Prehysteria! Still Charms With a Fantastic Restoration [Blu-Ray Review]

Wicked Horror is the author of Prehysteria! Still Charms With a Fantastic Restoration [Blu-Ray Review]. Wicked Horror is the internet’s only horror fan site for free original horror movies, news, review & more.

I’m a longtime Full Moon fan, dating back to the third grade. Once I discovered Puppet Master, it all ballooned from there. When I started diving into the Charles Band filmography though, I was amazed even as a kid to learn that I’d actually been a fan of the man’s work from some of my earliest memories, thanks to the Moonbeam imprint which had produced several kid-friendly features in the early 1990s. Dragonworld and Beanstalk were among the titles I was fond of, but my three favorites were without a doubt the Prehysteria! trilogy. I definitely have not revisited them since I was in the single digits, but as a dinosaur kid, they were in regular rotation in my household, driving my parents crazy, I have no doubt.

It’s a testament to how much I loved this franchise in my youth that as soon as the film started, after easily over twenty years, everything came rushing back. I remembered the names of every dinosaur before they were introduced, I pieced together why Dolls and Robocop 2 actor Stephen Lee has always felt extremely familiar to me, because he’d been the bad guy in one of my early childhood favorites. I was also delighted to see that Prehysteria! holds up about as well as any other Full Moon favorite of the era. Which is to say: pretty damn well, if you know what you’re in for.

A lot of that is due to the new Blu-ray transfer. Since the releases of the early Puppet Master features, Full Moon has been absolutely crushing it in this regard. With a few exceptions here and there, the Blu-rays look great. Prehysteria! definitely keeps that trend going. This is as crisp a transfer as Full Moon has ever put out. Not only is the transfer incredibly vibrant and clear, but it also—most importantly—allows for the David Allen FX work to shine better than it ever had a chance to on VHS.

The story is extremely simple. A coked out fossil collector finds actual dinosaur eggs and places them inside a cooler, only for that cooler to be switched with one belonging to a down-home country dad and his two kids, who regularly sell fossils to this collector. The family dog keeps the eggs warm and weirdly becomes a mother figure to the baby dinosaurs that hatch. The group of dinos are, in pure Charles Band fashion, very small. There’s no real concrete explanation given as to why, either, I think it’s just accepted that that’s simply what you get out of a Full Moon/Moonbeam movie at this point.

Related: Extinction Agenda: The Troubled History of Dinosaurs and Horror 


Silly and campy as the film might be, it actually holds up surprisingly well—which is a huge relief to me, considering how much I loved the series as a kid. There’s an E.T. element with the kid befriending the dinosaurs and enlisting the help of his uninterested older sister—who almost seems like a cross between both the older brother and younger sister in E.T.—to keep the little critters out of the hands of the guy who only wants to use them to escalate his own profit and fame. Still, I wouldn’t go as far as to call Prehysteria! Amblin-esque. Low budget ‘90s family films had an aesthetic all their own, and it’s an aesthetic that this movie definitely helped to define, somewhere between a Disney Channel movie and the low-stakes family drama of Critters 3. Coming from me, that’s actually a glowing review.

The characterization of the young kid, Jerry—played by none other than Last Action Hero star Austin O’Brien—is both endearing and weirdly specific. He’s a ‘90s kid who feels totally out of place in his own era, with jokes from the older sister that he might as well have come from the stone age because he still listens to Elvis. It’s totally on the nose in a way that family comedies get away with better than any other genre. It not only links the kid to the dinosaurs in an unexpected way, but paves the way for the boy naming the T-Rex “Elvis” because they were both the king of their respective eras.

Each of the dinos is named after a musician, in fact, from Madonna to Jagger, and each of the creatures looks great. They’re all different—from a T-Rex, to a Brachiosaurus, to a Pteranadon, Chasmosaurus and Stegosaurus—and each of them stands out in their own way. From the individual characterizations and specific vocalized mumbling or growling, the dinosaurs actually feel very reflective of the stars of Band’s flagship Puppet Master series.

There’s no question that even on Blu-ray, the stop-motion and puppetry effects look dated, but that should never have mattered in the first place. Every movie is reflective of its era, and even though it’s a family film, Prehysteria! is totally representative of early Full Moon at the height of its powers, when the movies were coming out like clockwork and selling (and renting) extremely well. David Allen was specializing in stop-motion years after the technique had stopped being popular in live action film, and managed to turn what most considered an outdated—extinct, if you will—technique into genuine spectacle. That was the magic of the work he did with Band, and Prehysteria! is a terrific example of it.

Also See: Why the Puppet Master Series Was So Good (For Such a Short Time)

While the movie is a lot of fun and the transfer looks excellent, Prehysteria doesn’t come loaded with special features. Having said that, the ones that it does come with are still a treat. Like most of the Full Moon releases, this Blu-ray contains the original Video Zone, something I had actually forgotten was done for the Moonbeam movies. For those unfamiliar, the Video Zones were billed as a “behind-the-scenes video magazine” that gave viewers a glimpse at the making of the film as well as a sneak peek at future releases, years before the onset of DVD and the popularity of bonus content.

The only other special feature is a commentary by Charles Band and Austin O’Brien. Despite his massive filmography, Band’s commentaries can wildly vary in quality, as evidenced by the Puppet Master II commentary in which he mostly discussed then-ongoing deals at Full Moon Direct. But having Band and the star together helped to stir up some interesting tidbits and, especially, fuel the nostalgia that drove a release like this to begin with.

All in all, this is a fairly slim release but still a fantastic one for fans of the movie and old-school Full Moon in general. As someone who’s been wanting to revisit Prehysteria for a long time, I was admittedly already something of a mark for this, but the transfer alone absolutely makes the new Blu-ray worth it. If you love quirky ‘90s straight-to-video flicks, Full Moon, or some of the offbeat family features of the era, this one’s actually kind of a must. Prehysteria! is available on Blu-ray, now.


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Arrow’s ‘Twelve Monkeys’ Blu-Ray is a Technical Dive Into One of Gilliam’s Best


Never has a film made the realization more clear that there is indeed a ‘Key’ in ‘Monkey’ as Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys did. The psychological, time travel, mind fuck is Gilliam at the top of his game and is simultaneously one of his most mainstream accepted films. The folks over at Arrow have gone back […]

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Bring The Crazy Evil Home With ‘Mandy’ On Blu-Ray/DVD

One of this year’s best genre movies hits blu-ray and DVD today as the cinemadness that is Mandy is unleashed. Perhaps my favorite movie of the year, Mandy had a limited but high-demand theatrical release starting last month before hitting digital and VOD, and at long last for collectors and physical media fans, the blu-ray/DVD is out and […]

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Review: ‘The First Purge’ [Blu-Ray/DVD]

How did the United States reach a point where murder was viewed as an acceptable solution to the country’s problems?  This question is at the heart of The First Purge, the fourth film in the Purge film series, which documents the origin of the Purge Night concept. In The First Purge, ground zero is Staten […]

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‘Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich’ Now Available On DVD, Blu-Ray & 4K UHD/Blu-Ray Combo

Tuesday’s have become the magical time of the week just as good as Friday; this is one hundred percent because Tuesday is movie disc release day, and this week we have an exceptional film to tell you about, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. The film releases today on DVD, Blu-Ray & 4K UHD/Blu-Ray Combo! Now […]

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Universal Classic Monsters: The Complete 30-Film Collection is a Must Own for Classic Horror Fans [Blu-ray Review]

Wicked Horror is the author of Universal Classic Monsters: The Complete 30-Film Collection is a Must Own for Classic Horror Fans [Blu-ray Review]. Wicked Horror is the internet’s only horror fan site for free original horror movies, news, review & more.

The Universal Monsters are and will always be the premiere legacy franchises in horror. Before New Line was the House That Freddy Built, Universal built itself on the backs of Dracula and Frankenstein. These movies, these characters, are iconic in every possible way. They’ve endured for nearly a century. And even though some of the stories are much older than that, these characters, these images, will always be the very first that pop into people’s heads when they hear the names. This is a legacy worth honoring, and the Universal Classic Monsters Blu-Ray collection has thankfully done just that.

The films themselves need no introduction. We all know them, we all grew up with them. These are some of the most iconic characters in movie (and, in some cases, literary) history. But even some fans of these characters might have a few blind spots. I know I did. There were features in this collection I could have sworn I’d seen at some point, but were entirely new to me. That’s what this set offers. It’s everything, and unless you already own each of the individual Legacy collections, there are bound to be corners of this classic universe that you’ll be seeing for the first time. And given the treatment of each of the movies on Blu-ray, there’s no better way to see them than the Universal Classic Monsters Collection.

Related: Five Universal Monsters that Were Created for the Movies 

The Mummy - Dracula - Mummies on FilmIf you’ve picked up any of the individual Legacy collections for any of these franchises, you’re going to get a lot of the same stuff, I won’t deny that. The Universal Classic Monsters Box Set is conveniently comprised of the legacy collection Blu-Ray sets for each individual monster, plus the Claude Rains Phantom of the Opera, which was never given a sequel of its own. These sets are geared toward completists, if you buy them individually, so there are a lot of duplicates in the whole 30-film collection, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Each set contains each film to feature that monster, so you’ll find a copy of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein in the sets for The Wolf Man, Frankenstein and Dracula. I much prefer this setup, with the individual sets in a larger box, convenient to pull out on their own, to the fold-out sleeves of something like the Chucky or Friday the 13thcomplete collections.

wolf man 1941Visually, the packaging for The Universal Classic Monsters Box set looks terrific. Packaging isn’t everything, but it goes a long way toward encouraging someone to buy, and for a fan of these characters, this set is definitely going to catch your attention, wisely rendered in black & white with all of the monsters readily on display. The transfers are stunning, for the most part. That’s the largest appeal of the set, for me, as someone who’d only upgraded to one or two of these movies on Blu-ray. These features are obviously not new, but the treatment they’re given makes them pop like never before. Major classics like The Wolf Man and Frankenstein are gorgeously remastered in HD, but even later sequels like House of Frankenstein look just as crisp and clear.

The only exception to this is the Creature from the Black Lagoon set, which has issues including Revenge of the Creature being rendered in standard definition and Creature Walks Among Us only being available in the 2D version. But thankfully, Universal is aware of that particular issue and is offering a disc replacement program to give both of those sequels the same treatment as every other film in the set. That’s incredibly important to note, as this oversight of an issue was really the only holdup on an otherwise terrific set.

There also aren’t any special features exclusive to the thirty film collection, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a fair amount of special features in general. For one thing, there’s actual thirty-one films in total as the set also includes the Spanish language version of Dracula filmed on the same sets as the English language version. Thirteen of the movies feature commentaries from film historians, which is terrific. Even if you know these films, there are surprises to be had. The Mummy Dearest documentary, like that The Mummy was actually the first time Karloff was billed as Boris Karloff, as before that he’d only been credited as “Karloff the Uncanny.” Maybe the highlight of all the documentaries, though, is a spotlight on makeup legend Jack Pierce, which appears on both the Wolf Man and Mummy sets.

Related: Why The Invisible Man is Actually the Scariest Universal Monster!

The Bride of FrankensteinThe Universal Classic Monsters Collection also comes with a 45-page booklet that features great poster artwork and photos and is really well put together, giving a condensed history of the studio and the major storytellers and actors involved. It doesn’t offer you anything that you won’t also learn in the special features on the discs themselves, but the booklet still serves as a perfect companion, something to flip through at your leisure and convenience, and I simply love the trend of including booklets like this in Blu-ray sets in general.

That’s just a glimpse of what it has to offer, though. This set is teeming with not just the stories of the films themselves, but stories of these legendary actors, directors, the exhausting makeup process of The Mummy, the pressures of Lon Chaney to break out from his father’s shadow when Universal wanted to promote his famous name, the Lugosi/Karloff rivalry, the special effects wizardry (at the time) that went into The Invisible Man. There’s so much here. This isn’t just horror movie history, this is movie history, and it’s stunning. The Universal Classic Monsters collection is available now.


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