Results tagged “Arrow Video”

Black Society Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Madman Miike's (Relatively) Somber Saga

In these three films about criminal outsiders, Takashi Miike tones down his frenetic style demonstrating a commitment to craft.
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Takashi Miike is the Japanese director who will, seemingly, film anything. And anything does not just mean he'll put the ugliest or craziest images on screen, but he will try literally anything. Hyperbolic nastiness, vicious violence, creepy sex including necrophilia? Yes. A madwoman chopping off a man's foot with piano-wire to teach him a lesson? Sure. A children's fantasy film with talking umbrellas? Why not? Or, in the so-called Black Society Trilogy, three (relatively) restrained movies about the difficulty of being an outsider, even in the outsider society of organized crime, where the need for family both sustains and destroys

The Driller Killer Blu-ray Review: All Driller, No Thriller

The Driller Killer plays like a Taxi Driver knock-off whose arthouse ambitions are overcome by its need to fill grindhouse seats.
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The Driller Killer is known mostly for being Abel Ferrara’s directorial debut (if one discounts 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy, the hard-core porno he helmed three years prior) and for being one of first films put on England’s notorious Video Nasties list. I first came across it in a bootleg DVD shop in Shanghai. It was one of the few places I’d found in that city that carried art-house, classics, and other oddball films. The title alone had me curious and that scandalous cover featuring a blood-soaked face being punctured by an electric drill made me want to watch

Hellraiser: The Limited Edition Scarlet Box Trilogy Blu-ray Review: A Puzzle Box Worth Solving

This box has such sights to show you.
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Bringing back 1980s horror is all the rage lately. It's hard to swing a dead cat without hitting reboots of Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th, throwbacks like Hatchet, or parodies like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and Cabin in the Woods. It's about time Clive Barker's longest-running and most recognizable franchise enjoyed some of the limelight again. However, where the Nightmare and Friday box sets include every film in their respective franchises, no matter how critically revered or panned they were, The Scarlet Box includes only the first three Hellraiser flicks, which are generally considered the

Creepshow 2 Blu-ray Review: Stick to the Original

I'd been better off not remembering this thing exists.
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In 1982, director George Romero teamed with writer Stephen King to make Creepshow, a comedy/horror anthology film designed to wax nostalgic about the old DC and EC horror comics of their youth. It was a surprise hit and remains a classic among horror hounds to this day. Five years later, they made a sequel. Romero took over writing duties (though it was still based on King stories) and Michael Gornick directed. Arrow Video has released a newly restored Blu-ray of the sequel filled with more extras than it deserves. I have very vague memories of seeing the first one on

The Driller Killer Blu-ray Review: If Looking for a Routine Slasher Film, Look Elsewhere

A misunderstood cult masterpiece of late '70s New York urban squalor.
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New York is argubly the most cinematic city of all-time. It has been filmed by the likes of Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, and Sidney Lumet, among others. On the surface, there is so much life, elegance, and sophistication that comes out of every pore of this most famous of cities. However, there is always a very dark side to every beauty; the dark side that usually goes unnoticed, especially in film. With its authentic ugliness, raw documentary-like atmosphere, and punk-rock insanity, director Abel Ferrara's 1979 notorious masterwork, The Driller Killer, is probably the ultimate depiction of New York's grim underbelly.

C.H.U.D. (1984) Blu-ray Review: The A-List B-Grade Latchkey Monster Flick

Arrow Video's two-disc Limited Edition release of this '80s horror flick is worth crawling through a mutant-infested sewer for.
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Like many of the "classic" horror flicks I tend to review, C.H.U.D. first crawled its way out of the manhole and into my life via videocassette. Even then, during that awkward span of existence known as my teenaged years, I couldn't help but shake the feeling there was something equally thorny about the film ‒ and it had absolutely nothing to do with the titular flesh-eating creatures within the picture itself. Rather, the peculiar odor C.H.U.D. emitted was of an entirely different variety of cumbersome: it was almost as if it was simultaneously trying to be something it ultimately wasn't

C.H.U.D. Blu-ray Review: Cheesy Happenings, Underwhelming Direction

C.H.U.D. strands a fun premise and surprisingly great cast in a meandering story with few thrills.
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What’s weird about C.H.U.D. is how much it’s like a real movie. An '80s horror flick, it has the feel of one of those '70s movies shockers that doled out the horror pretty sparingly, but spent a lot of time building characters and solidifying its premise. Partly this is because of the New York location shooting. Partly it is because the actors, particularly David Stern and Christopher Curry, rewrote large swatches of the script to turn their cut-outs into real characters. The title is an acronym meaning Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. And it’s not a surprise these C.H.U.D.s are working

The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast Blu-ray Review: Extensive, Exhausting Exploitation Experience

With 14 movies and hour of extras, this set is all a fan could want (and more than most need.)
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Enormous multi-movie box sets (especially expensive ones) have two real audiences: already devoted fans, and movie buffs who want to get into a director, so they take the plunge all at once. There is, to my mind, no one who will casually purchase a 17-disc, 14-movie set with copious (almost endless) extras, particularly one that retails for a couple hundred bucks. The question, then, for Arrow Video’s extensive (if not entirely exhaustive) Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast is, what is in it, and will it satisfy both the dedicated and the curious? Being curious myself, and not a follower of the

Vamp (1986) Blu-ray Review: From Dusk Till... Hey, Wait a Minute!

Though the extras for this Arrow Video release are a bit on the anemic side, I can still sink my teeth in this fun '80s vampire cult classic.
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While the cinematic equilibrium of horror and comedy had been teeter-totting off and on for many years prior, it really wasn't until the 1980s rolled around that people started to get the balance right (that may or may not have been a Depeche Mode reference, for those of you playing at home). Indeed, the monstrous success of Ghostbusters in 1984 (you know, the good one) all but blew the doors off of the previously sealed gateway to the otherworldly. Within the boundaries of films we weren't supposed to take very seriously, that is. In a way, this permitted the horror

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Blu-ray Review: Gritty, Dirty, Bloody Fun

Wes Craven's second film is decidedly low budget and grim, but it shows the early promise of a true master of horror.
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Born in 1939, Wes Craven was raised in a strict Baptist family, attended very conservative religious schools, and received a masters degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins University. He got his start in filmmaking by directing numerous pornographic films before making his break-out horror classic The Last House on the Left. In the 1980s, he created one of the greatest icons in horror history with Freddy Krueger then subverted the very slasher genre he helped popularize with the Scream franchise, which turned slasher films into a satirical exercise of meta-filmmaking. Both of those film series inject humor into

The Initiation (1984) Blu-ray Review: Old School's Out Forever

Arrow Video brings us a new HD transfer of the sorority slasher many of us kids ditched out on the first time around.
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If there was one lesson to be learned from the entire run of the slasher film subgenre, it is that no school-themed event, national holiday, or generalized superstition was safe from the prying eyes of bloodthirsty, homicidal maniacs. Indeed, after the first session of class began with John Carpenter's Halloween in 1978, no one ever thought to offer up "Nothing Lasts Forever" as part of the curriculum for the uninitiated. Instead, one applicant after another ‒ originating from actual graduates of filmmaking schools to drop-outs from other ends of the camera ‒ signed up for a refresher course, culminating in

The Initiation Blu-ray Review: Better Than Most of Its Slasher Ilk

One of the last great slasher flicks of the early 80's gets a stellar upgrade courtesy of Arrow.
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During the early 1980s, the slasher genre was at an all-time peak, not critically but commerically. The more movies that were released, the more money was made. Although the quality of most of these movies declined after a certain point, there were some great ones to come out of that profitable boom. Director Larry Stewart's 1984 effort The Initiation is one of those great ones, a better and more stronger contribution to the most understood genre in movie history. It was also notable for being the debut of future film and TV star Daphne Zuniga in a leading role. So

Vamp Blu-ray Review: Fun, but Forgettable

Stylish '80s vampire flick has little bite, but doesn't suck too much.
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Legends of vampires are as old as recorded history. There are stories of vampire-like creatures from every corner of the Earth. The modern vampire has its origins in Southern Europe dating from around the early 18th century. Bram Stoker got his idea for Dracula from those parts and it is from him that most of our preconceived notions about vampires come. F.W. Murnau illegally stole Stoker’s story for his landmark 1922 film Nosferatu (Stoker sued for copyright infringement, and won, causing nearly all the prints of Nosferatu to be destroyed. It is only by the grace of the cinematic gods

Slugs Blu-ray Review: Delightfully Terrible

Mutated mollusks wreak havoc in a small town, and awesomeness on our small screens.
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I can’t believe this is about to happen. You are about to read, from me, a positive review for a movie about a bunch of murderous, mutant mollusks. Slugs is a delight. It's well made, funny, gross, and an immensely entertaining movie. I mean it's still a really bad movie, but in the most satisfying of ways. Made in 1988, Slugs follows in the footsteps of all those mutant animal/nature vs. animal flicks that gained popularity in the '70s (which tells you something about the development of this film being made nearly a decade after the genre basically died out).

The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast Blu-ray/DVD Box Set Review: Class-Ick

Arrow Video releases the definitive box set (well two, actually) paying all respect due to one of filmdom's most unique innovators.
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There will never be another Herschell Gordon Lewis in this world, ladies and gentlemen. And though some snobbier film aficionados may consider that a blessing, considering the course the motion picture industry has taken since the late independent exploitation filmmaker first succeeded in turning head whilst churning stomachs and all, there is no denying the legacy H.G. Lewis left behind. While his self-planted roots in the world cinema started with a variety of silly "nudie cuties" (which popped up in various "art houses" across the nation), Lewis didn't strike gold until he struck nerves. And arteries. And major organs. And

Dark Water Blu-ray Review: A More Intimate Ring of Terror

Original Ringu director's best follow-up to his international hit, Dark Water is overwhelmingly atmospheric and surprisingly poignant.
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While it's not entirely accurate to say that Ringu was the first J-horror movie (the momentum for that had been building in the direct to video and TV movie markets) it was certainly the first breakout hit in the genre that marries the traditional image of the long black-haired female, a staple of Japanese ghost stories, with modern anxieties. Ironic now that it was done with the thoroughly dated black VHS, this marriage of the modern world with the classical imagery formed the thematic backbone of this new phase in modern horror cinema. When Ringu was re-made in America as

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Blu-ray Review: Wes Craven's Masterpiece

The late Wes Craven's gritty 1977 all-time cult classic gets a stellar upgrade courtesy of Arrow.
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When legendary horror master Wes Craven passed away last year, it really shocked the world. Here was a man whose storytelling gifts knew no bounds. He didn't make your typical horror movies; every film he made had something truly relevant to say about the flaws and the dark, nasty side of society. Whether it was his very controversial and rather crude Last House on the Left (1972); his ultimate horror classic of the 1980s, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), that changed the face of horror for that decade; or his groundbreaking 1996 spoof Scream, which also redefined horror for

The Hills Have Eyes (Arrow Video Edition) is the Pick of the Week

This week brings us nuclear mutants, Mel Gibson, Tarzan, the music of Jerry Garcia, lady ghostbusters, and much more.
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This weekend I gave away the vast majority of my CD collection. I am a collector of things, especially entertainment media things, so this was a very difficult thing to do. I love physical objects. Books line my walls, my DVD shelves are overflowing, and CDs stack up everywhere. At least they used to. Truth is, most of my CDs have been sitting in boxes for several years because I’ve not had room in my homes to put them anywhere. Truth is, I really haven’t minded. I’ve long since had all my music ripped to my hard drive and I

Slugs: The Movie (1988) Blu-ray Review: A Marvelously Muddled Mess

One of horror filmdom's most enjoyable atrocities rises up from the sewers once more in a stellar new HD transfer from Arrow Video.
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As a feller who spent entirely too much of his teenaged years in the horror sections of local video stores, there were two things I learned to keep a watchful eye out for when it came to satisfying my never-ending urge to keep myself amused. One item the look out for was any horror movie which proudly sported the subtitle "The Movie" ‒ something anyone who had the misfortune of seeing Mexican trash cinema maestro René Cardona Jr's Beaks: The Movie undoubtedly also made a mental note of. The other thing wasn't one I mastered immediately, however, for there was

Vamp Blu-ray Review: Belongs in the Pantheon of Great Comic Horror

A surprisingly clever '80s movie with lots of "bite."
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Usually, horror comedies are a one-in-a-million, meaning that some work (the Evil Dead trilogy, Slither), and others don't (976-Evil, Vampires Suck), but fortunately for Richard Wenk's 1986 underrated romp Vamp, the horror and comedy actually mix very well, while adding a little satire that helps elevate the film to cult-like status. With esteemed actors like Chris Makepeace, Robert Rustler, and Dedee Pfeiffer, and amazing make-up/special effects by four-time Oscar-winner Greg Cannon, this film can surely add itself to the pantheon of great comic horror. Makepeace and Rustler play Keith and AJ, two Los Angeles college roommates and best friends who
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