Results tagged “Arrow Video”

Torso (1973) Blu-ray Review: Sleazy Suspenseful Giallo Goodness

Director Sergio Martino crafts a precursor to modern slasher movies that combines sexploitation with stabbings. And gougings.
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One of the things that make giallo movies arresting is setting. Giallo movies are Italian, and, unsurprisingly enough, tend to be shot in Italy. And it turns out Italy has a lot of picturesque, attractive, and downright beautiful settings for murder and mayhem to take place. Torso, shot in Perugia in 1973, has breath-taking hillside vistas and incredible, ancient-looking city-scapes and plazas which are a decided contrast to the rather transparent exploitative boobs and blood strategy of the film. If nothing else, there's always something worth looking at on screen, whether it be architecture or arched-back Italian beauties in the

Distant Voices, Still Lives Blu-ray Review: Accurately Captures the Battle of the Sexes

A minimalist, but masterful portrait of harrowing family dynamics.
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Stories about troubled families doesn't hit cinema too often, but when they're done well, such as in Rachel Getting Married, Ordinary People, Hannah and Her Sisters, and A Family Thing, they can hit hard. Such a case is director Terrence Davies' 1988 breaktrough masterpiece, Distant Voices, Still Lives, which brilliantly tells an all-too-real harrowing story, but with music, humor, and unsentimental truth. Loosely based on Davies's own upbringing, the film is told in two parts of the lives of a family in 1940s/'50s Liverpool, where siblings Tony (Dean Williams) and Maisie (Lorriane Ashbourne), along with their mother (Freida Dowie), gather

Schlock Blu-ray Review: Could Have Also Been Called Shoddy, Shabby, or Sucky

A movie so bad we reviewed it three times.
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Made in 1971 on a minuscule budget, John Landis’ first film as a director, Schlock, is broad comedic satire of sorts about a prehistoric ape wreaking havoc in a Los Angeles suburb. It is a bad movie. I cannot recommend a single thing about it. Everything, from the writing, directing, and acting to the music and even the comedy, is bad, poorly executed, and difficult to watch. Its only distinction is that it was directed by Landis who later went on to make such comedy classics as Animal House, The Blues Brothers, and Amazon Women on the Moon and features

The Baby Blu-ray Review: Could Have Been a Cult Classic

Ted Post's odd ball 70s horror film has all the trappings of a camp classic but the execution left me bored out of my skull.
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The 1970s must have been an amazing time to make movies. The studio system was breaking down, allowing more independent cinema to get made. The censorship inherent within the Hays Code was destroyed, allowing for more freedom of expression. Money was pouring in from all corners. Grindhouse cinemas were willing to play any kind of movie at all hours of the day and night with willing patrons flowing through their doors. This allowed all sorts of imaginative, wonderful, and terrible films to be made and find an audience. Made in 1973, The Baby is a film so bizarre it defies

The Pyjama Girl Case Blu-ray Review: Fact Is More Interesting Than Fiction

Put your PJs on, this giallo will put you to sleep.
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In 1934, the corpse of a woman clad in exotic silk pajamas was found lying in a culvert in New South Wales, Australia. She had been beaten, shot, and partially burned, leaving her identity a mystery. Police were perplexed. The media made it a sensation and the crime enthralled the country. Especially after the body became a public spectacle when she was laid in a formaldehyde bath for display in Sydney. In 1977, Flavio Mogherini turned the story into a movie. It is an odd, often-salacious, rather-dull police procedural that for some reason gets lumped into the giallo genre (Arrow

Horrors of Malformed Men Blu-ray Review: Complete Malformed Japanese Madness

Teruo Ishii's strangest film of murder, doppelgangers, and the titular malformed men finally makes it to Blu-ray.
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Escaped asylum inmates, mistaken identity, resurrection from the grave, bizarre biological experiments, murder, incest, and a plot for world domination via freaks - the barest bones of a plot outline makes Horrors of Malformed Men, directed by Teruo Ishii, sound itself malformed - overstuffed with ingredients that can’t cohere. Surprisingly, the film maintains an integrity to its own oddity and perversity, never pausing for a moment to let a hint of self-awareness turn the proceedings into farce. We meet our protagonist, Hirosuke Hitomi, in a woman’s cell of an insane asylum, where half-naked women dance around him and try to

Tideland (2005) Blu-ray Review: Childhood, Love, and Necrophilia

Terry Gilliam's controversial tale of an innocent in a grotesque world is four parts beautiful, six parts repulsive.
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In a recorded introduction to Tideland, director Terry Gilliam states flat out, "Many of you are not going to like this film." And "Don't forget to laugh." I didn't find a whole lot to laugh about in Tideland, which earned Gilliam the worst reviews of his career and scared up very little in the way of box-office returns. Gilliam has never been a commercial filmmaker, though. A challenging vision coming from him isn't a surprise. And Tideland is not some routine carnival of shock and gore. It is more thoughtful in its repulsive elements, and more likely to get under

What Have They Done to Your Daughters? Blu-ray Review: I Hope They're Not with Solange

The second part of Massimo Dallamano's "schoolgirl's in peril" trilogy gets an excellent release from Arrow Video.
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Two years after he directed the excellent giallo What Have You Done to Solange?, Massimo Dallamano helmed this giallo/poliziotteschi hybrid. It has some interesting moments but definitely feels like a step down in quality. It contains many of characteristics of a giallo - gruesome murders by a black clad; knife-wielding (or in this case, butcher’s-cleaver-wielding) killer; odd, off-kilter camera angles; a unique score; and a bold use of color - but in many ways the plot is closer to a poliziotteschi. It spends most of its run time following the police, detailing their procedures as they try to solve the

Street Mobster Blu-ray Review: Gritty, Nasty Yakuza Drama

Kinji Fukasaku's brings docu-drama realism and brutal ugliness to the Yakuza genre in this gritty film.
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Street Mobster is a rough, often ugly story about Okita, a common street thug who tries to eke out a living as a low-level yakuza, but whose temper and inability to kowtow to his bosses lead him to disaster. He's not a gallant rogue or a tragic figure. His father was killed in the war; his mother was a whore who walked drunk into a river and was fished out dead the next day. He turned to crime as soon as he was capable, and one of his jobs was grabbing country girls who'd just moved to the city and

Arrow Video Presents Director Vincent Ward's First Two Features

'Vigil' shows much of the talent and promise that would be delivered in 'The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey.'
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There's a funny thing about favorite movies. You can easily find people to share a love for anything Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. You can go a little further and find friends who enjoy 2001, On The Waterfront, or The Philadelphia Story. Then there's another level where you might mention a movie you love that not everyone has heard of but mostly they are aware of like Eraserhead, Freaks, or 8 1/2. Those are part of the popular-culture vernacular and you don't get weird looks when bringing them up in discussion. Then there's that final

The Case of the Scorpion's Tail Blu-ray Review: Stereotypical Giallo

Sergio Martino's horror film ticks off all the giallo boxes but never rises above them.
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When Lisa Baumer’s (Ida Galli) husband dies in a plane explosion (via a very obvious model getting blown to bits in a special effect that will make Classic Doctor Who fans proud), she must rush to Athens in order to collect on the $1,000,000 insurance money. That she was dallying with a man who was decidedly not her husband when the plane exploded and that despite the insurance’s protests she takes her money in cash creates an all-too-familiar suspicion amongst fans of Italian horror. The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail follows the stereotypical hallmarks of the Italian giallo to near

Doom Asylum Blu-ray Review: Terribly Charming

Arrow Video has done their usual magnificent job releasing this ridiculously bad, yet somehow entertaining horror film.
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When a hotshot palimony attorney (Michael Rogen) wins a big case, he takes his girlfriend (Patty Mullen) for a ride in his convertible. He pays a little too much attention to the girl and too little on the road and winds up wrapping the car around a tree, killing the girl, and maiming himself. In the next scene, he finds himself on the autopsy table of a nearby asylum where a medical examiner (Harvey Keith) and his assistant (Steve Menkin) prepare to cut him open (why he’s taken to the asylum and not a morgue is never explained). Ah! But

Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! Blu-ray Review: Undercover Yakuza Hijinks

Released in 1963, director Seijun Suzuki was on the brink of his artistic breakthrough with this comic gangland picture.
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Seijun Suzuki, one of the stable of directors at Nikkatsu in the '50s and '60s, Japan's oldest film studio, was fired in 1967 after his imaginative and visually inventive Branded to Kill completely confused the studio head. It was the culmination of an increasingly prickly relationship between Suzuki and the studio, as he worked very hard to put a personal touch and visual flair on what were standard studio genre scripts. He would happily undermine the generic beats and tone of the violent gangster movies he was tasked with making, if it would allow him to get something interesting on

The Last House on the Left Blu-ray Review: A Video Nasty Gets Its Day

Wes Craven's first film gets an excellent new set from Arrow Video.
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A few weeks ago I called a dirt-bike drama from Paul Verhoeven a vile piece of work. It was sexist, homophobic, and all around brutish in his depiction of teenagers in Holland. Yet here I am about to give a much more positive review to Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left, a film that depicts brutal violence, torture, rape, and murder. The natural question is why do I find one film’s depiction of deplorable things vile and the other’s depiction of the same and worse somewhat entertaining? The answer lies both in genre and directorial intent. Spetters is

The Addiction Blu-ray Review: A Very Disturbing but Highly Intelligent Tale of Urban Vampirism

I definitely have to recommend this shocking and masterful film.
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As a filmmaker, Abel Ferrara has always stepped outside of the mold to deliver highly provocative works of humanity going completely awry. Whether it's insanity (The Driller Killer), female revenge (Ms. 45), hip-hop culture (King of New York), or police corruption (Bad Lieutenant), you can always count on him to piss off critics and audiences everywhere. He is a director of amazing extremity and unapologetic cruelty, and his very underrated 1995 cerebral horror classic, The Addiction, represents both at its most low-key and uncomfortable stride. Shot in crisp black and white, the film stars the always amazing Lili Taylor as

The Bloodthirsty Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Dracula Goes East

Three Japanese movies directed by Michio Yamamoto that involve Western-style vampires, with style, atmosphere, and some decent sprays of blood.
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As one of the great national cinemas, the Japanese movie industry has invented whole cloth many genres and excelled in many non-native filmic conventions… except arguably the Western-style horror movie. Until the late '90s, when The Ring brought out a rather short-lived craze of ghost stories (usually with a long black-haired ghost, which is cribbed from Japanese folk-lore), Japanese example of horror were rather sparse, and rather different than Western films. In the West some of the acknowledged greatest movies of the silent era are horror films. There are several distinct studio and national traditions: Universal horror creatures, the '50s

Death Smiles on a Murderer Blu-ray Review: I'm Not Smiling

Joe D'Amato's first horror film is a strange mixture of weird, gore, and boredom.
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In 1973, Joe D’Amato, the Italian auteur behind such masterpieces as Anthropophagus, Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals, and Anal Strippers X-posed, directed his first horror movie, Death Smiles on a Murderer. He thought it was so good he put his real name, Aristide Massaccesi, in the credits. He should have kept the pseudonym and directed Anal Strippers 2 instead. In a movie that stars Klaus Kinski as a mad doctor, who uses ancient Incan magic to re-animate the dead, and includes scenes in which a shotgun blows the skin off a person’s face, a cat that scratches the eyes out

Seijun Suzuki: Early Years Vol.2 Border Crossings: The Crime and Action Movies Blu-ray Review: Nikkatsu Noir

Five early films by Seijun Suzuki spotlight Nikkatsu's early 60s trends and the director's growing ambition.
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Seijun Suzuki is one of the more famous Japanese directors of the '60s, when younger filmmakers were taking the rein from the older masters like Ozu and Mizoguchi and Japanese domestic cinema was seeing both its high point as a commercial medium, and heading toward a crash in the late '60s when television would finally saturate Japanese markets. Suzuki worked at Nikkatsu, strangely the oldest and newest Japanese film studio at the time (it was the first film studio in Japan but had been disbanded by the Imperial government in 1941 and reformed 10 years later) whose bread and butter

The Crazies (1973) Blu-ray Review: The Best Kind of Crazy

The best version yet of an influential classic.
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In 1968, George A. Romero made a name for himself and essentially created the zombie genre with Night of the Living Dead. The dead rose from the grave to attack the living, an event whose origin is, at best, speculated upon by the time the credits roll. Five years later in 1973, Romero gave us The Crazies, in which we knew almost immediately what the cause of the madness was, but were less sure how to avoid, diagnose, treat, or save anyone from it. The film opens with two children, a brother trying to scare his sister by unscrewing light

Basket Case (1982) Blu-ray Review: Enthusiastically Silly and Sleazy

Frank Henenlotter's feature debut comes on a ridiculously stuffed Blu-ray, a must for any fan.
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My conscience tells me I have to recommend this release, because it is a superb home video version of Basket Case, with an absolutely comprehensive set of bonus features, impeccable video and soundtrack (mono and thankfully not upconverted into fake surround) and something that should thrill any fan of the movie or series. But the entire aesthetic of Basket Case rebels against the archival perfection of a Blu-ray release. This is the sort of movie that should be seen in a seedy little theater where you'd never use your credit card. It has '70s (or, more accurately, early '80s) New
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