DirectorJack Arnold, John Sherwood
Release Date(s)1954-1956 (August 28, 2018)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Universal)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: B-
- Overall Grade: B-
Universal first began releasing its Classic Monsters titles on DVD starting in 1999 with the original films, Jack Arnold’s Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) among them. The Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Legacy Collection followed on DVD in 2004, featuring the original film and its two sequels. Then in 2014, Creature from the Black Lagoon: Complete Legacy Collection was released on DVD, essentially the same films in new packaging. But as Universal had already begun to release the originals in HD in 2012, with the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray box set (see our review here), fans wanted all the films in that level of quality.
Frustrating or not, the DVD version of Creature from the Black Lagoon: Complete Legacy Collection included Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Revenge of the Creature (1955), and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), plus extras.
Following the success of Universal’s 2012 4K restorations of Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Bride of Frankenstein, the studio began restoring the other Monster films in 2015. The first fruits of this work were released starting in 2016 in the form of Blu-ray upgrades of the Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection (see our review here) and The Wolf Man: Complete Legacy Collection (see review here), then again last year with Dracula: Complete Legacy Collection (reviewed here) and The Mummy: Complete Legacy Collection (reviewed here). Now they’ve followed up this year with the final two volumes, including The Invisible Man: Complete Legacy Collection (reviewed here) and The Creature from the Black Lagoon: Complete Legacy Collection, as well as the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection (review coming soon).
Here’s what’s included in the new Creature from the Black Lagoon: Complete Legacy Collection Blu-ray set:
Disc One – Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) – This is essentially the same disc that was released in 2012. It includes the film in HD, in both 2D and 3D presentations, along with Back to the Black Lagoon (SD – 39:40), Production Photographs (SD – 11:29), audio commentary with Tom Weaver, trailers for Creature form the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature, and The Creature Walks Among Us (SD – 7:25 in all), and 100 Years of Universal: The Lot (HD – 9:25)
Disc Two – Revenge of the Creature (1955) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) – includes both films in HD, along with Revenge of the Creature in 3D HD, audio commentary on Revenge with Lori Nelson, Tom Weaver, and Bob Burns, audio commentary on Walks Among Us with Tom Weaver and Bob Burns, and the theatrical trailers for each film (SD – 3:30 in all)
As you can see, all of the previous DVD and Blu-ray features carry over here, so you lose nothing of note if you upgrade to this set. If you already own the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray box, there is obviously a bit of duplication in that Creature from the Black Lagoon is included in both sets. However, all of the other films here are new to the format in HD.
All three films are presented on Blu-ray in their proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratios.
The HD presentation of the original Creature from the Black Lagoon is solid, if a little soft looking, and with perhaps just a little digital processing. It was remastered from a 4K element scan in 2012. Detail ranges from good to very good, with nice contrast, and rich blacks. Optical transitions and some of the second unit footage looks softer and more dirty looking, as you would expect. Grain texturing is light but natural.
Meanwhile, the 3D presentation of Creature from the Black Lagoon is also generally good, comparable to the quality of the restored 2D image. Depth and dimensionality are strong, if a bit too aggressive in some of the underwater sequences, but it’s still a pleasing experience. There’s only a few minor instances of “depth chatter” in panning shots, bubbles, and clouds, occasions where tiny portions of the image aren’t perfectly depth-aligned with the elements around them. The overall 3D experience is quite pleasant, if just a bit on the 1950s cheesy side from time to time.
The HD presentation of Revenge of the Creature is problematic. Either only poor quality elements were available, this is an older scan, or simply the wrong master was used. I would tend to suspect the latter. Some shots actually look okay, with nice detail and texturing, while others look only marginally better than DVD. Optical transitions and stock footage are rough too. On the whole, the image isn’t horrible but it’s far softer than you’d expect. It looks nothing like a 4K restoration.
Unfortunately, a problem on the initial pressing of this disc prevents us from reviewing the 3D version of this film. The disc was mistakenly authored so that the two video streams – left eye and right – appeared horizontally compressed and side by side. This is being corrected, however, and replacement discs are available (see the instructions for getting them below – note that corrected sets will be recognizable in stores by a new UPC code sticker placed over the old one). When we receive the fixed version, we’ll update this review. Presented properly, it should be quite special, as the 4K/3D restoration was done by our friend Bob Furmanek and his terrific 3-D Film Archive (be sure to visit their website at this link).
The HD presentation of The Creature Walks Among Us is much better, with lovely refined detail, decent blacks (if a little grey looking), and moderately strong grain texturing. Again, it’s occasionally soft and the transitions are a little rougher looking, but on the whole this is a lovely image.
Audio on the original Creature is included in both English and French 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio, with available subtitles in English SDH and Spanish. For the sequels, audio is available in English 2.0 mono in DTS-HD Master Audio, with subtitles in English SDH, Spanish, and French. Clarity and fidelity are pleasing for all three, retaining the original analog warmth. The uncompressed sound is full and there’s only minor distortion on the high end on occasion, as the brass kicks in on the score.
On the whole, this set represents a decent Blu-ray upgrade of the previous DVD set. And it’s certainly great to have the two 3D films in actual 3D. But the quality on the 2D version of Revenge of the Creature is disappointing, not to mention the frustration caused by the authoring error on that same disc. Universal is starting to deliver replacement discs at the time of this review. And while this set isn’t currently available on Amazon, it will be very soon. Our belief is that, with Halloween fast approaching and replication space limited, the studio made sure that the 30-Film Collection was fixed and back in stores first. This Creature set will soon be fixed as well. When it is, it should be very affordable on Amazon. So while you’re really only getting two films newly-released in HD, plus the new 3D restoration of Revenge, it should still be worth the upgrade for fans.
- Bill Hunt
QUALITY RATINGS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS):
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954): A-/B/A-/B+
Creature from the Black Lagoon (3D Version – Video/Audio): B/B+
Revenge of the Creature (1955): C+/C-/B+/B-
Revenge of the Creature (3D Version – Video/Audio): --/B+
The Creature Walks Among Us (1956): C+/B+/B+/B-