Friday, August 27, 2021

Vincent Price in Master of the World (1961) Kino Studio Classic Blu Ray Review

Master of the World (1961) Kino Studio Classic 8/31/2021

Directed By: William Witney

Starring: Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull, Mary Webster, Richard Harrison 

Disclaimer: Kino Lorber has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

My Review for The Raven HERE

My Review for The Last Man on Earth HERE

My Kino Studio Oct. Preview HERE 

    A departure from the horror titles, Kino Studio Classics has released what I think is an underrated film in Price's filmography Master of the World (1961). Part action-adventure, part proto-stream punk this Jules Verne adaptation. The year is 1868 and a madman named Robur (Vincent Price) kidnaps a a team on a government expedition who was investigating a mysterious crater in a sleepy Pennsylvania town. High strangeness and stock footage hijinks ensue in this '60s science fiction flick. 

     While I will always love Price for his Gothic horrors it's always such a treat to see him in other genres. Hell, did you know he starred in a fantastic Sam Fuller film entitled The Baron of Arizona (1950)?  Here we get a really fun, adventure film that almost feels like something made during Disney's wholesome live-action outing from this time period. In fact, Disney did a Verne adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) just seven years prior to this film. The narrative is a bit silly and rough around the edges but I think if you can get past that the movie has a lot of charm. The plot moves at a brisk pace and the dated special effects further adds this nostalgic warm-fuzzies.  And, then you have the marvelous cast. 

     Vincent Price makes an absolute ham-dinner with his performance of the bearded baddie Robur. As always the character actor gives the material his very all and in my opinion helps gloss over some of the more awkward parts of Master. He's gleefully wicked and we the audience lap up every second of it. And hey, Chuck Bronson is in this thing as well! The pairing of Charles Bronson (best remembered for his Death Wish series)and Vincent Price  may seem really weird but they acted together in 1953's House of Wax with Bronson playing Igor the assistant. Its strange to see Bronson play a really clean cut hero but, like Price plays the thing totally straight without a hint of irony or deprecation. Also includes Mary Webster, Henry Hull (Hitchcock's Lifeboat), and Richard Harrison just to name a few. 

As a kid I was spellbound by Master of the World and whilst it doesn't quite hold up I think it was still highly enjoyable adventure fantasy film and well worth checking out. 

Picture: Master of the World is a bright and colorful movie and I am happy to report that the 1080p in my opinion does justice to the films visuals. The colors pop but are not overly processed and I am glad that there is a nice uptick in brightness and clarity. Grain is present but not overly heavy. I will say that the print does suffer from artifacts and scratches and a few minor blurring. Nothing that I think distracts from the overall presentation though. I think this is the best this movie's ever looked on home video. 

Sound: Masters of the World has a nice big bold DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue and the killer score by the legendary Les Baxter comes through really nicely. A overall nice crisp and clean sound presentation. 

Extras: Master of the World includes two commentary tracks. The first is with Tom Weaver and Vincent Price biographer Lucy Chase Williams, The second is with actor David Frankham

Also included is Richard Matteson: Storyteller and a Trailer.  

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