CineSavant Column

Saturday October 27, 2018


Yes, the Warner Archive Collection has come through with good news on its upcoming Blu-ray for Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World — the original uncut continuity has been retained in its new remaster, which uses 35mm prints to restore the sequences cut for a reissue. They also say they’re restoring the original title sequence at its proper aspect ratio — it was apparently reformatted for widescreen for the reissue as well. That explains the odd title we’ve seen for years for the ‘Winchester Films’ logo, which always had a strip of black below to raise it into the 1:85 cutoff area. Once the beefy, threatening Dimitri Tiomkin score is heard in a full HD soundtrack, the carrot from beyond the stars ought to be given a new lease on its chlorophyl- happy life.

On a tip from Joe Dante, here’s a page from the scholarly Public Domain Review with terrific reproductions of
Fortunio Liceti’s Monsters from 1665, which are the stuff of nightmares, proving that twisted imaginations aren’t a modern invention. Were these things passed off as real freaks of nature, observed by the artist?   A few of them look like they escaped from Hieronymous Bosch, or were meant as practical jokes, to impress men or excite women with forbidden, unknown secrets. The goofy animals remind me of the furry fish that convinces the French nobility in the good movie Brotherhood of the Wolf, a gag that propelled us into a convincing 17th- century mindset. (Note: these images are 3x as big, just scaled down for this page.)

Gary Teetzel does his usual thing of tracking down special web resources with fascinating film-related information: here are two links to American Cinematographer articles. Filming in Cinerama details the difficulties filming with that awkward, unwieldy system; it mentions the actors having to cheat eyelines, which Gary remembers Russ Tamblyn discussing at a Cinerama Dome screening, saying that it drove the actors nuts. The second article find is Five Different Automatic Matting Systems. You too can be a mansplaining expert, pointing out fuzzy matte lines!

One more Gary Teetzel special, which returns us to the subject of The Thing From Another World: a heretofore unknown novel-length John Campbell Jr. version of the famous story Who Goes There? Most Sci-fi fans have read the popular — and scary — Who Goes There”, but we’re told that this full-length version of the story was just recently discovered. It’s entitled Frozen Hell and is apparently on the way. The only odd and perhaps unwelcome bit of news is that another writer is going to ‘flesh out’ the manuscript, which apparently was not fully finished. Flag on the play! Bad form!

Why is hard physical media for movies still essential? Well, the corporate powers that rule just chloroformed the popular class-act movie streaming service Filmstruck, proving that anything not in your grubby collector’s hand simply isn’t going to be permanent. But the industry media is still screaming that discs are going away. One distributor is no longer stocking DVD players, they shout — when people now buy Blu-ray players, that also play DVDs and CDs.

The unspoken issue here, what with Time-Warner eliminating film-fan niche points of access is, how secure is TCM cable? Really really secure? Secure? Not so secure?   I may grouse at some of the station’s policies, but they’re an invaluable, irreplaceable conduit to REAL film culture.

And a final question: has anybody bought this German Blu-ray of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock from It’s pretty pricey, but it has a DVD copy AND touts a CD of the Roman Vlad music score, which happens to be my favorite horror movie music. Does it look any good? Does it sound okay? I can live without English subs, but does it have an Italian track? I’d hate to splurge and get something worse than the Region A disc that’s out there (and it’s pretty bad). An obsessive Freda/Steele fan wants to know!

We’re scouring the shelves for more horror discs to write up for Halloween, and may have to resort to desperate measures! … Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson