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Friday, December 27, 2013

The Beast of Hollow Mountain/The Neanderthal Man (Scream Factory Blu-ray): 1950's How to Make a Dinosaur/Ape Man Classics

My first thought when I saw the announcement that The Beast of Hollow Mountain and The Neanderthal Man were making their way to Blu-ray was disbelief. Why do these two 50's classics semi-schlock classics deserve the Blu-ray treatment when a veritable horde of pictures are ready willing and able to look fabulous in the format? I'm not going to say that this double feature is completely uncharacteristic of a Scream Factory release because it represents the early stages of monster and horror classics, a period of evolution in the genre. In part I'd say that it might be a more of a Shout Factory release, but hey, how many of us can say that we've been watched either of these movies in the recent memory? That doesn't mean that I didn't want to own them. I have a soft spot for films of this era. Mystery Science Theater fodder that may be slightly above the riffing or at least would benefit from an un-riffed viewing.  Should you pick this up? It may not be for everyone, but a very particular audience of 1950s Sci-Fi, paleo-horror and dino-attack films are going to be in fan boy heaven. 

Synopsis from Scream Factory:

The Beast Of Hollow Mountain

Based on an idea by the legendary special effects wizard Willis O’Brien (King Kong, Son Of Kong, The Lost World), The Beast Of Hollow Mountain is a classic creature feature. An American rancher living in Mexico is staying near Hollow Mountain, an impenetrable swamp where, stories have it, dwells a living prehistoric Tyrannosaurus Rex!

The Neanderthal Man

A mad scientist uses his new serum on his housekeeper, turning her into an ape-woman. Like most crazed scientists, he then tries the serum on himself, creating…The Neanderthal Man! Robert Shayne (How To Make A Monster) and Beverly Garland (It Conquered The World, The Alligator People) star in this harrowing creature feature.

Let's dig into The Beast first. I imagine that you can tell from the cover art that this isn't a scary movie, but what you're looking at is a piece of a special effects history. That being said don't be surprised if the historical perspective with which you watch this doesn't prevent the laughter at some of early dino effects complete with blood, shots focused on the feet of the creature and strange swamp lands. Most of The Beast of Hollow Mountain is a lead up to the big T-Rex climax and chase. It's slow and dated. You've seen this exact movie with modified script quite a few times since 1956. You're kids are going to love this picture. Make sure to have the plastic T-Rex toys out to play along with the great big dino hunt. 

The Neanderthal Man, on the other hand, is not a special effects classic in a positive sense. The Neanderthal Man is a laugh fest from start to finish with a near Wolfman story with mad scientist leanings. Again, it's hard to pretend you' haven't seen this story any number of times or told with varying monsters. Where The Beast of Hollow Mountain is camp, it's got effects that are entertaining. The Neanderthal Man is camp comedy with bad effects that are laughable, perfectly so. You'll want to watch this one with a fist full of beer or with the kiddies who need a cheap scare. I'm not sure if Sci-Fi classic is appropriate for this picture, but if the actors' other work in It Conquered The World, The Alligator People and How to Make a Monster is any bellwether, you'll know what you're in for.

Both movies look good, appropriately worn and vivid. The Beast is colorful and contrasty and The Neanderthal Man looks pretty damn good for being a piece of schlock cinema. The cover features double feature poster art for each movie and internal reverse side still art. This may seem like blasphemy to say, but the poster art for each of these releases may be better than the actual movie. 

Note:  The Beast of Hollow Mountain: Widescreen 2.35:1 1080p HD Widescreen. The Neanderthal Man 4:3 Full Frame DTS-HD Master Audio Mono


If you want to start your kids on something not-so-scary, but absolutely fun with moments of horror and Sci-Fi wholesomeness this would be a great set to pick up. Hell, you may even feel like a kid watching it. This collection isn't for just anyone though. Some fans of modern horror won't be able to appreciate this cheese fest without a couple o' robots and a human trapped ins space prison.... and for those people I feel sorry.

-Doc Terror

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