


Sound across the releases is decent, but nothing stands out as being “great”. Dementia 13 and The Terror have new 5.1 surround sound mixes, though these don't seem to have been entirely necessary, as for older films like these I'd take a lossless mono track over that any.


These movies weren't and still aren't of the stuff that wins awards – only occasionally do they even make sense – but for the most part they are a hell of a lot of fun, and I suggest you check them out.



-   David Milchick


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