Saturday, January 24, 2015

EXISTS (2014)

EXISTS (2014)
Label: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 3rd 2015 

Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: R
Duration: 102 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Windscreen (1.78;1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles

Cast: Chris Osborn, Dora Madison Burge, Roger Edwards, Denise Williamson, Samuel Davis, Brian Steele
Director: Eduardo Sanchez



Three dudes and their lady friends drive to a cabin out in rural East Texas for a weekend of debauchery at a cabin in the woods, where else? The cabin belongs to one of the dudes uncles who previously warned them to stay away for reasons unknown, but if everyone listened to warnings we would not have many scary movies. The group are armed to the teeth with an arsenal of GoPro cameras, smart devices and video equipment to capture all the righteous partying out at the cabin. Once they arrive we're treated to all the GoPro Mountain Dew fueled dude-type shenanigans you've come to expect from shows like MTV's Ridiculousness and legions of millennial YouTubers. 

While there they begin to hear the bloodcurdling cries from an animal somewhere in the woods Chris, the stoner of the group, decides it was be Bigfoot and sets about documenting his amateur crypto-quest to find the hairy beast. He doesn't have to wait very long, the damn thing makes it's presence known on his first trip into the forest. Spooked by noises Chris returns to the cabin where later that night Bigfoot terrorizes the group, snorting and banging on the walls of the cabin, scaring the bejeezus out of everyone before destroying their only mode of transportation. 



In the morning with few other options one of them volunteers to mountain bike his way to an area where they can get cell phone reception and call for help. With the GoPro equipment strapped to his bike and helmet he makes a run for it. Through the miracle of GoPro we are treated to a pretty tense chase scene through the woods with the agile creature chasing down the mountain biker. Afterward that Sasquatch returns to the cabin in pursuit of the others in an all out night time assault that drives the group into the basement while the Bigfoot tears apart the cabin. I give the filmmaker props for creating some good tension and atmosphere, there are quite a few white knuckle moments throughout. 

Director Eduardo Sanchez (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) is mining some familiar ground here with a group of kids out in the woods who find themselves in danger, this time with the Bigfoot thrown into the mix. He certainly doesn't stray from the established tropes of found footage, we have a typical set-up of kids in the woods, the annoying use of night vision, some jittery cam and lots of running and screaming but none of that detracted from my enjoyment, this is just big, dumb Bigfoot fun and I can appreciate that.


I thought the entire cast was decent with stoner Chris being the focus for me, he's just a guy that's easy to like. The script offers plenty of eye-rolling moments of poor judgement and characters making poor decisions but for the most part I was keyed into the movie and on board for a kids go into the woods, kids encounter Sasquatch, kids get dead, run for life type of film.. 

What it does have going for it are some fun set-pieces and the fantastic creature design. I was expecting the creature to be just out of sight for the duration of the film, and it does start off that way but we do actually get up close and personal with the beast.  So much so that the creature does get a few small character moments, nothing too corny, just enough to understand why the creature is targeting the group of kids.


It's been quite a few years since I've stumbled across a decent Bigfoot film, and this one delivers the goods and then some. As a found-footage film this is pretty standard stuff but as a Bigfoot films this is right up there with ABOMINABLE (2006) and the cock-shredding insanity of NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1984), EXIST is a fast-paced beast of a Bigfoot film I can get behind. 
The disc from Lionsgate includes an audio commentary from director Eduardo Sánchez and writer Jamie Nash, fifteen minutes of deleted scenes including an alternate opening and ending, a thirty-minute making of featurette and a cool featurette about the design and creation of the Bigfoot creature. There has not been a Blu-ray announced for the film but the DVD does include a UV digital copy and it is available in HD on Amazon instant video to own or rent. 

Special Features

- Audio Commentary by director Eduardo Sánchez and writer Jamie Nash
- Deleted Scenes (15 Minutes)
- 21 Days In The Woods: Behind The Scenes Of "Exists" (30 Minutes)
- Bringing Big Foot To Life (10 Minutes) 


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stanley Kubrick's 'The Killing' on Blu-ray 9th February 2015 in the UK


A FILM BY STANLEY KUBRICK
BLU-RAY RELEASE – February 9th 2014

Arrow Films’ Arrow Academy label is proud to announce the release of Stanley Kubrick’s first masterpiece, the crime classic The Killing (1956), making its Blu-ray debut in the UK from 9th February 2015. This exclusive edition will also include the director's previous feature, Killer’s Kiss (1955), another essential piece of noir 50s cinema.

This feature-packed Blu-ray will include a high definition transfer of the film, alongside an introduction and appreciation by noted British filmmaker Ben Wheatley. Together with this, the disc will also include an archive interview with lead actor Sterling Hayden, alongside a featurette looking at Kubrick’s 1950s output with critic Michel Ciment. The disc will also feature the original theatrical trailers for both films, with a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist and a collector’s booklet containing new writing by Peter Krämer, Barry Forshaw and filmmaker Ron Peck, illustrated with original archive stills.


Synopsis
An ex-con, a corrupt cop, a reformed alcoholic, a wrestler, a sharpshooter and a pair of inside men: these seven men intent on executing the perfect robbery and taking a racetrack for two million dollars. But this is the world of film noir, a tough, sour place where nothing quite goes as planned…

For his third feature Stanley Kubrick adapted Lionel White’s Clean Break with a little help from hard-boiled specialist Jim Thompson (The Killer Inside Me), and in doing so created a heist movie classic, one to rank alongside John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. The robbery itself is one of cinema’s great set-pieces, as taut a piece of filmmaking as you’ll ever find, expertly controlled by Kubrick, who called The Killing his “first mature work”.


Starring Sterling Hayden (Johnny Guitar, The Godfather), perennial fall guy Elisha Cook Jr (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep) and Marie Windsor (The Narrow Margin) as his duplicitous wife, The Killing is quintessential film noir, still as brutal, thrilling and audacious as it was almost six decades ago.

This deluxe package will be full of special features and bonus material including:
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the feature
- Original uncompressed mono PCM Audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Stanley Kubrick’s second feature, Killer’s Kiss (1955), presented in High Definition (1080p)
- An appreciation by filmmaker Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers)
- An extract from the French television series Journal de la cinéma featuring an interview with Sterling Hayden
- A look at Kubrick’s 1950s output with critic Michel Ciment
- Original theatrical trailers for both films
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist
- Collector’s booklet containing new writing by Peter Krämer (author of volumes on Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange), Barry Forshaw and filmmaker Ron Peck, illustrated with original archive stills

SPECS:
Region: B
Rating: 12
Cat No: FCD1046
Duration: 98 min
Language: English SDH Subtitles
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 & 1.37:1
Audio: 1.0
Colour: BW

Scream Factory Presents Exterminators of the Year 3000 on Blu-ray March 3rd

Would love it if this release would lead to more Italian horror, cult and exploitation from Scream Factory...


EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000 (1983) 

An Italian-made exploitation classic now on Blu-ray for the first time! Scream Factory is proud to presents Exterminators of the Year 3000 a futuristic film of survival, on March 3, 2015.

In a post-apocalyptic future where the earth is a desert and water is the most precious substance of all, a band of survivors must turn to a mysterious stranger to battle a ruthless gang of motorcycle psychos for control of the wasteland and the water. A glorious crash of guns, nuclear fallout, and synthesizers make this a must-see for anyone who’s been longing for the day in which they can finally get beyond Thunderdome.

Bonus Features:
- Audio Commentary with actor Robert Iannucci
- Interview with actor Robert Iannucci
- TV Spots










PRETTY PEACHES (1978)


PRETTY PEACHES (1978) 
Label: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Code: region Free
Duration: 2 Minutes
Rating: XXX
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono 
Director: Alex deRenzy
Cast: Desiree Costeau, John Leslie, Joey Silvera, Juliet Anderson

Alex DeRenzy's x-rated comedy PRETTY PEACHES stars then newcomer Desiree Costeau as the titular character Peaches. At the start of the film she's driving the wedding of her father to the sexy black nymphet Lilly (Flower) in Nevada. She stops off at a podunk gas station where she sends the locals into a horny frenzy with her super-short shorts, the attendant is so damn aroused by the short-haired cutie that he sniffs the seat she was sitting in just hoping for a whiff of her supreme naughty bits. 

Peaches arrives late to the ceremony but just in time to see the vows and after downing a few shots the drunken Peaches  gets behind the wheel of her Jeep before driving off the road and into the scrub brush and falling to the ground unconscious where she is found by Kid (Joey Silvera) and Terry (Ken Scudder), two of them men from earlier at the gas station. In a pervy attempt to assist the woman in distress they decide to loosen her clothing before Kid has sex with her unconscious body. 

When she comes to a few moments later questioning just what happened to her we discover that a bump on her noggin has caused amnesia, now confused and unable to remember who she is or even her name, the pair of low lifes take her to a doctor whom oddly practices his chosen profession in a public restroom. In an effort to he her regain her memory the freaky doc performs an enema that ends up being quite a water show leaving the doc unconscious on the floor. That's the magic of this film, somehow it manages to make something so completely filthy into something fun, somehow it works. Seems an off choice to start your porn-comedy with rape and an enema yet somehow I am entertained by it all. 


Kid and Terry are willing to let are willing to let Peaches stay at their place with the one caveat that she must find a job, and what job would is better suited for the curvy Peaches than a dancer. Somehow the dance audition turns into a impromptu live sex show with an army of dildo-donning carpet munchers using and abusing the poor naive Peaches who is chained to a table and left in a fit of tears, again, something that could have been very dark again played for laughs, a lot of it has to do with peaches reactions to these situations, she's played for laughs as a bit of a wide-eyed bimbo. 

Not surprisingly as the film pays out the attractive and naive Peaches finds herself involved in still more sexual misadventures while trying to recover her lost memories, leading to the oiled-up orgy at the end with a surprise twist of incest! 

Pretty Peaches covers some dark subject matter including the distasteful areas of rape, enemas and incest, all of which could have potentially dragged it down, but, through the performances of Costeau and the playful touch of director deRenzy it manages to create just the right mix of adult mischievousness with just the right amount of tongue in cheek humor.

Coming from the golden age of porn the film does set-up a fun storyline of Peaches trying to recover her memories but doesn't carry it through all that well - this is pretty silly stuff - but the incest tinged finale made me laugh quite a bit. The cast is great, particularly Desiree Costeau as Peaches who plays it for cute laughs with a mixture of pouty faced sexuality and bubbly personality, it certainly doesn't hurt that she has a wonderful body with perky breasts and gorgeous curves from the head to toe. Additionally we have the character of the new step mom played by Flower with some great comedic delivery and playful sex scenes. 

The DVD from Vinegar Syndrome features a new 2K restoration from 35mm archival element and sports a natural layer of fine film grain and with it some very nice fine detail. Skin tones are natural looking and the color reproduction and black levels are solid. Vinegar Syndrome offered the film as a limited edition Blu-ray back in October, The picture quality is fantastic, this is yet another sterling presentation from Vinegar Syndrome.

The English language Dolby Digital Mono audio sounds great for what it is, offering a nice balance of dialogue, score and the sweet sounds of fornication. Due to the limitations of the source material there are changes in the audio quality from scene to scene but overall there are no issues to speak of. 

The disc includes a handful of special features including the only known video interview with director Alex deRenzy recorded sometime before his death in 2001, for twenty minutes the director fondly looks back on his early career and sharing stories of making a few films including briefly mentioning Pretty Peaches. 

There's also an eleven-minute interview with film historian Ted Mcilvenna who shares stories of his friend Alex deRenzy offering some fun insights and analysis of his films. Lastly there are a selection of deRenzy trailers for Baby Face II, Pretty Peaches II and Femmes de Sade. 

Special Features:- Dual-Layer DVD-9 | Region Free | 16:9 Anamorphic | MONO
- Restored in 2k from 35mm archival elements
- Archival interview with Alex deRenzy (19 Minutes)
- Interview with film historian Ted Mcilvenna (11 Minutes)
- Baby Face II Trailer (4 Minutes) 

- Pretty Peaches II Trailer (4 Minutes) 
Femmes De Sade Trailer 94 Minutes) 

Verdict: A solid disc from Vinegar Syndrome from start to finish and quite a fun watch. Pretty Peaches was my first encounter with deRenzy and I am looking forward to watching more from the late director of humor-tinged-smut. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

TROPHY HEADS (2014)

TROPHY HEADS (2014)

Label: Full Moon Features
Region Code: Region-FREE 
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 97 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 
Director: Charles Band
Cast: Adam Noble Roberts, Maria Olsen, Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, Darcy DeMoss, Jacqueline Lovell, Michelle Bauer, Irena Murphy, Denice Duff

Max (Adam Noble Roberts) is a Full Moon Entertainment junkie who lives in his Mom's basement where he spends every waking hour pouring over his precious stacks vintage VHS horror. His love for b-movie scream queens runs very deep, a little more than your average horror fan. He obsesses over the fact that his beloved ladies of cult cinema are slowly fading into obscurity and the years wear on. This simply will not do and superfan Max hatches a diabolical scheme to kidnap and imprison six of he most famous scream queens of the 80s and 90s.

Max's mother (Maria Olsen) is only too happy to help her troubled son on his twisted scavenger hunt of b-movie scream queens. One by one he tracks down his favorite fright girls from the 80s and 90s and sets about capturing them.  We have Brinke Stevens (SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-A-RAMA), Linnea Quigley (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD), Darcy DeMoss (JASON LIVES: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI), Jacqueline Lovell (HEAD OF THE FAMILY), Michelle Bauer (HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS), Denice Duff (BLOODSTONE: SUBSPECIES II).

It's silly and fun as Max and his mother devise ways of ambushing the scream queens whom have gone on to boring day jobs in the years since. They have careers selling smoothies on the beach, one's massage therapist, another is struggling to land roles in low-budget horror films and then we have Linnea Quigley as a born again Christian going door-to-door spreading the word. Max cattle prods them and imprisons them in a make shift basement prison back at mom's house, keeping them in cages like some bizarre scream queen petting zoo. The end game being that he takes the out one by one and forces them to re enact scenes from his favorite films before he cuts off their heads to display as trophies, now that's a true one of kind collectible!

I will admit that aside from Brinke Stevens and Linnea Quigley the other scream queens are not familiar to me, but that did not stop me from enjoying the film and the wisecracking dialogue exchanges in the least. I would never accuse them of being very good actresses but I think I can safely say these fine queens of horror are more notable for willingness to drop their tops and scream bloody murder than their acting chops, and that's just fine by me. 

It should be noted that none of the now middle-aged six scream queens appear in the nude but do showcase their top drawer assets with ample cleavage. Without being disrespectful to our scream queens I will say that's probably a good thing! To that end we have the voluptuous Irena Murphy (WEREWOLF RISING) appearing nude for pretty much the entirety of the film.  

My favorite scene would be a casting call with director Stuart Gordon (FROM BEYOND) who appears as a fictionalized version of himself. Here we have younger b-movie starlets Jean Louise (PUPPET MASTER X), Robin Sydney (THE LOST), Jessica Morris (THE HAUNTED CASINO), Amy Paffrath (EVIL BONG II), Jackie Lovell (THE KILLER EYE) mixing it up with scream queen Denice Duff (SUBSPECIES II). I love how they introduce each other by first and last name, just in case you may forgotten who they are if you ever knew to begin with. They play off each other with a fun mix of slight ditziness and cattiness, and are clearly having a blast. Pretty sure this is one of the better films any of these young starlets have featured in for quite some time. 

The gore hounds will be let down with just some digital blood spatter and a handful of practical decapitated heads,  but this is more to be enjoyed for the fun premise and inherent humor and not a gore-drenched movie, this is a comedy with a smattering of horror. Charles Band has created a fun, campy love letter to the scream queens of the past that is both and respectful and in a way sort of passes the torch to the younger generation of horror babes. 

It is Adam Noble Roberts and Maria Olsen as the demented b-movie nut and his mother who steal the show. These two are just awesome, a truly twisted depiction of a weirdo who lives in his mom's basement watching horror movies in his underwear while she entertains his every whim and putting up with his bratty outbursts. As he mounts his trophy heads he carries on strange little  conversations with the scream queens, he gives Max a soul and while I wouldn't say he was sympathetic he is a lot of fun. 

Surely not a classic slice of horror cinema or even one of the better horror-comedies this year but the film succeeds as a fun, low-budget homage to the scream queens of yesteryear and the cheesy b-movies that made them famous. 

Special Features:
- Audio commentary by stars Darcy DeMoss, Brinke Stevens, and Jacqueline Lovell and producer/director Charles Band
- VideoZone making-of featurette (10 Minutes)
- Uncut behind-the-scenes footage (23 Minutes)
- Full Moon Trailers
- "Submit Your Head" photo gallery


Thursday, January 15, 2015

NEKROMANTIK (3-Disc Director Approved Limited Edition)

NEKROMANTIK (1987) 
 3-Disc Director Approved Limited Edition 
Label: Arrow Video 
Region: B/2
Rating: 18 Certificate
Duration: 75 Minutes

Video: 1.33:1 Fullscreen
Audio: German LPCM Mono and Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Cast: Bernd Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski, Harald Lundt
Director: Jörg Buttgereit


Nekromantik is the story of a strange young man named Rob Schmadtke (Daktari Lorenz) whom is employed at a crime clean-up service. As you can imagine it is quite a grisly job but one that suits the young man, this troubled guy is a necrophile. His employment allows him to collect various body parts from crime scenes which he keeps in specimen jars at his apartment, where both he and his death-obsessed girlfriend Betty (Beatrice M.) can get-off on while touching and stroking the gruesome appendages. 

As his death obsession becomes more intense Rob kicks it up a notch bringing home a gooey corpse from the swamps to the perverse delight Betty. The horny necrophiles immediately fashion an artificial cock for the cadaver from iron piping and before you can say "never laugh when a hearse goes by"  we are treated to macabre threesome. Betty sucks and fucks that tight-skinned cadaver as Rob takes her from behind in a trippy and revoltinlyg hallucinatory sequence.

However, when Rob loses his job Betty dumps him and takes the corpse with her, damn, dumped in favor of a corpse. Rob spirals further into the maddening depths of misery with out Betty (and the corpse). pending most of his time in seclusion and contemplating suicide. One evening he attends the cinema before procuring a prostitute to fuck at a nearby graveyard. Seems the tombstones aren't enough to excite the necrophile and he can't get it up, but fear not, he rises to the occasion once he strangles her to death. Sex just isn't the same without the element of death for the depraved necrophiliac.

Afterward he further descends into disparity, back at his apartment he stuffs his pet cat into a trash bag and smashes it repeatedly into a bloody pulp against the wall. Now, bare in mind that the cat is a prop but this scene might send animal lovers for the exit, you know, if the necrophilia didn't already scare you off. Additionally, there's an actual scene of what appears to be an rabbit being bled to death, skinned and gutted. It's not quite CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST but it's unsettling just the same. 

Shot on Super 8mm film in 1987 the film has a rough homemade quality about it that won't appeal to your average movie fan, pile that on top of scenes of necrophilia and the death of small animals and you have a film that just doesn't have a lot of appeal to your average horror joe. Buttgereit sets a definite tone right from the start with a shot of a woman urinating on the roadside just before her and a male companion are killed in a horrendous car accident that leaves the woman torn in half, thus setting up the introduction of Rob. The director is pretty much saying you have been warned, stay at your own peril.

There were quite a few repulsive scenes but one of the first to truly affect me was the repeated bare handed handling of the corpses, which made me a bit nauseous. The gore effects are low-budget but pretty fantastic in how grotesque they are. When the necrophiliac lovers start to suck the eye-socket of the cadaver I had to put my damn beer down for a few minutes before it came back up on me. Even all these years later this low-budget shocker carries with it a gut-punch arsenal of disturbing imagery. .

Aside from the licking of body parts and the corpse there a few other effective gore gags including a sweet decapitation scene with spewing blood at he graveyard when Rob is discovered next to the dead whore the next morning. Speaking of spewing we cannot overlook perhaps the most infamous scene in the film - SPOILER ALERT - when Rob completely distraught lies in bed and pulls out his erect cock and begins stabbing himself in the guts repeatedly as thick stream of cum and blood spews from his cock. It's definitely a scene that won't soon be erased from your memory. 



BLU-RAY: 
It would appear to be the same HD transfer as the Cult Epics Blu-ray here in the States, it's a lo-fi film made on the cheap and while I didn't go in expecting crystal clarity and oodles of fine detail it was a very flat and dull presentation, that being said it is probably the best the film will ever appear due to the limitations of the source material.

As with the Cult Epics release there are two versions of the film - the 8mm HD transfer and one from a 35mm print which looked like it been around awhile and put through the wringer. Honestly I preferred the 35mm print with the print damage which added a lot of character to the viewing experience..

Both the German LPCM Mono and stereo audio options are flat and unremarkable. Recorded without audio the dialogue was dubbed in giving it a weird disconnected vibe which suits the nightmarish imagery quite nicely. Optional English subtitles are provided. 


Onto the features we discover that Arrow have stuffed this one to the proverbial gills with quality bonus content. The disc mirrors all the extras from the Cult Epics Blu-ray minus the Q+A with Jorg Buttgereit at the American Cinematheque from 2013. 

The new extras include In Conversation with The Death King - a brand-new 2014 interview with Buttgereit conducted exclusively for this release, plus Morbid Fascination: The Nekromantik Legacy - a brand-new 2014 documentary looking at the impact of the film on the horror scene both in the UK and abroad, featuring interviews with genre critic Alan Jones, Marc Morris, producer of Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Parts 1+2, and Buttgereit biographer David Kerekes. Additionally we have a Q+A with Buttgereit recorded at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (2014) conducted by Calum Waddell. As if that were not enough we have two music videos directed by Buttgereit including a catchy punker tune by the group Half Girl.

While Cult Epics included the 64 minute soundtrack as a Blu-ray extra Arrow have gone a step further and included the NEKROMANTIK SOUNDTRACK: ULTIMATE EDITION as stand alone CD featuring 27-tracks, featuring the complete Nekromantik soundtrack composed and performed by star Daktari Lorenz and musicians John Boy Walton and Hermann Kopp, plus rare tracks from Hot Love.

But wait - there's more! The Exclusive Limited Edition also includes a massive100-PAGE BOOK – ‘ROMANCE IS DEAD’ featuring a new article on Nekromantik from critic Graham Rae, alongside pieces from writers David Kerekes (Sex Murder Art: The Films of Jörg Buttgereit), Kier-La Janisse (House of Psychotic Women), Linnie Blake (The Wounds of Nations ) and an archive interview with real-life necrophile Karen Greenlee, all illustrated with new artwork and original archive stills.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Director’s introduction to Nekromantik
- Alternative “Grindhouse Version” of Nekromantik, newly-transferred for this release from the only existing 35mm print [Blu-ray only]
 Short Film Hot Love (1985) (29 minutes)  with audio commentary with Buttgereit

- The Making of Nekromantik – A vintage documentary featuring a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage, newly-transferred in HD and viewable with two different audio tracks: an - English commentary with Buttgereit, co-author Franz Rodenkirchen and David Kerekes, and a German-language audio track featuring radio interviews with Buttgereit, Rodenkirchen and producer Manfred Jelinski
- Nekromantik Featurette – A look back at the film’s production, featuring interviews with Buttgereit and Jelinski, produced for the film’s 10-year anniversary German VHS release
- Nekromantik Premiere – A short featurette comprised of footage from the film’s premiere in Berlin, January 1988

- “Das Letzte” – A short featurette comprising footage from the 1985 premiere of Hot Love
- Complete collection of Buttgereit feature film trailers: Nekromantik, Der Todesking, - Nekromantik 2 and Schramm
- Extensive image gallery including behind-the-scenes stills and the rare, surrealist German-language Nekromantik comic by Berlin artist Fil, reproduced in its entirety

EXCLUSIVE TO THE RELEASE: 

- Short Film Horror Heaven with Audio Commentary 
- Horror Heaven Outtakes 
- Horror Heaven trailer featuring outtakes from the film
- Two Buttgereit-directed music videos: ‘I Can’t Let Go’ by Shock Therapy (1995) and ‘Lemmy, I’m a Feminist’ by Half Girl (2013)

- In Conversation with The Death King – A brand-new 2014 interview with Buttgereit conducted exclusively for this release
- Morbid Fascination: The Nekromantik Legacy – A brand-new 2014 documentary looking at the impact of the film on the horror scene both in the UK and abroad, featuring interviews with genre critic Alan Jones, Marc Morris, producer of Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Parts 1+2, and Buttgereit biographer David Kerekes
- Q+A with Buttgereit recorded at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (2014)

VERDICT:
NEKROMANTIK (1987) is quite a nasty little delight of lo-fi shock cinema, Buttgereit had a vision and set out to create a film that pushed the boundaries of acceptability and he succeeded on all fronts, nearly thirty years later this is still a hard film to stomach. Arrow's 3-Disc Director Approved Limited Edition is the definitive document, containing all the goodies and grue you crave in one fantastic package. 

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1963)

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1963) 
Label: Arrow Video
Region: B/2
Rating: 12 Certificate
Duration: 86/92 Minutes
Audio: English, Italian PCM 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Widescreen(1.66:1), (1.78:1)
Audio: 2.0 Mono
Cast: Letícia Román, John Saxon, Valentina Cortese, Titti Tomaino, Luigi Bonos
Director: Mario Bava


Mario Bava was a master craftsmen and superb cinema technician who dabbled throughout his career in so many genres, from early Viking adventure films to the Gothic horror he came to be recognized for in the years to come. However, it is arguably this Hitchockican thriller from 1963 that inspired a string of stylish Italian murder mysteries  in the 1970s, it's influence can definitely be felt in the work of Dario Argento. What would become known as giallo films were really just crime thrillers with a few notable characteristics that set them apart. They would typically feature an a tourist in a foreign place who is somehow caught up in a string of gruesome murders, their amateur sleuthing putting themselves and their loved ones in danger. The films would also feature threatening phone calls made by the killer whom would usually wear a pair of black gloves while committing the murders, we do get the phone call in this film but black gloved murders would not appear until Bava's stylish thriller Blood and Black Lace just a few years later. 


Gialli are also noted for their stylish cinematography and gorgeous set pieces and scenic locations, plus abnormal psychological themes with the protagonist either questioning their own sanity of suspecting someone of madness. The actual term "giallo" means "yellow" in Italian, the genre having coined it's name from a series of popular paperback murder-mystery novels beginning in the 1940s featuring yellow covers.


All this brings us to Mario Bava's The Girl who Knew Too much (1963), widely considered one of the earliest examples of a giallo murder mysteries, if not the first. We have an American traveller Nora Davis (Letícia Román) arriving in Rome via jetliner from New York. She is there to visit her elderly aunt who is quite it, so ill in fact that she dies in her bed that very same night. The death unnerves Nora who is alone, her fear enhanced by spooky cat and a thunderstorm. She leaves the home during a rainstorm walking through the scenic Piazza di Spagna, on her way to the hospital to notify her aunt's physician of her death.  En route she is mugged and knocked to the ground unconscious, coming to a few moments later she witness the murder of a woman who has been stabbed in the back with a kitchen knife. A man emerges from the darkness and removes the knife as Nora collapses. The next morning she is found unconscious by the police, she tells them of the murder she witnessed but with no body or evidence to corroborate the account they attribute the story to either hysterics or drunkenness. Afterward Nora and her aunt's physician Dr. Marcello Bassi (John Saxon) strike up friendship while touring the sites of Rome which blossoms into a romance. 

Soon after while at the cemetery Nora meets her late aunt's neighbor Laura (Valentina Cortese) who invites her to stay at her home for the duration of her visit. While there she learns that Laura's sister was the third victim of a serial killer dubbed the Alphabet Killer who murdered three women with surnames that followed the alphabet. Alone in the home Nora receives a threatening phone call stating that "D is for death" and that she will be the next victim. Scared for her life Nora nonetheless begins to amateur slueth the identity of the murder which puts her on the trail of a crime reporter named Landini (Dante DiPaolo) which not unsurprisingly leads to more even questions and a feverish finale with the murderer revealing all!


The plot at times caused me to scratch my head quite a bit as the film does not always make sense, but I would argue that some of the most enjoyable Giallo films rarely do. It's matter of tension, aesthetic and style and I would say that The Girl Who Knew Too Much falls into that category. 


Mario Bava was a master cinematographer and his use of black and white in this film is stunning throughout, the use of light and shadow is a thing of true beauty. Notably this would be Mario Bava's last film to be shot in black and white which is almost a crime, thankfully his use of color was just as breathtaking, in fact he shot the Gothic The Whip and the Body right before this one.

John Saxon and Leticia Roman are pretty great in their roles, the wide-eyed blond does fine as the sympathetic woman caught up in a murder mystery, and John Saxon is always a pleasure onscreen, he was quite a handsome man and adds an element of humor to the film. There's actually quite a bit of mischievous humor to be found throughout which is not surprising seeing as how the film was intended to be a romantic comedy of sorts. Honestly, there might be a few too many scenes of Saxon and Roman traipsing around Rome for my taste, a few of these scenes to drag the film down from time to time. 

The film is hugely influential as noted previously and set the standard for gialli to come for a decade, some might say that Mario Bava may have ignited the genre but that Dario Argento fans the flames to perfection with his films The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) and Deep Red (1975), the former which borrows quite a bit from this gem, which I won't go into for fear of spoiling the revelation. 

If youre love of Italian murder mysteries begins and ends with Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci you might be a bit disappointed with the lack of blood, gore and sex - this is a pretty chaste film - but you will get the stylish cinematography and other earmarks - minus the black leather gloves - of the films you have come to love from the seventies. 

Blu-ray: The Blu-ray from Arrow Video is quite a treat, Mario Bava's black and white cinematography is gorgeous is sumptuous HD! We are treated to both the Italian version framed in 1.66;1 widescreen and the Us version which was re-scored and re-cut by American International Pictures, framed in 1.78;1 widescreen. The US version was re scored by composer Les Baxter, added a few additional scenes of humor, tagged on a new ending and removed references to marijuana, and it replaced the male narration with that of Nora, which I think worked quite well. Aside from the slight aspect ratio adjustment, the new score and the re-cut there are some differences in the image quality as well. The Italian version is darker and granier while the US version is a few shades lighter, losing some of the shadow detail but it does offer up more fine detail overall. It's a toss-up in my opinion but I think I prefer the image quality of the US in addition to . 


Onto the other features we have an introduction from by writer and critic Alan Jones, a new documentary All About the Girl directed by Calum Waddell It features interviews with directors Luigi Cozzi (The Killer Must Kill Again) and Richard Stanley (Dust Devil), plus authors Alan Jones (Profondo Argento) and Mikel Koven (La Dolce Morte) whom reflect fondly and directly on Mario Bava’s classic giallo. I was quite pleased to see the inclusion of Richard Stanley on the set, this guy needs to make more movies!\-

Carried over from the previous Anchor Bay release we have an  audio commentary by Mario Bava’s biographer Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava - All the Colors of the dark. At times it can sound like he's reading straight from his book but it jam-packed with information and trivia including the differences between the two versions of the film. Another carry-over is the interview with star John Saxon who reflects on his career at the time and experiences on the film, mentioning reason why Mario Bava may not have cared for him. 

This is a pretty great set with excellent picture quality, I love that Arrow Video are lavishing Mario Bava with definitive editions the very same way they did Dario Argento in years past, these are the must-own Mario Bava releases, and those Kino releases here in the US do not even come close to matching what Arrow have assembled - these are truly some serious labors of love. 


Special Edition
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of two versions of the film: The Girl Who Knew Too Much – the original Italian version; and Evil Eye – the re-edited and re-scored US version prepared by American International Pictures
- Original uncompressed 2.0 mono PCM audio for both versions
- Optional English subtitles for The Girl Who Knew Too Much
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for Evil Eye
- Audio commentary by Mario Bava’s biographer Tim Lucas
- Introduction by writer and critic Alan Jones (4 Minutes)
- All About the Girl – Filmmakers Luigi Cozzi (The Killer Must Kill Again) and Richard Stanley (Dust Devil), alongside authors Alan Jones (Profondo Argento) and Mikel Koven (La Dolce Morte) reflect on Mario Bava’s classic giallo (22 Minutes)
- International trailer (4 Minutes) 

- John Saxon Interview (10 Minutes)
- US trailer (2 Minutes) 
- 2 DVDs containing the Italian and US version of the film
- Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kier-La Janisse


Verdict: The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) is really the film that sparked the Giallo craze of the 1970's, begun by Mario Bava here and polished with Blood and Black Lace (1964) before being perfected by Argento a few years later. Considered by many a minor Mario Bava film it should not be overlooked by fans of whodunit murder mysteries and the Italian gialli, this is a classy piece of cinema and a top-notch thriller.