Release Date(s)1967 (January 30, 2018)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B-
In the wake of films like The Fly and 4D Man, both of which had come and gone nearly 10 years prior, The Projected Man was produced in the U.K. and was acquired for distribution by Universal Pictures one year after its initial release. It contains a fairly standard sci-fi horror plot about a group of scientists working under strict conditions to try and project matter over a distance of a few miles, but when an experiment goes wrong and one of them is unsuccessfully transported, he reappears, half-mutated with the ability to electrocute and kill others with a mere touch – but can he be stopped?
Throughout production, The Projected Man was being directed by Ian Curteis, but when the budget got out of control and the film wasn’t near completion, producer John Croydon was forced to step in and finish it. It was later released on a double bill with Island of Terror in February of 1967. Unfortunately, due to the demand that the double feature be exactly 180 minutes in length, 13 minutes were excised from The Projected Man to streamline it. As far as the quality of the film, it’s run of the mill territory and none of the performances or set pieces really stand out. Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will no doubt recognize Bryant Haliday in the lead, who was featured on the show in not just this film, but Devil Doll as well. Noteworthy mainly due to its appearance on the show, The Projected Man is more of a humdrum curiosity than a classic.
For Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of the film, a new 2K scan of “the original film elements” was carried out. What those film elements were we don’t know, but they don’t appear to be anything close to the original negative. That said, this presentation is miles beyond everything previously seen on home video, with particular regards to detail and color, the latter of which is vastly improved. Grain is often thick and not quite even but black levels are fairly deep. Objects and facial textures have much more detail in them as well. Contrast and overall brightness is enhanced, but there are some inherent problems with the transfer. First and foremost, wobble is very apparent, most especially during the opening credits which go out of register several times, but clearing up afterwards. There’s also quite a lot of speckling and occasional scratches. However, the improvement in detail and color is more important than these discrepancies. The sole audio track available for this presentation is an English 2.0 mono DTS-HD track with optional subtitles in English SDH. Despite the dated quality of the soundtrack, it still features clear dialogue with sound effects that are fairly piercing, particularly from the projection device. Score comes through well also, though not with any heft. Some light hiss is leftover, but otherwise, it’s a clean presentation leaving little room for complaint.
Surprisingly, this release features a number of great extras that are worth your time. They include new, separate interviews with director Ian Curteis, actress Mary Peach, art director Peter Mullins, sound editor Brian Blamey, and composer Kenneth V. Jones. All of the participants offer plenty of valuable insight, specifically the director himself who is given the most amount of time. Also included is the film’s original U.K. opening and a set of various deleted scenes, all in standard definition. The alternate opening the most valuable asset in all of this excised material as it sets up the film a bit better, but the rest of the deleted scenes are merely trims of scenes already present, including a fleeting bit of nudity during an autopsy. In addition, there’s also a theatrical trailer, constructed from both SD and HD sources, a radio spot for The Projected Man and Island of Terror double feature, and an animated still gallery. Not included is the Shock to the System: Creating The Projected Man featurette from the MST3K: Volume XXX boxed set (as well as the episode of the show itself), which features Tom Weaver offering some facts and trivia about the film. It’s also too bad that the full-length U.K. version of the film couldn’t be included, even as a supplement.
The Projected Man is not necessarily a film that’s a hallmark of the genre, but many enthusiasts will seek it out as if it’s one. It’s an interesting film that’s a bit on the dull side, but features decent visuals, even for something of its caliber. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray debut of the film is a welcome one, and I for one am pleased to see so many lower tier genre films from the 1960s and 1970s given this kind of treatment.
- Tim Salmons