Vintage Space Invasion films get a Blu-ray Boost from Australia!

Boy, that quarantine sure made me appreciate my physical media collection. With so many folks at home streaming, most services had to reduce their quality and, with a few exceptions, didn’t have much I was interested in anyway. I already stood on my physical media soapbox last year so today I’m going to focus on some of the products themselves. Imprint Films is a new premium blu-ray label courtesy of an Australian company called Via Vision Entertainment. Last March (just before the Apocalypse) they advertised their first five releases; films that were never upgraded to Blu-ray before. Three of these, I really wanted in my collection and quickly pre-ordered despite the steep shipping charges. They finally arrived last week and I eagerly watched all three. Was it worth it? Well, let’s dive in and see. Also note that, despite coming from the land down under, these releases are all Region Free and will play on US Blu-ray players.

It all started with an Instagram ad featuring the poster for I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958). I wrote about this lesser-known sci-fi flick back in 2014 and even then the DVD had been long out of print. News of its blu-ray debut quickly halted my social media scrolling so I could dive for my credit card. My enthusiasm increased further when I saw a couple of the other movies accompanying it –  War of the Worlds (1953) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). The former, yet another classic sci-fi movie in desperate need of enhancement. I should mention Criterion will be releasing their own edition of War of the Worlds next week. Most of the bonus materials are the same with both versions which I’ll discuss later. As for Sorry, Wrong Number, this film noir classic is neither horror nor sci-fi but a personal favorite. It stars Barbara Stanwyck and was based on a popular radio show with Agnes Moorehead in the lead. The other two films included in Imprint’s maiden launch were The Duellist (1977) and Waterloo (1970) a.k.a. two movies I’d never heard of before. All five of these films are numbered and I know many of my fellow collectors are completionists who will, no doubt, want them all. As for me, I only buy what I like and took a hard pass on those last two titles.

Criterion’s “War of Worlds”

The first printings include slipcovers limited to 1500 units. Original poster art is featured on the slipcovers with an original design on the case insert. The material used for the slipcovers are not as strong as those from Vinegar Syndrome, but about the same consistency of Scream Factory’s. BTW if you’re unsure who these companies are, please check out my “Let’s Get Physical Media” post from last year. Unlike most companies, these slipcovers have a single opening on the side rather than the open top/bottom ones you usually find.

The disc case is clear and, once opened, features a scene from the movie visible through the transparent plastic. The disc, itself, matches the slipcover. Here is a closer look at I Married a Monster from Outer Space.

The sound was clearer and the picture was noticeably better than my old DVD copy. It used the entirety of my 75-inch screen and, although it wasn’t perfect, looked amazing.

Photo of the menu screen taken with my iphone

The most noticeable defect took place during a scene between Marge (Gloria Talbott) and Helen (Jean Carson). After Marge pulls her away from the wedding rehearsal to warn her about her upcoming marriage, the quality suddenly takes a downward turn. As soon as that scene ends, the picture goes back to normal, so I’m guessing it’s indicative of damage done to the original print(?).

I was disappointed with this movie’s bonus features which consisted of audio commentary and the original trailer. I really think that was a missed opportunity. Surely they could have dug up at least one film historian to discuss this forgotten treasure.

This is it???

Sorry, Wrong Number had better bonus features and was FAR superior to my DVD version – though not without a few hiccups. Since it’s not a genre film, I’ll leave it at that.

No, folks, the hands-down winner of the three was War of the Worlds. Of course, the fact that it was the only one in color probably didn’t hurt either. It was so much more vibrant than my DVD copy, I plan to use that old disc as a drink coaster. Forgive the old cliche’ “it was like seeing it again for the first time” but in this instance, it’s 100% true. It was like hearing it for the first time, too, as the sound was fantastic. This was particularly true when the crater/cylinder unscrews as well as during battle scenes. I personally don’t have a decent sound system for my home theater but can only imagine how this movie would have sounded if I had. If I didn’t think it would lead to my getting evicted, I’d be ordering a subwoofer today.

Most of the bonus features are the same for both this release and Criterion’s. This version offers commentary from actors Gene Barry and Ann Robinson which the other does not. It boasts a 4K scan taken directly from the “original camera negative.” Criterion’s is also a 4K scan but doesn’t specify the source. Imprint’s version has an exclusive H.G. Wells featurette while Criterion has an extra called “Movie Archaeologists” about visual/sound effects, an audio interview with George Pal, and the original 1940 radio show with a discussion between Orson Welles and H.G. Wells.

Overall Physical Media Presentation: I give these a solid A. Nothing irks me more than a limited-edition slipcover that looks exactly the same as the case insert. These movies look beautiful both inside and out while adding a fresh new design to our physical media shelves. 

Bonus Features: I was satisfied with the extras, save for I Married a Monster from Outer Space which broke my heart.

Worth the upgrade?: Absolutely! There’s no comparison between these and my old DVD copies. SO much better!  

Worth the Price?: That’s a tough question to answer. With the numerous US and UK boutique labels operating today, it’s nice to see Australia joining the mix and, quite frankly, nailing it! The Aussie’s should be very proud of this company and absolutely support them. It’s really all about the shipping. I don’t know what the rates are from Australia to the UK or Canada but coming here to the United States was really expensive. One title alone can cost you $20 to ship and if you order their entire bundle, it’s closer to $50. Imprint’s next batch includes When World’s Collide (1951) and I hesitate to order. American collectors won’t be missing much if they opt for Criterion’s War of the Worlds. Personally, I had to have I Married a Monster from Outer Space,

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.