I’m not a big sci-fi fan. Never was. I dig old monster films, and lots of the old 50’s and 60’s created by radiation stuff but as far as space and alien films go there are only a few I really enjoy. One of those is called This Island Earth. Its an old film from 1955 made by Universal Studios based on a short story from the Thrilling Wonder Story magazine. Now even if you have never seen it you’re sure to recognize the giant head of the alien or mutant as its explained in the film. It’s become so iconic that its often featured alongside the Universal Monsters. Its my personal favorite of any alien design. I have a few statues around the house of it. The film was very ahead of its time in terms of special effects, and it featured really good acting, which was not usually seen in these old schlock films.
This Island Earth centers around Dr Cal Meacham. When we first see him he is flying out to his lab when his engines stop working. Seconds before crashing a green glow appears and sets him safely down. Things get stranger when he enters his lab to find he was delivered blueprints and parts to build an Interocitor. He nor his assistant Joe have any idea what it is but the scientist in them has to know so they follow the plans and complete the device. When they finish a man named Exeter pops up on the devices screen and tells then that as they were able to build the Interocitor they can be a part of a top secret project along with other gifted scientists. Cal accepts and when he arrives at the site he sees a woman named Ruth that he used to be involved with. She doesn’t remember him. That and the fact everything about this seems shady causes him to grab her along with another scientist named Steve and escape. The make it to a jet but when they take off the building they escaped from is destroyed and they are captured by a UFO.
It turns out Exeter is from another planet called Metaluna, where the UFO takes all of them. The planet is being invaded by alien mutants and is about to be destroyed. See the planet is guarded by a uranium forcefield, but uranium is running out. Exeter wanted to find humans who could take the lead from Earth and turn it into uranium to keep powering the field. As the plant is about to fall the leader of Metaluna, The Monitor plans to lead his people to earth, but only after brainwashing the planet to obey his will. Exeter is not fond of this idea so he along with Cal and Ruth must try to stop the aliens before they can take over our planet.
It sounds a bit much but it really is not. It’s very easy to follow unlike some sci-fi films that to me anyway make little to no sense. It’s a very fun film filled with amazing set pieces and designs. It was originally filmed in Technicolor, which back then was a thing of beauty so the film did have a good production budget behind it. The effects for the time were very slick. Throw in the bright color film print and you really and truly had a film that was way ahead of its time. As I already stated the Mutant design has become a pop culture centerpiece in terms of aliens. The Misfits and GWAR have done songs about the film, its been featured on Mystery Science Theater 300. Its had clips show in ET as well as The Exploders films, and the mutant has even appeared in Looney Toons. And yes, there are plenty of Mutant toys and statues out there to collect.
I have owned various releases of this film for years and now thanks to the good folks over at Scream Factory its finally gotten the Blu-ray transfer it deserves. It looks immaculate. Brighter than I have ever seen. Everything is brighter than I have seen in this film. The reds and blue’s of the mutant almost come to life, as does the green glow from the ships. Unfortunately when you improve on the transfer so much it does make a few of the effects look noticeably cheesy but considering the age of the film that was going to happen anyway. The sounds are crisp and clear as if they were just recorded yesterday. And yes, this has the Scream Factory touch in terms of Special Features
· NEW 4K Scan Of The Inter-Positive – Two Aspect Ratios: 1.85:1 And 1.37:1
· NEW The Original Perspecta Stereophonic Sound Restored By 3-D Film Archive
· NEW Audio Commentary With Author And Academy Award Winning Visual Effects Artist Robert Skotak
· NEW Audio Interview With Film Historian David Schecter On The Music Of This Island Earth
· NEW Alien Ideas – An Interview With Filmmaker Luigi Cozzi (Starcrash)
· NEW Facts About Perspecta Stereophonic Sound By Bob Furmanek
· This Island Earth – Two And A Half Years In The Making: The Extended Documentary – A Look At The Making Of This Island Earth
· WAR OF THE PLANETS: 1958 Castle Films Release For The Home Market Including Both The 50-Foot Silent Headline Edition And The 200-Foot Sound Complete Edition
· Trailers From Hell – This Island Earth With Commentary By Filmmaker Joe Dante
· Theatrical Trailer
· Still Galleries – Poster And Lobby Cards, Publicity Stills And Behind-The-Scenes Photos
A great, fun film that I have enjoyed watching for many many years. Great acting, cool story, good special effects, and one amazing mutant alien make this a must own for fans of classic sci-fi films. Scream Factory has done another amazing job. Add this one to your collection today.
Overall 4 out of 5 Stars!