The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection, Vol. 2 [3 Discs] [DVD]

This space age release offers a collection of five classic science fiction movies from Hollywood's golden age of nuclear fears and outlandish genre filmmaking: Dr. Cyclops, Cult of the Cobra, The Land Unknown, The Deadly Mantis, and The Leech Woman.
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Synopsis

The Deadly Mantis
This is the one in which the "villain" is a huge, carnivorous praying mantis. After the titular insect has attacked several people in a remote Arctic region, Col. Joe Parkham (Craig Stevens) swings into action. Parkham and his associates, Dr. Ned Jackson (William Hopper) and Ned's assistant Margie Blake (Alix Talton), track the predatory mantis as it heads southward to Washington DC (how did it get past customs?) The green monstrosity meets its Waterloo in "Manhattan Tunnel", where it is bombarded with poison gas (a little Raid or Black Flag might have come in handy). Some of the Arctic scenes in The Deadly Mantis were clumsily culled from the 1933 drama SOS Iceberg and a handful of Air Force training films. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cult of the Cobra
Six GIs stationed in Asia secretly photograph the arcane rituals of a group of cobra worshippers. At the climax of the ceremony, the cult members turn themselves into snakes. The high priestess catches the soldiers spying and throws a curse upon them. This off-beat horror film follows what happens to the men after that. Soon after they return to the US, the vengeful priestess follows them and people begin to die from snake venom poisoning, adding credence to the strange tale told by a surviving GI to the police, who become less skeptical as more evidence is unearthed. More trouble follows when the serpentine goddess falls for the ex-soldier's roomie. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Dr. Cyclops
The first Technicolor horror film since Mystery of the Wax Museum, Dr. Cyclops was directed by Ernest Schoedsack, of King Kong fame. Albert Dekker chews the scenery as mad scientist Dr. Thorkel, who has developed a process that will shrink human beings to doll size. His first victims include mining engineers Bill Stockton (Thomas Coley) and Steve Baker (Victor Kilian) and biologists Mary Mitchell (Janice Logan) and Dr. Bullfinch (Charles Halton). At first willing to play-act the role of benevolent despot with his miniaturized captives, Thorkel reveals the more sinister side of his personality by abruptly murdering Bullfinch in cold blood (easily the film's most frightening sequence). The rest of the picture details the escape efforts of the three pint-sized protagonists as they hack their way through a jungle of gigantic foliage and do battle with oversized wildlife. Though the cheery Technicolor hues tend to dilute the "scare" quotient in Dr. Cyclops, the special effects are superbly convincing throughout. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Leech Woman
An uninspired horror film by Edward Dein, this ragged story begins in darkest Africa and in the even darker psyche of a mentally deteriorating woman. June Talbot (Colleen Gray) goes on a trip to Africa with her husband Dr. Paul Talbot (Phillip Terry), only to discover that she is to be the trial balloon in one of his experiments on an anti-aging compound. Not willing to jump off into the unknown, the already unbalanced June kills her husband after she learns of a tribal ritual that will keep her youthful if she can obtain a hormone from the pineal gland of a human male. The problem is that she will revert back to a wrinkled woman unless she keeps replenishing her stock of the hormone. That, of course, leads to gruesome killings and ultimately, one disastrous mistake. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

The Land Unknown
Generous portions of The Secret Land, the 1948 documentary on the Byrd Antarctic Expedition, were worked into the action of The Land Unknown. Jock Mahoney and William Reynolds play Hal and Jack, leaders of an expedition to the South Pole. Along for the ride is girl reporter Maggie (Shawn Smith), over whose affections Hal and Jack constantly battle. Making a forced landing in the Antarctic, our intrepid explorers find that they've descended well below sea level. Before long, they are attacked by prehistoric beasts which have been preserved in this heretofore uncharted region. When not fending off Tyrannosauri and Pterodactyls, Hal, Jack, Maggie and copter pilot Steve (Phil Harvey) try to steer clear of an unwieldly carnivorous plant. Further complicating things is the presence of a long-lost, slightly demented scientist (Henry Brandon) who craves companionship...specifically the female companionship of Maggie. Its reasonably convincing special effects notwithstanding, The Land Unknown is much ado about nothing. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Craig Stevens
    Craig Stevens - Col. Joe Parkman
  • William Hopper
    William Hopper - Dr. Ned Jackson
  • Image coming soon
    Florenz Ames - Prof. Anton Gunther
  • Image coming soon
    Paul L. Smith - Corporal
  • Image coming soon
    Phil Harvey - Lou

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