Ray Harryhausen’s legendary Sinbad adventures restored and on Blu-ray in the UK for the very first time!
THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (Nathan Juran, 1958)
The film for which director Nathan Juran (who also did TV’s Lost in Space and Land of the Giants amongst others) will be remembered and a huge box office smash at the time of its cinema release. Kerwin Matthews takes the title role as the fearless Sinbad who sails into troubled waters to save a princess (Kathryn Grant) cursed by an evil magician (played with gleeful menace by Torin Thatcher) who wants to get his hands on a magic lamp and its genie. But the real stars of this rousing Arabian Nights adventure are, of course, Ray Harryhausen’s incredible stop motion animated monsters, most notably his glowering Cyclops and chained dragon. Believe it or not, the scene involving the sword-fighting skeleton warrior was originally cut by the British censors as being too frightening! How times have changed.
THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (Gordon Hessler, 1973)
Ray Harryhausen pulls out more Dynamation magic for this second Sinbad adventure which sees John Phillip Law’s seafarer battle a one-eyed centaur, a six-armed sword-wielding Kali idol, a gryphon, and a homunculus as he seeks out the fabled Fountain of Destiny to restore the disfigured face of the Grand Vizier of Marabia (Douglas Wilmer). Phillip Law might look the part, but he makes for a rather dull hero, while an eye-catching Caroline Munro is in desperate need of more dialogue (and where does a runaway slave get so many snazzy outfits from?). Tom Baker, however, chews the scenery in true pantomime villain style, and it was on the back of his performance that he landed the Doctor Who gig – and changed his life forever.
SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER (Sam Wanamaker, 1977)
Sinbad’s escapades get a colourful (well it is the 1970s) injection in this final Arabian Nights adventure starring Patrick Wayne (son of John) who along with Jane Seymour’s Princess Farah take on an army of Ray Harryhausen’s special effects creatures in their attempt to undo the spell on the princess’ brother (Damien Thomas), who has been turned into a baboon by Margaret Whiting’s sorceress, Zenobia. Harryhausen is at the top of his game here – his three ghouls, troglodyte and robotic bronze Minoton (played by an uncredited Peter Mayhew in the close-ups) being the stand-out. And while the saber-toothed tiger might look more cuddly than fierce, its the back-projection work employed in the location scenes at Petra in Jordan and the Hyperborea-set climax that really let the team down.
These classic adventures are presented here in new restorations on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK and they look terrific (check out my comments below). Plus, you’ve got some exclusive interviews with Tom Baker, Caroline Munro and Jane Seymour, as well as some super archival interviews with Harryhausen and producer Charles H Schneer and loads more.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
• New 4K restoration of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad from the original camera negative (absolutely loved this restoration, especially the sound which brings Bernard Herrmann’s score to the fore).
• 2K restorations of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (this one has grain problems in the low-light shots and night-time scenes) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger from the original camera negatives (also a little grain in the night-time shots, but otherwise an excellent transfer – despite the inherent production flaws).
• Mono and 5.1 surround sound audio options
• The 7th Voyage of Sinbad audio commentary with Ray Harryhausen
• Previously unreleased audio interviews with Ray Harryhausen and producer Charles H Schneer
• New interviews with actors Tom Baker (his Catholic indoctrination story had been me in stitches), Caroline Munro (who thought John Phillip Law was a dreamboat) and Jane Seymour (who never got to any of the exotic locations used in the film hence the terrible back projection)
• New interview with SFX maestro Phil Tippett
• Original Super 8 cut-down versions (these are a real treat, despite having no sound)
• Archival documentaries (all of them fascinating), interviews and featurettes (loved the Trailers from Hell one with Brian Trenchard-Smith on The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and one on Bernard Herrmann)
• Original trailers and promotional films
• Isolated scores by Bernard Herrmann, Miklós Rózsa and Roy Budd
• Promotional and on-set photography, poster art and archive materials
• Box set exclusive 80-page book with new essays, and film credits
Throwback (2013) | I’m a Yowie, Get Me Out of Here! – This shaggy tale from Down Under is a yawn-er!
Two mates, Jack (Shawn Brack) and Kent (Anthony Ring), take a canoe trip deep into the rainforests of far north Queensland to search for the lost gold of an infamous 1800s bushranger. The pair find their bounty but when the greedy Kent turns on Jack, they loose the bag. Suspecting Jack has hidden the stash, Kent takes him and a park ranger (Melanie Serafin) hostage in an attempt to force Jack in turning over the treasure. However, lurking in the dense undergrowth, is a ferocious ape-like creature called a Yowie, Australia’s answer to Bigfoot…
Filmed in Yowiescope (ie: digital video), this bargain bin Aussie horror is a real yawner. Especially when you compare it with the polished Norwegian adventure Ragnarok: A Viking Apocalypse (check it out here), which has the exact same story, but with a giant CGI snake instead of Humphrey B Bear with roid rage.
To its credit, Throwback (which is dedicated to Ray Harryhausen) has a nifty title sequence that evokes 70s eco-horrors and some clever in-jokes (fancy a glass of Boggy Creek Rosé?), the landscape is a knockout (of course), and the Raiders of the Lost Ark-inspired score is by the legendary Richard Band. On the downside, however, it’s very talky, littered with weakly-delivered clichés; there’s lots of running around, but little action – despite the cast getting shot at, drowned and stabbed; all the grisly bits happen off-screen; the sound editing is poor; and the Yowie (played by six ‘actors’) isn’t remotely scary (you don’t even see its face).
And to top it all, veteran Aussie actor Vernon Wells (of Mad Max 2 fame) gets little more than a cameo as a suspended detective hunting a suspected serial killer, who is bizarrely dressed like a nutty survivalist (it’s never explained why). This one joins 2014’s Hunting the Legend as one of the lamest Bigfoot-themed creature features ever.
THE UK DVD RELEASE
The Monster Pictures UK DVD release includes a host of extras (should you want to bother), including alternative ending, behind the scenes stuff, deleted scenes, trailers, Q&A, video blogs, radio interviews, shorts by director Travis Bain, and Vernon Wells reading an excerpt from Henry Lawson’s The Hairy Man.
DID YOU KNOW?
Yowies have a genetic fear of crocodiles and can throw their growls.