Japanese cinema at the beginning of the 21st century was fun. There was an explosion of cinematic talent coming from the V-cinema scene (direct to video genre movies) and making a mark on the rest of the movie world, and it seems every week there was some new crazy trend or wildly prolific director that was coming suddenly to the fore. In those days before the great geek leveling of the mid-'00s to the '10s, where everything that used to be a geek concern suddenly stormed into the mainstream, it was wild to have genre mashups and crossovers. So while
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More than 20 years after its initial release, this wildly energetic Japanese action-horror film gets an extras packed release.
Obscure British serial killer film details the grubby life of a real life (if slightly fictionalized) murderer.
Obscure, cheap, short, and brutal, Cold Light of Day is a surprising discovery of British cinema. Shot on 16mm, the occasionally extremely grainy footage matches the grubbiness of the sets, the characters, and the entire sordid story. Inspired by real life British serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who may have murdered as many as 17 young men, chopping up their bodies and keeping various pieces of them on his property, Cold Light of Day opens with the murderer, here called Jorden March, being caught by the police. There's no struggle or fight - they knock on his door, he comes with.
A perfect addition to your Halloween viewing schedule.
In a small, dark bar, in a small New York hamlet, Kurt (John Adams) eats a grubby little dinner and has a few too many beers. It is snowing and pitch-black when he drives home. He swerves to miss a few deer, running across the road and then hears a bump bump. He's hit something. That something turns out to be 14-year-old Echo (Zelda Adams), who was out sledding. Kurt is visually upset, he's not a psychopath after all, but he's also been around. He knows the score. If he calls the cops, they'll give him a drunk test and
Two adaptations of the same novel, made decades apart, about a yakuza too violent and self-destructive even for gang-life.
Both Kinji Fukasaku and Takashi Miike were unlikely survivors in their different eras of Japanese cinema. They both were highly prolific, and rare among their peers when the fortunes of the Japanese film industry turned for the worse, they kept working, pivoting into different genres and styles. Fukasaku worked steadily through the '70s and '80s when many of his peers fell by the wayside, and though Miike by all rights ought to have burned out with his amazing productivity (over 100 feature films in three decades of filmmaking, sometimes more than five in a single year) he's still going strong.
The first Japanese science fiction film shot in color is as surprisingly stylishly made as it is old-fashioned.
All science fiction is dated. Even the most up-to-the-minute, forward-looking piece of work is still a work of its time, and time passes. An old science fiction movie is going to look old. The special effects aren't going to look contemporary. The science will not be up to date. The way things work in the story are not the way things actually happen. So how, in the spirit of open-hearted appreciation, can a modern viewer approach something like Warning from Space, released in 1956? The premise isn't going to be new to anyone with a cursory knowledge of even the
A difficult, disturbing, but creepily accurate depiction of the perils of Hollywood.
Obviously, I don't have any experience of Hollywood, but seeing films and tv shows about it through my ordinary eyes, it's safe to say that it seems to be an unsettling world full of malaise, decadence, and cutthroat darkness. This dark side of success, fame, and fortune is a subject matter that has been told time and time again, but never in such a bleak and unforgiving way as director Bernard Rose and co-writer/producer/co-star Lisa Enos' tough 2000 masterwork Ivansxtc, which is also a stark tribute to the power of art house/indie film. Shot on high-defintion video and based on
Whether it's too camp or in the proper comic spirit, Flash Gordon's elaborately colorful production bursts onto 4K.
George Lucas's inspirations for Star Wars were many. He was a voracious reader of golden age science fiction, and picked elements he liked from several different stories: lightsabers were borrowed from Lensman, Tatooine's moisture farming and the spice mines of Kessel were liberated from Dune. But the form of the story, and the real heart of Lucas' ambition was to recreate the thrills of Flash Gordon: the long running comic strip, and the Buster G. Crabbe starring serials that were adapted from it. But the license for Flash Gordon was expensive, and mid-1970s George Lucas was not a billionaire. He
Two '60s crime thrillers by director Yasuzo Masumura that explore the dark side of post-war industrialized Japan.
One of the enduring images of contemporary Japanese culture is the salaryman. The rather anonymous guy in the suit who devotes his life to the company. He might be married and have kids (usually he is: what else would he need to dedicate so much time to work for, if not to keep his family?) but his number one priority is the company. Work 10 hours a day, then go off to drink with your boss, go home to sleep, and come back the next day, six days a week. It's soul deadening, and not the obvious setting for a
The first film in what became a sci-fi trilogy is a fun throwback action thriller, now in 4K UHD.
Pitch Black was released in 2000, and it feels very much like the last science fiction action film of the '90s. This was a time when digital effects weren't cheap enough to make the generic movies that clogged the schedule at SyFy, back when it used to show science fiction movies. It comes from a time before the massive cultural influence of The Matrix was fully absorbed. Pitch Black began shooting a couple of weeks before The Matrix was released, but in style and tone it feels like the older film. The setting is distant future movie space opera -
Nico Mastorakis gets into the exotic adventure game with typical mixed results.
Arrow Video continues to release HD versions of the film of Greek director/writer/producer Nico Mastorakis, and I am here for it. His films are the perfect blend of action, romance, horror, and '80s cheese. For Bloodstone (1986), he's credited as writer, producer, and editor. Directing duties were left to Dwight H. Little of Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers and Marked for Death fame. But it has Mastorakis signatures written all over it. Production values are good considering the budget, the acting generally bad, the script ridiculous, and the action is lame, but the location is exotic and the
A documentary-style narrative film about the days following first atomic bomb dropping.
The sky is a pale blue. Big, white clouds float by. It looks peaceful. It won't for long. This is the view from the Enola Gay on August 6, 1945, the day the United States of America dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. A narrator tells us how the plane left early that morning. About how the pilot Paul Tibbetts had doubts about what he was doing. We see the Hiroshima approach in the distance. The narrator tells us of the destruction of that day. How the bomb killed thousands upon impact. How it leveled the city. The view
This zombie rom-com takes the genre into fun directions.
One would think the zombie movie would be completely played out by now. There have been countless films about the walking dead in a variety of genres (not just horror) since White Zombie introduced the walking dead into our cinematic lexicon in 1932. There have been zombie comedies, zombie romances, zombies in the apocalypse, and zombie musicals. Again, you would think by now there'd be nothing new to say about zombies. Zombie for Sale proves you wrong. It doesn't exactly reinvent the genre, but it puts a new spin on it, taking it in a new, interesting direction. Take black
Rarely scary, but visually gripping, an unsuccessful attempt to copy Nightmare on Elm Street scores as a fantasy film.
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
James Earl Jones quotes Shakespeare and conjures a barely seen monster in this masterpiece from Greek auteur Nico Mastorakis.
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
Another in Teruo Ishii's series of films depicting sadistic practices in Japanese history, all of which involve disrobing women.
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
Three very different films get the excellent Arrow Video treatment.
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 great folks at Arrow continue their amazing streak with Lucky McKee's notorious 2011 shocker in a new 4K restoration.
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
Arrow Video does a great job of presenting this controversial '80s classic.
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
The good folks at Arrow bring back to life a delightfully campy and fun tribute to horror films.
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
Arrow Video has outdone themselves with this Italian Exorcist knock-off.
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