Just watched the very solid Koch release of this. I watched the 1.78:1 version because in checking between this and the 1.33:1 versions I preferred the tighter aspect ratio to the amount of empty space in the frame. That said, I may revisit it another time in the other aspect ratio. I think there’s a case to be made for either aspect ratio but 1.78:1 is at least closer to Shout!’s 1.85:1 (although the Shout! seems to have the stronger image). There were some minor scratches and flickering I noticed – especially shots of the bunny running across and the planes lifting off – so I don’t know if the Shout! release improves in this regard. Otherwise, a pretty solid transfer and a very fun film.
The interview with Jack Arnold is very informative, including the film’s origins from the FDA film Chicken of the Future, how some of the effects were achieved and his thoughts on the notion of propaganda and politics in cinema and The China Syndrome (1979). It’s made up of two 12 minute segments with transitions between. In the second section, he talks about working at Universal and the studio system, and his thoughts on the present conglomerate state of the industry and audience segmentation. He also discusses his intentions of producing future films (that never came to be.) The series, Jack Arnold erzählt (Jack Arnold Speaks) was produced for West German TV (WDR – Westdeutscher Rundfunk), including German language posters for the corresponding films discussed. Arnold references Columbia being bought by Coca Cola, so we can date the interview itself to 1982, although it closes with a memorial slideshow (Arnold died a decade later in 1992). A dubbed version is available on YouTube, watermarked with WDR’s logo.
Further segments of these interviews can be found on other Koch Media releases, with two more WDR segments (running to 30 minutes total) on Monster on the Campus, a segment on It Came from Outer Space 3D, and a 12 minute segment on The Incredible Shrinking Man. That said, Arrow’s release is more definitive, with an expanded version of Daniel Griffith/Ballyhoo’s Auteur on the Campus: Jack Arnold at Universal! documentary (48 minutes), first issued on Shout! Factory’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD set, an informative and contextualising commentary from Tim Lucas, an interview with Richard Matheson’s son, a Super 8 version and a brief 4 page booklet essay by Kim Newman and poster gallery. Three segments appear on Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Trilogy (delightfully renamed for the German market as Der Schrecken vom Amazonas – The Horror of the Amazon, available to purchase from Amazon.de) – an equivalent release to Universal’s cheaper Creature from the Black Lagoon: Complete Legacy Collection, with the same key art but with the other films spread over 2 discs not 1. For fans of Arnold’s work outside of horror, 36 minutes of further WDR interviews appear on the Jack Arnold Western Collection (No Name on the Bullet, Red Sundown, Man in the Shadow).
Just a note that the Super 8 version is dubbed in German with no English option. The shorter Normal 8 version is silent, widescreen and with burned-in German subtitles.
The image gallery is extensive and runs for 137 pages. What’s really cool is seeing the lobby cards colourised from stills, and it’s so nice to have music playing over an image gallery for once! It also shows the design process for the poster, with text and different illustrations composited together!
Perhaps one of the curious elements about this film is the uncredited – but undeniably visible – debut of Clint Eastwood during the film’s final act. He establishes his career as an archetypal masculine figure framed in the centre of the frame, his eyes gazing out towards us, saving the world as the ultimate military hero: even behind a helmet, he immortalises himself.