Beast From Haunted Cave

Beast From Haunted Cave (1959)
Synapse Films
Cast: Michael Forest, Sheila Carol, Frank Wolff, Wally Campo
Extras: Theatrical Trailer

Fans of classic B-horror and science fiction movies should listen up now! If you enjoyed films like the original ’The Thing’ or Hammer’s ’The Abominable Snowman, ’ you will love ’Beast From Haunted Cave.’ The film is Monte Hellman’s directorial debut, some time before he made movies like ’Blue Lane Blacktop’ or ’Cockfighter,’ but his style is evident already. Although the movie feel quite cheesy at times – in a good sense – its premise is quite interesting and the plot slightly more sophisticated than that of most comparable films… slightly. A group of thieves create a distraction for their heist and blow up an old mine. What they don’t know is that with it they set free an abominable creature that is now on the hunt for every living being nearby the cave.

Synapse Films brings us ’Beast From Haunted Cave’ in an anamorphic widescreen transfer on this DVD in the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. An open-matte fullscreen presentation is also present on the disc, adding some additional picture information at the top and bottom of the screen. The film itself is in good condition, although it exhibits quite a few defects. The print used has some scratches and for extended periods of time, lines run along the side of the frame. Slight registration problems create an image that is almost constantly wavering and in certain shots, grain is quite evident. On the other hand, ’Beast From Haunted Cave’ is hardly the film you would expect to see a DVD debut in a fully restored version and as such, I think most genre fans will be more than pleased to see that after this film is available on DVD. While the picture deficiencies may be noticeable, I hardly found the distracting from the enjoyable experience that is ’Beast From Haunted Cave.’ The contrast is well delineated with deep blacks and good highlights and the compression has been done carefully, without introducing compression artifacts.

The disc comes with a monaural Dolby Digital audio track that is clearly dated. The track has been cleaned up to remove defects and excessive hiss and noise, but sadly this is once again a case where the noise removal has done more damage than good. No high ends are left in the track creating a very harsh presentation that is overly strong pronounced in the midrange. As a result, dialogue is sometimes unintelligible and cannot be understood at all. The dynamics of the track also jump quite a bit creating problems where at times dialogue is clearly to shrill and loud, while at others, is hardly audible at all.

’Beast From Haunted Cave’ suffers from being too insignificant a movie, I am afraid, and it makes me wish it were more recognized so that it would have been preserved better during the past 40 years and Synapse wouldn’t have had to work with such an inferior master. At the same time, despite the shortcomings, it is great to see this film brought back to life on this DVD, no matter what. It is a true and vintage 50s B-movie entry that fans should not miss!