Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury, along with Famous Monster Forry Ackerman, have been friends since childhood. It’s no wonder that when Harryhausen was given his first chance to completely control a production that he would turn to his boyhood friend who happened to become one of the world’s best known science fiction writers. Actually, the original production team had already fashioned a script based on Bradbury’s short story without giving credit to the writer. Both Rays created an iconic creature. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms would go on to represent an entire genre of 1950’s monster movies. The climatic rollercoaster scene is one of the genre’s best moments. For me it ranks right there with the Empire State Building climax in King Kong, ironically created by Harryhausen’s mentor.
The audio is another mono track. Again the sound is somewhat faithful to the original. While most of the sound is heavy in the mids, you will encounter some high-end distortion during some of the creature’s rampages. I actually like the old laserdisc audio much better. It appears that in an effort to clean the sound, some of the dynamics were lost.
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is presented in a full frame format. This is faithful to the original production. The film is black and white. There are certainly quite a few flaws carried over from the aged original print. Still, somehow these flaws do not take away from the enjoyment of this classic film. Darks are pretty nice. This is a very atmospheric film and the print goes a long way toward furthering that wonderful cinematography.
The feature on Harryhausen and Bradbury is pure gold to anyone with an interest in either of the men and their work. These lifelong friends are a joy to hear from. Another feature on Harryhausen’s f/x is pretty much stuff we’ve seen in other releases. At least this disc doesn’t take up compression with the same Chronicles of Ray Harryhausen we’ve seen on a dozen discs.
I never get tired of watching this stuff. If you’re like me then this disc is a must have in almost any condition. A small step up from the wonderful laser release, this is a solid disc. I’ve said it before, but it is a shame that we’ve become so jaded when it comes to f/x. It’s great to see how far we’ve come, but I have been able to maintain an appreciation for what went before. I ‘m sure f/x will continue to evolve beyond what we can even imagine. Let’s just not dismiss the magical roots of the craft. Ray always seemed to create things almost “exactly as we pictured it”.