Harryhausen’s giant monster movies have never been regarded as highly as some of his later work, and that’s a shame. His animation brought to life some of the most memorable creatures of the ‘50s, one of them being the giant octopus in It Came from Beneath the Sea. While the human drama sags, the action is top notch, and the creature, while not anything out of this world, is completely believable as the beast takes out San Francisco.
Out of three ‘50s monster movies available on Blu-ray from Harryhausen’s portfolio, Beneath the Sea is undoubtedly the best looking. It’s remarkably sharp, and detail is stunning. The light film grain is natural and doesn’t interfere with the presentation. Black levels create solid contrast.
The film comes in both colorized and black & white variations. The color job is excellent, and aside from some pasty faces, looks spectacular. There is however a lack of separation between shades, which effects both versions. It looks digital (which it is), and makes changes in color tones look rigid. The print is in remarkable shape, with the exception of the stock footage.
While Earth vs. the Flying Saucers actually managed some surround work, Beneath the Sea isn’t that lucky. Surround effects are nowhere to be found. Instead, this TrueHD mix does offer some nice use of the front channels. During the attack, the octopus can clearly be heard attacking from off-screen in the appropriate direction. Bass is flat, and the soundtrack is strained at its highest points.
Many of these extras are carried over from the DVD/Blu-ray release of 20 Million Miles to Earth. A commentary with Harryhausen and various visual effects artists (modern and classic) is somewhat dry, but still informative and fun.
A 20-minute retrospective is titled Remembering it Came from Beneath the Sea. Some information is redundant as it also is stated within the commentary track on the feature. Six photo galleries follow. A Modern Look at Stop Motion features a student discussing the process as it stands today. The rest of these extras are pulled from the 20 Million disc.
Tim Burton Sits with Ray Harryhausen is an extended face-to-face meeting between the two men. Their chat is informative and fun, and even includes some showcasing of props from Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. It runs quite long at 27 minutes. Film Music's Unsung Hero is a retrospective hosted by David Schechter. This is another long one, looking at the stock or only slightly altered stock tracks crafted by Mischa Bakaleinikoff. His familiar themes would be used in countless films.
An 18-minute featurette looks at advertising from the era, from lobby cards to detailed press kits. A digital comic is presented as a sequel to the film and wraps up the extras. It is filled with solid art, though it's a shame the physical version wasn't included in the case. Finally, BD-Live connectivity is on the disc, but it’s only a link to download trailers.
It Came from Beneath the Sea is sadly only available in a box set on Blu-ray, and not as a stand alone release. It’s a cheap move as many fans probably already purchased 20 Million Miles to Earth separately when it was released last year.Powered by Sidelines