Results tagged “Arrow Video”

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

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
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