Shout! Factory deserves credit for being thorough in their treatment of Roger Corman’s New World Pictures library: not only are the gems getting quality treatment – so are the lesser New World outings. For proof, one need look no further than their recent two-fer disc of Up From The Depths and Demon Of Paradise. It’s unlikely that anyone imagined these lesser lights would be getting a remastered release but this disc does a fine job in presenting them to a modern home video audience.
Both films have gotten new anamorphic widescreen transfers that are a big step up from the old VHS versions of these films. Demon Of Paradise is the better looking of the two but that’s mainly because it is also the younger film of the duo. Both have a new depth of clarity and richer color schemes when compared to their original VHS incarnations. The soundtracks for each retain the original mono mixes and both sound fine, with no major issues.
In terms of extras, this disc isn’t as bonus-intensive as some of the other two-fers in the Roger Corman Cult Classics line but they do offer a few items for the devoted fan. There are theatrical and t.v. trailers for Up From The Depths as well as two radio spots. It’s interesting to note that both of the trailers for that film crib a few shots from Piranha to punch up the proceedings. A video trailer is presented for Demon Of Paradise and it’s a fast-paced affair that makes the film look more exciting and sexy than it actually is.
This disc also includes bonus trailers for Firecracker, Humanoids From The Deep, Caged Heat and Jackson County Jail. The Firecracker trailer in particular is fun, a flashily-edited piece that sells the kung-fu and sexploitation angles of that film nicely (it’s also worth noting that it will be released by Shout! Factory this year, ditto for Caged Heat and Jackson County Jail). These trailers can be watched on their own or seen as “the Grindhouse Experience,” an option that plays both films on the disc end to end with two trailers on the front of the each. As always, that option is recommended for maximum retro fun.
However, the most impressive and substantial extra is a brief, original making-of piece on Up From The Depths. It’s an interview-driven piece with a few clips and includes input from producer Roger Corman and fx-men Chris Walas and Robert Short. Corman kicks it off with a studio-sanctioned overview of the film’s production but the really fun stuff comes from Walas and Short, both of whom admit they added effects to the film as part of a salvage effort. They’re refreshingly candid about the weak quality of the film and its rushed effects and they give a nice insight into what it was like to try and save a troubled production with no real resources and even less time.
In short, Up From The Depths and Demon Of Paradise might not be the most memorable of Corman productions but this disc offers the best way to get to know these obscure efforts. If you’re a exploitation flick completist, this is a good way to flesh out your collection of seafaring schlock.