Shout Factory has begun to release DVD editions of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, the cult hit TV show from the 80s wherein our curvaceous goth host makes off-colour jokes and pokes fun, during the commercial breaks, of the movies she’s showing. Up on the chopping block in this set are Gamera, Super Monster and They Came From Beyond Space.
The former was the last Gamera film until the revival in the 90s, and is a thoroughly weak entry. An evil spaceship (suspiciously resembling a Star Destroyer, but introduced to us through the excitingly cinematic technique of ILLUSTRATIONS) is heading towards Earth. Acting in our defense is a trio of superwomen and Gamera, who battles, through the miracle of stock footage, his former foes.
They Came From Beyond Space is a 1967 British effort from Amicus, which usually specialized in anthology films. When a team of scientists investigates an unusual set of meteorites, they are taken over by alien minds, who proceed to throw up an electrified fence and build a mysterious lab. Only Robert Hutton, with a steel plate in his head, is immune to the mind control, and struggles to find the truth. The studio is not playing to its strengths here, and this is a rather clumsily done, sub-Quatermass entry, but it is, at least, entertaining.
Both films can be viewed either with or without Elvira’s groaner interventions.
The mono only barely gets the job done. It’s thin and muzzy, and no attempt has been made to improve on the broadcast quality. Elvira herself is comprehensible enough, and They Came From Beyond Space is passable, though a bit harsh and marred by static. Gamera, however, sounds as if it’s coming in from a distant AM transistor radio, complete with a constant background rattle that recalls a VHS tape whose tracking has gone wrong. Grim.
Speaking of VHS, do you pine for those old days? More specifically, do you miss the flaws that came with tape? Now you can relive those times, thanks to a master that was clearly taken from videotape, and not the best one at that. See! Horizontal lines disrupt the picture. See! Images so soft in the Gamera film that faces become blobs. See! Reds bleed into other colours. This is just plain awful. It looks like a second-generation bootleg. At least Gamera is presented in widescreen, though not anamorphic.
Nothing really, beyond the aforementioned choice of viewing options, and a couple of ads.
I appreciate getting two films in one package, and these are a little on the rare side, but the picture quality is so awful as to offend both fans of the TV series and viewers curious about the films themselves.