Results tagged “Arrow Video”

Deadly Manor Blu-ray Review: A Complete and Total Dud

I'm not one prone to hyperbole but Deadly Manor might be the stupidest movie I've ever seen.
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A group of teenagers decides to go camping at the lake. Four of them are in a Jeep, two drive a motorcycle (this will be important later). None of them seem to know where it is. The one guy who has been there before only has vague notions. No one even knows what the lake is called. They can’t find it on a map. Someone suggests that maybe it is too small to be on one. They pick up a scraggly looking hitchhiker. He says he knows where that lake is. He doesn’t say where he is going but he

One Missed Call Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Let This One Go to Voicemail

A spooky premise and an excellent set of extras can't save this trilogy of films from getting hung up on.
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A group of friends are hanging out. A cell phone rings, but nobody recognizes the ringtone. Finally, someone realizes it is hers but by the time she gets to it, she’s missed the call. The caller ID says it is from herself. Stranger still is that it is dated a couple of days in the future. There is a voicemail. It is from the girl who owns the phone. It begins with her talking about something innocuous - that it is starting to rain or some such thing - and ends with her screaming. That’s strange, everyone agrees, but it

Edge of the Axe Blu-ray Review: Careful with That Axe, Psycho Killer

Arrow Video presents this late entry into the slasher genre that spends too much time developing character when it should be chopping up bodies with an axe.
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It is always fascinating to me when the makers of low-budget slasher films try to inject their films with an actual story and well-developed characters. This seems rather pointless when all fans of the genre want is attractive people being hacked to death in creative ways. This is especially interesting as the majority of people who make low-budget slasher films wouldn’t know an interesting story if it slapped them in the face with a black leather glove, nor a well-developed character if it stabbed them in the eye with a shiny, sharp knife. Edge of the Axe is a Spanish-American

Jake Speed Blu-ray Review: When Indiana Jones and Brendan Fraser Aren't Available, Call Jake Speed

Action, adventure, romance! What more could a teenage boy want?
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My mother likes to call the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies “a poor man’s Indiana Jones.” What she means is that both series star attractive, charismatic male leads who embark on thrilling adventures dealing with archeology and ancient myths, but that the Mummy series doesn’t have quite the high quality as the Indiana Jones films. Like a Big Mac, The Mummy might satisfy a certain type of hunger, but they’ll never be as satisfying as a good steak. Well, if The Mummy is a poor man’s Indiana Jones, then Jake Speed is a poor man’s Mummy. It is the Taco Bell

Hitch Hike to Hell Blu-ray Review: Put Your Thumb Down and Run

You'll wish you were in Hell instead of watching this movie.
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If you are a fan of Netflix’s excellent series Mindhunter, then you may feel a sense of familiarity with Howard (Robert Gribbin), the mild-mannered, psychotic killer from Irvin Berwick’s 1983 film Hitch Hike to Hell. He has a fair resemblance to Ed Kemper, one of the real life serial killers featured on Mindhunter. Kemper, a very large and very intelligent man, picked up eight hitchhiking college coeds in the early ‘70s then raped, mutilated, and murdered them. He sometimes blames his abusive mother for his turn to violence. In 1973, he killed his mom, cut off her head, and threw

The Dead Center Blu-ray Review: Mostly Effective Psychological Horror

Primer's Shane Carruth stars in psychological and supernatural horror tale, where a suicide returns from the dead... but not alone.
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A spiral is integral to The Dead Center's imagery and story. A spiral appears on the photographs of a body from a crime scene, some sort of scar or lumps of tissue on his person. It wasn't seen in the autopsy because none was performed - the man breathes back to life on the gurney in the morgue, sneaks out, and ends up in a psychiatric ward. He was long dead when the paramedics brought him in; now he's catatonic, staring, and has become two doctors' problem: the medical examiner whose corpse has gone missing, and the psychiatrist who wants

Flowers in the Attic (1987) Blu-ray Review: I Think They Wilted

The best-selling novel gets a neutered adaptation but an excellent release by Arrow Video.
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I have this memory in which my mother gives me a copy of V.C. Andrews’ 1979 novel Flowers in the Attic. I was in my early 20s at the time and my mother gave the book great praise. For some reason, I thought the book was about the Holocaust, that it was a story similar to Anne Frank’s, where a group of young siblings were hiding from the Nazis in an attic of an old mansion. For anyone who has read the book, you know how far my idea is from the truth. The actual novel is about a group

Ringu Collection Blu-ray Review: Ghostly Revenge, Again and Again

Four weird, gripping and often terrifying films of spectral revenge that began the J-horror boom are now on Blu-ray.
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Horror as a genre tends to go through brief periods of inspiration, followed by long slogs of imitation. If you're unlucky, the inspired breakout hit is something like Saw, and as a horror fan you have to sit through years of vile dreck until something better comes along to rejigger the landscape. In the late '90s, horror was in one of its down-turn phases: the mid-'90s crackdown on letting youngsters into R-rated movies had the effect (still felt today) that to get the primary audience for horror, the young, you needed to be PG-13, which means violence has to be

Apprentice to Murder Blu-ray Review: Graduated to Boring

This 1980s folk horror is light on scares and heavy on nothing happening.
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The early 1970s saw several British films being released that have been defined as “folk horror” by fans. These are films like Witchfinder General and The Wicker Man, which incorporated old folk tales and pagan rituals into horror movies. In the 1980s, movies like Children of the Corn moved the setting to rural America but the idea was the same. These films often dealt with isolated communities living in picturesque, yet somehow unsettling rural areas. They are inhabited by deeply religious people who incorporate pagan or satanic rituals into their daily lives. This mix of isolationism and “weird” belief systems

Ringu Blu-ray Review: One Ring That Started Them All

Arrow Video brings a new 4K restoration of this Japanese horror film that started a movement.
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Japanese folklore has long included ghosts who haunt the living because they died with anger, rage, fear, or some other strong emotion. Many of these myths include a young girl with long, black hair obscuring her face. In 1991, Koji Suzuki updated these stories in his novel Ring. This was made into a 1995 TV movie called Ring: Kanzenban and then again as a theatrically released film called Ringu in 1998 by Hideo Nakata. Ringu made some significant changes to the novel and became a huge hit, becoming the highest-grossing horror film in Japan. It found an international audience on

The Prey Blu-ray Review: Pray You'll Never Have To Watch

Arrow Video does an excellent job presenting this should-have-been forgotten slasher in a very nice package.
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The 1980s were a great time for horror movies in general and slasher flicks in particular. With the advent of home video and the booming popularity of video rental stores, there was suddenly a need for more and more videos to stock those shelves. Lots of studios specializing in cheaply made, straight-to-video movies sprung up overnight. Horror fans are a motley lot and easily amused. They are not known for snobbish attitudes, willing to take a chance (and often enjoy) films of lower budget and artistic caliber. As long as the film has plenty of violence, at least some blood-soaked

The Hills Have Eyes, Part 2 Blu-ray Review: Flashback City

Arrow Video does a nice job spiffing up this movie that is so bad even the director disowned it.
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Wes Craven is often placed near the top of lists concerning the greatest horror filmmakers of all time, and rightly so. He was at the forefront of the gritty, ultra-violent new wave of horror films in the 1970s making such low budget classics as The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. In the 1980s, he rejuvenated the slasher genre by creating the iconic Freddy Kreuger in the Nightmare on Elm Street, then reinvented it with the very meta and very ‘90s Scream films. But while he deserves all the accolades, let us not forget he was

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) Blu-ray Review: Same Gore, Less Story

Follow up to Hellraiser has the same aesthetic, same cast, much the same crew, but not enough story or ideas.
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It's strange that so many horror movies spawn enormous franchises when the surprise and the unknown are central to the effectiveness of a good horror story. Shock and dread are two of the desired outcomes of horror: to be surprised by something you didn't want to see, and to be slowly drawn toward something you don't want to see, but just have to look. Hellraiser as it stands doesn't make a great candidate for a sequel in any case. It's primarily a twisted love story - the main characters are the undead Frank and his lover Julia who supplied him

Hellraiser (1987) Blu-ray Review: Clive Barker's Semi-professional Debut

An erotic and grotesque twist on a haunted house story, with an unsettling horrific vision that supersedes some film-making fumbles.
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Roger Ebert hated Hellraiser when it came out, giving it half a star. He starts with the money quote Stephen King gave the director/writer on his literary debut: "I have seen the future of horror, and it is Clive Barker." Ebert quips: "Maybe Stephen King was thinking of a different Clive Barker." Cute, but it ignores the strengths that Barker was bringing to the horror game, which in the mid-'80s literary world was becoming big business. First, Clive wrote with style. There are decent stylists in the horror world at the time (Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell) but there was a

In The Aftermath Blu-ray Review: An Odd Mishmash of Live Action and Animation

An art-house Japanese animated film gets a terrible American treatment.
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In The Path to Aftermath, an extra included in Arrow Video’s new release of In The Aftermath, producer Tom Dugan explains that in the mid-1980s it was easy to sell low budget, straight-to-video movies because video stores had lots of shelf space and not enough VHS tapes. He goes on to say that he spent part of his career filming show trailers and creating eye-catching cover art for films that didn’t even exist. He’d sell the movies based upon those things then get someone else to make the movie on the lowest possible budget. He’d also keep an eye out

Alice, Sweet Alice Blu-ray Review: Has Surprisingly Aged Very Well

Alfred Sole's underrated shocker gets a new, superb upgrade courtesy of Arrow.
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When it comes to horror cinema, I think 1970s horror stands at the top for me. Everyone, even those who don't particularly care for the genre, has to have at least five or six favorites from that decade. There was something for everyone, meaning that every film, even the not-so-good ones had at least some type of theme to them. The '70s was a decade of hopelessness and uncertainty, and its horror flicks reflected that. Even more so, there were a lot of often overlooked gems that flew under the radar, including Black Christmas (1974), The Crazies (1973), Martin (1977).

Klute is the Pick of the Week

A gritty '70s masterwork leads a week of interesting releases.
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The 1970s was a hugely groundbreaking decade for film. During this decade, Cinema reflected on the aftermath of Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, women's rights, and the uncertainty of more political unrest. Director Alan J. Pakula reflected this with his unofficial 'paranoid trilogy', which included 1974's The Parallax View and 1976's All The President's Men. However, his 1971 neo-noir thriller, Klute, started it all. It's a film about menace, uncertainty, but also a woman's place in the world. That woman is Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), a self-liberated call girl who's given one trick too many, and finds herself on the wrong

Double Face Blu-ray Review: Could Have Used a Face Lift

A subdued Klaus Kinski stars in this krimi/giallo mashup that is never thrilling but often quite dull.
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I am officially on the record (more than once as anyone who has actually followed my writing in these pages can tell you) as being an enormous fan of what are sometimes called "boutique Blu-ray labels." Companies like Arrow Video, Severin, and Kino Lorber are putting out really nice sets of odd, obscure, low-budget, and forgotten films. As someone who spent great swaths of his teenaged years staying up all night with USA’s Up All Night, and renting ridiculously bad movies from my local VHS shop, I appreciate that so many of these types of films are getting new lives

She-Devils on Wheels Blu-ray Review: I Just Don't Get It

She-Devils on Wheels has nothing going for it.
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So, when She-Devils on Wheels came across my desk for a potential review, I will admit that the title had me somewhat intrigued. I had never heard of Herschel Gordon Lewis and was not familiar with his other work, but I enjoy a good B-movie now and then, and the promo material certainly did its job: “Have you ever heard the saying it's a man's world? Well don't dare repeat that to The Man-Eaters, a raucous, rowdy, and randy gang of female bikers who ride their men just as viciously as they do their motorcycles. When they’re not racing each

Yakuza Law Blu-ray Review: Gory Fun Yakuza Anthology

Three fun but gory short stories of the Yakuza taking the law into their own hands, filled with bloody torture.
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Yakuza Law is not even in the top-five craziest movies made by Teruo Ishii, and in it, a man rips out his own eyeball and throws it as his former boss, a thief is tortured by being dragged on the road by a helicopter, and a Yakuza is punished by his friends for stealing is tied to a tree, urinated on, and practically eaten alive by mosquitos. These are just a small sampling of the various horrible goings on in this anthology of short Yakuza stories, each about how the crime syndicates employ their own seedy form of justice. Teruo
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