Tentacles (1977) / Reptilicus (1962)
Director(s): Ovidio G. Assonitis / Sidney Pink
Starring: John Huston, Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins & Henry Fonda / Asbjørn Andersen, Carl Ottosen, Ann Smyrner & Mimi Heinrich
Released by: Scream Factory
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Scream Factory, the horror/cult offshoot of Shout! Factory, submerges viewers into a terrifying creature double feature of sea monsters and prehistoric catastrophe. Starring an ensemble cast including John Huston (The African Queen), Shelley Winters (The Night of the Hunter), Bo Hopkins (Midnight Express) and Henry Fonda (12 Angry Men), Tentacles takes place on a small beach town where a giant killer octopus has wrapped its deadly grip. Next up, Reptilicus focuses on a team of copper miners who uncover the tail of a prehistoric creature. When scientists are brought in to research the specimen, the creature regenerates back to life to wreck havoc on Denmark.
Riding the coattails of Director Steven Spielberg’s seaside shocker, this Italian production, shot on the sunny California shores makes great strides in delivering a suspenseful B-movie counterpart. Set on the tourist resort of Ocean Beach, Tentacles finds the sleepy community in danger when an enormous octopus begins claiming victims and sucking their skin dry. With his suspicions raised, veteran reporter Ned Turner (Huston) suspects the construction of the Trojan company’s underwater tunnel to blame, much to the dismay of owner Mr. Whitehead (Fonda). Combining efforts, Turner and Marine Biologist Will Gleason (Hopkins) discover irregular levels of radio signals as the cause for the octopus‘ deadly behavior. Under the direction of Ovidio G. Assonitis (using the pseudonym Oliver Hellman), Tentacles surprises with its ability to weave a tense tale while, restraining its monster’s screen time to great effect. Headlined by an all-star cast, this blatant foreign ripoff is a well-acted affair providing likable characters the audiences grow to care for. With a tense yacht race pitting children in peril and a final standoff between Gleason and his trained killer whales against the mammoth octopus, Tentacles makes a splash as one of the best Jaws imitators of its time.
Infamously known as Denmark’s first and only monster film, Reptilicus was concocted as a Danish-American production that U.S. distributor American International Pictures found unreleasable at the time of its completion. Resulting in a lawsuit with U.S. Director Sidney Pink (Journey to the Seventh Planet) that was later dropped, Reptilicus stands as a forgettable slice of drive-in junk food. After the remains of a lizard-like tail are sent to Copenhagen for scientific research, the tail begins to rapidly regenerate forming a full-sized reptilian dinosaur. As chaos ensues across the country, scientists and the military band together to destroy the colossal creature. Following the simple yet, entertaining formula of giant monster flicks, Reptilicus suffers from a painfully wooden cast and a hilariously awful looking monster. Cheaply produced and displaying dreadful optical effects including, a farmer being swallowed by the enormous monster,Reptilicus has few redeeming qualities outside of its campy production values and genius plan to lay the beast to rest with a powerful sedative.
Scream Factory presents Tentacles with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. With the exception of scant scratches, the film shines in high-definition with prominent colors resulting in lush scenery and warm, natural skin tones. Detail is also admirable with underwater sequences greatly impressing with their clarity. Meanwhile, Reptilicus arrives with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Struck from a new HD master, the schlocky monster flick has never looked better. With the exception of increased scratches during optical effects sequences, Reptilicus awards viewers with bolder colors and appreciated detail lacking in previous home video releases. Both films come equipped with LPCM 2.0 mixes that project dialogue clearly while music and moments of military gunfire and oceanside screams offer added boosts in quality. In the special features department, Tentacles arrives with its Theatrical Trailer (1:01), a Photo Gallery (2:01) and Radio Spot (0:58) while, Reptilicus is also joined with its own Theatrical Trailer (1:58), Photo Gallery (2:41) and Radio Spot (1:00).
Inviting viewers to spine-tingling avenues where multi-legged and prehistoric monsters reside, Scream Factory provides likeminded fans with a complimentary coupling of creature features. While Tentacles reigns supreme as one of the better Jaws cash-grabs, Reptilicus suffers from an unexciting cast and abysmal effects that simultaneously lend the film its only charm. Arriving with minimal features, both films have made highly beneficial leaps to HD looking better than ever. Craving to capture Saturday night B-movie thrills, Scream Factory’s latest double feature is just the solution.
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