Results tagged “Arrow Video”

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

Don't Torture A Duckling Blu-ray Review: Fulci Grows a Social Conscience

Gore meister makes a film with an actual plot and social commentary, results are mixed.
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If Mario Bava is the grandfather of Italian horror and Dario Argento artsy-fartsy daddy figure who brought giallo to the mainstream, then Lucio Fulci is the creepy uncle doing strange things in the basement and making all the ladies feel uncomfortable at the dinner table. I’ve only seen a couple of his films but they, and his reputation, declare that as a director he was more interested in bloodletting than story, he loved gore more than any pretense of depth. That might have changed in 1972 with his film Don’t Torture a Duckling. In it, he smooths the edges off

The Slayer (1982) Blu-ray Review: Marital Crisis Solved by Slayer

An idiosyncratic semi-slasher that barely got a theatrical release is finally on home video, uncut and restored.
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Achieving notoriety in the early '80s (at least across the pond) for being one of the Video Nasties, films legally challenged and sometimes prohibited from exhibition in the U.K., the American-made The Slayer is a slasher movie that does not quite want to be one. For certain, it has the overall structure of one: four people (two couples) go out to an isolated vacation spot, have personal tension, and then one by one are slaughtered in graphic ways. The murderer is a mystery, the deaths are gruesome and elaborate, with special make-up effects by an industry veteran. There's a final

New Battles Without Honor and Humanity Blu-ray Box Set Review: Movies with Honor

Director Kinji Fukasaku and star Junta Sugawara team up again for more impressive results.
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That "New" in the title is your tip that these films are a continuation of a previous project. In this case, the "original" was a series of five interconnected yakuza films from the same director and star. The original films proved to be so popular upon their release in the early 1970s that Toei Studio begged the talent to come back for more, leading to this mid-'70s follow-up trilogy. Unlike their predecessors, each of the films in this trilogy are unrelated to each other, with the primary constants being the director, star, genre, and theme music. The titular first film

Book Review: Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji by Tom Mes

Arrow Books presents a critical overview of Lady Snowblood's entire career.
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To much of the post-Millennium western cinematic audience, Meiko Kaji was introduced with her voice. Both the theme songs from Lady Snowblood and Female Convict Scorpion were featured in Kill Bill. More than that, Kill Bill's story, structure and visual style (at least in the section in Japan) were all heavily influenced by Lady Snowblood. Ironically enough, though Meiko Kaji did have a successful singing career in the '70s, her most influential contributions have been visual: the way she looked, the way she dressed, embodied a fierce determination and independence that made her stand apart from other Japanese film actresses

Children of the Corn (1984) Blu-ray Review: Killer Kids Get Religion

'80s cult horror film based on a Stephen King short story gets seriously loaded Blu-ray release.
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Cult movies aren't the same as good movies. Good movies generally have decent production values, interesting stories and scripts, nuanced performances, and resonant themes. Cult movies can have any or all of the above, but can often dispense with most or even all of the markers of quality to create their cult moments. That weird scene, that creepy image, that one thing you couldn't believe you were seeing. Children of the Corn misses a lot of marks as a good movie, but it sure has more than its share of cult-making moments. The premise helps a lot - in the

New Battles Without Honor and Humanity: The Complete Trilogy Blu-ray Review: More Frenzied Yakuza Madness

Returning to his Yakuza series a whole six months after the last, Fukasaku covers similar ground, but finds new angles.
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Battles Without Honor and Humanity has been called the Japanese Godfather, and while it has some similarities (depicting daily life of gangsters, where formality and ritual places a veneer of civility on brutal criminality) it has a completely different tone. There's a sepia-tinged nostalgia to The Godfather, with Michael Corleone's rise in power and his subsequent decline in humanity looked on with a sense of tragedy. The Battles series, directed by Kinji Fukasaku and largely written by Kasahara Kazuo, was an intentional demystification of the yakuza. Gone are the stoic and honor-bound modern samurai of earlier yakuza films. In Battles,

Re-Animator Limited Edition Blu-ray Review: Blood, Boobs, and Fun

Arrow Video's remastered version of this cult classic is loaded with extras, making it a must-have for fans.
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Anxious people pound on a door at the Institute of Medicine in Switzerland shouting for Dr. Gruber. When they hear manic screaming on the other side, two armed guards break the door down. They find Gruber lying on the floor, head bloated and discolored as Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) desperately holds on to him, shouting that he cannot leave but must make notes about his experiment. When accused of killing Gruber, West counters with “I gave him life.” Much later a re-animated, decapitated corpse holds its own head between the legs of a tied-down, completely naked, and very much alive

Erik the Conqueror (1961) Blu-ray Review: Bava Gets Epical

Arrow Video brings us Mario Bava's unique Italian take on American 'Vikings' in this stellar BD/DVD combo release.
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A few years before Mario Bava singlehandedly invented the giallo with his genre-breaking Blood and Black Lace, he created that one thing most Italian filmmakers get a bad rep for doing: remaking popular American films. Of course, when you're an inventive genius like the late great Mario Bava, the actual story of a film doesn't matter as much as the manner in which you make it. Taking its cue from the 1958 US Kirk Douglas/Tony Curtis box office smash The Vikings, Bava's 1961 epic Erik the Conqueror eliminates the typical, boring humdrum usually reserved for lavish Hollywood epics, fusing his

The Slayer Blu-ray Review: Definitely Not Buffy

Obscure '80s horror has more in common with European films than your typical slasher flick, but never quite manages to terrify.
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Two overworked and over-stressed couples take off for a weekend retreat on a secluded island for a little rest, relaxation, and maybe a little fishing too. There’s Kay (Sarah Kendall), a surrealist artist who has been having nightmares about a sadistic killer, and her husband David, a doctor who tries to be supportive but is growing increasingly tired of her hysterical paranoia. Her brother Eric (Frederick Flynn) was the one who thought a vacation might do Kay some good. He brought along Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook), who can’t seem to do anything but complain. At first, nobody takes Kay’s delirium’s seriously,

Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete Second Season is the Pick of the Week

A very full week brings us superhero galore, zombies, Deadites, punks, and much more.
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Almost a year ago to the day, I made Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season my Pick of the Week. I noted then my great fondness for the Evil Dead movies and my great excitement over the new series. I also noted that by the time the Blu-ray was hitting the store shelves I’d not yet seen the entire series. Well, Season 2 has now hit the shelves and while I’ve watched a few more episodes of Season 1, I’ve still not made it all the way through. I like the show, I really do. It is a

Society Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray Review: Body Horror At Its Best

No matter what they paid "Screaming" Mad George for the practical horror effects, they got their money's worth.
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A quick look at our recent history will show plenty of animosity towards the wealthy, the upper classes, and high society. From the Occupy Wall Street movement to Bernie Sanders-style socialism, thousands of people are lining up to protest with cries of “Eat the Rich!” But what if the rich weren't just greedy bastards taking from the poor to make themselves unfathomably more wealthy? What if they truly were evil. What if the rich ate us? Director Brian Yuzna’s 1989 film Society has something to say about that. Young, pretty Bill (Billy Warlock) comes from a wealthy, elite family but
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