Mysterious Island

Mysterious Island (1961)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Michael Callan, Herbert Lom, Michael Craig, Joan Greenwood
Extras: Featurettes, Photo Gallery, Trailers

Continuing their series of Ray Harryhausen releases, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has now made ’Mysterious Island’ available, Harryhausen’s 1961 collaboration with director Cy Endfield. Loosely based on a story by Jules Verne and told before the background of the American Civil War, it takes a group of Union soldiers to an island in the Pacific where they are stranded. Soon they learn that the island has some strange inhabitants, giant creatures that now view them as prey.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is presenting ’Mysterious Island’ in an anamorphic widescreen version on this DVD. It means that the film has been matted because it was originally created with a fullscreen presentation in mind. (Isn’t it ironic that Columbia is releasing fullscreen films as widescreen versions and widescreen films as fullscreen versions these days?) The transfer shows quite a bit of grain, especially in the many effects shots. It is a limitation of the technology at the time, but it still appears somewhat exaggerated at times. Colors reproduction is good with faithful and vibrant hues. Blacks are deep and without pixel break-up.

The DVD contains the movie’s original mono audio track. It has been cleaned up slightly, as no noise or hiss is evident. The frequency response is limited, giving the audio a harsh-sounding quality, and the dynamic range of the audio is also fairly narrow with crescendi that do appear distorted at times.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has once again included the a few supplements on this release. A short ’Making Of’ featurette and a photo gallery, as well as the ’This is Dynamation’ featurette that is found on all of the studio’s Harryhausen DVDs, and a selection of trailers.

’Mysterious Island’ is a fun film that makes good use of Jules Verne’s themes and Ray Harryhausen’s animation genius. The disc is satisfactory, though it could certainly have turned out much better that it has. Nonetheless, fans of the film will cherish the fact that they can own it now on the small shiny disc.