The Warner VP has hinted lately that many of the WB/MGM films on my Savant DVD Wish List will be popping up in the Warner Archive Collection, and five or six more desired titles did indeed surface this week: Atlantis the Lost Continent, The Power, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold and the Italian-American They Came to Rob Las Vegas. I wonder what hidden gems will be popping up for Halloween?That last line had me curious. What other gems, indeed? I held out hope for some of the other great pre-1986 MGM films that are owned by WB, especially one I've been waiting on for quite a while.
That night I checked DVD Drive-In and found a confirmation. Listed at the top of the news, they announced that two '60s Italian sci-fi films, War of the Planets and Wild, Wild Planet, are due from the Warner Archive Collection in October, along with Kinji Fukasaku's Gamma dai sango--Uchu dai sakusen (Gamma III--Operation Outer Space), better known by the title The Green Slime.
A quick aside about the Warner Archive Collection -- various representatives from Warner Brothers Home Video have insinuated that they wish to release everything they have from their catalog titles, in some fashion. Last year they started the Archive Collection, a method of releasing catalog titles on DVD that may not have the commercial appeal to support pressed discs sold at retail. The Archive makes these lesser-known catalog titles available by direct download or on-demand DVD-Rs which are sold on their site and also through Amazon.com.
The first releases used a generic blue background package with a still or publicity photo on the covers. Sometime this year they started using the original poster art on most new offerings, and it appears that they have changed to this for some of the older releases as well. I'll write more about on-demand discs in a future posting.
The highlight of this for me is that The Green Slime will finally be available on a legal Region 1 DVD. On the Classic Horror Film Board, film historian Tom Weaver mentioned that he was told the disc source is a brand new anamorphic 2.35:1 scope master, scanned in HD from a "beautiful" inter-positive print.
Fukasaku, who would later become world-famous for his Yakuza films and Battle Royale, directed this at Toei Studios in a contentious collaboration with Italian and American (MGM Studios) producers. The shrinking budget and the shortened shooting schedule might show on screen, but this is still one of the great Japanese science-fiction films of the 60s, a psychedelic trip of bizarre aliens and outer space action.
"...struggle for survival in the infected remains of a diseased universe...Rated G."
The trailer makes a good mini-movie all by itself. I get a sense of Lovecraftian nihilism from it, but that suits the movie just fine. Also check out the commentary for the trailer by director John Landis over at Trailers From Hell.