Review: The Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Vol 2: 1961-64

Blu-ray: The Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume 2: 1961-64

After singing the praises of Volume 1 of this collection in my review last month, it was with great pleasure that I got to sit through yet another superb box set release from Powerhouse Films.

It now almost goes without saying that the picture quality and extensive special features on these ‘Indicator’ series of releases are exemplary, and once again Powerhouse Films continue to prove themselves as one of the shining lights as purveyors of high quality physical media.

So, onto the movies:

Mysterious Island (1961)

During the U.S. Civil War, a group of Union prisoner of war soldiers escape in a hot air ballon and end up landing on a South Pacific island that is inhabited by various giant plants and animals.

All seems great in the beginning; eating huge seafood creatures and then discovering 2 females who have been shipwrecked certainly gives the 4 men a more pleasant environment than what they were previously experiencing, but everything doesn’t stay smelling of (giant) roses for too long. Pirates, an erupting volcano, battles with a huge crab, squid, bees and more, plus the discovery of Captain Nemo and his Nautilus submarine make for a galloping adventure romp that doesn’t let up from beginning to end.

Not widely mentioned (compared to some of his other work), Mysterious Island is not only a superb showcase of Ray’s skills, it is a movie that all the family can (and WILL) enjoy on repeat viewings. Add in yet another fantastic score by Bernard Herrmann and you have a timeless classic that has never looked better than in this Powerhouse Films release.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

What more can be said about Jason and the Argonauts that hasn’t already been said a million times before!?

A movie staple of my youth which thrilled and scared me in equal measure, and STILL continues to do so. I defy anyone of a young age to watch Talos move for the 1st time and not run behind the couch!

Containing a plethora of standout moments, Jason and the Argonauts is truly a movie that EVERYONE has to watch at least once in their lifetime. Yes you could question some of the acting, but the FUN quota for this movie is through the roof. Show your kids that special effects is not all about throwing as much CGI on screen as possible, and settle them down with this absolute classic of a movie…you know that you’ll be sat next to them having just as much fun.

First Men In The Moon (1964)

Based on the H.G.Wells story of the same name, First Men In The Moon follows a crew made up of the worlds astronauts as they make the first ever landing on the moon…or so they think! Upon discovering a British flag and a document proclaiming that the Moon is taken under the name of Queen Victoria, an investigation team back on earth track down the last remaining survivor of that earlier mission, who tells them the story of the incredible journey.

Another absolute gem and a movie which had me daydreaming for ages about having the ability to visit the moon. Made 5 years before Neil Armstrong famously set foot on the Moon, this was still a time where things we take for granted today seemed like technological witchcraft.

It may come across, as may all of these movies to this generation of cinemagoers, as a little ‘cheesy’, but for me a good slice of cheese is always a positive.

The Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume 2: 1961-64 exceeds even the superlative Volume 1, and yet again is another ‘must buy’ from Powerhouse Films. Get clicking on that link below!

INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:

• 4K restorations of Jason and the Argonauts and First Men in the Moon from the original camera negatives
• 2K restoration of Mysterious Island from the original camera negative
• Mono and 5.1 surround sound audio options
• Ray Harryhausen audio commentaries
• Additional Mysterious Island audio commentary with film historians Randall William Cook, C. Courtney Joyner and Steven C. Smith
• Additional Jason and the Argonauts audio commentary with filmmaker Peter Jackson and Randall William Cook
‘Jason and the Argonauts’ Original Skeleton Fight Storyboards
Ray Harryhausen on ‘Mysterious Island’
Actor Michael Craig on ‘Mysterious Island’
Hal Hickel on ‘Mysterious Island’ (2017): new interview with the special effects maestro
Kim Newman on ‘Mysterious Island’ (2017): new appreciation by the author and genre-film expert
Islands of Mystery: vintage featurette
Randall William Cook Introduces ‘First Men in the Moon’
Tomorrow the Moon: vintage featurette
• New and exclusive interviews with crew members, including camera assistant Ray Andrew (Mysterious Island) and production manager Ted Wallis (First Men in the Moon)
Back to Mysterious Island comic-book
• Archival documentaries and interviews
• Super 8 version of Mysterious Island
• Isolated scores: experience the music of Bernard Herrmann (Mysterious Island) and Laurie Johnson (First Men in the Moon)
• Original trailers, teasers, TV spots and promotional films
• John Landis trailer commentary for First Men in the Moon
• Image galleries: extensive promotional and on-set photography, poster art and archive materials
• Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with new essays by film experts Kim Newman and Tim Lucas, an in-depth oral history of all three films, and full film credits
• UK Blu-ray premieres of Mysterious Island and First Men in the Moon
• Limited Dual Format Edition Box Set of 6,000 numbered units

You can buy The Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Volume 2: 1961-64 by clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes!

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from discs kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.