CineSavant Column

Saturday October 7, 2023



With Halloween coming up, a number of anticpated discs haven’t quite reached the hungry mailbox at CineSavant Central:

Don’t Look Now,  The Others,  Videodrome,  The Tod Browning Silents,  The Giant Gila Monster / The Killer Shrews,  The Devil-Doll,  It! The Terror from Beyond Space,  World of Giants, and  Beast from Haunted Cave / Ski Troop Attack.

It’s an unbearable injustice, but we at CineSavant won’t just sit here and take it — we ordered a notable older disc to review. Yes, yes, everyone in creation except this reviewer has seen Tobe Hooper’s 1979 TV miniseries Salem’s Lot. It was fun to catch up. We thank you for your indulgence.



Correspondent Nicholas Krisfalusy is enthusiastic about the new 4K releases of The Creature from the Black Lagoon and It Came from Outer Space, which we’re sure look splendid; we’re still too caught up in our 3-D versions to jump at them. We totally understand what’s going on — since 2017 or so, who has been able to even buy a good passive 3-D monitor?  Honestly, the industry needs to think of the market and bring those back.

CineSavant’s 2018 3-D Creature from the Black Lagoon review; CineSavant’s 2016 3-D It Came from Outer Space review.

As noted above, Kino Lorber has two Blu-ray reissues on the way: a new disc of It! The Terror from Beyond Space lands on October 24, and the genre game-changer The Quatermass Xperiment will arrive later, on December 12.

There’s quite a bit of online buzz about the extras that have been announced. It! The Terror has a new transfer plus three new commentaries, including one by Tom Weaver. I’m told that the first It! disc had some funky encoding here and there, described by a friend as an ‘interference pattern.’ So a replacement sounds like a not-bad idea.

But a few people are complaining about the Quatermass Xperiment reissue, for reasons we don’t quite understand. The obvious one is that the transfer is the same, only the encoding will be beefed up a bit. Technically that’s a plus — but can we assume that high-end users with big screens will be able to tell the difference?

The most vocal fans are up at arms because Kino isn’t including a separate transfer of the slightly different American cut of Quatermass Xperiment, re-titled The Creeping Unknown. That’s the 1956 poster that makes the extraterrestrial threat look like ‘Beeg Dog from Basker Veele’ (apologies to Clive Revill).

Back in the laserdisc days, we were present at MGM/UA when VP George Feltenstein made hardcore Sci-fi fans happy by NOT simply throwing UA’s domestic cut of The Creeping Unknown onto disc. He instead tracked down Hammer Films’ original printing elements in England, and went through the slow process of obtaining a dupe negative through the BFI. That’s how we ended up with a brillant, accurate rendering of the authentic Val Guest movie, as opposed to an edited U.S. cut.

Back in 2003 or so, after I was long gone from MGM Home Video, I edited a pair of featurettes for the first Blu-ray release; I think they’ll be retained for this second Special Edition. They show the various U.S.edits inflicted on Xperiment, that shortened the ‘zoo’ sequence and removed several shots of the icky alien protoplasm. The variant main title cards are there as well, for The Creeping Unknown and Hammer’s export version, The Quatermass Experiment without the ‘X’ title gimmick. We lifted them from gray-market Sinister Cinema tapes.

Why anybody would need the bowdlerized U.S. cut is beyond me, the same way the mangled finale to Kiss Me Deadly is now a back-shelf curiosity. A U.K. company put out a fancy disc of Jacques Tourneur’s Night/Curse of the Demon with four separate cuts that were really just two cuts with different title cards. MGM and Kino have nailed Quatermass Xperiment; rather than see them spin their wheels, we’d rather they go forward with rescues of other United Artists’ pictures at risk.

Hey, hope to have more spooky reviews up soon, before Halloween — Thanks for reading. — Glenn Erickson