CineSavant Column

Tuesday November 20, 2018


I’ve been asked to comment on the replacement disc that Universal has been sending to purchasers of their Creature From The Black Lagoon Complete Legacy Collection. Back in September, buyers were dismayed by the second disc in the set, which carried not only 3-D and 2-D encodings of Revenge of the Creature, but a third encoding of the 2-D The Creature Walks Among Us. Compared to the bright and sharp Creature from the Black Lagoon (and all of the other new Legacy Collection titles) the 3-D Revenge looked washed out and soft; it seemed to get even softer at times. Worse, it wasn’t programmed like other 3-D discs — players reverted to a screen where we first had to make a format choice. Walks Among Us was satisfactory but the 2-D Revenge wasn’t much better than DVD quality.

To our surprise Universal responded and promised replacement discs. Those discs started arriving awhile back, and I got mine two days ago, with a signature required through UPS.

The new disc received looks just like the old disc. The only way I see that they can be distinguished is through the numbers on the label. Each disc has two numbers:

replacement: 1055201-2110795

old disc: 1028787-2092919

At first glance this doesn’t seem a full fix — to do that would, I think, require a third disc in the set. I have a feeling that Universal acknowledged mainly that the way the 3-D version loaded had to be properly programmed. The other fixes seem limited to the 3-D version, and appear to be tweaks, not a re-encoding of the full restoration done. Revenge of the Creature has been screened theatrically, where I’m told it looks sensationally good. The other two encodings, look the same. That’s a subjective assessment; here are the details:

It’s still just one disc, carrying all ‘three’ movies.

Revenge of the Creature 3-D: When it loads and one chooses the 3-D option, Revenge now comes right up. It no longer goes to a ‘choose 3-D’ mode screen, but defaults straight to the film in 3-D like most commercial discs. I found the contrast better overall, and the picture sharper- looking. With the increased contrast range the night shots look especially good. The logo still looks weak to me. It’s still not quite as punchy as the 3-D disc of the first Creature movie.

Revenge of the Creature 2-D doesn’t look any better than it did the first time around, it’s still lackluster. From what I can see The Creature Walks Among Us looks and plays the same, very well.

So should we be pleased? I guess I am, for Revenge in 3-D is the title I most wanted, and now it’s a lot more attractive. I realize that most collectors don’t have 3-D. Since players and monitors have been discontinued, when my present equipment breaks down I may be 3-D challenged as well. So I’m just enjoying it while it lasts. Hopefully LG or Samsung will bring the feature back.

One thing I learned about Revenge of the Creature is that some of its shots aren’t in 3-D. This 3-D Film Archive article Why are there occasional flat scenes in vintage 3-D movies? gives full documentation on why.

Oh, two exciting last-minute items: The Warner Archive Collection has just announced a much-desired title, Errol Flynn in the 1940 Michael Curtiz classic The Sea Hawk. Plus the Hammer Horror of Dracula!, which ought to be good news. I suppose it will have the recovered extra/alternate shots found in Japan, then. They say they’re going with the BFI / Hammer restoration, but tweaking the colors (!) — sounds promising!

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson