Results tagged “Arrow Video”

Dream Demon Blu-ray Review: Newly-Unearthed '80s Horror Fantasy

Rarely scary, but visually gripping, an unsuccessful attempt to copy Nightmare on Elm Street scores as a fantasy film.
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An obscure British release from 1988 that never made it to the states theatrically, Dream Demon's major problem is that it is not a good horror movie. It has horror elements, some fun gore bits, and a very spooky atmosphere but Dream Demon isn't very scary. It doesn't have a relentless sense of dread that great horror evokes. It's at best a pretty mediocre horror movie. It is a really good fantasy movie, however, and should be looked at in that light. Jemma Redgrave in her film debut plays Diana, simultaneously a small town teacher and a daughter of great

Blood Tide Blu-ray Review: Fun and Monsters in the Greek Sun

James Earl Jones quotes Shakespeare and conjures a barely seen monster in this masterpiece from Greek auteur Nico Mastorakis.
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Can I consider myself a fan of a filmmaker after hating one of his films, liking another one, and kind-of enjoying a third which he only produced? What if I watched a bunch of trailers for movies he made and that I haven't seen but got rather excited just thinking about them? If so, then consider me a fan of Nico Mastorakis, the Greek filmmaker who directed and/or produced a handful of goofy, low budget flicks in the 1980s. I wasn't at all fond of The Zero Boys, his action/horror hybrid that didn't exactly thrill (though I was impressed with

Inferno of Torture Blu-ray Review: Torsos, Tattoos, and Torture

Another in Teruo Ishii's series of films depicting sadistic practices in Japanese history, all of which involve disrobing women.
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Inferno of Torture is the third of Teruo Ishii's ero-guro (erotic grotesque) films that have recently been released by Arrow Video. Orgies of Edo and Yakuza Law were anthology films, each with three stories ostensibly about the brutal systems of torture used by, respectively, the ruling class and the criminal class. Made in the late '60s and early '70s, these films are framed as historical docu-dramas, but are in fact exploitation films with historical themes. Whatever the intent, the films themselves consist mainly as ways to display sado-masochistic soft-core pornography, punctuated with sequences of gruesome horror. More specifically, topless women

White Fire, The Wind, and Why Don't You Just Die! Blu-ray Reviews: Three From Arrow Video

Three very different films get the excellent Arrow Video treatment.
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As the world continues to move towards consuming media through an increasing number of streaming platforms, there is a niche market for physical media. In the same way that vinyl records sales have increased dramatically over the last several years, there are certain types of people who prefer physical media over digital streams. I am one of them. As a collector, I like to have a physical object that I can put on my shelf and look at. This is so much more satisfying than making a list of digital files on a computer screen. While there certainly is

The Woman Blu-ray Review: Dares to Depict the Dark Side of the American Family

The great folks at Arrow continue their amazing streak with Lucky McKee's notorious 2011 shocker in a new 4K restoration.
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On one side, I see why most people don't hold kindly to "torture porn", the infamous phase of the horror genre that started in the early 2000s, which combines elements of splatter and slasher film. There have been many movies that have illustrated this often maligned category of cinema, including Hostel, Saw, A Serbian Film, and The Human Centipede series that detailed rape, mutilation, nudity, disenbowlment, and even necrophila, quite graphically. However, the other side of me thinks that there is some serious overreaction to it all, especially films that have been given the stamp of disapproval make a lot

Sixteen Candles Blu-ray Review: A Problematic but Worthwhile Film

Arrow Video does a great job of presenting this controversial '80s classic.
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As someone who grew up in the 1980s, the films of John Hughes, especially the teen comedies he wrote during that decade, fill me with joy. It isn't just the rose tint of nostalgia either (though certainly, that plays a part). Those films spoke to me. They've become part of my cinematic DNA. It is hard to remember now, but the early 1980s were devoid of really good media and art directed at teenagers. The YA book genre wasn't what it is today. On television, there were Afternoon Specials which were meant to both entertain and instruct but were really

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark Blu-ray Review: A Delightfully Silly Flick

The good folks at Arrow bring back to life a delightfully campy and fun tribute to horror films.
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With Elvira's Movie Macabre (which ran from 1981 to 1986), its icon and pop culture mainstay Elvira (a.k.a Cassandra Peterson) immediately became a success with late movie buffs, particularly with horror fanatics. It's not difficult to see why; her satire, double-entendres, and wittisicm, not to mention her infamous tight-fitting, low-cut black gown that showed her ample cleavage (which has obviously become a source of many dirty jokes), struck a chord that still manages to cut through with a good set of sharp heels. And with her film debut, the 1988 cult classic, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, she reached her

Beyond the Door Blu-ray Review: Rosemary's Baby Meets the Exorcist

Arrow Video has outdone themselves with this Italian Exorcist knock-off.
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It is a universal truth that whenever anything is successful someone else will come along and copy that thing. Usually, that thing will be cheaper and less interesting than the original, but will still find some success riding on coattails. When I was a kid, I could rarely afford to get Transformers but I had a reasonable collection of Gobots, their much cheaper and more pathetic knock-offs. We see this in all facets of life, and certainly, the movies are no strangers to the phenomenon. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Italians were quite good at this. Anytime an American

The Passion of Darkly Noon Blu-ray Review: The Story Goes Nowhere

A good cast and beautiful visual style can't save a bad script.
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A man, dressed in a suit and tie but bruised and battered, comes running through the woods. He stumbles and falls, landing unconscious in the middle of a country road. He’s picked up by a delivery driver who takes him to a secluded old house where a young woman swears she’ll take care of him. The man is Darkly Noon (Brendan Fraser) and he’s just narrowly escaped being killed by local townspeople who were no longer willing to abide with the cult Darkly has been a part of. He’s a peculiar young man who obviously has had little interaction with

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
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