Beginning of the End DVD Review

The 50's movie era was certainly an interesting one. Filled with giant radioactive creatures that destroyed major cities, sci-fi fans certainly got their fill and then some. Enter Beginning of the End. This is one movie that is certainly more popular because of its appearance on the cult favorite TV show Mystery Science Theater than anything else. Well, now you can own it on a real DVD without silhouettes talking over it. Peter Graves stars in this Bert I. Gordon production about nature run mad. Thanks to some local experiments that tried growing giant vegetables to feed the hungry, grasshoppers/locusts/crickets (never really sure which) have grown to an immense size and are attacking local towns. Eventually they get hungry and make there to downtown Chicago for some real mayhem.... that never really happens. This is schlock to the nth degree. The special effects simply can't be described and must be seen to be truly "appreciated." It has all the clichÈ's of other giant-bug 50's movies including (but not limited to) the scientist, bug expert, and the army general. Most of the actual attacks by the cheap looking insects happen off screen to save on budget and the acting is only on par with other movies in this time/genre. I'm not even going to mention the hilariously bad ending. This is one for only the most die-hard giant bug fans. Even then you'll do better with the true classic in "Them!" (* out of *****) Amazingly, this disc not only presents the movie in 1.66:1 widescreen, but it has a gorgeous print to boot. Though the scratches are numerous, the flawlessly clear print and almost complete lack of film grain is a major achievement. There are much better movies that don't get this treatment. I'm still stunned by this one. (****) The sound is Dolby stereo, but it might as well be mono. The creatures give off this ear shattering screeching noise that really pushes the treble (not to mention your patience) and blocks out everything else. Gunfire and dialogue are lost, but this is attributed more to the movie than the disc. Otherwise, the sound is clear without much hissing or static. (**) Even more stunning than the print are the extras. There's a commentary track, a shock to say the least. Granted, it's not a very good one, but just including one is shocking. Susan Gordon, Bert's widow, and her daughter try hard to remember some of the details, but their memory is less than adequate. The interviewer asks them questions constantly that they can't answer or do so in a manner that solves nothing. They discuss other movies produced by her late husband as well. The other extras include a trailer and still gallery featuring some classic looking lobby cards. (***) This is a movie for only the most die-hard giant bug fans. They're out there too. Believe me, I'm one of them. Not even I can take this one. Bad special effects are one thing, but that horrible screeching sound and ludicrous ending are just too much. If you're a fan though, this is as good as it will ever get.

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