THE PROJECTED MAN (1966) Blu-ray
Director: Ian Curteis
Scream Factory/Shout! Factory

Scream Factory transports the vintage sci-fi wizardry of THE PROJECTED MAN onto Blu-ray, a surprisingly extras-filled release of a rarely seen British-made effort.

At an elaborate scientific research foundation, Professor Paul Steiner (Bryant Haliday), with the help of his assistant Chris Mitchel (Maurice Kaufmann look-alike Ronald Allen, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER), have invented a means of transporting matter to another part of the room. Using a bulky, futuristic laser gun thing, they capture the matter, temporarily store it in a flashy globular cell, and bring it back to solid form again in a different location. Unfortunately, the innovative procedure is only fully successful with inanimate objects but not with anything of flesh and blood. With arrogant foundation director Blanchard (Norman Wooland, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE) trying to put the kibosh on his work to make way for other projects, Steiner calls in old flame Dr. Patricia Hill (Mary Peach, ROOM AT THE TOP) to help decipher why the experiment keeps failing. They eventually succeed (using a monkey), but when it comes time to putting on a demonstration for Blanchard, his shady cohort Latham (Derrick De Marney, THINGS TO COME) and old colleague Lembach (Gerard Heinz, DEVILS OF DARKNESS), a disaster unfolds (the results of an inside-job sabotage) and Steiner is asked to dismantle his laboratory to make room for another project. Not giving up, Steiner decides to convince the pigheaded trio of his discovery by making himself a guinea pig with the intention of transporting himself to Blanchard’s house from the lab; he ends up horribly scarred on one side of his body and becomes quite deranged with a deadly electrifying touch, prowling the streets and bent on revenge.

THE PROJECTED MAN involved production company Compton Films, formed by Tony Tenser and business partner Michael Klinger before Tenser went out on his own to form legendary horror and exploitation outfit Tigon British Film Productions. Produced by none other than Richard Gordon (and like most of his productions of the time, his name remained off the credits) along with John Croydon and Maurice Foster, the film was released in the U.S. in early 1967 on a double bill distributed by Universal with Gordon’s better recognized (and better appreciated) Peter Cushing vehicle ISLAND OF TERROR. Unlike ISLAND OF TERROR (which is now also available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory), THE PROJECTED MAN never saw home video (VHS or DVD) issue in this country, so bringing it straight to Blu-ray with more than the expected amounts of bells and whistles is honorable on the part of Scream/Shout!, as they have rescued a number of other Universal genre pictures as of late which would have otherwise languished in relative obscurity.

THE PROJECTED MAN is more or less a throwback to 1950s mad scientists movies (with teleporting themes from THE FLY movies being more than apparent here) and it even spoofs the then-current James Bond series by having the villainous Latham introduced wearing a smoking jacket and sitting in an armchair while petting a purring feline, Blofeld style. But with an effectively creepy make-up job and some impressive special effects (which have a crispy hand setting ablaze to anything it comes in contact with), THE PROJECTED MAN works as entertaining “monster on the loose” fair, with Haliday relishing the role of a dedicated scientist-turned repulsive fiend as if he just screened a dozen Vincent Price movies in preparation. Aside from several early 1960s French films, the American-born Haliday (later one of the founders of Janus Films) starred exclusively in Richard Gordon productions which also included DEVIL DOLL (1964), CURSE OF THE VOODOO (1965) and TOWER OF EVIL (1972); THE PROJECTED MAN gives the actor what was arguably his meatiest B-movie role. Haliday comes off as very British, and fits in perfectly with the very good Brit cast made up actors you don’t usually see in the typical Amicus or Hammer films of the period with young blonde Tracey Crisp (CASINO ROYALE) offering some sex appeal when she’s stripped down to her underthings and is carried off by the nasty Projected Man, making for some memorable publicity photos. The film contains a terrific score by Kenneth V. Jones (TOMB OF LIGEIA, WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO?) which ranks among the best that UK sci-fi cinema had to offer.

Scream Factory presents THE PROJECTED MAN on Blu-ray with a transfer made from a new 2K scan of the interpositive of the 77-minute Universal cut of the film. It’s presented in 1080p in the original 2.35:1 Scope aspect ratio. There is some speckling and other debris that is apparent from the source, but the level of detail and contrast are most impressive and take precedence while viewing. Colors are properly saturated and show good range, while grain is present over the entire film, greatly complimenting the fine textures and giving a cinematic feel to the image on the whole. The audio is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track; it’s a nice, clean track as the score and sound effects are well pronounced and dialogue remains clear. Optional English subtitles are included.

Extras include an interview with actress Mary Peach (2:43) who talks briefly about getting the part and the film's special effects, and she appears to have a good experience making it (Peach is the widow of Hammer screenwriting legend Jimmy Sangster). Director Ian Curteis is also interviewed (15:45), mentioning his wanting be a playwright from a young age, working his way into theater and eventually directing for the BBC. On THE PROJECTED MAN (his only feature film as a director), he recalls that producer John Croydon offered him the job, and that the film was shot on a tight four-week schedule, and that he was unhappy about how much of the film was cut together. Curteis had a big hand in the casting of the film (aside from stars Haliday and Peach) and he tells a fun anecdote about seeing Haliday in full make-up for the first time. The interview with production designer Peter Mullins (9:17) has Mullins mentioning getting the job on the film while on hiatus from “The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre” TV series which he worked on in the same studio (Merton Park Studios). He discusses the various sets for the film – some which were recycled and some which were built but not used – as well as the elaborate props. Sound editor Brian Blamey (5:54) describes the film’s Techniscope process as well as its in-camera effects and one of the key sound effects (used for the futuristic lab machinery). Composer Kenneth V. Jones (7:57) recalls conducting the score with members of the London Philharmonic as musicians and the amount of work that went into the scoring process.

The “Alternate Opening” (8:16) retains the UK credits (without the opening Universal logo) and goes into a beginning scene deleted from the US cut: Steiner and Mitchel conducting a teleportation experiment with an actual guinea pig in which the animal dies a few minutes afterwards (this is followed by dialogue concerning Blanchard’s objections to their research). A section of deleted scenes (7:08) includes further bits exclusive to the UK version of the film, including extra dialogue between Mitchel and Dr. Hill, more footage of the monster on the prowl, and an alternative shot of a topless girl on a mortician’s slab (she appears “clothed” in the U.S. version). Note that all this footage from the British version is shown in standard definition and closer to 1.78:1 rather than 2.35:1. The original trailer (1:37, 1080p) – which appears to be partially restored from the remastered feature footage – is included, along with a radio spot for the ISLAND OF TERROR/THE PROJECTED MAN double bill and a still gallery. (George R. Reis)