Well, I can dream, can't I?
Anchor Bay Announces DVD Release of Two 1970s TV Classics
Fans of giant monster movies and '70s nostalgia were given a huge boost today when Anchor Bay announced plans to release on a single DVD two rarely seen television movies that have managed to pick up a cult following despite—or perhaps because of—their rarity.
The two films are The Last Dinosaur and The Bermuda Depths. Both were directed by Tom Kotani and written by William Overgard as part of joint production deal between Rankin/Bass and Japan's Tsubaraya Productions. Although giant monsters are the main feature of the movies, they also have intriguing human action and a cast of solid performers, including Richard Boone, Connie Selleca, Joan van Ark, Carl Weathers, and Burl Ives. The effects work was done by Tsubaraya Productions, which made its name in the 1960s with the hugely popular Ultraman series.
The two films were originally intended for a theatrical release in the U.S., but the changing market for lower-budgeted science fiction moved both to television release on The ABC Movie of the Week. After a few re-runs, both vanished from the airwaves—but left a significant impression on young viewers who had seen them. Many people who were elementary school age when the movies first showed on television can still vividly recall images, plot details, and music, often with a dream-like haze that makes the films even more intriguing. The nostalgic strength of these memories led to campaigns to have the films released on DVD. Anchor Bay has finally responded the demand with plan to manufacture the double-feature DVD.
The Last Dinosaur uses the "hidden prehistoric land" premise of classics such as The Lost World and King Kong. A millionaire and big-game hunter (Richard Boone) rides in a drilling machine into a natural Cretaceous reserve to hunt the Tyrannosaurus-like carnivore that lives there. Bermuda Depths ties romance and supernatural elements into its story of a giant turtle in, obviously, Bermuda.
Anchor Bay also announced that both films will be preserved in their original 1:1.85 aspect ratio, enhanced for widescreen TV. Although both films skipped theatrical showings in the U.S., they were photographed for 'matted' presentation, and the DVD will reflect this. The disc will contain no extras aside from a handful of contemporary TV spots, but Anchor Bay promises the transfers will be "excellent," taken from original negatives provided by Tsubaraya Productions. Both films are ninety-eight minutes long and easily fit on one layer each, so there will be no compression problems placing both onto a single disc.
Anchor Bay hopes to have the disc on shelves by mid-summer 2008. However, since Ryan made up this whole press release, don't expect it.
I don't know if I ever saw The Bermuda Depths as a child—but the plot sounds damn interesting. But I definitely know The Last Dinosaur and it has stayed with me for years. I recently saw it on video, and even if the visual effects no longer seem too hot (watch the moment when a boulder strikes the titular dinosaur's head, which then dents in and pops back out) it holds up as a pleasant adventure. I'd love to have it on DVD, and get a chance to watch Bermuda Depths at the same time.