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When Horror Came to Shochiku
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 4 Discs
FEATURES
  • Includes the films The X From Outer Space, Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell, The Living Skeleton, and Genocide

When Horror Came to Shochiku


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Kazui Nihonmatsu, Hajime Sato, Hiroshi Matsuno
2012 | 336 Minutes | Licensor: Shochiku

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $59.95 | Series: Eclipse from the Criterion Collection | Edition: #37
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: November 20, 2012
Review Date: November 24, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

Following years of a certain radioactive rubber beast's domination of the box office, many Japanese studios tried to replicate the formula with their own brands of monster movies. One of the most fascinating dives into that fiendish deep end was the short-lived one from Shochiku, a studio better known for its elegant dramas by the likes of Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu. In 1967 and 1968, the company created four certifiably batty, low-budget fantasies, tales haunted by watery ghosts, plagued by angry insects, and stalked by aliens-including one in the form of a giant chicken-lizard. Shochiku's outrageous and oozy horror period shows a studio leaping into the unknown, even if only for one brief, bloody moment.

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

Criterionís 37th Eclipse set presents four films from Japanís Shochiku studiosí brief horror period in the late 60ís, appropriately titled When Horror Came to Shochiku. The set includes the films The X from Outer Space; Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell; The Living Skeleton; and Genocide. Each film receives its own single-layer disc and the films are presented in the aspect ratios of 2.24:1, 2.35:1, 2.50:1, and 2.47:1 respectively. All four have been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Though theyíre far from perfect I was actually pleasantly surprised by this set as a whole, as none of the presentations present any significant issues. The biggest issue may be with The X from Outer Space, which is presented in the odd aspect ratio of 2.24:1. It looks as though the frame has been squished in with black bars on either side of the screen. The edges of the screen present objects that look to be squished in, making everything on the edge of the screen look far thinner than they should. Whether itís an issue with the source or a problem introduced during the transfer I canít say, but it looks odd and out of place.

Past that everything else looks fine if not exceptional. None of the films present a truly sharp image and always look a little fuzzy. Thereís some noticeable compression noise in some of the films, particularly Genocide, but itís kept under control. Both X and Goke present the stronger colours, with Goke looking especially lovely, particularly the rendering of the reds and oranges in a few sequences. Genocideís colours look a little washed out but are still serviceable. The Living Skeleton, the sole black-and-white film, looks a little off, more silvery, with washed out blacks in most scenes. It also has a more processed look in comparison to the colour films.

The transfers themselves looks fine but the source materials for all show their age, even though admittedly I was expecting much worse. Genocide and Goke both present more damage than the other films, complete with tears, splices, dirt, debris, and scratches. They donít really get heavy at any one moment that I recall, but there seems to be always something there. The other two films still presents their fair share of damage but itís not nearly as heavy.

So, as expected, little to no restoration has been done, but all things considered I think the prints look good and the transfers at least handle their respective films well enough.

7/10

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AUDIO

All four films present Japanes Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks, while The X from Outer Space presents an alternate English dub, also in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono.

All of the tracks, even the English one, are of about the same quality. They are all pretty flat and lack fidelity, obvious products of their age. There seems to be some mild noise in the background but itís easy to ignore. Music sounds a little edgy as does dialogue but it isnít grating. Not great but fine enough in the end.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

No supplements to speak of but Chuck Stephens provides liner notes for the films in the set. Theyíre all excellent reads.

1/10

CLOSING

A rather fun set Criterion delivers decent transfers for all four films, the overall look limited more by the condition of the source materials used.




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