Listed: Five Science Fiction Films We Still Need on Blu-Ray

Unbelievably, these classic science fiction films have never been given a proper release on blu-ray. Hopefully someone listens to us and finally gets these movies re-mastered for the format! So, check the list out and let us know what you think!

When Worlds Collide (1951)

Over half a century before Roland Emmerich began destroying the planet through force of alien invasion or erratic weather patterns, producer George Pal and director Rudolph Mate’ adapted Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer’s end of the world novel of the same name When Worlds Collide into an Academy Award winning special effects driven Technicolor feature with loose connections to the story of Noah’s Ark.  Considered a doomsday parable at the height of post-nuclear war fears, the film is best remembered for unforgettable images of a pulverized New York City flooded by a tsunami amid earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.  Given the film’s place in cinema history for presenting state of the art visual effects that pushed the technical envelope back in the day, one has to wonder why this still only has a standard DVD release and not a special edition blu-ray remastered in high definition to bring out all the vibrant Technicolor imagery in plain view. 

The War of the Worlds (1953)

Two years after taking on When Worlds Collide, producer George Pal once again set his sights on apocalyptic doomsday material, this time adapting H.G. Wells to the big screen with one of his most celebrated works to date: The War of the Worlds.  The basis for countless alien invasion science fiction thrillers, director Byron Haskin’s special effects bonanza once again took home the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and provided moviegoers with some of the most iconic flying saucer images in film history.  Transposing the era from nineteenth century England to mid-50s America and swapping out the tripods with stingray looking flying saucers, The War of the Worlds follows Wells story pretty closely save for a light survivalist romance involving the main character. 

Cited as a visual effects favorite among countless science fiction aficionados as well as spawning a big budget remake by Steven Spielberg, The War of the Worlds represents one of the high watermarks of special effects moviemaking in the 1950s which begs the question why after a stereo remixed laserdisc release and a bare bones DVD release this one still hasn’t received a blu-ray remaster stacked to the gills with extras?  With the advent of high definition surround sound, the sound effects alone for The War of the Worlds are a sonic pleasure of sound engineering that simply must be heard in the highest quality audio possible.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

With the live action division of Walt Disney Pictures being all the rage with the recent box office smash remake of Beauty and the Beast, one can’t help but wonder why Disney hasn’t given the same love and attention to their back catalog of live action pictures.  Case in point is director Richard Fleischer’s big budget star studded adaptation of Jules Verne’s beloved science fiction classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Something of a precursor to the steampunk subgenre, 20,000 Leagues follows two prominent figures in the U.S. education program (Paul Lukas and Peter Lorre) and a cocky sailor (Kirk Douglas) who encounter a manmade submarine helmed by the mercurial Captain Nemo (James Mason).  

Cited as the very first science fiction film to be shot in CinemaScope as well as the first Disney project to be released by Buena Vista Distribution, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea represents a cinematic landmark which continues to endure in the years since it was first unveiled.  With renewed interest in the once dead widescreen format thanks to CinemaScope’s use in the recently released musical La La Land as well as Disney’s recent success with their live action pictures, you would think this would have been at the top of their list for blu-ray rendering.  Sadly however, that still is not the case yet as there only appears to be a 2-disc special edition DVD set.  Considering the enduring popularity of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the film’s own place in cinema history, this is one that is long overdue for the high definition treatment!

The Green Slime (1968)

There were two sides to the late and great Japanese director Kinji Fukusaku. When directing a genre picture in his native language, we get hard boiled yakuza films, gritty urban dramas or dystopian action nightmares like his infamous adaptation of Battle Royale.  When he’s acting as a director-for-hire on English language low budget science-fiction thrillers such as the Star Wars knockoff Message from Space or tongue in cheek silliness like The Green Slime, Fukusaku lets his inner schlock peddling goofball go hog wild.   The story of a stowaway alien virus that can reproduce itself at a geometric rate as terrified humans fight for survival, The Green Slime announces itself from the get go as sheer unadulterated camp.  From the cheesy theme song to the cheap looking models and even cheaper looking green screen effects, there’s no way you can possibly take this thing seriously.  The sillier it gets, the more enjoyable the whole hunk of cornball becomes.

Currently available in a Japanese and English language version, the film finally saw a North American DVD release through the made-on-demand home video division Warner Archive and provides a solid looking digital master.  With Warner Archive porting over so much of their back catalog DVDs to the higher definition blu-ray format, it’s only a matter of time before The Green Slime makes the jump too.  No the corny visual effects won’t look much better in higher definition but the film is so much fun with so many camp laden surprises littered throughout that it’s a bit surprising that it hasn’t reached the high end home video format quite yet.

The Black Hole (1979)

As previously mentioned, Walt Disney Pictures’ live action film division as of late has proven to be enormously successful for the company.  With the box office success of their recent live action remake of Beauty and the Beast and much of the company’s back catalog slowly making the transition from DVD to blu-ray, you would think two of their most pioneering and technically proficient science-fiction pictures, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Black Hole, would have appeared on blu-ray by now.  Sadly however, Disney’s mega-budget attempt to capitalize on the success of Star Wars remains only on a bare bones Disney DVD despite having strong audio and video. 

Something of a PG rated precursor to Event Horizon, Disney’s The Black Hole follows a team of astronauts who discover a black hole in space and a long thought missing and abandoned ship nearby it.  As with Event Horizon, things aren’t all that they seem as a great evil seems to be lurking within and what lies beyond the black hole touches on everything from Heaven to Hell.  At the time, this was the most expensive film ever produced by the Disney company with many special effects sequences breaking records at the time including an opening title sequence which was initially the longest running CGI sequence yet made. 

The Black Hole also marked Disney’s first ever PG rated film though in later years Disney would split off two more divisions, Touchstone Pictures and Hollywood Pictures, for their more adult oriented offerings.  The film went on to receive two Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography.  Which begs the question, with a film harboring as strong of a cult following as this one with many footnotes paving the way for countless science-fiction thrillers like it, why does this only have a DVD release and not a remastered blu-ray?  Considering the film received a 70mm theatrical release with discrete 6-track magnetic audio and that there are at least two different home video releases including a widescreen VHS by Anchor Bay, The Black Hole seems ripe for the long overdue blu-ray treatment.  What’s more, you can’t say it’s because the film flopped at the box office initially, as John Carter did the same and still garnered a blu-ray release.  

- Andrew Kotwicki