CineSavant Column

Tuesday October 27, 2020

Hello!  The non-Halloween Halloween is coming, so we need to be prepared!

Confirmed Foolish Monster Fan Guilty Pleasures Department: not a whole lot to discuss today (look Ma, no politics!) but have been thinking about an announced Sci-fi title and a very non-classic horror item that nevertheless sound like fun viewing. Kino and Scorpion have announced that they’ll be releasing on Blu-ray an oddball Sci-fi opus from the 1960s, Ib Melchoir’s colorful, goofy, threadbare The Time Travelers, the show that ends with the rather clever ‘time dilemma.’ We were extra-aware of this show in 1964 because the producers gave Forry Ackerman a part to play — a clever ploy to ensure coverage in Famous Monsters. Alas, most A.I.P. shockers played locally (San Bernardino) only at the drive in, so my personal Time Dilemma was limited to staring at the Reynold Brown poster in the B&W newspaper ad. Or was it a ‘Time Paradox?’ Or maybe a ‘Time Quandary?’

No date is yet set for the release. The Time Travelers is one of the few remaining sci-fi or horror oldies in the MGM library not released on Blu-ray disc. Most of the others are in B&W, but if you ask me, they’re no less marketable than some of the color offerings that have made it to disc, like Cyborg 2087. Is it perhaps time for a disc boutique to bring back a ‘Midnite Movies’ series of double bills?   MGM still has Pharaoh’s Curse, that mummy movie with a very non-standard mummy. The 100% Weird Red Planet Mars hasn’t been seen on video since VHS, and I’m not sure that there was a VHS, either.

I don’t see why a Kino or a Scream Factory isn’t going for Edgar Ulmer’s Beyond the Time Barrier. It appears to exist in more than one version, and it has a racy ‘continental cut’ that someone should try to recover. And I’m personally itching to re-see Levy-Gardner’s no-reputation Sci-fi jungle picture The Flame Barrier again, just to check out Pat Fielder’s screenplay and Dick Smith’s makeup. A.I.P.’s The Angry Red Planet improved quite a bit with the jump to Blu-ray … who knows but that one of these less-seen movies might emerge looking much better, like The Beast with a Million Eyes?



I can get away with all this wishful thinking because another ’50s title has been given a hard release date on Blu from The Film Detective. Giant From the Unknown is the filmed-at-Big Bear tale of an enormous Spanish Conquistador come back from the dead. I guess The Wall didn’t stop him, but he did manage to get himself buried for a few centuries. His name is Vargas… and he doesn’t paint pin-ups, gringo.

The release arrives as two separate products. We have to wait until January 19th for the basic Blu-ray restoration, but December 17th will see the release of a Collector’s ‘Giant Cult Film’ Boxed Set — you know, to fulfill all of your Killer Spaniard gift-giving needs. This promotional page has full details on the ‘Giant Cult Film’ package.

Brought to us by those fun-loving producers of She-Demons, Frankenstein’s Daughter and Missile to the Moon, Giant from the Unknown is actually considered the best feature of the foursome. This is credited to a spirited performance by the six-foot, seven-inch Buddy Baer, who snarls and grimaces from behind his 300 year-old Conquistador armor. His makeup is said to be by the legendary Jack Pierce.


If I recall from fuzzy TV screening eons ago, Vargas The Giant worked up some righteous ‘the monster’s gonna get ya’ tension. Unfortunately, it was strong enough for my older sister to change the channel before the finish. So I don’t known if Buddy’s hulking Spaniard falls into a pit, is hit by lightning or takes a streetcar back to Madrid.

I’m staying away from spoilers until the show arrives. Quoting Joe Dante from in his TFH Trailer Commentary, Vargas the Giant does indeed come from another world: “The vanished world of B&W double features that I for one really miss.”



And one more CineSavant Column item arrives just in time for the deadline. Correspondent Michael Cummins saw the CineSavant coverage of Joe Kidd last weekend and thought to send along a film clip of a similar ‘Old West’ locomotive that smashes through a building, in a film shot a number of years before the Clint Eastwood movie. It’s pretty impressive, coming near the end of a typically endless German trailer for the epic ‘Tyrol Oater’ Winnetou 1.Teil.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson