Most viewers seem to remember 3D as the horrid red and blue anaglyphic system that people my age (late 20s) grew up with or are being introduced to it now via an entirely digital polarized system that is awkwardly proprietary thanks to studios being unable to play nice. However, 3D has been around for a long, long time and has gone through many different technological hurdles and levels of cultural acceptance. The 1950s were the “golden era” with titles like Dial M for Murder, House of Wax, and Robot Monster and would eventually lead to a drastic decline in the production and exhibition of 3D content due to how costly it was to make/screen (it required two prints and two projection systems at the time). The 1960s would seek to alleviate some of the technological burdens of the third dimension and Space Vision was created, utilizing one projector which was equipped with a special lense. 1966’s The Bubble would be the first film to be created and screen this way.
The Bubble owes as much to its newfangled 3D technology as it does the climate of 1960s science-fiction. This is a weird flick that seems as in tune with acid trip culture as it is with sci-fi from decades prior, especially the politically overt scare films of the 1950s. The film narratively plays out like a ham-fisted amalgamation of Westworld and Night of the Comet, which certainly isn’t a bad thing, with our lead couple (Michael Cole and Deborah Walley) en route to some destination that will allow the wife to give birth to a baby that clearly wants out, until a storm hits and they have to crash land in a small town that isn’t what it seems. Oh, and that town is filled with zombified folks and a giant “bubble” surrounding it ala Under the Dome. This is alternately high-concept sci-fi and B-movie fodder in one and the fluctuations in tone can be a bit erratic, but what you’re really here for is the 3D.
And in the 3D, The Bubble really does shine. I don’t want to ruin any of the fun surprises here, but expect plenty of “coming at ya” moments (you may even have to sniff some flowers at one point) and nothing subtle at all. This isn’t contemporary 3D that allows for depth of a scene, but gimmicky use of the technology at its finest and it is presented very well here. Actually, I’d go so far to say that it is better executed than any contemporary 3D that I’ve seen and it’s a reason to buy this disc for alone. If you were on the hunt for a quality, vintage title to show of that new (or dust collecting) 3D TV that you spent big bucks on, here you go.
Kino put this out as part of their continuing Kino Classics label and the presentation is on par with other titles in that series. The transfer here is from the camera negative, which had likely seen better days, and the restoration work is really solid. Though the 3D may be demo worthy, the overall image quality isn’t likely to blow anyone away but if you take into consideration the year and the provenance of the title, this is exemplary restoration work and of a title that needed saving. The audio is a DTS-HD 2.0 track and I was surprised at how well it worked for the film, the score is clear and not overbearing and dialogue and effects are balanced. I didn’t alter the sound much at all after the film was underway. Great work from Kino here.
The supplements aren’t overwhelming but everything that we get is very welcome. There is an alternate opening from the 1976 re-release, a short (I wish it was much longer) restoration demonstration, screenplay excerpts of deleted scenes and some trailers. If you have a BD-ROM drive, you can also access a great essay by Bob Furmanek which discusses the film and the difficult restoration. It’s really a shame that this wasn’t printed and included in the packaging as it remains inaccessible to a large portion of consumers and is a great asset to the overall package.
The Bubble is fun, trippy 1960s sci-fi that happens to be the first film made in Space Vision. The 3D is overt and silly, but if that’s something you want, look no further. Kino’s presentation is solid, with the 3D being demo worthy for a film of this vintage. Very happy to have this one available.