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Roger Corman's Cult Classics (Attack of the Crab Monsters / War of the Satellites / Not of This Earth)
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Three of legendary producer-director Roger Corman's earliest science-fiction films--Not of This Earth (1957), War of the Satellites (1958), and the delirious Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)--are featured in dazzling new presentations on this double-disc set. Make no mistake about these films: though they're billed as "classics," they're pure B pictures--the Crab Monsters are ungainly, goggle-eyed constructions, and the futuristic space design of Satellites consists of a few desks and couches--but Corman's particular skill was in translating a clever, watchable idea into a brisk and ultra-cheap feature. As a result, the plots of these films remain engaging and entertaining long after the giggles over the special effects have been stifled; Crab Monsters hinges on the unique notion of the monsters assuming the intellects of a research team (which includes Gilligan's Island's Russell Johnson) after consuming them, while Satellites concerns an alien-possessed astronaut who tries to upend the US space program. Not of This Earth is the best of the lot, an atmospheric thriller about an alien (Paul Birch, with unsettling white contact lenses) who kills to send human blood back to his home planet. Its mix of horror/vampire tropes and invasion thrills makes for a thoroughly watchable feature, and one that Corman found particularly appealing, having remade it in 1988 and 1995. Credit should also go to scripters Charles B. Griffith and Mark Hanna, both veteran writers for Corman, who crafted the novel concepts behind Crab Monsters and Not of This Earth.
All three films were staples of Saturday afternoon and late-night TV broadcasts, but remained out of circulation, save for poor-quality bootlegs, until now. Shout Factory's presentations are virtually spotless and even include (mostly extraneous) footage shot to fill out syndicated TV time slots. Not of This Earth and Crab Monsters also feature fact-filled commentaries by film historians Tom Weaver and John and Mike Brunas, while Satellites is buffeted by 25 trailers for Corman's films, including early efforts like Creature from the Haunted Sea and his last directorial credit to date, 1990's Frankenstein Unbound. Corman himself offers a brief background on his experiences with the film, while a host of Hollywood talent he nurtured, including Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich, Jack Hill, and others, pay tribute to him in a sizable testimonial. In all, it's an essential package for Corman devotees and those with a fondness for '50s sci-fi. --Paul Gaita
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Top Customer Reviews
Released from Shout Factory under the Roger Corman's Cult Classics collection, this triple feature set is sure to please fans that have waited years to see these films in all their black and white glory. The three films are presented on two discs for the first time with all new video transfers from the original film negatives and the video image doesn't disappoint. The picture on all three films is outstanding to say the least and the sound is crisp and clean. I would love to see these films today, one after the other on a big theater screen the way they were meant to be.
This two disc set from Shout is fantastic to say the least and any Roger Corman or Sci-Fi fan will want to have it in their collection. The first disc contains "Attack of the Crab Monsters" and "Not of this Earth" The second disc contains "War of the Satellites" and the incredible Bonus Features Shout included for this DVD release. Make no mistake these three films are sure to entertain, but the bonus features are some of the best I've ever seen included in any DVD release. The two discs are single sided and the disc artwork and packaging is well done.
Attack of the Crab Monsters: a group of scientists marooned on an island investigate the disappearance of fellow researchers who were looking into atomic activity in the Pacific.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
First up, on Disc 1 - "The Greatest Double Horror Show of All Time!" - Crab Monsters and Not of this Earth, in near-pristine UK theatrical prints, and they have never looked better. Floyd Crosby's moody cinematography, Paul Julian's marvelous animated title sequences, and Ronald Stein's haunting scores both come to life in these new releases, which is like watching these classics for the first time.
Crab Monsters stands up today better than ever, of course featuring the greatest monster prop of all time, an expressionist aluminum-and-styrofoam sculpture which puts modern Giger-influenced creature design to shame. Not of This Earth was Corman's wild attempt to create a science-fiction fable inspired by European neo-realism, and is as dark and gloomy a drive-in picture as was ever made, with Paul Birch's vampire-alien character one of the great performances of the 1950s.
Disc 2 features War of the Satellites (also via a near-mint UK theatrical print), one of Corman's most misunderstood and under-appreciated pictures IMHO, an exciting parable on the moral duality of Man, with magnificently cool miniatures and f/x by Jack Rabin, Irving Block and Louis DeWitt, along with a thrilling score by Walter Greene (one of the decade's finest), and an absolutely incredible dual-role performance by Richard Devon.
But the Bonus Features are worth the price of admission alone. The trailer compilation features some really rare ones, including the original double-bill trailer for Crab Monsters/Not of This Earth, which I had never encountered before, a very exciting find indeed. And joy of joys, they even included the additional footage from the television syndication packages on these films (including those beloved prologue crawls, purportedly penned by film historian William K. Everson!), scenes which will be instantly recognizable to anyone who watched these great flicks over and over again on the Million Dollar Movie in the mid-1960s.
I have always thought that 1956-1961 was Corman's most brilliant creative period, as he was cranking out little genre masterpieces like these almost monthly. There is nothing even remotely like them today, of course, and seeing these dear drive-in gems rescued from oblivion is truly cause for celebration.
So turn off the sophomoric fan-boy audio commentary by "The Weaver Gang," and enjoy these time-honored cult classics in their pure state, as you might have originally seen them back in 1957 or 1958. B-Film does not get better than this, folks - what Corman did with $100,000 fifty years ago, Spielberg could not recreate for a billion dollars today.
Now let us pray to the Goddess of Cult Film for a release of Teenage Doll, the other picture Corman made for Woolner Brothers/Allied Artists, in which he concocted a highly stylized, virtually abstract use of "beat" language in the service of B-melodrama, enhanced by another stunning Walter Greene score. (The use of arcane linguistics to convey a sense of foreign "otherness" was prominent in many Corman features of the day, Not of This Earth, War of the Satellites and The Undead amongst them, but Teenage Doll is his crowning achievement in this experimenting with esoteric speech.)