The Beast Of Hollow Mountain/The Neanderthal Man – Double Feature (Blu-ray Review)

Beast-NeanderthalScream Factory returns with another double feature disc on Blu-ray.  This time they’re ditching the 80s and jumping all the way back to the 1950s.  At the end of the month you’ll be able to grab this two B-movie set that features The Beasts Of Hollow Mountain and The Neanderthal Man.  Both films are making their debut on glorious Blu-ray and have been given transfers that I’m pretty shocked and awed at (in a good way folks, in a good way, you’ll read about it below).  I’ve liked the previous double features that Scream Factory has put out thus far, so let’s see how this one holds up as an addition to that lineup.  And as always there is a pre-order link you can click below to have a copy ready for you when the release date hits!

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The Beast Of Hollow Mountain (1956) 

An American rancher living in Mexico resides near Hollow Mountain.  The area contains an impenetrable swamp and folklore about a T-Rex that dwells there.  This cowboy, Jimmy, has plenty of trouble on his hand regarding a local named Enrique.  Enrique not only wants Jimmy to movie back to Texas with his cattle, he also has suspicions that he has an eye out for his fiancée Sarita.  Conflicts and cattle herding is about and finally the T-Rex shows up to cause some hell.

This is a 79 minute film.  The so called “Beast” was briefly mentioned and didn’t show up until just about the 60 minute mark.  And even after the first appearance we leave it for another 5-7 minutes.  It’s almost as if the directors were given this monster film and wanted nothing to do with the monster.  Like they tried their best to make this little drama about a town in Mexico with an American outsider and were forced at the last minute to tack on a monster coming in to destroy stuff.  The film is really that uninterested with its monster.  It’s almost more of a “haunted swamp” tale than anything and they don’t really visit that much either.

When the T-Rex does eventually show up, it’s not even given really much to do.  I’m not going to comment on the stop-motion effects or anything, because I respect the time when this movie was filmed and accept it for what they could accomplish back then.  All the monster does though is eat one cow and then just wander in a bunch of open desert land chasing two guys.  I think it kills Enrique, but the film wasn’t really conclusive on it.  They could have had it destroy a house, a town…SOMETHING.  Well, okay, he did destroy a house, but it felt like he could have done so much more damage.

While the film is pretty disappointing in the monster department, it’s not all at a loss.  For the type of corny B-movie monster feature this is, it’s actually shot and directed very well.  I was quite enjoying the framing and composition of many of the film’s scenes.  And I got into the drama of the story and some of acting and fighting scenes were goofy enough that I can’t say I was really bored or uninterested at any time.  I did keep wondering when the monster was going to show though.  This is definitely a movie for a lazy Saturday afternoon, hopefully paired with other movies of this ilk.

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The Neanderthal Man (1953) 

In a small town, the local folk begin seeing crazy prehistoric animals roaming their countryside, like a saber tooth tiger.  It is the work of a scientist who has developed a serum that will cause an animal to regress to the form of its ancestors.  He tries the formula on his housekeeper, turning her into an ape woman.  After seeing the success, he then tries the serum on himself with some catastrophic results.

This little tale of horrors is definitely going for the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or The Wolfman route when it comes to horror.  Unlike those films, this one didn’t have quite the makeup mastery those did.  There’s a decent transformation process to it, but overall when the Neanderthal Man is roaming about it just looks like a guy in a mask.  Unlike the previous film, I can dog on the special effects for this one when comparing it to the films of this time or even decades before it that did a much better job with creating creatures like a werewolf.

The Neanderthal Man kind of had me from the beginning and then sort of just kinda meandered in the middle too much for my liking.  Thing weren’t done as well as horror’s past and not a whole lot of it was convincing enough to stay completely engaged.  A lot of the plot did feel as if they were struggling to stretch this one out to a features length.  At 78 minutes it oddly felt a little long.  It’s not a terrible movie by any means, but you can certainly find some better films of this type if you’re looking for it.  In the right mood this one sure could satisfy, but overall its just kind of there.

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The Beast Of Hollow Mountain 

The Neanderthal Man 

Talk about two movies looking better than they every deserved to!  The Beast Of Hollow Mountain looks really great in this 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoding.  Its 2:35.1 frame looks breathtaking considering what kind of quality this movie is.  The print is in really good shape aside from a few shots that show some wear and damage.  It’s a little grainy but for the most part looks clear as day.  It’s got a really sharp picture.  There are not a lot of pretty colors on the palette but I like the picture’s ability to discern between the multiple levels of brown throughout.  Skin tones are consistent and you can make out the whites of people’s eyes really well.

The Neanderthal Man’s 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded picture is also quite impressive.  It’s got even less print damage that the other feature.  This is a film you’d expect to be beat to hell, but here it looks as if the film has been taken very great care of.  The 4:3 frame sports a lot of detail including the texture and fuzziness of fabrics.  Hair is also in good fine detail in the picture.  The variety of blacks and grays filling out the colors for the film are also nice and distinct.

I was overly impressed with both transfers.  Like I said, these films never really deserved to look this good, but damn, it’s nice that they do.  And I must say, these are two titles that some bigger studio probably would have cared less about and put some garbage cheap upconvert looking transfer on a disc.  Not here, you can clearly tell that some care was put into bringing these two films to Blu-ray.

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The Beast Of Hollow Mountain 

The Neanderthal Man 

Both features sport 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio tracks.  The movies come in at a nice good and loud volume.  Beast and Neanderthal Man have clean and crisp audio tracks that feature nicely leveled sound effects mixed in to make  a really full experience.  There was one brief moment of a sourced audio distortion in Neanderthal Man, but you’ll likely not really catch it.  Overall these are two rock solid lossless audio tracks to accompany some stellar transfers.

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There are no extras on the disc, but the alternate side of the cover contains some promotional stills from each movie.

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Of all the double features the Scream Factory label has put out thus far, this is definitely the weakest link, but it’s certainly not a lost cause.  Here are 2 B-pictures that have been given absolutely glorious bumps to the high definition avenue that you really need to see for yourself to believe it.  There are no bonus features on the disc, but getting 2 movies on one should be considered a bonus in itself.  I thought one of the films was ok and the other was on the weaker side of the indecision fence for me.  There’s no doubt that this disc could make for a fun lazy Saturday afternoon if you’re the audience for B-movies like the two of these.

Beast-Neanderthal Blu-ray


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