This first box set from UK label Indicator is called The Wonderful Worlds Of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960 and it consists of It Came From Beneath the Sea, 20 Million Miles to Earth and The 3 Worlds of Gulliver.
It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)
A nuclear submarine while on patrol in the deep ocean is attacked by an unknown creature but manages to escape its grasp. After studying a tentacle left behind after the encounter, scientist say that a huge octopus was behind it and it will probably strike again.
It does this time in San Francisco and the scientist and army do all they can to stop it. A fairly weak film not helped by some poor acting and dialogue but helped hugely by Ray Harryhausen’s effects work which even today look fabulous. Wait for the final 20 minutes for some great effects action but be prepared for some plodding story up until then.
FILM: 5 PICTURE: 8 AUDIO: 7 EXTRAS: 8
20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)
Off the coast of Sicily, some local fisherman see a huge space rocket crash into the ocean and two of them go to it and try to rescue who is inside. They find everyone dead apart from one whom they manage to get free before the rocket sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Meanwhile, a young child finds a container on the beach and finds a strange egg inside. He sells it to a local scientist but it’s not long before it hatches and starts to grow rapidly into a lizard-like creature.
The military tries to track it down before it causes more havoc as it makes its way to Rome. The pacing is much better in this movie and the effects are excellent, watch out for the hatching of the egg and the partial destruction of Rome to see what a master craftsman Ray Harryhausen was. The acting is fine and the film does not outstay its welcome with a compact running time.
FILM: 7.5 PICTURE: 8 AUDIO: 7 EXTRAS: 8
The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960)
Based on the famous classic novel, Gulliver’s Travels sees the doctor getting shipwrecked on an island called Lilliput and finding to his astonishment that everyone living there is tiny. Also thrown overboard is his fiance who was a stowaway on board the ship. The tiny people think of him as a fearful giant but after befriending him ask if he will destroy their enemy, the Blefuscudians.
He refuses and tries to make peace between them but to no avail. After fleeing Gulliver ends up on the island of Brobdingnag, where he is now the tiny person in a land of giants. He joins his fiance Elizabeth there and the two of them enjoy a life of luxury as playthings for the king. However, the king grows jealous of Gulliver’s intelligence and the court’s alchemist Makovan sees him as a witch due to his amazing knowledge, so Gulliver’s life comes under threat.
Much different from the other two films in this set, this is not a monster movie but has many amazing effects shots showing the difference in size between Gulliver and the places he visits. While it has dated somewhat it still has a lot of charm and also a fantastic score by Bernard Herrmann (This is the same year he did the iconic score for Hitchcock’s Psycho).
FILM: 6 PICTURE: 9 AUDIO: 7 EXTRAS: 8
Picture quality on all 3 discs is very good, especially Gulliver which has gone through a new 4k restoration.
This box set has a fantastic set of extra features for all the films :
– Original black and white and alternative, authorised colourised versions of It Came from Beneath the Sea and 20 Million Miles to Earth. While I am not normally a fan of colourisation of older classic movies these two movies look very good in the colour versions and are well worth a look.
– Mono and 5.1 surround sound audio options are excellent for all 3 films
– It Came from Beneath the Sea and 20 Million Miles to Earth audio commentaries with Ray Harryhausen
– New interview with filmmaker Joe Dante
– New interview with SFX maestro Dennis Muren
– New interviews with Aardman Animation’s David Sproxton, Peter Lord and Dave Alex Riddett
– Archival documentaries, interviews and featurettes
– Original trailers and promotional films
– Isolated score on The 3 Worlds of Gulliver by Bernard Herrmann
– Promotional and on-set photography, poster art and archive materials
– Box set exclusive 80-page book with new essays, and film credits
A fantastic box set and although the films themselves are a little clunky it is a must for any fans of the genius of Ray Harryhausen.