Thursday, September 22, 2016

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979) (Blue Underground Blu-ray Review)


Label: Blue Underground

Region Code: Region-Free 
Rating: PG
Duration: 98 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD 5.1, DTS-HD Mono with Optional  English, French, Spanish Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: George McCowan
Cast: Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Barry Morse, John Ireland, Nicholas Campbell, Eddie Benton

The sci-fi future world of The Shape of Things to Come is described in the movie as "the tomorrow after tomorrow" wherein mankind has laid waste to the planet Earth and set-up a new colony on the Moon where we live an enormous domed city known as New Washington. There we are dependant on an anti-radiation drug only produced on the planet Delta Three which is run by the power-mad Emperor Omus (Jack Palance, Jess Franco's Justine), who has grand ideas of becoming the new King of the Cosmos. To that end he has cut-off the supply of the life-saving drug, in addition to launching robutt-piloted kamikaze attacks on New Washington. A team of scientists led by Dr. John Caball (Barry Morse, Space: 1999) launches a mission to destroy the dictator and his menacing robot army, joining him on this life-threatening adventure are the attractive security officer (Carol Lynley, Vigilante) and his son (Nicholas Campbell, of Cronenberg's The Dead Zone) and together they arrive on Delta Three and attempt to thwart the intergalactic tyrant with the aid of their tenacious robot and whole lot of cheesy sci-fi drive-in action.

This science fiction clunker was directed by George McCowan (eco-horror clunker Frogs) and so loosely based on H.G. Wells' visionary novel that I swear his very name threatens to fall of the Blu-ray artwork. In the wake of Star Wars there were wanna-be sci-fi epics coming out of every space wormhole in the cinema but this anemic Canadian entry was among the cheapest and most yawn-inducing of them all, and that is saying something when you put up against a few of those Roger Corman rip-offs, but somehow this has managed to stay right at the bottom of the pile, aging like the rancid turd that it is. 

The saving grace of the movie is the intrinsic schlock-value of such a poor production with low-rent sets made of cardboard and alien-worlds which are about as exotic as rural Canada where the movie was made - there sure are a lot of maple trees on Delta Three! The cast have to speak massive amounts of sci-fi verbal vomit but at least we have Jack Palance nicely chewing-up the scenery as he usually did when working for producer Harry Alan Towers. As the diabolical Emperor Omus Palance does what he can as the purple caped villain, but even his treacherous charms have their limits within the context of such an atrocious affront to science fiction cinema. 

Audio/Video: The sci-fi clunker arrives on Blu-ray from cult favorite Blue Underground who have been on a Harry Alan Towers kick of late, though this is by several parsecs the worst of his movies that I have seen. However, Blue Underground work their HD magic and have struck a new HD master from the original 35mm camera negatives, breathing new life into this schlocky space-movie. The image can be a bit dark and the cinematography has an ugly softness to it, through no fault of the new transfer, this is as good as this slice of sci-fi awfulness will ever look on home video. Audio options include your choice of original DTS-HD mono or surround sound, optional English, French, and Spanish subtitles are included. 

Extras on the disc include interview with star Nicholas Campbell (14 Mins) and composer Paul Hoffert. Campbell (17 Mins). Campbell is a hoot and seems like a wild man, giving some great insight into the anemic sci-fi movie and its notorious producer Harry Alan Towers. There is also a selection of trailers, TV spots, an image gallery and the entire pressbook for the movie. 

Special Features: 

- Jason's Journey - Interview with Star Nicholas Campbell (14 Mins) HD 
- Symphonies In Space - Interview with Composer Paul Hoffert (17 Mins) HD 
- French Trailer (2 Mins) HD 
- TV Spot (30 Secs) 
- Poster and Still Gallery (3 Mins) HD 
- Pressbook Gallery (2 Mins) HD 

The Shape of Things to Come is an awful sci-fi entry that came out in the wake of Star Wars but feels more like as on-the-cheap version of the TV series Battlestar Galactica by way of the science fiction movie of the fifties. This is a recommend to hardcore collectors of bad science fiction movies, and possibly a hard-sell to anyone else. Sometimes I wonder how Lustig and company choose their HD upgrades, were fans really clamoring for this on Blu-ray? Whatever the process I remain in awe of Blue Underground;s commitment to cult-film preservation.