Judge Patrick Naugle will double your pleasure AND double your fun.
A double dose of prehistoric terror!
Your darkest fears are back from the past with The Neanderthal Man and The Beast of Hollow Mountain! In The Neanderthal Man, a crazy scientist named Professor Groves (Robert Shayne, How to Make a Monster) has invented a formula that takes an ordinary man and turns him into a club wielding, uni-brow sporting caveman! Take a wild guess who is his first guinea pig. In The Beast of Hollow Mountain a local rancher discovers that a gargantuan dinosaur is living in the nearly impenetrable swamplands of Hollow Mountain. The Jurassic area comes to roaring life when the monster wanders in search of its next meal…and it could be you!
Based on an idea by King Kong effects creator Willis O'Brien, The Beast of Hollow Mountain is a very, very low grade 1950s creature feature that crosses Jurassic Park with the Old West. If that idea sounds slightly familiar, the same premise would show up over a decade later in 1969's The Valley of Gawngi, which germinated from the same idea (and was co-created by O'Brien protégé Ray Harryhausen). The difference is that while The Valley of Gwangi was a fun, well made cowboys and dinosaurs flick, The Beast of Hollow Mountain takes all the same ingredients and cooks them into a flat cinematic soufflé.
The Beast of Hollow Mountain is a one mammoth pile of boredom until it gets to the goods involving the title's namesake. Guy Madison (Kidnapped to Mystery Island) is Jimmy Ryan, the hard riding cowboy, a requisite hero whose square jaw demeanor and heroic attitude exude clichéd cowpoke. Sultry Patricia Medina (Francis the Talking Mule) is Sarita, the Mexican cowgirl who fills out the role of the damsel in distress. The Beast of Hollow Mountain labors onward with subplots involving love and pride and what not (including throwing in a little boy who gets into all kinds of trouble, just for good measure), all of which feels like filler until the story finally settles on the 'beast' trying to eat everyone in sight.
When Jimmy Ryan and his crew finally do find the beast of the dreaded Hollow Mountain (who takes almost an hour to appear onscreen!), it's one of the most under-whelming special effects ever caught on film. It's clear that the production crew didn't have a lot to work with, and the giant dinosaur truly looks like a foam rubber prop that was jerkily—and hastily—animated. The effects work actually takes the viewer out of the movie, which is the complete opposite of what the creators probably intended. I've seen some bad effects work in my time—Troll 2, anyone?—but The Beast of Hollow Mountain takes the cake. Recommended only to those who like their cheese smelly and foul tasting.
After The Beast of Hollow Mountain, I didn't think it could get much worse. Thankfully, I was right…but only by a very small margin. Director E.A. Dupont's low budget opus about a scientist who reverts into a prehistoric man holds a lot of promise that it's never able to fulfill. The Neanderthal Man feels a bit like one of those old Universal creature features (ala 1958's Monster on the Campus), only without the charm and budget. The actors are all forgettable (save for Robert Shayne as the nutty scientist) and the effects boarders on the atrocious. The fact that we're getting this movie on Blu-ray seems to be some kind of miracle, and I don't mean that in a good way.
Much like The Beast of Hollow Mountain, The Neanderthal Man needs a lot of time to get going…and even then, at its best it's shoddy filmmaking. There's a lot of discussion about primitive man (ho-hum) and the characters are as flat as a sheet of cardboard. When Professor Groves finally does 'devolve' into the title terror, it's in the same way that Lon Chaney, Jr. turned into the Wolfman: through time lapse fade photography. When the fully formed beast finally surfaces he looks like he just needs a sturdy toothbrush and a shave. In the 1950s the finished effect was terrifying, but in 2014 it's laughably amateurish.
The Beast of Hollow Mountain (Blu-ray) is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen in 1080p high definition (in color). The image quality for this movie is mediocre at best. Although the print looks bright and colorful, the transfer is filled with imperfections and dirt (including damage to the negative). I'm sure that Shout! Factory did what it could with this transfer, but there was probably only so much clean up that could be done to this low budget film. The Neanderthal Man (Blu-ray) is presented in 1.33:1 full frame in 1080p high definition (in black and white). The image also sports a fair amount of grain and damage, made all the more obvious in high definition. On the plus side, I'm sure that this is the best that The Neanderthal Man has ever looked. The picture is certainly bright with solid black levels and fine whites. Each soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 Mono in English. Neither of these audio tracks is very exciting—both feature front heavy mixes and little in the way of dynamic range. No alternate soundtracks or subtitles are included on this disc. The only extra feature is a bonus DVD copy of both films on a double feature disc.
Taken as a double feature, The Beast of Hollow Mountain and The Neanderthal Man are Z-grade bottom-of-the-barrel cheapies that can't even live up to a "so bad they're good" sentiment. While it's laudable that Scream Factory is giving new life to forgotten flicks, these are two movies that probably couldn't have stayed in whatever vault Scream Factory found them.
Scream Factory's double feature isn't worth the plastic on which it's
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