Results tagged “Arrow Video”

Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) Blu-ray Review: Bava's First Horror Bash

Fun, fast paced, and unexpectedly grisly for a late '50s movie, cult favorite Caltiki gets a lavish Blu-ray treatment.
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Every era gets the horror monsters it deserves, I think. In the '30s and '40s old literary monsters were brought to cinema in the form of the Universal classics: Dracula, Frankenstein, and movies beyond, with one foot in the present and one in the past. The time periods of the movies were always vague - main characters dressed relatively contemporaneously, but somehow lived in ambiguously ethnic European villages. The lord of the manor may wear a modern suit, but the peasants next door had lederhosen, torches, and pitchforks always at the ready. Modern horror revolves around zombies or haunted houses

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage Blu-ray Review: Brought Italian Horror to the World

This Arrow Video set is the Blu-ray with excellent packaging.
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While walking down the street late one night, Sam (Tony Musante), an American freelance writer living in Rome, spies a man and a woman struggling inside a modern art gallery. The woman is stabbed and the man, dressed in a black trench coat, black hat, and black leather gloves slips out the back. Sam rushes in to help her but is trapped between two automated sliding doors and is thus forced to watch helplessly as the woman, bloody and dying, screams for help. A passerby calls the police and they are able to resuscitate the woman before she dies. Sam

House: Two Stories Blu-ray Review: '80s Horror Done Weird

The very '80s horror/fantasy movie series gets a lavish box-set Blu-ray release.
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House II is one of the few movies I can remember seeing ads for on TV when I was watching cartoons in the afternoon. The ad would come on again and again, and it looked like everything I could want in a movie - monsters, human sacrifice, John Ratzenberger. However, it was also a horror movie (kind of) so no one in my family would take me to see it in the theater. When I eventually got to see it on VHS it didn't become a favorite, but there was so much strange content in there, so many weird little

Evil Ed Blu-ray Review: Not Evil Dead, But Evil Ed

Still looking for that beaver-rape scene.
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Similar to the Hays Code in the United States but officially state-sponsored, Sweden created a censorship board in 1911. Designed to keep anything offensive from perverting the young minds of moviegoers, it banned movies as diverse as Battleship Potemkin, Nosferatu, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Mad Max from being played in Swedish theaters. With the rise of home video, an influx of illegal bootleg VHS tapes began finding its way to film fans across the country. By the 1990s, a growing number of filmmakers and movie lovers began protesting this censorship by demanding that the law be thrown out. Writer

Cops vs. Thugs (1975) Blu-ray Review: Kon'nichiwa, Dirty Harry-san!

Arrow Video busts Kinji Fukasaku's gritty, offbeat crime drama out of the Toei vaults.
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A full quarter of a century before he would stun filmgoers around the world with Battle Royale in 2000, the late Kinji Fukasaku was already blowing his own established cinematic perimeters out of alignment with violent and gritty crime dramas. Certainly, 1975's Kenkei tai soshiki bōryoku ‒ which shall be known henceforth by its international English moniker, Cops vs Thugs ‒ is no exception. It is, however, quite a bit different than the many similarly-themed yakuza flicks of the time, inasmuch as its main protagonist is a cop this time around; one who has learned an effective (though highly questionable)

Cops vs Thugs (1975) Blu-ray Review: Corrupt Cops Combat Corporatization

A vintage Yakuza story by Fukasaku in his prime about the corrupt links between cops and gangs.
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Of the spate of Japanese movies that infiltrated the American consciousness at the beginning of the 21st century, when the industry was in a sadly short-lived renaissance, most, like The Ring and The Grudge were by relatively young filmmakers. One, however, was the surprise swan song of a septuagenarian who had been making movies all his life: Battle Royale, directed by Kinji Fukasaku. That's the movie where naughty schoolkids are sent to an island to do televised battle to the death. It was also the last film that Fukasaku would make (he died in the middle of directing the sequel,

Wolf Guy Blu-ray Review: Too Much Guy, Not Enough Wolf

A bizarre genre mashup gives plenty of '70s exploitation awesomeness, but very little werewolf.
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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it on a continuous loop until it stops being true: we live in a golden age of home-video releases - a veritable utopia for film nerds and collectors. It seems like every other week a new company pops up willing to release high-class editions of seemingly every film in every genre imaginable. Here at Cinema Sentries, our hearts just gush at the amazing bounty made available every Tuesday. Let us turn our thoughts over to one of our very favorite production companies - Arrow Video. They consistently do top-shelf releases of some of

Brain Damage (1988) Blu-ray Review: Schlock That Loves Being Shlock

Cheerfully sleazy exploitation movie about a singing brain parasite is charmingly repellent.
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There's a certain genius to Brain Damage (1989). Thousands of horror movies are made which simply copy the last popular one, doing the bare minimum to get a (in the past) theatrical release or (more recently) a DVD distributor. These movies feel like somebody is filling out a checklist. "Creative" kills, check. Some nudity, okay. Jump scares, gore shots, blah blah blah. Brain Damage is no less puerile, in a sense, but it is knowingly puerile. It isn't copying somebody else's bad ideas, it has a sackful of its own (and some good ones, to boot.) Brain Damage tells the

The Climber (1975) Blu-ray Review: The Stuff Scarfaces Are Made Of

An all-growed-up Joe Dallesandro stars in this nifty (and violent) little Italian crime drama, recently rescued from obscurity by Arrow Video.
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Fresh from appearing in several collaborations for Paul Morrissey and the legendary Andy Warhol ‒ a union which culminated with two of the most notorious horror-comedies ever made, Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula ‒ model-turned-actor Joe Dallesandro found himself alone in Europe. Much to his surprise, his underground popularity as a Warhol factory superstar in the US was synonymous with that of "famous" abroad. And it wasn't long before he was being asked (or conned) into making a handful of motion pictures in the continent. One such film was Pasquale (I Am the Law) Squitieri's L'ambizioso, aka The

Dead or Alive Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Literally Explosive Cinematic Madness

Yakuza blow up the world, and that's just first film of this loose trilogy starring Show Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi.
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The opening six minutes of Dead or Alive, one of the first films of Takashi Miike to get international attention, are some of the most energetic, aggressive, and propulsive filmmaking of the '90s (or, hell, of any era.) Several characters are introduced and plots are put into motion, interwoven with quick cuts of various people engaged in various debaucheries: stealing drugs, sex in bathrooms, stripping, a man doing a six-foot line of cocaine off an enormous ramp, and a man shoveling in bowl after bowl of ramen (which then memorably gets blown out of his stomach in a shotgun blast).

Dead or Alive Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Typical Takashi Miike, Atypical Arrow Video Release

Miike's wild, wooly action trilogy gets a disappointing release from Arrow Video.
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Takashi Miike is an insanely prolific (and possibly just straight up insane) Japanese director. He has 102 directorial credits on IMDB since 1991. That’s nearly four film/TV credits per year. While he is mostly known for his extreme horror in the U.S. with secondary acclaim for his Yakuza films, he’s actually an incredibly diverse filmmaker having made comedies, dramas, science fiction, historical epics, and even a family film or two. His best films are both widely loved and criticized for their use of graphic violence and perverse, often extraordinarily sexual sense of humor. Just to demonstrate how many films Miike

House: Two Stories Blu-ray Review: Come on in for Some Goofy '80s Horror

A couple of not-so-classic comedy-horror films from the 80s get a magnificent release from Arrow Video.
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Picture me: a pubescent boy, somewhere in the late '80s, wandering about the local video store aisles. A burgeoning horror fan, I’m checking out the cover art for all the films in the genre section. My mother was much more strict than my father when it came to renting films, so if I’m with her, I’m liking gonna have to move over to the comedies soon, but if it's just me and dad, I can talk him into the scary stuff. One weekend, me and the old man grabbed House, a movie whose cover features a totally rad-looking severed hand

Django, Prepare a Coffin (Arrow) Blu-ray Review: A Slick Spaghetti Western

Terence Hill takes over the Django role in this unofficial prequel.
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Following the success of Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 spaghetti western, Django, dozens of films were released that bore the name but only served as a means to capitalize from it. A lot of them had nothing to do with the character, and neither Corbucci nor the film’s original star, Franco Nero, had any involvement in the making of them. It wasn’t until 1987 that fans got an official sequel with Django Strikes Again, in which Nero reprised the role and Corbucci had a credit for being the character’s creator, but didn’t have a hand in the screenplay and didn’t return to

Django, Prepare a Coffin (1968) Blu-ray Review: Can You Dig It?

Terence Hill digs a name for himself in the only legitimate unofficial prequel to the Sergio Corbucci cult classic.
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While Sergio Leone's legendary pairings with Clint Eastwood may have injected fresh blood into the waning genre of the cinematic western, Sergio Corbucci's quasi-remake Django (1966) with Franco Nero was the first film to really draw it. Considered to be one of the most violent motion pictures ever made at the time, Django's popularity resulted in a new era of filmmaking in Europe: the bastard sequel. Soon, unofficial followups ‒ few of which had anything to do with the character ‒ were popping up in cinemas courtesy seasoned professionals trying to make a quick buck to total newbs who were

Donnie Darko Movie Review: Still Well Worth Watching

An extraordinary release of an extraordinarily weird movie.
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In 2001, writer-director Richard Kelly created Donnie Darko, a film that is (among many other things) a nostalgic trip back to 1988. Now 15 years later, the film is itself viewed through its own sort of nostalgic lens. Released just over a month after 9/11, its specific brand of dark weirdness didn’t sit well with viewers at first. It bombed at the box office to put it mildly. It did well with critics and grew a cult following on VHS and DVD. It is now considered one of the better movies released that year. Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a

Cinema Paradiso (Arrow Academy) Blu-ray Review: A Timeless Classic

An extremely moving and lyrical tribute to the power of Cinema.
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As the most magical medium in the world, Cinema has the power to move us: to make us laugh, cry, and think about the world we live in. It also has the gift of defining and shaping our lives right in front of us, which is something that argubly no other medium can ever do. Director Giuseppe Tornatore's 1988 Oscar-winning masterpiece, Cinema Paradiso, affectingly shows us why movies are so majestic to our culture. The film tells the timeless story of Salvatore (Jacques Perrin), a successful filmmaker who returns home for the funeral of his dear friend Alfredo (Philippe Noiret),

Psychomania Blu-ray Review: Inexplicable Zombie Biker Cult Movie

Bikers come back from the dead, and it's pretty groovy in this early 70s cult obsession.
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Other people’s movie cults are just weird. My own cult obsessions are, of course, completely justifiable and unquestionable (Big Trouble in Little China and The Thing are two of the greatest things anyone has ever done, and I will fight over that) but the things that other people obsess over make no sense. Psychomania is one of these: an object of adoration for a group a British film fans that, for anyone outside the phenomenon, just seems puzzling. The premise is hokey enough to guarantee that, unless it was completely incompetent, some people would love it: a British biker gang

We Are the Flesh Blu-ray Review: Grotesquely Beautiful

Mexican horror film aims for something high, falls short into extreme violence and sex.
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In We Are The Flesh, first-time director Emiliano Rocha Minter gleefully crosses every boundary of good taste and morality he can think of - incest, necrophilia, cannibalism, extremely long close-ups of genitalia. It's a gore-filled, sexually explicit horror show with art-house pretensions that wants you to believe it's saying something meaningful about the state of things in Mexico. In it, two siblings, Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) and Fauna (María Evoli), find there way into an abandoned apartment complex. There they find Mariano (Noé Hernández), a crazed, possibly psychotic, but certainly disturbed man seeking out a solitary existence. He offers them food

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
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