“Although an embedded anxiety toward outsiders never subsided in American culture, It Came From Outer Space’s plea, less than a decade from the war’s end, is stellar. Aliens crash into an American desert town where sweeping paranoia and distrust continue to seed themselves, post WWII. Richard Carlson debates passionately with an aggressive small town sheriff, pleading for the sheriff to understand this foreign presence. It’s not a speech about atomic age whimsy, rather an attempt to placate lingering fears concerning foreigners, a penetrating message.”
Here’s the plus side from this 4K release: It’s undoubtedly a new master. Sharpness betters the ancient-looking Blu-ray prior. And, the HDR helps the highlights elevate, punching up gray scale to more natural levels too.
And that’s it. Universal otherwise botches this master. What initially seems like a fresh, dead on accurate grain structure turns out to be a ruse. Underneath what’s likely a fake grain layer, It Came from Outer Space shows definite signs of noise reduction, leaving the visuals smeary, sloppy, and waxy. Definition sinks, and ringing continues to poke free in multiple places. Whatever gains were made from this fresh master are eroded by the unnecessary (and quite frankly at this stage of home media, inexcusable) tinkering. Watch the helicopter take off around 7:30 – the grain reduction struggles to resolve with the motion, buzzing faster than grain around the heli.
That said, for resolution alone, It Came from Outer Space betters the Blu-ray. It’s preferred, but only for the increased sharpness. On its own, there’s not enough to justify this release in its current state.
An interesting 3.0 DTS-HD track offers surprising range for something this vintage. At times, the score sounds modern in its clarity, whether on the low or high end. The few moments of strained treble are that – moments. Dialog, ignoring some obvious dubbing of unfortunate sonic quality, follows the same course.
Stereos engage throughout, likely quite the novelty in 1953. Car horns wail from the left, a snapping branch is sent to the right. Coupled with the Blu-ray’s 3D presentation, it’s a clever sense of depth for the time. When dealing with dialog, this stereo split forces itself. Characters at either edge of the frame speak their lines from a specific positional channel, not the center. This effect wavers, sweeping from the side to the center jarringly mid-sentence, or even just for a word. Again, dated, but almost in a quaint way.
Tom Weaver delivers a great commentary as the first bonus, followed by the ancient (in home media terms) The Universe According to Universal, detailing the studio’s history of space sci-fi. Trailers, both for 2D and 3D versions of It Came From Outer Space, round out the extras. Note Universal’s package includes the 3D Blu-ray.
It Came from Outer Space
A unique slice of American paranoia, It Came From Outer Space encapsulates the ’50s sci-fi cycle perfectly.
User Review( vote)
The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 46 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: