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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Science Fiction > Counterculture > Fantasy > Superhero > Sex > Horror > Thriller > British > Barbarella 4K (1968/Paramount/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-rays)/Horrors Of The Black Museum (1959/VCI Blu-ray)/The Terror (1963) + Little Shop Of Horrors (1960/Film Masters Blu-rays/all MVD)

Barbarella 4K (1968/Paramount/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-rays)/Horrors Of The Black Museum (1959/VCI Blu-ray)/The Terror (1963) + Little Shop Of Horrors (1960/Film Masters Blu-rays/all MVD)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B/B-/B-/B- Sound: B-/B-/C+/C+ Extras: B Films: B-/C+/C+/C+

Now for a group of classic and well-known genre films that walk the tightrope between A & B- movies...

Roger Vadim's Barbarella 4K (1968) was a huge hit film in its time, capitalizing on the rising counterculture of the time, pop art look of the time and increasing love of comic books, along with its rising actress/star Jane Fonda in the title role, though she was also a lightning rod for her then-controversial stance on the Vietnam fiasco where she turned out to be about 85% correct about what she was saying. It is also an early superhero film a decade before Superman: The Movie solidified the genre, save the fact that she is a female hero, connected to another world of love and pleasure in some alternate world of advanced natural growth and less-mechanical technology, plus nudity, sex and sexuality are no problem for her or anyone in her world.

The French were already coming up with counterculture heroes like jewel thief Diabolik and others, then at about this time, counterculture animation (The Beatles' Yellow Submarine) and such artists (Robert Crumb, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol) and a new industry of comic books for adults called comix that were more sexual and wild (if less coherent at times) than regular comic books under the Comic Book Code and the new 'graphic novel' movement that began around 1986. Barbarella just arrives in all of this.

Fonda looks great here and is more than able to carry the film, but is supported by a great cast that includes Milo O'Shea as Durand Durand (who inspired the pop/rock group with a slightly different spelling,) John Philip Law (who played Diabolik a few years earlier on the big screen) is blind angel Pygar, Anita Pallenberg (Candy, Dillinger Is Dead, Performance,) David Hemmings (Antonioni's Blow Up) as Dildano, Marcel Marceau as Professor Ping and uncredited turns by Antonio Sabato and Fabio Testi make for quiet a unique cast and it all works.

To say anything else would ruin the film's many surprises, but it is an amusing comedy with thriller elements and much more that also remains a one-of-a-kind film that is long overdue for this grand treatment, preservation and restoration. Fonda would soon prove her serious acting chops in Alan J. Pakula's Klute (1971, see our Criterion review elsewhere on this site) all while never selling out and the film and its success would be a controversy in itself. Can we watch and enjoy without thinking of the war and her politics? Should we be enjoying such a film with the war at hand? Is she using the film as a trojan horse for her politics? 55 years later, she won, we won (despite not 'winning' in Vietnam) and the film can once again be enjoyed for the film it is.

If you have not seen it in a while or never before, now is the opportunity to see something challenging that is still commercial and ironically of late, is far better than the several mostly awful mega-budgeted superhero films being issued as we post that are losing tons of money and will likely never recoup their budgets. Barbarella was ahead of its time and has somehow stayed so. Especially with the growing audience for the 1980 Flash Gordon, it deserves a new audience and I hope it gets it.

Extras are many, especially in the limited edition version and (per the press release) include reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options

  • Double-sided fold-out poster featuring two original artwork options

  • Six double-sided collector's postcards

  • Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anne Billson, Paul Gravett, Veronique Bergen and Elizabeth Castaldo Lunden, and select archival material

Disc One - Feature (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)

  • 4K (2160p) Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)

  • Original lossless English mono audio, plus remixed Dolby Atmos surround and lossless French mono (featuring the voice of Jane Fonda)

  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  • Audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas

  • Alternative opening and closing credits (in 4K with Dolby Vision, originally by James Bond movie series and Stanley Donen credits veteran and genius expert Maurice Binder)

  • Isolated Music Score

Disc Two - Extras (Blu-ray)

  • Another Girl, Another Planet, an appreciation of Barbarella by film critic Glenn Kenny

  • Paul Joyce's behind the scenes featurette, Barbarella Forever!

  • Love, a two-hour in-depth discussion between film and cultural historians Tim Lucas & Steve Bissette on the impact and legacy of Barbarella

  • Dress to Kill, a 30-minute interview with film fashion scholar Elizabeth Castaldo Lunden on Jacques Fonteray's world-changing costume designs

  • Framing for Claude, an interview with camera operator Roberto Girometti

  • Tognazzi on Tognazzi, actor/director Ricky Tognazzi discusses the life and work of his father and Barbarella star Ugo Tognazzi

  • An Angel's Body Double, actor Fabio Testi discusses his early career as a stuntman and body double for John Phillip Law on Barbarella

  • Dino and Barbarella, a video essay by Eugenio Ercolani on producer Dino De Laurentiis

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

  • US TV and radio spots

  • and an image gallery.

Arthur Crabtree's Horrors Of The Black Museum (1959) has finally made it to the Blu-ray format after years of DVD releases, primarily by the underrated VCI Home Video company. It was one of the earliest films reviewed on this site and you can read all about it at this link:


Now the film is back in a new transfer restoration upgrade and after only having the older DVD for a few decades, it is a nicer upgrade to see the film better and capture some subtitles in the way it is shot, acted and the scope frame seems a little wider. It is now freakier and creepier to take in and Gough can more than handle the lead villain role, an underrated actor who was up there with the best of his generation and then some

Extras expand from the previous DVDs and include the Original U.S. Theatrical Trailer, Original European Theatrical Trailer, Photo Gallery, Archival Commentary by Writer/Producer Herman Cohen 2023 Commentary by noted film historian Robert Kelly, artist 2-sided coverwrap features original theatrical art and flip side with a new graphic design by Robert Kelly, Video Tribute to Producer Herman Cohen Archival Phone Interview/Video featurette with Herman Cohen Interview with Shirley Ann Field and Original U.S. Hypno-vista opening featuring psychologist, Emile Franchel.

Roger Corman's The Terror (1963, issued here as a 60th Anniversary Edition) and Little Shop Of Horrors (1960) have been released as a double feature by the terrific new video label Film Masters and offers the best versions of the films issued anywhere to date and here are the links to our best coverage of each from previous Blu-ray releases:

The Terror


Little Shop Of Horrors


The former film is a mixed final collaboration between lead actor Boris Karloff and Producer/Director Roger Corman and on Edgar Allen Poe adaptions as well. It has some visually striking moments, but is a somewhat inconsistent film, albeit atmospheric and a rare color film with Karloff in it. Little Shop is a much sillier, odder affair that is comical and something different for even Corman, a curio with a strange, early Jack Nicholson performance and more of a curio since it later inspired the hit stage and feature film musical of the same name. They had hardly any budget, so expect next to no music.

It is easily the best this film has ever looked, so it was easier for me to watch it and appreciate how they pushed their very limited budget. The cinematography was better than expected under the circumstances and is like watching a print that stayed fresh after being lost for a few decades or so. Cheers to those who issued it the best they could before, but this is an unexpectedly detailed upgrade for what could have been a lost film. Now you can see both for yourself and the best versions are luckily in the same set.

Extras are many and include a high quality, illustrated booklet with tech info and C. Courtney Joyner contributes an essay on the Karloff/Poe connection up to his usual high standards. Mark McGee writes our liner notes for Little Shop of Horrors in the same booklet. The disc of The Terror adds a C. Courtney Joyner/Dr. Steve Haberman commentary track, while the disc for Little Shop of Horrors ads Author, Justin Humphreys, and film star, Jonathan Haze, put together a special commentary for this feature, Ballyhoo Motion Pictures continues "Hollywood Intruders: The Filmgroup Story" with Part Two of the story, a bonus featurette by Howard S. Berger, "Ghosts in the Machine: Art & Artifice in Roger Corman's Celluloid Castle," provides a fresh look at The Terror, recut trailers, based off of the original theatrical trailers, for both features are included.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Barbarella 4K looks great for its age and considering all the optical printing and the other older visual effects used at the time, costly as they may have been back then. You get more grain in those shots, but the color is finally reproduced to mirror a dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor version of the film and that's great, which brings it more in line with the other two, similar Dino De Laurentiis pop art/hero/pop culture films he is also know for noted in the review above, Danger: Diabolik (restored not too long ago by Francis Coppola's American Zoetrope, but no 4K edition yet) and the 1980 Flash Gordon, reviewed elsewhere on this site in 4K from Arrow as well. Shots that have zero optical effects are the ones that really shine and several of them definitely exceed my letter grade and will even shock some by their fidelity, detail and depth.

Credit also has to go to Director of Photography Claude Renoir, nephew of the legendary director Jean Renoir, who lensed several of his films, plus the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, Gallone's Puccini and Madame Butterfly films, Madwoman Of Chaillot, The Lady in the Car With Glasses And A Gun, The Adventurers, French Connection II and lensed both Vadim's Spirits Of The Dead segment and The Game Is Over with Jane Fonda in 1966, so they already had a great working relationship. It pays off here.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the regular Blu-ray is passable and fine for the format, but lacks the great color and better detail and depth of the 4K edition. Both offer lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) audio upgrades, which introduces stereo music elements and more to open up the film's sound versus its original optical monophonic sound, which may not be as good as similar upgrades on Hitchcock's Psycho 4K, the original The Exorcist 4K or Enter The Dragon 4K, but better than Anatomy Of A Murder 4K, which is just going too far back to give a monophonic film that kind of upgrade. A DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is also offered for purists, but is not as good. For the 4K version, it is the best combination outside of an actual Technicolor print.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Horrors Of The Black Museum show the age of the materials used, especially since it was shot in the old CinemaScope format, with all of its distortions, softness and other flaws. Since it was only made and developed in Eastman color Kodak 35mm negative, you get more slight fading, though the color is more subdued in parts since it is handled by British labs versus any in the U.S. and you can see the improvements in the color versus the old U.S. trailer and color refinement versus the U.K. Trailer, but included here. There are still some detail issues too, but Studio Canal provided the new 4K scan and this is the best this has ever looked, with a few small reservations. The original monophonic sound has been restored to PCM 2.0 Mono and is about as good as this film will ever sound.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on The Terror has some decent color, but definition is mixed and you get grain by the nature of how it was shot, a dark and creepy horror film. The color we get is still rich and more consistent than the many other versions we have seen on home video over the years.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Little Shop has even more grain and can also show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film despite the rave my fellow writer gave the older Blu-ray edition.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on both have had some solid work done on them from their original, low budget theatrical mono sound and are as good as they are likely to ever sound as well.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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