'It Came From Beneath the Sea' and 'Earth vs. the Flying Saucers'
Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen's collaboration produced 12 fantastic films in 26 years and a profound influence on the likes of Spielberg and Lucas
Reviewed by Rick Klaw, Fri., Jan. 25, 2008
It Came From Beneath the SeaSony Pictures, $24.96
Earth Vs. the Flying SaucersSony Pictures, $24.96
In 1955, producer Charles H. Schneer and special-effects guru Ray Harryhausen began their long-running collaboration, creating 12 fantastic films in 26 years that profoundly influenced future filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, and Terry Gilliam. The duo's first two films, 1955's giant-octopus tale It Came From Beneath the Sea and 1956's Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (self-explanatory), transformed movie storytelling by using revolutionary stop-motion techniques to produce realistic-looking monsters, aliens, and even spaceships.
Handsomely packaged using the original movie posters, both reissues feature the remastered films in their original black and white and in newly crafted, Harryhausen-supervised, colorized versions. As Harryhausen mentions repeatedly throughout the extras, he and Schneer conceived the films in color but were limited financially. The colorization, far superior to the misguided Turner-sponsored attempts of the previous decade, sparkles and actually looks natural. The less engaging Earth vs. the Flying Saucers especially benefits from the new process, making the revamped incarnation actually better than the original.
The films, which come in separate 2-DVD sets, feature a plethora of extras cursed with poor editing and direction. The exceptions – intriguing Harryhausen remembrances of both films, a lively conversation between Tim Burton and Harryhausen (unfortunately, the same short appears on both sets), entertaining film commentaries by Harryhausen and others, and a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the colorization process – manage to salvage the bonus features. Another notable fault of the extras is the omission of the still-living Schneer, who, while mentioned frequently throughout, fails to appear anywhere.
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