Beast From Haunted Cave / Ski Troop Attack Special Edition Blu-ray review
Oct 15, 2023- Permalink
Roger Corman is a pioneer in independent cinema and low-budget cult film and his influence on the industry is huge, having mentored filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Ron Howard, to name but a few. Film Masters have just released a double feature Blu-ray set that presents both Beast From Haunted Cave and Ski Troop Attack. I was given an early look.
Directed by Monte Hellman, 1959’s Beast From Haunted Cave stars Michael Forest, Sheila Noonan, Frank Wolff, Richard Sinatra, Wally Campo, Linné Ahlstrand, Chris Robinson and Jaclyn Zeman. A group of criminals use an explosion in a mine to divert attention away from their robbery of a local bank only to come across a spider-like creature that feeds on humans. The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in both a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and in a 1.33:1 TV-friendly aspect ratio that was used back then. The transfer is from a 4K scan of the original 35mm film elements. The transfers have good clarity, detail and grain structure, though the wear and tear on the source elements is evident. The main thing here is that we’re getting a Blu-ray transfer of a Corman-produced film and it’s always nice when a film is preserved and not lost to the sands of time.
On the audio side of things, the release comes with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono soundtrack with English subtitles.. Again, the transfer depends on the source material but the occasional hisses and crackling does not render the dialogue unintelligible.
Ski Troop Attack was film at the same time as Beast From Haunted Cave and reused the same South Dakota location and Michael Forest, Frank Wolff, Wally Campo and Richard Sinatra star in this one as well. Corman, who directed this outing, knew how to stretch his budgets. In this flick, a patrol of US troops is skiing behind German lines on reconnaissance mission in the Hürtgen Forest during World War II. Besides battling the enemy, there’s tension between the veteran sergeant and the group’s inexperienced lieutenant.
The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. While Beast From Haunted Cave was scanned in 4K from original 35mm elements, Ski Troop Attack was given an HD scan from a 16mm reduction print. The different source material means this transfer does not have the same clarity as its companion film. The contrast is also lacking a bit and with so many white scenes, the image is a bit washed out. As I’ve said though, it’s great that Film Masters is preserving works from the influential Roger Corman.
On the audio side of things, Ski Troop Attack features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono soundtrack and English subtitles.
The Beast From Haunted Cave / Ski Troop Attack Special Edition set is presented on two Blu-ray discs. There is no digital code. Film Masters could just present these two films and their preservation work would be done, but they also include bonus materials that help educate the viewer about the films. Beast From Haunted Cave features a commentary by Tom Weaver and Larry Blamire, original and recut trailers and a behind-the-scenes gallery. The Ski Troop Attack disc features commentary by C. Courtney Joyner and Howard S. Berger and a Ballyhoo doc, “Hollywood Intruders: The Filmgroup Story Part One.” The set also has a booklet with essays by C. Courtney Joyner and Tom Weaver,
Film Masters has once again helped film preservation with the release of the Beast From Haunted Cave / Ski Troop Attack Special Edition Blu-ray. If you’re fan of, or interested in learning about, the work of Roger Corman’s production company, you’ll want to add this to your collection.