Warner Archive rolled out a double hit of unexpected joy when they announced they were putting two B-wonders by studio Allied Artists out on blu-ray. 1956’s “World Without End”–which features a supporting role by an early in his career Rod Taylor. Plus, the true wonder of this wondrous duo, 1957’s “From Hell It Came” a movie about a man who comes back from the dead as a tree and kills people–I kid you not.
“World Without End” is a 1956 science-fiction thriller that claimed to be “the first science-fiction adventure filmed in Cinemascope” but that wasn’t entirely true. It was neck to neck with MGM’s “Forbidden Planet” which beat “World Without End” to theaters by about two weeks. “World Without End” follows a group of astronauts who have just completed the first mission to Mars. But a time warp in space on their way back home sets them off course by a few centuries in the future to an Earth that has been devastated by nuclear war, with most of humanity now living underground.
It’s a fun slice of 1950s B-Picture Sci-fi, complete with a giant spider attack featuring a spider that would be reused in another Allied Artist film “Queen of Outer Space,” which like “World Without End” was directed by Edward Bernds. For non-genre fans one of the most appealing things of “World Without End”–which has a breezy 80 minute running time–is catching future star Rod Taylor using his native Australian accent. “World Without End” is also something of the “lost” Mystery Science Theater 3000 film, chosen not for an episode of the TV series, but done in a one performance only 1992 live show that took place in Minneapolis.
Warner Archive presents “World Without End” on blu-ray in a really impressive 1080p transfer created from a brand new interpositive struck from the original negative. Despite being a B film, “World Without End” has a marvelous color pallet that shines in HD. The Monaural soundtrack is clear and sharp, presented as a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. It’s a fun film that would be idea for a backyard drive in movie night if you have an outdoor projector.
Of the two films I’m talking about this week, this one is the one that really steals the cake. When Warner Archive announced they were putting “From Hell It Came” out on blu-ray, the internet reacted with a mix of things. Shock, wonder, delight, surprise, and even some confusion. “From Hell It Came” is distinguished in the annals of cinema as being one of the worst movies ever made. Though Warner Archive had issued “From Hell It Came” on DVD a few years back, the blu-ray release did cause some people to be a little upset that this “trash” was getting an HD release over, say, an MGM musical.
I think it says a lot about Warner Archive that they will issue titles on blu-ray like “From Hell It Came” & “World Without End” right up there with pictures as “The Big Sleep” & “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Anyway, on to what “From Hell It Came” is all about. On a remote South Seas island, a prince is unjustly put to death for murder. The prince cries foul, swears vengeance, and comes back as a tree. I’m not kidding. A walking tree monster called Tabonga that the visiting American scientists are fascinated by. Being humans of science, they don’t believe the island “mumbo jumbo” about tree monsters until–DUN DUN DUN–the bodies start to pile up.
“From Hell It Came” is terrible, but it’s such goofy, stupid, campy fun. Plus the monster suit is a cool design. Famously, The New York Times reviewed the movie with simply a one line review which was “And to hell it can go.” Fortunately, “From Hell It Came” zips along at 71 minutes, as if we really need to worry about there being a Tabonga Cinematic Universe. The black and white B picture to end all B pictures looks really nice on blu-ray, sharp and about as good as you’d ever hope. The mono DTS-HD track is clear and bright, brings out all the over the top score the music that makes a movie like this. Such a complete and unexpected delight from Warner Archive, this is one everyone should own, mostly just to say to people “Wanna see a killer tree movie!?” See you next week.