Results tagged “Arrow Video”

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

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) Blu-ray Review: Krazy, Kampy Fun

Take a ride on the nightmare merry-go-round with Arrow Video’s excellent restoration of the Chiodo brothers’ cult classic.
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During the 1990s, my father and I had an annual tradition on or near Halloween. Whenever Killer Klowns from Outer Space came on the television, we would stop whatever we were doing and watch it. We didn’t have cable back then, and my parents still don’t to this day. Oddly enough, we also never owned the movie on VHS or DVD. But one of the local stations (CBS, I believe) would air it each year as Halloween drew closer. I think it was always being shown during the middle of the day on a weekend, when the network had no

Scalpel (1977) Blu-ray Review: Eyes with Added Face

Arrow Video releases an oft-ignored ‒ but nevertheless, awesome ‒ thriller guaranteed to get under your skin.
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If the Southern regional horror film movement of the '70s ever came anywhere close to making a giallo, there's a darn good chance 1977's Scalpel would be it. That said, the surgical roots of this delightfully twisted psychological thriller from John Grissmer ‒ the very same screenwriter/director who would later (ahem) "grace" us with the cult, late '80s slasher guilty pleasure Blood Rage ‒ go much deeper. Taking its cue from Georges Franju's face game-changing 1960 masterpiece Les yeux sans visage ‒ better known to English-speaking audiences (and certain Billy Idol fans) as Eyes Without a Face ‒ Scalpel's "Southern

Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno Blu-ray Review: Lost Masterpiece or Dodged Bullet?

Documentary details Clouzot's experimental Inferno, using recently discovered footage from the failed production, to mixed results.
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There's a little cottage industry of documentaries about movies that didn't get made. Every few years one of them pops up - Lost in La Mancha about Terry Gilliam's early, disastrous attempt to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote or Jodorowsky's Dune. Implicit in the premise is that the world of cinema is missing out on a masterpiece - that a world of perhaps game-changing potential is lost to us because of some unfortunate timing, a couple of bad days on a set, or a miscalculation that metastasizes into a disaster. Honestly, whenever I see or read these stories,

Pulp Blu-ray Review: A Discombobulating Crime Comedy

Michael Caine returns with his Get Carter filmmakers to make a movie that is completely different.
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In 1971, three guys named Mike (Hodges the director, Klinger the producer, and Caine the star) made Get Carter, what is now considered the seminal British gangster movie. In 1972, they teamed up together again for Pulp, something completely different. At its heart, Pulp is also a crime thriller but its tone, its writing, and its performances are something altogether weirder, funnier, and so completely out there as to defy expectations. Caine plays Mickey King, a writer of pulp novels (with titles such as My Gun is Long and The Organ Grinder) whose in it for the writer’s lifestyle more

Don't Torture a Duckling (1972) Blu-ray Review: Rural Murder Italian Style

Lucio Fulci, famous for his gore and zombie films, brings his lurid vision to the Giallo.
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There's an old saying in Classic Hollywood, attributed to Howard Hawks, that a good movie is "three good scenes, no bad scenes." Sometimes I've felt, while watching Italian horror and Giallo movies, particularly Lucio Fulci's, that the rule is "three interesting (and gory) scenes, and who the hell cares what else happens?" Shock and strangeness are paramount, with coherence coming a very distant third. So it was surprising to me, watching Don't Torture a Duckling, that it has a story that can be pieced together with only a few leaps in logic. Don't Torture a Duckling begins with a genuinely

The Suspicious Death of a Minor Blu-ray Review: Two Genres, One Film

An oddball mix of crime drama and horror (with heavy doses of slapsstick thrown in) make for an interesting mix.
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As I have been watching and reviewing more and more Italian films, I have come to realize that I tend to lump a couple of genres in together. Certainly, I use "giallo" and "Italian horror" interchangeably even though they aren’t always the same thing. "Giallo" literally means “yellow” in Italian and comes from a type of cheap mystery novel published in Italy that came in a yellow cover. Many of those stories were made into cheap Italian films, which started as fairly straight forward crime thrillers but over time became more lurid and graphically violent with increasing horror elements. It's
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