• Dr. Cyclops (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: January 7th, 2020.
    Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack
    Cast: Albert Dekker, Thomas Coley, Janice Logan
    Year: 1940
    Purchase From Amazon

    Dr. Cyclops – Movie Review:

    Dr. Thorkel (Albert Dekker) is a strange man. He lives out in the jungles of Peru without much in the way of human contact aside from a local named Pedro (Frank Yaconelli). Here he toils away at his work, conducting various experiments involving a device that can miniaturize living things. He requests assistance from associate Dr. Rupert Bulfinch (Charles Halton) who arrives shortly thereafter along with Dr. Mary Robinson (Janice Logan), Steve Baker (Victor Kilian) and Bill Stockton (Tomas Coley).

    It isn’t long after they meet up with Thorkel that they realize he’s quite mad – his once brilliant mind damaged by the radiation used in his laboratory. When they object to some of his methods, he tricks them, and Pedro, into getting into the room where his device is setup and – WHAM! – he shrinks them down to about a foot or so in height and then allows his evil black cat, Satanas, to torment them!

    Thorkel continues to torment his new playthings but his villainy soon turns from weird to downright sinister when he murders Bulfinch. At this point, the others realize that he’s not going to restore them to their normal size or even let them have their freedom, and so they do what they can despite their diminutive stature to stop Thorkel once and for all and, hopefully, avoid that damn cat!

    An early Technicolor genre picture directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and produced by Merian C. Cooper, the duo that brought us The Most Dangerous Game and King Kong, this 1940 Universal production is loaded with quirky character and special effects. Lots of shots involve our tiny protagonists running about near much larger things, hiding in a cactus plant from Satanas and things like that but Schoedsack and company get pretty creative here, using interesting camera angles to convince the audience and win them over. The movie starts stronger than it finishes, with an eerie green-tinted sequence showing off Thorkel conducting his experiments, but even if it never rises to that level of awesomeness afterwards, it is quick in its pacing and plenty entertaining.

    The cast does decent work here. Janice Logan is lovely and likeable while Victor Kilian and Tomas Coley play fairly cliché tough guy characters well enough, at least once the movie affords them the opportunity to do so. Frank Yaconelli plays Pedro as a pretty harsh stereotype, and the film is a product of its time in that way. The real stars, however, are Charles Halton and particularly Albert Dekker. Halton plays his character as remarkably pompous. He isn’t really all that likeable, even if he is clearly the good guy, but he’s fun to watch. Dekker, however, chews the scenery really nicely here, going over the top more than a few times, leering out form behind his thick Coke bottle glasses and ranting about this, that and the other thing for long stretches.

    It isn’t all that deep, but it is definitely entertaining!

    Dr. Cyclops – Blu-ray Review:

    Kino brings Dr. Cyclops to Blu-ray taken from a new 4K restoration presented framed at 1.33.1 in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, with the feature taking up almost 26GBs of space on the 50GB disc. This is, overall, an excellent transfer. There’s very good depth and detail here and the color reproduction looks great. There are no problems with any compression artifacts of note and the image shows no noticeable print damage at all while retaining a natural amount of expected film grain. Skin tones look really nice and lifelike, black levels are deep and strong and the picture is free of compression artifacts and edge enhancement related issues.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track. While range is understandably limited by the source material, the track is clean and nicely balanced, no problems with any hiss or distortion to complain about. The score has some nice range to it, things sound a bit stronger than you might expect for an older B-movie such as this. No problems here, the audio is good! Optional English subtitles are also provided.

    Extras kick off with an all new audio commentary by Film Historian Richard Harland Smith, who delivers an excellent dissection of the picture, covering its history with a welcome sense of humor. He offers plenty of background info on Ernest B. Schoedsack and his career, he details the history of the different cast members that populate the picture, he talks up the effects work, the film’s release history, the source material that eventually evolved into this filmed version of the story and lots more.

    Rounding out the extras are a Trailers From Hell entry with Jesús Treviño, a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Kino Lorber properties, menus and chapter selection.

    Dr. Cyclops – The Final Word:

    Dr. Cyclops is a fun watch, a quirky and creative mix of sci-fi and adventure movie tropes with some amusing performances and neat vintage effects work. Kino’s Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent and the commentary is a nice addition to the disc. Fans of vintage B-pictures should definitely enjoy this one – recommended!

    Click on the images below for full-sized Dr. Cyclops Blu-ray screen caps!