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The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection, Vols. 1 & 2
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283 of 292 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Universal has finally seen the folly of their ways in selling this set exclusively via Best Buy and is re-releasing both volumes 1 & 2 in one set. Included are all ten films in the original sets, but once again there will be no extra features - just the films themselves and some trailers. If you love the great campy horror films of the 1950's you'll love this set. The following is from the press release on the new combined set:

Tarantula (1955, 81 min.)
An experiment to create a growth formula that could end starvation evolves into a nightmare when a contaminated spider grows gargantuan - with an appetite to match!

The Mole People (1956, 78 min.)
Deep below the surface of the earth, three scientists stumble upon a tyrannical tribe of albinos who have enslaved a mutant - and dangerous - race of mole people.

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957, 81 min.)
After encountering a mysterious radioactive mist, an ordinary businessman finds his physical size diminishing as his ordinary household becomes a terrifying trap of doom. By the way, who keeps a cat in the house with a six inch tall husband around?

The Monolith Monsters (1957, 76 min.)
In a desperate race against time and nature, a geologist and a scientist must find a way to stop effects of killer outer-space rocks that are literally petrifying people with fear!

Monster on the Campus (1958, 76 min)
Terror sweeps a college campus after the discovery of a prehistoric fish that turns animals and humans that come into contact with it into bloodthirsty monsters.

Dr. Cyclops (1940, 78 min) in COLOR!
A brilliant but deranged physicist shrinks his enemies to one-fifth of their normal size when they begin to challenge his unconventional experiments.

Cult of the Cobra (1955, 80 min)
Vengeance is sworn against six American GI's after they witness a clandestine ceremony worshiping beautiful women who can change into serpents.

The Land Unknown (1957, 79 min)
When a navy expedition crash-lands in a crater thousands of miles below sea level, they encounter a hot, tropical landscape of prehistoric terror filled with ferocious dinosaurs.

The Deadly Mantis (1957, 79 min)
A paleontologist teams up with the military to battle a huge praying mantis when it goes on the attack in metropolitan cities after being released from an Arctic iceberg.

The Leech Woman (1960, 77 min)
Determined to recapture her beauty, a woman discovers a compound that will restore youth - but only when it's combined with fluid taken from bodies of the newly dead.
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107 of 113 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 11, 2008
Format: DVD
Although I bought both these sets at Best Buy when they were released, I'm delighted that folks who may have missed out on them can now own these great films on DVD.

To be honest, only a couple of the films might be considered bona-fide sci-fi classics, which occasionally rise above the limitations of typcial fifties "B" movie material. THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN is one the most thought-provoking and existential films from the period. And THE MONOLITH MONSTERS rises above its low budget with some simple yet impressive effects, and better-than-average performances.

TARANTULA and THE DEADLY MANTIS are entertaining parts of the wave of Giant Killer Bug movies that ruled the screens in the 1950's. MANTIS sports one of the more ridiculously memorable critters of the era. CULT OF THE COBRA and THE LAND UNKNOWN incorporate the then-popular sub-genre of "jungle thrills" into their scripts.

The real oddity of this collection is DR. CYLCOPS. It's the only film here made in color, and was actually made in the forties. But the miniaturization effects are first-rate, and are every bit on-par with those of SHRINKING MAN, made some 15 years later.

Rounding out the collection are THE MOLE PEOPLE, THE LEECH WOMAN, and MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS. . .all fine examples of drive-in shocks on a limited budget. I personally find these three to be the least of the bunch, but there's really not a bad film in the whole collection.

The only extras here are theatrical trailers for most of the films, leading to my only minor complaint: The trailer for SHRINKING MAN is not the famous one narrated by Orson Wells, but a short teaser which really reveals nothing of the film itself. I've seen the Wells trailer on t.v. many times over the years, so I would think Universal could have gotten their hands on it. But like I said, it's a minor quibble from an admitted Serious Sci-Fi Geek.

And hey, even if you're NOT a Serious Sci-Fi Geek, this impressive set may just convert you.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 28, 2008
Format: DVD
In the early days of talkie films, many of the major studios carved out their own niches: MGM did the spectacular movies and the musicals, Warner Brothers did the social issue and gangster movies and Universal did the monster movies. By the 1950s, Frankenstein and company were generally played out, so Universal switched from the supernatural to the "scientific" monsters. These films were for the most part B-movie fare and generally fun, but also formulaic enough to merit parody, most notably on Mystery Science Theater 3000. In fact, at least three of the ten movies in The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection were redone on MST3K.

These ten movies fit into four categories, each with two or three films: the big, the small, the lost and the shifty. The "big" films deal with oversized monsters: Tarantula, The Monolith Monsters and The Deadly Mantis. Tarantula, one of three in the set directed by Jack Arnold (of Creature of the Black Lagoon fame) deals with an oversized arachnid that terrorizes a small town. Guns can't stop it, dynamite can't stop it: is the world doomed? B movie stalwart John Agar leads the cast, while Clint Eastwood appears briefly in one of his earliest roles (His first role? A cameo in Revenge of the Creature (not part of this set)). The Deadly Mantis (parodied on MST3K) features a thawed out giant insect that heads south from the Arctic. The Monolith Monster feature the monster that is simultaneously the most interesting and the most boring: giant rocks that tear up the landscape and multiply when wet.

The "small" films are the closest to classics in the bunch. Dr. Cyclops is unique in this set for three reasons: it is not only the only one not made by Universal (but by Paramount instead), it is the only one not made in the 1950s (it was made in 1940) and it is the only one in color. The story focuses on the title character, a mad scientist who creates a device that can shrink animals, including some people who get too close to his secrets. The Incredible Shrinking Man has the title character facing doom as he gets smaller and smaller, ultimately winding up in mortal battle with a spider.

The "lost" films deal with lost worlds. The Mole People (another MST3K victim) has archaeologists (including future Ward Beaver Hugh Beaumont) finding an ancient Sumerian civilization living underground. They are distrusful of outsiders, but are so sensitive to light that a flashlight is blinding and sunlight can kill. The Land Unknown has a group of people finding a lost world in Antarctica, complete with dinosaurs and carnivorous plants.

The "shifty" movies deal with people transforming into beasts. In Monster on the Campus, the main character changes into a primitive savage after being "bitten" by the fossil of an ancient fish. In Cult of the Cobra (the one really supernatural movie in the bunch), some ex-soldiers run afoul of the title group, which sends a woman after them, one who can transform at will into a cobra. Finally, The Leech Woman has a middle-aged woman who can turn young briefly, but only if she kills. Despite being another film that MST3K spoofed, it does stand out in one respect: it stars B-movie beauty Coleen Gray. While the actresses in the other films are little more than eye candy who scream at appropriate times, Gray is exceptional in her more human character. It is little wonder that Gray is the only actress in the set to have a decent career (including films like Kiss of Death, Nightmare Alley, Kansas City Confidential and The Killing).

It'd be a little much to say these are great movies, but they are all fun to watch. The low-budget effects, the cheesy writing (except for the Richard Matheson penned Incredible Shrinking Man) and the often wooden acting do not hurt these films but somehow enhance them. There aren't many extras (only movie trailers), but this is still a nice set, and with no movie topping 81 minutes, these films are quick and entertaining.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2008
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Great fun. The 1950's was such a time of paranoia and the editors of the video have chosen some of the best examples of this. Nuclear testing, space invaders, communism mind control...they're all here, tied up in a neat little package. The collection itslf is well done, with screaming women on each disc. Each movie also includes the theatrical trailers, which are great. Familiar faces of 50's sci-fi are all here. John Agar, Grant Williams, Faith Domergue, Craig Stevens and even Troy Donahue. Grab some popcorn and sit back for an evening of pure entertainment. The only thing I'd warn you about is that these movies are highly addictive. You can't watch just one.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Volumes one and Two of the Universal Science Fiction sets, that were once available for a limited time at Best Buy retailers are now avialable in one wonderful set for a decent price. Many of the films featured on here are Monster movie favorites ranging from Classic to mediocre, but not really a less than entertaining one in the bunch.

The films include:
Tarantula(1955)-Clearly an imitation of the superior, "Them!(1954)", this film is the best of it's rip-offs featuring a good cast led by Sci-Fi stalwart, John Agar and the ultra hot, Mara Corday. The effects are quite good in this one and the subplot involving the experiments of the doctor who made the Tarantula is actually interesting. It's also fun to see Clint Eastwood as the Fighter Pilot who drops napalm on the Tarantula at the end! A good effort from Universal.

The Mole People(1957)-Mediocre effort with interesting plot, involves a few archaeologists who get stranded underground and discover a lost civilization of albinos(!) who have enslaved a race of mole people(!) and there growing rebellion. The Mole people are pretty cool looking but the film is burdened by a lack of action and a out of place, downbeat ending.

The Incredible Shrinking Man(1957)-The best film on the set and one of the best Science Fiction films ever made. Grant Williams is excellent as a man exposed to a strange radiation that causes him to shrink mysteriously. A thought provoking script by the great, Richard Matheson and surefire direction by Sci-Fi favorite, Jack Arnold combine to make this an all-time classic. Great effects, too!

The Monolith Monsters(1957)-The award for weirdest Monster concept goes to this moody thriller about mysterious rocks from space that have a life of there own, taking in the body fluids of people and turning them to stone. They also grow giant if exposed to water. Ooh-Oh. Surprisngly tense and well acted, this one is the sleeper of the set.

Monster on the Campus(1958)-Preposterous film has Doctor Arthur Franz recieve a Cyleocanth and finding that exposure to it's blood causes one to revert to a primordial state! So this includes a German Shepherd becoming a "wolf"(he's just wearing fangs, kids) a giant dragonfly and Franz turning into a ape man!(the same make-up that make-up artist recycled WAY too many times from Abbott and Costello Meet Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde(1952). Well directed and Franz is sympathetic, but strictly average.

Dr. Cyclops(1940)-Bizarre film that is totally out of place on this set. It's the only Color film. It's the only film not made by Universal(it's made by Paramount) and it's made in 1940! Why is it on here? Who knows. However, it IS an actual Science Fiction film as opposed to a Monster film and is actually pretty good. Albert Dekker makes a memorable mad scientist, experimenting with ways of shrinking people and animals. Great effects from the director of the original King Kong(1933). It's not a classic , but very entertaining little adventure film nonetheless.

Cult of the Cobra(1955)-Noir influences abound on this sleeper about American GIs who witness a strange ritual where beautiful women become cobras(!). The soldiers break up the cult and escape, only to have one of the lethal babes on there trail, picking them off one by one. Faith Domergue is gorgeous as the exotic femme fatale, but is not a great actress. Marshall Thompson, a vet of Sci-Fi classics, fares better. The romance between the two adds a level of tragedy to the film that keeps this Monster flick above average.

The Land Unknown(1955)-Universal makes there own "lost World: adventure flick with this entertaining little feature about a helicopter crew that crash land in an arctic jungle land, where dinosaurs lurk! The effects are fun and the acting is adequate(Though leading lady Shawn Smith should have STAYED a brunette. She was way younger looking in It, The Terror From Beyond Space(1958). The film never seems to gain any momentum, though and when compared to the best of it's type, remains just mediocre. The sets are cool, though and it looks nice in widescreen. Enjoyable, but no classic.

The Deadly Mantis(1957)-Very fun Monster Movie about a GIANT prehistoric Mantis unleashed from the ice in the Arctic attacking an army base and than Washington! The effects are first rate and some scenes are genuinely chilling(that scene with the Mantis appearing out of the fog, swallowing a bus on a road is right out of a nightmare) and the climax is a good one. The romantic sub-plot between Craig Stevens and Alix Talton is actually funny and enjoyable, rather than distracting. This is one of the more underrated Monster movies of the period.

The Leech Woman(1960)-Sort-of hilarious satire(in a way) on female vanity has Colleen Grey afraid of losing her looks, so she goes on a sfari to obtain a magic powder to make herself beautiful once more. However, it's only temporary and she needs blood to stay young! The actress is quite good in this, but the film never quite rises above it's material with the amount of drama and wit that could have made this a minor classic. In otherwords, it's just okay.

This is one fun set of Monster Movies and is reccomended to both B-Movie hecklers and serious genre fans, since there is a nice mixture of the two and both parties will have many pleasant surprises. Some may appear corny, others may feel dated, but the entertainment value has not diminshed from these classics one bit.
Buy the set and have fun!
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 8, 2008
Format: DVD
Here is your chance folks to get some of the best sci fi classics made.I think its great they will be releasing this set for the people who didnt get a chance to buy it at best buy.Dont pay the outrageous prices some want for the first set.Just hang in and get both of the sets.I really hope they release another set with -the amazing colossal man,it conquered the world,invasion of the saucer men,and maybe i was a teenage werewolf.That would be a great set to have i think""
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2011
Format: DVD
I will review the 2 films in Vol. 1

Some of the reviews have called these films "campy." They were nothing of the sort. If they were "campy" then, then I suggest that Star Wars, Star Trek and some of our contemporary sci-fi movies are campy as well.

The problem with innovative techniques in either films or technology is that, whereas they are initially hailed as revolutionary and ingenious, after a few decades of improvements, they are seen as boring and contemptible by people (look at the Wright Brothers' plane, the Mercury capsule, the telephone, the model T-ford) and become unappreciated for what they were and what they achieved. This goes especially so in movies. With today's technology, the modern version of King Kong makes the old, original, one laughable to dullards. "The Incredible Shrinking Man" was a superbly made sci-fi movie about a man on a private boat that comes into contact with a mysterious cloud over the ocean. In the weeks to come he begins to shrink smaller and smaller and begins to live in a child's doll house, until ultimately, towards the end of the movie, he is the size of an insect. The movie's emphasis is on his, and his wife's, coping with the condition. At the end, he becomes aware that size is relative and while he is tiny by human standards, by other standards, he is gigantic. The film ends optimistically and one gets the impression that he will set out on new adventures into the molecular level.

The other film, badly titled "The Monolith Monsters," is a cerebral sci-fi with almost no special effects, so that some viewers will find it boring. The plot is simple, yet chilling: a meteor crashes into the desert, exploding into pieces. They are picked up by the curious and when the pieces come into contact with water, they expand exponentially. In doing so they absorb the water content of any living organism that they come into contact with. The protagonists attempt to solve the mystery but as rare rain showers approach, catastrophe is imminent.

Both films' plots and characterization were very good.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection 1 & 2 (Tarantula/Mole People/Incredible Shrinking Man/Monolith Monsters/Monster on the Campus/Dr. Cyclops/Cult of the Cobra/Land Unknown/Deadly Mantis/Leech Woman) For the fans of Monster "B" movies of the past. This 2 volume set includes some of the best of those movies. They are all remastered to an excellect, sharp picture with very good original sound quality. Nothing cheap with this set. More than worth the price.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is packaged like many of those "50 Sci-Fi Movies In One Box!" sets (usually all public domain titles), however, this is really a solid collection of Universal Studios mid to low budget sci-fi films from the fifties. Most of these have been released on either VHS or Laserdisc, but never bundled together on DVD.

And I have to say, the DVD transfers are great--these films have never looked so clear & crisp. The Deadly Mantis, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Mole People, etc.--I saw them all on tv as a kid, but usually on old scratched prints with muddy sound. Seeing pristine prints, just like the day they opened in the theater, really changes the quality of the viewing experience.

Speaking of quality, they all feature performances from solid Universal players like Nestor Paiva & Les Tremayne and excellent special effects photography (when the budget allows) from cinematographer Clifford Stine--who worked on virtually every one these films. Producer Jack Arnold always tries to keep the stories logical enough to suspend your disbelief and in this collection it's hit & miss, but overall very enjoyable stuff.

You won't find most of these movies released separately, but if you're like me, (I was looking for a DVD of The Monolith Monsters) you're bound to have more than one you want to see--and this is really the only way to get them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2015
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is a great collection of 10 very good 'B' Sci-Fi flicks!

So far I've watched the first five -

Tarantula - released 1955 - I had never seen this before - pretty good story with above average acting - some of the special effects were only ok but then this was more than 60 years ago plus they didn't have a ton of money to spend - very good picture and sound.

The Mole People - released 1956- very good story and acting - the first 2 star the King of the B Movies - John Agar (who was married to Shirley Temple for a short while) - John had a very interesting career as at one time it looked like he might be a fairly big star but it just didn't happen - the make-up used shows the lack of funds but otherwise a fun movie - once again very good picture and movie.

The Incredible Shrinking Man - released 1957 - This might the most famous of the first five - good idea fairly well done - pretty good special effects considering the amount available and when it was made. The last 30 minutes are really suspenseful as he shrinks down to nothing (starting with family cat attack then a spider, etc) - a little sad that his wife thinks he's dead when he isn't but then all movies can't end happy - can they? I just wish they had shown the entire Orsen Wells trailer instead of the greatly shortened one.

The Monolith Monsters - released 1957 - this is VERY unique idea and movie - very good picture and sound - very good writing and script - with a little more investment and a little longer run time this could have broken into A movie territory. This is far above average Sci-Fi movie that's just short of a classic!

Monster on the Campus - released 1958 - the title suggests drive-in trash BUT the story is a very nice take on Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with a little of The Creature From the Black Lagoon thrown in for good measure - it sound like a mess but it really isn't! The picture and sound, once again, are very good.

Nothing additional included other than the trailers which is kind of a shame

I will add to this review once I've watched the 2nd set of 5 movies but so far I would rate this a very solid 8.0 to 8.5 out of 10 - HIGHLY RECCOMMENDED FOR 1950'S SCI-FI FANS!!!

******************************************************************

######## ADDED 2/10/15 - I watched Dr Cyclops last night as my wife had a meeting at the church once again.

I'm still not real clear on the Dr Cyclops name except twward the end when all of his glasses were hidden or destoryed except for one with the left lens. I felt the name of the movie was very misleading and had NOTHING to do with the story. And since this was a Paramount movie (as many others have pointed out) plus it was in color (which was nice) PLUS it was made way before most of the others (made in 1939 and released in 1940). I'm not sure why it was included in this collection. It was a misfit due to the all of the above plus the storyline didn't really fit either.

Once again much of the so-called science behind all of the story was poorly explained (at best). Now I admit that mankind was just starting to really experiment with radation (and I yes I know about Marie Curie's work in the late 1800's & Wilhelm Roentgen's work with X-rays during the middle of the 1890's - but much work wasn't done until the 1920's and 30's) in general so that explains part of it. But I never understood WHY the other scientists were even invited or what the 'mad scientist' was even trying to do other than reduce carbon-based life forms in size. Why was he doing that - what was his endgame plans? Nothing seemed to make much sense to me.

The special effects were VERY good especially for 1939 - they would be fairly good even today! Acting ranged from ok to pretty good. Picture was very good and maybe even a little better than that. Sound was very good as well. Plot, on the other hand was a mess and made little sense. And the ending was - well the movie just ended like they ran out of film. There were lots of loose ends just left dangling in the breeze. And the Love affair - why was that even in the movie?

This movie rated a ok 5.75 to 6.25 - GREAT SPECIAL EFFECTS but that was about all.

***********************************************************************************

Added Tue 1/17 - watched the Deadly Mantis -(released 1957) last night (Mon 1/26/15) - picture still pretty good but there were a few verticle lines and white spots - Story not bad but it took too long to get going - almost felt like a documentary at first - characters were more 'flat' - not as detailed as the ones in the first five - still an interesting film and I'm glad I watched it - sound was very good - had William Hopper from Perry Mason fame as the male lead. This one is a step down in MHO from the 1st five movies.

I would rate this a pretty good 7.75 to 8.25 out of 10 stars - pretty good overall!

ADDED 2/3/15 - Last night my wife had a meeting so I watched the "Leech Woman' (released 1960). This was yet another spin on the Stevenson story - Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. However this one was a bit of a mess and needed a rewrite to make certain things clear. I'm not exactly sure what the story was to be about other than a woman obsessed with being young again. It had a segment in Africa that was just strange and could have been handled differently - like maybe a flashback - that would have made things a little 'cleaner' and still advanced the storyline. The pineal gland stuff was utter nonsense. It's only important function in most living things is to produce melatoin which is a seratonin analog. Other than a 'possible' connection to sexual development it has no known connection to aging. And there are a few animals (like a alligator) that don't even have a pineal gland or even a collection of cells that resemble such a gland. It is this kind of stuff that drive me nuts - as a pharmacist I expect major story points to at least make some sense

OK - now that you have much more information about a gland most people have never even heard of we will move on.

Picture and sound were very good. Story not so much but still interesting - would rate this a good for a B movie 6.75 to 7.25 out of 10 - well worth watching at least once. In more capable hands this could have been a very interesting movie well worth watching more than once instead of something lessor that just misses the mark.
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