Warning from Space (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Oct 13, 2020
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Warning from Space (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Koji Shima

Release Date(s)

1956 (October 13, 2020)

Studio(s)

Daiei Film/Kadokawa Pictures (Arrow Video)
  • Film/Program Grade: B-
  • Video Grade: C+
  • Audio Grade: C+
  • Extras Grade: C+

Warning from Space (Blu-ray Disc)

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Review

One of the first Japanese science fiction films to be produced in color, Warning from Space tells the tale of an alien species called Pairans. They have come to Earth to warn its inhabitants of approaching destruction in the form of a large planet, which will collide with Earth in a matter of days. While scientists struggle to convince the world that action must be taken, the planet inches ever closer and Earth is on the verge of total annihilation. The film was mildly successful in Japan, but didn’t make too much of a mark elsewhere like its sci-fi monster movie successors.

The film’s distribution outside of its home country is perplexing. Though a recut and redubbed version was shown on US television for years via American International (which is included as an extra on this release), it seemed to skip Laserdisc and VHS. However, once the film somehow wound up in the public domain, a slew of bargain basement DVDs with several different title changes were released from companies too numerous to count—all featuring the US version of the film. As such, the original Japanese version has never been seen outside of Japan, until now.

Arrow Video brings Warning from Space to Blu-ray for the first time with a presentation that’s problematical, yet is easily the best the film has ever looked on home video. Using a master supplied by Kadokawa Pictures, the source appears to not have been in the best condition—which to these eyes, is likely a second generation piece of material, or even beyond. Grain levels are often coarse and chunky while detail is hidden behind it. Brown staining is prevalent, as are density issues, mild instability, and obvious flicker. Despite all of that going against it, it’s still an organic presentation in appearance. When given the chance it features good color reproduction and excellent contrast.

The audio is provided in Japanese mono LPCM with optional subtitles in English. The overall track is a tad quiet, requiring a quick volume adjustment. Dialogue exchanges are mostly clear, though it occasionally lapsing in intensity, which is likely due to the original recording itself and not the fault of the master. A sequence at a bar early on is distorted due to the noise level, and there’s a minor bit of intermittent crackle throughout.

The following extras are also included:

  • Select Scene Commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV
  • Warning from Space – US Version (HD – 88:02)
  • Teaser Trailer (SD – 2:28)
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD – 3:05)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 48 in all – 8:00)

The 65-minute audio commentary is quite informative as Galbraith provides the only bit of contextual content about the film, including the fact that the writer of the film, Hideo Oguni, also wrote many screenplays for Akira Kurosawa. The US version of the film primarily uses the main presentation as its source, utilizing 35 mm internegative elements to complete it. It restructures the film and adds English-speaking dialogue. The image gallery contains 48 images of behind-the-scenes stills, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, stamps, and home video artwork. Also included is a 32-page insert booklet with cast and crew information, Seeing and Believing by Nick West, Words of Warning by David Cairns, and transfer information. The artwork is also reversible, featuring the original theatrical Spanish artwork on the opposite side in English.

Warning from Space is both a respected piece of sci-fi and, sadly, also mocked due to the aliens’ appearance as starfish-like creatures. However, it’s a much more interesting film than many give it credit for. Thanks to Arrow Video, it can be fully appreciated with a presentation that’s not perfect, but certainly bests its dollar bin counterparts.

- Tim Salmons

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