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It Came from Beneath the Sea
In Ray Harryhausen's vintage sci-fi thriller, a giant, radioactive octopus makes the deadly mistake of attacking Navy Captain Pete Mathews' submarine, prompting the bold commander to pursue the monstrous beast across the Pacific Ocean before it attacks anyone else.

But as the military races to develop a special torpedo that will penetrate the mutated octopus's brain and destroy it, the eight-armed monstrosity suddenly discovers how to survive on land, wreaking havoc first on the Golden Gate Bridge and then in the Embarcadero, sending the terrified citizens of San Francisco running for their lives.


20 Million Miles to Earth
Special effects genius Ray Harryhausen (Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans) brings you one of his earliest groundbreaking films, now available for the first time in vibrant color!

When an American spaceship crashlands off the coast of Sicily, a rescue team discovers that the crew has brought back a gelatinous mass that soon hatches and evolves into a strange bi-ped creature which increases in size rapidly. Soon 20-feet tall, the creature rampages through Rome before being destroyed as it seeks refuge in the Colosseum.


The 3 Worlds of Gulliver
Kerwin Mathews stars as Gulliver, the swashbuckling doctor who sets sail for fame and fortune in the fabled East Indies, but finds adventure, romance and danger instead in Brobdingnag and Lilliput, the infamous lands of the great and small. One of the most complicated films of its time, THE 3 WORLDS OF GULLIVER is both an enchanting fantasy and a captivating visual treat. Because the storyline calls for scenes that juxtapose forty-foot giants with six-inch-tall people, special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen perfected a state-of-the-art trick photography process so innovative, they had to invent a new word for it: Superdynamation.

Video


Both It Came from Beneath the Sea and 20 Million Miles to Earth offer the viewer a choice between viewing the original black and white versions or revised colourised versions, the latter of which were approved by Harryhausen himself. By using the angle button on your remote you can flick between the two on the fly with only minimal delays.

Although I sampled the colourised versions at various points throughout the films I can’t say I was particularly fond of them. Colourised films just don’t look right to my eyes, so I settled for the original black and white for the most part. Both films are derived from relatively clean HD masters and exhibit reasonable levels of detail given their age and budgets. Grain is quite heavy throughout both films, but not distractingly so. Both presentations feature good tonal range and contrast is strong thanks to some suitably inky black levels. Compression is also solid.

However, The 3 Worlds of Gulliver is clearly the standout presentation here thanks to the 4K restoration from the OCN. It also has the advantage of being the only film in the collection to have been originally shot in colour. It exhibits much finer grain and a corresponding leap in detail, along with a well-rendered, lush colour palette. As with the other films, there are no compression issues to report.

Audio


It Came from Beneath the Sea and 20 Million Miles to Eath offer a choice between the original mono (LPCM) and remixed 5.1 audio (DTS-HD Master Audio), while The 3 Worlds of Gulliver is limited to just its original mono track (again, LPCM). The remixes don’t sound too bad, but they aren’t exactly awash with surround effects, so I stuck to the original mono for the most part as it just sounded more authentic. Still, it’s nice to have the choice. All three films sound very much of their era, but have no major issues. They can sound a little hollow and canned at times, particularly the dialogue, but there are no any problems with the intelligibility of the actors’ lines.

Extras


Although it might not look like it from the list below, the bonus material is actually very plentiful thanks to the inclusion of a comprehensive selection of archive material. Although the myriad vintage documentaries, interviews and featurettes can be found on older standard-definition editions of the films, their inclusion here is commendable and really helps to bolster the value of the content as a whole. Here’s a breakdown (unfortunately we didn’t receive a copy of the book, so I can’t comment on that):

  • 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

Overall


I have to admit to being unimpressed with the earliest films in this collection from a storytelling point of view. Both It Came from beneath the Sea and 20 Million Miles to Earth have threadbare plots, stiff acting and extremely disjointed narratives with lots of padding, but are somewhat redeemed by the Harryhausen effects, which remain technically impressive over sixty years on. I had more fun with The 3 Worlds of Gulliver for the most part, perhaps because I was fond of the story as a child. Understandably it also features the most advanced effects of the three.

While I’m not the biggest fan of the films in the collection (I am looking forward to volume two for Jason and the Argonauts though), Powerhouse has assembled a strong package overall. All three films look and sound the part when all things are considered, and the bonus material is sure to delight Harryhausen fans. If you’re an avid consumer of his work this is a pretty easy sell, but it’s probably not the sort of thing you want to blind buy.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The
 Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960, The


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