BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Released by RKO Radio Pictures in 1933, director Felix E. Feist’s Deluge, a super-soaker of a destruction film, was long thought lost due to neglect. It was almost as if the film never existed. For the longest time, it seemed that only a ragged Italian print remained of this special effects marvel that – as many historians suggested – rivaled the two-fisted thumping King Kong delivered to audiences.
The Pre-Code film was said to be beyond apocalyptic in its vision of earth’s destruction at the hands of colossal tidal waves that brings New York to its knees and massive earthquakes wrecking California and beyond. While melodramatic in its acting, Deluge was considered – for those who saw it – an early influence upon special effects wizards and, until now, was always sadly referred to in the past tense.
After 84 years of silence, Kino Lorber is proud to present Deluge on blu-ray with a 2K restoration that many thought would never come to be. And it probably wouldn’t have happened had an archivist not discovered a 35mm nitrate negative with the original English soundtrack in the archives of the Centre National du Cinéma et de L'Image Animée in France.
The results of Lobster Films work on this film are stunning; this might be the most exciting blu-ray release of the year for film buffs. Think of it: this is a movie about a massive tidal wave that circles the earth, wiping out everything. The consequences of this earthquake-triggered earthquake are enormous.
Yes, the film is melodramatic in its handling of two survivors – actor Sidney Blackmer & actress Peggy Shannon – who think they are the last sensible people on earth. Blackmer plays a man who has lost his wife and children. Shannon plays a woman who washes ashore and is immediately lusted after by two sketchy men. Both horny. Both threatening. Seeking salvation, she escapes them via the sea and winds up naked and in Blackmer’s arms.
It is up to him to keep her safe from the gangs raping and looting what’s left of civilization. Turns out, she can care for herself. And when more and more survivors are uncovered, Blackmer discovers a few surprises among the faces. Deluge is overly melodramatic and full of some pretty silly lines, but the film’s nightmarish qualities – even if the intense model-based effects are obvious – resonates far past its closing titles.
And the starkness of the situation – especially in 1933 – is absolutely nothing to shirk off.
Deluge is definitely the Holy Grail of disaster flicks and we have horror/sci-fi archivist Forrest J. Ackerman to thank for its rediscovery and eventual return to us. This film is special; it’s a B-movie through and through and was punted at every turn, yet remains a hell of a lot of fun.
MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime: 70 mins
Director: Felix E. Feist
Writer: Warren Duff
Cast: Peggy Shannon, Lois Wilson, Sidney Blackmer
Genre: Drama | Sci-fi
Tagline: Earth is doomed! Only a few will survive!
Theatrical Distributor: RKO Radio Pictures
Release Date: August 18, 1933
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: February 21, 2017
Synopsis: Triggered by a series of earthquakes on the West Coast of the United States, a massive tidal wave circles the globe and-in a prolonged and spectacular special effects sequence-wipes out New York City. Sidney Blackmer stars as a man who, separated from his family, must begin to rebuild civilization in the wake of the catastrophe.
Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray - February 21, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Courtesy of Kino Lorber and Lobster Films, the transfer – presented in 1.37:1 – is pretty remarkable. This black-and-white disaster film relies on its special effects and bleak tone to carry its suspense and, as it is loaded with deep blacks and white grays, the shadows must be well defined. Thanks to the 2K restoration efforts, all shadows are leveled appropriately, making this film a great little thriller. Details are rich and textures are thick. The landscapes are filled with rubble and ravishing details, is a viscous and vivacious entity on the screen. Skin tones are solid and black levels – corrupted only slightly by the passing of time – are magnified thanks to the fine efforts from the studio in salvaging this underappreciated flick. Kino gives viewers the original mono mix for the release.
There is a wonderful audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith that is included with this release.
Special features also include a special bonus film, the complete 1934 film Back Page, starring Peggy Shannon.
Back Page (65 min)