Wednesday, April 15, 2015

THE BEYOND (1981)

THE BEYOND (1981)
Super-Deluxe 3 Disc Collector's Edition 2xBD/CD

Label: Grindhouse Releasing
Region Code: A
Duration: 89 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 1.0 Mono, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian Dolby Digital Mono
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale

In Lucio Fulci's The Beyond a young woman named Liza (Catriona MacColl) inherits the Seven Doors Hotel in Louisiana, which just happens to be the site of a brutal lynch-mob murder in the '20s when a painter named Schweick whom was believed to have been a warlock was chain-whipped and nailed to the wall before being doused with a corrosive substance that melted away his flesh, it's quite a stomach churning scene and a damn impactful beginning to the film. What the vicious mob don't realize is that their actions this night have set in motion a series of events that will open one of the dreaded Seven Doors of Death many years later, as prophesied in the Book of Eibon.

Moving forward through time sixty years Liza will suffer the consequences of their vengeful act and possibly condemn the world to an apocalyptic fate in the process. No sooner has she arrived from New York City when a painter is critically injured after falling from a scaffold having been spooked by spectral encounter. The very next day an rather unfortunate plumber heads down to the flooded basement to tend to the root cause of the problem when a demonic hand reaches out from the water-logged and gouges his eyeball, a nasty Fulci trademark if ever there was one. Later that day the wife of the plumber visit the morgue to pay respects to her husband when she is doused in acid as a poorly placed vat of acid melts off her face. More bizarre death occurs soon after when Liza's friend Martin pays a visit to the library in search of the hotel blueprints only to fall from a ladder after a startle. Paralyzed by the fall he is torn apart by a horde of tarantulas which crawl out from beneath the bookshelves tearing at his nose, mouth and eyes.


After the painter's accident Liza befriends Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck) and then encounters a strange blind woman named Emily (Cinzia Monreale) who warns her not to return to the hotel. She shrugs it off but it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore as the weirdness continues, and at this point in the film we haven't even got to the neck-chomping possessed dogs or the zombie siege at the hospital, so brace yourselves. 

The Beyond is best viewed as a nightmare that subscribes to a strange dream logic punctuated by gruesome special effects and very unsettling imagery, if you're picking it apart scene by scene you're gonna have some problems. Make-up effects masters Gianetto DeRossi and Maurizio Trani were in fine form on The Beyond with brutal chain-whippings, acid-meltdowns, horrific zombies and some of that patented Lucio Fulci eye-gore, plus a brutal head-shot of a young woman that still wows me everytime I watch, this is a gore-masterpiece. 


The film has a surreal script from legendary Italian screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti and some keen cinematography from Lucio Fulci's preferred cameraman Sergio Salvati, who lenses the film with a atmospheric sense of the macabre that just pulls you in from the first frame on through to the last, a truly magnetic and horrific experience. 


Audio/Video: The Beyond (1981) arrives on Blu-ray in the U.S. from Grindhouse Releasing in 1080p HD framed in the (2.40:1) widescreen aspect ratio. Advertised as an HD transfer of the uncensored director's cut I assume this is not a brand new 2K master struck from the negative or it would have been advertised as such. Regardless, the HD image is strong with vibrant color reproduction, some nice depth and clarity and modest fine detail. Comparing it to the Arrow Video Blu-ray I could not detect a major difference between the two HD presentations, both appearing quite similar to one another. 


Onto the audio you have four options beginning with an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix by Academy Award winner Paul Ottosson, English DTS-HD MA Mono, English Dolby Digital Stereo and Italian Dolby Digital Mono. For the sake of this viewing I chose the surround remix and was very pleased, a nice surround sound presentation that brings a depth to proceedings, adding some additional life to the otherworldly sound design without sounding forced. Purists may wish to stick with the mono option but I am quite satisfied with the new surround remix, that Fabi Frizzi score sounds fantastic in surround. 


You might need a day or two to sift through all the bonus content on the 2-disc set as they are quite bountiful beginning with an audio commentary with actors Catriona MacColl and David Warbeck recorded back in 2000 if I am not mistaken. They have a playful rapport with each other as they remember fun facts and anecdotes from the shooting. This commentary is a carryover from both the previous Anchor Bay/Grindhouse Releasing DVD and was also featured on the Arrow Video Blu-ray. Then onto the German color pre-credit sequence with both German and English audio options, three trailers for the film, and a selection of radio spots and TV spots. 


You can look forward to no less than four Easter eggs on disc one alone, beginning with the 23 minute Voices from Beyond: Memories of Lucio Fulci with remembrances from Dardano Sacchetti, Franco Bruni, Veronica Lazar, Catriona MacColl, Gianetto DeRossi, Fabio Frizzi, Sergio Salvati, Giorgio Mariuzzo, and Fabrizio De Angelis. Other hidden extras include the alternate Seven Doors of Death intro, a series of images from the movie and a sound effects track. 

Onto an equally stuffed disc two we have three hours of new in-depth interviews with stars Catriona MacColl, Cinzia Monreale and Giovanni De Nava, U.S. production manager Larry Ray, make-up artists Giannetto DeRossi and Maurizio Trani, cinematographer Sergio Salvati, writer Dardano Sacchetti, producer Fabrizio De Angelis, daughter Antonella Fulci and composer Fabio Frizzi. Carried over from the Arrow Video Blu-ray is a High Rising Productions featurette, an interview with U.S. distributor Terry Levene. These interviews not only cover the filming of The Beyond but also paint a portrait of the infamous director who is remembered in numerous ways, as a technical genius, a sarcastic personality, and someone who guarded his own sensitivity with a certain amount of vulgarity, but it's clear that those closest to him valued him as a director and a friend, Fulci was a complex man. I think the strongest attribute of the extras a whole is the cumulative portrait of the often times misunderstood director. 


There are almost 2 hours worth of vintage interviews culled a 1988 audio taped of Lucio Fulci and various appearances of MacColl, Warbeck and Fulci from Eurofest and the Festival of Fantastic Films. Additionally there are an extensive array of galleries totalling almost four hundred images of behind-the-scenes shots, stills, various video releases and quite a bit more. Tucked away on the menus of disc two are two more Easter Eggs, a now and then location visit and the Necrophagia video for "And You Will Live in terror" directed by wildman Jim Van Bebber.


Separate from the extras on the two Blu-rays are a third disc, a CD of the remastered score from Fabio Frizzi, a haunting score that lingers long after the end credits. There's also a 12-page booklet with liner notes by horror journalists Chas. Balun and Martin Beine and an extensive Lucio Fulci filmography. The first 5000 of these have a glow-in-the-dark slipcover, which is a pretty nifty bonus.  


What more could you possibly want in regard to The Beyond? About the only thing I can figure might be a featurette with contemporary directors reminiscing about their first experiences watching the film, that would have been a fun one.

Special Features: 
- Spectacular HD digital transfer of the original UNCENSORED Director's Cut
- Breathtaking 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound re-mix by Academy Award winner Paul Ottosson
- Original 11-track Soundtrack CD by Fabio Frizzi newly remastered in stunning 96khz sound from the original studio master tapes.
- Provocative commentary by stars Catriona MacColl and genre superstar David Warbeck
- Lost German pre-credit sequence in FULL COLOR in German and English (16 Mins) 
- Looking Back - The Creation of The Beyond (48 Mins) 
- The New Orleans Connection - Larry Ray (44 Mins)
- Beyond and Back - Catriona MacColl (34 Mins) 
- See Emily Play - Cinzia Monreale (22 Mins) 
- Making It Real - Gianetto DeRossi and Maurizio Trani (32 Mins) 
- Lucio Fulci Interview - August 1988 - Part 1 (20 Mins)
- Lucio Fulci Interview - August 1988 - Part 2 (13 Mins) 
- Eurofest '94 - David Warbeck and Lucio Fulci (46 Mins) 
- Eurofest '96 - Catriona MacColl and David Warbeck (5 Mins) 
- 1996 Festival of Fantastic Films - Catriona MacColl (12 Mins) 
- 1996 Festival of Fantastic Films - David Warbeck (21 Mins) 
- Beyond Italy - U.S. Distributor Terry Lee (19 Mins) 
- Still Galleries: Productions Stills (80 Images), Behind the Scenes (81 Images)
- Promotional Images Gallery: Italy (13 Images), U.S. (40 Images), French (16 Images), Video releases (56 Images), Beyond the Beyond (101 Images) 

- Grindhouse releasing Previews (32 Mins) 
- International Trailer (3 Mins) 
- German Trailer (3 Mins) 
- US Trailer (7 Doors of Death) (3 Mins) 
- US Re-Release Trailer (1 Mins) 
- US TV Spots  (7 Doors of Death (1 Mins) 
- US Re-Release Radio Spot (1 Mins) 
- Easter Egg: Voices from Beyond: Memories of Lucio Fulci from Dardano Sacchetti, Franco Bruni, Veronica Lazar, Catriona MacColl, Gianetto DeRossi, Fabio Frizzi, Sergio Salvati, Giorgio Mariuzzo, Fabrizio De Angelis (23 Mins) 
- 12 Page Collector's Booklet with Liner notes by legendary horror journalist Chas. Balun and EuroHorror expert Martin Beine
- Lucio Fulci Filmography

- Limited Edition of 5000 copies Glow-in-the-Dark Slipcover 
- Easter Eggs: Seven Doors of Death Intro (1 Mins), Still Images from The Beyond 
(17 Mins), Audio Sound Effects (11 Mins), Location Visit (2 Mins), Necrophagia Music Video (5 Mins)

The Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray of Lucio Fulci's The Beyond is an attractively packaged special edition jam-packed with a stunning array of new extras with a pleasing HD upgrade. A gorgeous package all around, a phenomenal fright film loaded with creepy atmosphere and torrents of dazzling gore, it doesn't get anymore essential than this one right here. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981)

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981)

Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 98 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Kurt Russell, Isaac Hayes, Donald Pleasence, Tom Atkins, Adrienne Barbeau, Charles Cyphers, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton, Lee Van Cleef, Season Hubley

In John Carpenter's Escape from New York it is established that the entire island of Manhattan has been evacuated and converted into an enormous walled prison following some sort of natural disaster. New York City has been walled-off from the rest of the world, all the waterways and bridges have been mined to prevent escape. America's criminals are incarcerated there, once you enter you do not leave ever. Inside the prison the city has become a lawless wasteland of outlaws lead by a hierarchy of criminals who rule the landscape with an iron-fist of violence. 

At the start of the movie Air Force one has been hijacked by the terrorist organization the National Liberation Front who are threatening to crash the jet and kill the president of the U.S. (Donald Pleasance). Making good on their threat a short time later the plane crashes into a skyscraper in Manhattan but the President survives after having been placed inside an escape pod. However, he falls into the hands of the Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes) who in turn demands that the inmates of Manhattan be allowed to leave the island within the next 24-hours or he will execute the president.  

With few options left the New York Police Commissioner Bob Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) offers a one-time deal to a former US Special Forces soldier turned criminal named Snake Plissken, who has just arrived at the facility for detainment following the attempted robbery of the Federal Reserve. Realizing that he's going in one way or the other Snake accepts the deal, to rescue the President and the contents of his briefcase, within the next 24-hours and receive a full pardon for his crimes. If he should fail his mission a timed explosive injected into his arteries will detonate and kill him, it seems that time is of essence. 

With that Plissken silently drops into Manhattan via a glider under the cover of darkness landing atop the world Trade Center. Afterward making his way among the labyrinth of ruins and the violent locals on his quest to rescue the President. Along the way he meets a friendly cab driver named Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine) who directs him towards Harold "Brain" Hellman (Harry Dean Stanton) and his busty lady friend Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau) who help him navigate the city and secure the President. 

Carpenter does a great job of world building, the garbage-strewn streets and colorful locals make for a fun and violent trip for the duration of the film. When Snake isn't dealing with the subterranean flesh eaters known as the crazies who roam the streets at night he must fight an enormous brute named Slag (Ox Baker) to the death for the entertainment of the Duke of New York.

Kurt Russell is quite the badass, a minimal talker and consummate ass-kicker, playing an Eastwood-type character against the Lee Van Cleef warden. He's iconic with his camouflage pants, the eye-patch, long hair and grizzled face.  Plissken has an I don't care attitude that makes him one of the best on screen anti-heros in all of cinema in my opinion. Here he's channeling Clint Eastwood Man with No Name to near perfection, this is great stuff. He plays it so well it's hard to believe this was casting against type as for year Russell was a known Disney commodity in such films as The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, but he pulls it off to perfection. 

Issac Hayes makes for a bit of an understated but menacing villain, with his crew of cronies including Brain, and a whacked-out character named Romero (Frank Doubleday) who has a crazy look about him and a strange penchant for hissing. The strange cast of characters and aesthetic definitely gives the film a vibe similar to The Warriors (1979), I see the two as kindred spirits of a sort.  John Carpenter made quite a damn fine film with this one, a nihilistic slice of cinema with a fantastic cast of characters and one legendary bad ass by way of Russell's Snake Plissken. 

Audio/Video: John Carpenter's Escape from New york arrives on Blu-ray with brand new 2K hi-def scan of the inter-positive, struck from the original negative and the results are very pleasing. This one is a tad brighter than the previous MGM Blu-ray and offers more detail overall, some of the night scenes are more accessible and you can see just what the hell is happening onscreen, the older Blu-ray and Special Edition DVD of the film were impenetrable at times and being able follow what's happening onscreen is an added bonus. Additionally there's looks to be a new color grading happening, which looks good, if occasionally markedly different from  previous interpretation, which is what color grading boils down to, unless it it supervised by the original cinematographer. 


Sharpness and fine detail have never been the bread and butter of this particular film, shot on '80s film stock and loaded with dim night scenes this one has some issues in that area but the new transfer and improved contrast go a long way towards improving the presentation. 

Onto audio options we have a choice of DTS-HD MA 5.1 and DTS-HD MA 2.0 and both are satisfying experiences, the 2.0 will be closer to the theatrical experience but the 5.1 is pretty great with a nice dynamic range and a sense of depth that doesn't feel forced, both option make the most of the score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth.

Scream Factory have ported over nearly all the bonus content from the previous MGM DVD except for one trailers, a montage, and the Making of John Carpenter’s Snake Plissken Chronicles and the accompanying comic book, so you might want to at least keep that comic book if you are trading-up. Carried over from the DVD are  the Audio Commentary With Director John Carpenter And Actor Kurt Russell and the Audio  Commentary With Producer Debra Hill And Production Designer Joe Alves. If you have never listened to the original original commentary with Russell/Carpenter you are missing out, they have a great camaraderie and it makes for a fantastic commentary track, the same can be said of their commentaries for Big Trouble in Little China and The Things, three of the most enjoyable commentaries ever recorded in my opinion. Also carried over are a Deleted Scene: The Original Opening Bank Robbery Sequence, the Return To Escape From New York Featurette, Theatrical Trailers and an array of Photo Galleries. 

Being a Scream Factory Collector's Edition there are loads of new extras to enjoy, beginning with a brand new commentary from actress Adrienne Barbeau and cinematographer Dean Cundey moderated by Sean Clark, offering some interesting anecdotes about the making of the film, not anywhere near the level of geek-gasm as the Carpenter/Russell track but still a good listen. 

Then onto five new featurettes produced fr this release, beginning with  Big Challenges In Little Manhattan: The Visual Effects Of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (14 Mins) featuring interview with Dennis and Robert Kotak who speak about creating the miniature in camera effects used on the film, the glider scene, working with James Cameron on Corman productions Battle Beyond the Stars and Galaxy of Terror before collaborating on Escape from New York. Scoring The Escape: A Discussion With Composer Alan Howarth (19 Mins) is conducted by Sean Clark with the composer relaying how he came to collaborate with Carpenter, how their collaborations worked in the studio and he even sits down at the synthesizer and plays a few clips of the score. Howarth and Clark also discuss various releases of the soundtrack including the original LP, expanded score CD and the more recent Death Waltz LP.

On Set With John Carpenter: The Images Of Escape from New York with Photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker (11 Mins) is an interview with the on-set photographer who shares numerous behind-the-scenes pics while discussing her role as film historians on Carpenter sets. Lots of great shot including one of Avatar director James Cameron painting a glass matte painting used in the film. 

I Am Taylor: An Interview With Actor Joe Unger (9 Mins) who was cut from the film when the original opening bank robbery scene was cut from the film, nonetheless he is here to discuss his time on the film. The last of the new extras is My Night On The Set: An Interview With Filmmaker David DeCoteau (5 Mins) HD whom relays his night on set during the making of the film when Roger Corman's team was brought onto to do some of the insert shots for the film. Lastly we have a reversible sleeve of artwork, though I prefer the original artwork featuring the decapitated statue of liberty in the background, even though it is not a scene from the film. 

Special  Features
Disc One 

- NEW 2K High Definition Scan Of The Inter-Positive, Struck From The Original Negative
- NEW Audio Commentary With Actress Adrienne Barbeau And Director Of Photography Dean Cundey
- Audio Commentary With Director John Carpenter And Actor Kurt Russell
- Audio Commentary With Producer Debra Hill And Production Designer Joe Alves

Disc Two 
- NEW Big Challenges In Little Manhattan: The Visual Effects Of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (14 Mins) HD with Dennis Skotak, Robert Skotak and more
- NEW Scoring The Escape: A Discussion With Composer Alan Howarth (19 Mins) HD
- NEW On Set With John Carpenter: The Images Of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK With Photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker (11 Mins) HD
- NEW I Am Taylor: An Interview With Actor Joe Unger (9 Mins) HD
- NEW My Night On The Set: An Interview With Filmmaker David DeCoteau (5 Mins) HD
- Deleted Scene: The Original Opening Bank Robbery Sequence (11 Mins) HD
- Return To Escape From New York Featurette (23 Mins) SD
- Theatrical Trailers (3 Mins) HD
- Photo Galleries – Behind-The-Scenes (143 Images) , Posters And Lobby Cards (49 Images) 


John Carpenter's Escape from New York (1981) looks great in HD and the new Scream Factory bonus features make this the most comprehensive and definitive edition to date, a winner all the way around, easily topping the MGM Blu-ray with improved brightness and contrast, you can now see what's actually happening in a few of those darker scenes that were previously murky. Escape from New York is a badass movie and now we have a proper badass Blu-ray release of it to enjoy. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Arrow Video US July releases to include Stray Cat Rock, Cemetery Without Crosses, and Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive



MVD Entertainment Group furthers the distribution of Arrow Video in the US with a strong schedule of July titles...

STRAY CAT ROCK


Limited Edition Dual Format BD/DVD

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMAqQqh1F-s

The Stray Cat Rock series stars Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood, Blind Woman's Curse) who with these five films began her reign as the badass action queen of the era.

In these five tales of rebellious youth she stars alongside the gorgeous Bunjaku Han (Love Letter) and Tatsuya Fuji (In the Realm of the Senses). In Delinquent Girl Boss, a girl gang go up against criminal organisation the Seiyu Group, where following a fixed boxing match blood is shed and friendships are tested. In Wild Jumbo, Kaji and the gang get involved in a kidnapping and the robbery of a religious organisation. In Sex Hunter Kaji's girl gang go up against The Eagles, a group led by Fuji where sex and violence erupt over the treatment of 'half-breeds'. In Machine Animal gang rivalry is once again the focus with two gangs pursuing some LSD pushers looking to move a big score. The series swansong, Beat '71, sees Kaji framed and sent to prison by her boyfriend's father and with the help of some hippies she strives to be re-united.

Directed by genre veterans Yasuharu Hasebe (Massacre Gun, Retaliation) and Toshiya Fujita (Lady Snowblood) the films feature a psychedelic mix of girl gangs, bikers, sex, drugs and rock and roll with plenty of ass-kicking to boot, all captured in a delirious mash-up of pop aesthetics including split screens, freeze frames, injections of color, frenetic editing and dizzying angles, making these films a riotous joy from beginning to end.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
- Limited Edition Blu-ray (3000 copies only)
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of all five films in the Stray Cat Rock series
- Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
- New English subtitle translation of all five films
- Interview with Yasuharu Hasebe director of Delinquent Girl Boss, Sex Hunter and Machine Animal
- Interview with actor Tatsuya Fuji, star of all five films
- Interview with actor Yoshio Harada, star of Beat '71
- Original Trailers
- Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp

Region: Free
Duration: 80/84/85/82/86 mins
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 / 2.45:1 / 2.50:1
Audio: Mono
Color
Discs: 5
USA MSRP: $69.95
Release Date: July 14
Cat: AV008



CEMETERY WITHOUT CROSSES


Dual Format BD/DVD

YOU BELIEVE IN REVENGE BUT I DON'T... IT NEVER ENDS

Inspired by the international success of the Dollars trilogy, and dedicated to director Sergio Leone,Cemetery Without Crosses offers a Gallic spin on the Spaghetti Western formula thanks to its star and creator, Robert Hossein (best-known to English-speaking audiences for his role in Jules Dassin's Rififi).

After her husband is lynched by bandits, Michèle Mercier (Mario Bava's Black Sabbath) seeks revenge and turns to an old friend, played by Hossein, for help. A solitary figure who lives in a ghost town and dons a single black glove before each gunfight, Hossein is initially reluctant but soon infiltrates the widow's enemies to force a showdown.

Cemetery Without Crosses is a darker breed of Western, bleak and melancholy in tone amid the explosive set pieces. It also boasts an outstanding score by composer Andre Hossein (father of Robert) and the catchiest of themes, sung by cult figure Scott Walker.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
- Brand new 2K restoration of the film from original film elements
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Original Italian and English soundtracks in uncompressed PCM mono audio
- Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
- Remembering Sergio - an all-new interview with star and director Robert Hossein, filmed exclusively for this release
- French television news report on the film's making, containing interviews with Hossein, and actors Michèle Mercier and Serge Marquand
- Archive interview with Hossein
- Trailers
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by James Flames
Illustrated collector's booklet containing new writing by Ginette Vincendeau and Rob Young

Region: A+B/1+2

Rating: Unrated
Duration: 90 mins
Language: Italian/English
Subtitles: English/English SDH
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Mono 1.0 PCM
Color
Discs: 2
USA MSRP: $39.95
Release Date: July 21
Cat: AV014


EATEN ALIVE


Dual Format BD/DVD

MEET THE MANIAC AND HIS FRIEND.

Nearly a decade before he donned Freddy Kruger's famous red and green sweater, horror icon Robert Englund delivered a supremely sleazy performance in Eaten Alive - another essay in taut Southern terror from Tobe Hooper, director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Deep in the Louisiana bayou sits the ramshackle Starlight Hotel, destination of choice for those who like to check in but not check out! Presided over by the bumbling, mumbling Judd (and his pet croc which he keeps in a large pond out front), the patron of this particular establishment may seem like a good-natured ol' Southern gent - but he has a mean temper on him, and a mighty large scythe to boot...

Oozing atmosphere from its every pore (the entire film was shot on a sound-stage at the famous Raleigh Studios, which lends it a queasy, claustrophobic feel) Eaten Alive matches The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for sheer insanity - and even draughts in Chain Saw star Marilyn Burns as the terrorised woman-in-peril, alongside William Finley and Mel Ferrer.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- Brand new 2K transfer from the original camera negative
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, make-up artist Craig Reardon and stars Roberta Collins, William Finley and Kyle Richards
- New introduction to the film by director Tobe Hooper
- Brand new interview with Hooper
- My Name is Buck: Star Robert Englund discusses his acting career
- The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball - The story of the South Texas bar owner on whom Eaten Alive is loosely based
- 5ive Minutes with Marilyn Burns - The star of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre talks about working on Eaten Alive
- The Gator Creator: archival interview with Hooper
- Original theatrical trailers for the film under its various titles Eaten Alive, Death -Trap,Starlight Slaughter and Horror Hotel
- US TV and Radio Spots
- Alternate credits sequence
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
- Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film, illustrated with original archive stills and posters
MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED!

Region: A+B/1+2
Rating: Unrated
Duration: TBC
Language: English
Subtitles: English SDH
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Mono
Color
Discs: 2
USA MSRP: $39.95
Release Date: July 28
Cat: AV015

Arrow's global reputation as one of the finest labels in the world has come about through consistent high quality product and a focus on fan-based products always at its core. This includes a major investment on restoring original material through modern techniques as well as pioneering packaging solutions and newly commissioned artwork for each release.

SUMMER IS CUMMING! Impulse Pictures JUNE 2015 New Releases


42nd Street Forever: The Peep Show Collection Vol. 11 DVD


Label: Impulse Pictures
Release Date: June 9th 2015
Duration: 107 minutes
Not Rated 

Full Screen 1.33:1 
English Dolby Digital Mono 
Region 0
Production year: 1970s-80s
Director: Various
Cast: Various

Synopsis: Their place in history is undeniable. Hardcore 8mm stag films introduced explicit human sexuality to the public. Predating every other moving picture home format, these inauspicious productions provided not only a window to a whole other world, but also immediate relief for those not fortunate enough to make their fantasies into reality. Thousands of these underground movies were made between the 1960s and 1980s, and sold in the back of sex magazines or distributed to the almost 60,000 private peep show booths located in adult stores in most major cities.

Impulse Pictures is proud to present 42ND STREET FOREVER - THE PEEP SHOW COLLECTION VOL. 11, a new, continuing series of salacious 8mm shorts, re-mastered from original film prints. This collection features fifteen classic loops with titles like Girl Scout Nookies, Hi Karate, Licorice Lesbians, Cucumber Girl, After School Fun and more. Watch for adult film stars Annie Sprinkle, Linda Shaw, Maria Tortuga, and Leslie Bovee in these raunchy rarities!

Bonus Features:
- Liner Notes from Cinema Sewer Editor, Robin Bougie


Evil Ways Of Love (1972) DVD


Label: Impulse Pictures
Release Date: June 9th 2015
Duration: 64 minutes
Not Rated 

Full Screen 1.33:1 
English Dolby Digital Mono 
Region 0
Director: Unknown (Rumored to be Gerard Damiano)
Cast: Unknown

Synopsis: Off the sunny, sandy beaches of Florida, is a houseboat named “Evil Ways” captained by “Andy W.”, a man seeking pleasure with one girl after another. Cheated on by his fiancée, Andy sails the ocean in his floating lust-barge, bringing countless new women aboard to enjoy sex, pretzels, lunch meat and Schlitz beer. He is a sadist without a shirt, on mission to bang busty babes in every way possible.

This early 70’s adult oddity is shrouded in mystery. It’s a film that contains only a title card for identification. There are no opening or closing credits, and it is a very compact 64 minutes in length. Unconfirmed rumors state this is directed by the one and only Gerard Damiano, right before hitting the big time with the world-famous blockbuster adult feature, DEEP THROAT, arguably the most well-known adult film of all time.

Bonus Features:
- Chapter Selections

- Special Sneak Peek Sampler of 42ND STREET FOREVER: THE PEEP SHOW COLLECTION

Jack Hill's COFFY(1973) arrives on Blu-ray April 20th in UK from Arrow Video !


AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY APRIL 20th 2015

THE ONE CHICK HIT SQUAD!

Arrow Video is thrilled to announce the World premiere Blu-ray release of Jack Hill’s Blaxploitation classic Coffy, the film, starring the iconic Pam Grier, would pave the way for other genre classics such as Foxy Brown and later Quentin Tarantino’s homage to the actress, Jackie Brown, with the director describing Coffy as “one of the most entertaining films ever made”.

With Coffy Pam Grier irrevocably changed cinema history, it was her wonderful screen presence and acting chops along with the unflinching faith of her director that would allow a woman in the lead role, a role traditionally filled by a man, giving prominence to female actors in action roles for the first time. It might be fair to say without Coffy we wouldn't have Sheba Shayne, Ellen Ripley, Sarah Conner, Trinity, Beatrix Kiddo or Hit Girl.

Nurse by day, vigilante by night, on a mission to single-handedly take down the dope, prostitution, and political corruption ring that was plaguing Los Angeles and responsible for turning her 11-year-old sister onto drugs. Equal parts strong, street smart, sexy, and sophisticated, Coffy arrives on Blu-ray in the UK from April 20th 2015.

The latest in a series of director-approved releases from Jack Hill (following Spider Baby, Pit Stop and Foxy Brown) will feature a restored high definition transfer available for the first time on Blu-ray anywhere in the world alongside an audio commentary by writer-director Jack Hill. Various new interviews are featured on this disc including, A Taste of Coffy a brand new interview with Jack Hill, The Baddest Chick in Town!, a brand new interview with Pam Grier in which she discusses both Coffy and its follow up, Foxy Brown.

Mikel J. Koven, author of Blaxploitation Film (Kamera), guides us through Blaxploitation!, a video essay on the genre, its antecedents, development, demise and legacy. Rounding off the Blu-ray is the original theatrical trailer and a gallery, presented in new artwork packaging by Gilles Vranckx, and a collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by critic Cullen Gallagher and a profile of Pam Grier by Yvonne D. Sims, author of Women in Blaxploitation, illustrated with archive stills and posters.

Synopsis
Regarded as one of the best of the Blaxploitation genre along with Shaft and Superfly, Coffy has been described as “one of the most entertaining films ever made” by Quentin Tarantino.

With Coffy Pam Grier was catapulted to stardom and iconic status following solid roles in earlier ‘chicks in chains’ films. Here she plays nurse ‘Coffy’ Coffin seeking vigilante justice when her little sister is hospitalised by a smack pusher. Coffy uses her body, bullets and blades to get justice, working her way to the top of the criminal ring. But as she nears the top she finds the level of corruption is closer to home than she thinks.

When American International Pictures lost the chance to make Cleopatra Jones the studio looked for another project and turned to up and coming B-movie auteur Jack Hill (Spider Baby, Pit Stop). Coffy was such a success that the studio fast tracked Grier’s next movie (Foxy Brown) with Hill straight away.

Special Features
· Restored High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation, on Blu-ray for the first time in the world!
· Original uncompressed mono PCM audio
· Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
· Audio commentary by writer-director Jack Hill
· A Taste of Coffy – A brand new interview with Jack Hill
· The Baddest Chick in Town! – A brand new interview with Pam Grier on Coffy and its follow up, Foxy Brown
· Blaxploitation! – A video essay by author Mikel J. Koven (Blaxploitation Film) on the history and development of the genre
· Original theatrical trailer
· Image Gallery
· Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
· Booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Cullen Gallagher and a profile of Pam Grier by Yvonne D. Sims, author of Women in Blaxploitation, illustrated with archive stills and posters

Specs
Release Date: Monday 20th April 2015
Certificate : 18
Language: English (English Subtitles)
Running Time: 90 minutes
Region: B
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Mono PCM

DAY OF ANGER (1967)

DAY OF ANGER (1967)
DVD/BD Dual Format Edition 

Label: Arrow Video
Region Code: A,B/1,2
Duration: 114 Minutes, 86 Minutes
Audio: Italian/English PCM Mono with Optional english SDH Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2.35:1)
Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Giuliano Gemma, Walter Rilla
Director: Tonino Valerii

Scott (Gemma) is a scum-of-the-Earth street sweeper in the dusty town of Clifton, Arizona, a bastard son of a whore consigned to a life of picking up trash and disrespect. All that changes when a merciless gunslinger named Frank Talby (Van Cleef) arrives in town in pursuit of a double-crossing former associate named Wild Jack (Al Mulock) who disappeared with $50,000 of his money a decade earlier. 

For reasons unknown Talby takes a liking to Scott and defends him from the locals who treat the street-cleaner like a human turd, much to the chagrin of the local folk. Fearing the townspeople might retaliate against him once the gunslinger leaves town Scott follows Talby when he eaves in search of Wild Jack. catching up to him Scott saves his life proving his worth to the gunslinger who takes him on as an apprentice of sorts, teaching his eight rules along the way which will serve the young would-be gunslinger well in the near future. 

Day of Anger is a good watch with a solid story that is surprisingly straight-forward without the political leanings of Companeros (1970) or A Bullet for the General (1970), this concerning an aging mentor and his young apprentice and their inevitable separation and show down, and the shady dealings of seemingly upright citizens of Clifton, Arizona. 

Lee Van Cleef is a rock, a soft-spoken but bad ass gunslinger, pretty much the same one he played in all of the Italian westerns to be honest, but when you have achieved stoic perfection why change it up. Giuliano Gemma's portrayal of the somewhat simple-minded apprentice is good stuff, his transformation from a sympathetic character into dominating and cocky quick-draw gunslinger makes for a quality viewing experience with some depth to it. 

There are some great lines from Van Cleef, while being doctored up after a wound the doc asks him why he turned their street-cleaner into a rabid wold, to which he replies, "He was born a wolf, but you made him rabid.", that's just great stuff. Visually the film is quite nice, some panoramic shots of the sweltering western vistas and some nicely staged gun play and whatnot, though perhaps not as stunning as Sergio Leone, but so few Westerns are and that's a bit unfair to say, even though director Tonino Valerii was a protege of Leone. 

The gun fights are pretty decent, the final showdown in not unexpected but is gripping just the same, and there's a good dialogue exchange that nicely caps off the film with one of the men having learned their lessons well. My favorite scene is a dual unlike any other I have scene in a Western, with both them riding towards each other on horses from a distance with front-loading rifles, definitely some fun stuff. 

The score from composer Riz Ortolani is pretty great, one of my favorites western scores outside of composer Ennio Morricone. Featuring some great '60s guitar work and a brass tinged opening theme that is fantastic. If you only know Ortolani from his eerie and gorgeous electronic score for Cannibal Holocaust I think you will be surprised by how great this western score is.
Audio/Video: Day of Anger is presented by arrow Video on Blu-ray with a brand-new high-definition restoration from the original Techniscope negative and it looks great, a sweaty and dusty spaghetti western framed in the scope aspect ratio with an appropriate amount of fine film grain. We have a pleasing amount of depth and fine detail to the image, the close-up shots of the sweaty visages reveal plenty pores and craggy facial features, textures of the period clothing are resolved with a surprising amount of detail. There are two viewing options, the longer 114-minute Italian version (with both English and Italian audio) and the shorter 89-minute International version, I could detect no discernible difference in image quality between the two. 

Audio options include both Italian and English PCM Mono 1.0 with Optional English SDH Subtitles. The English-dub is done quite decently but the Italian track seems to have more depth and fidelity, particularly concerning the Riz Ortolani (Cannibal Holocaust) score which is superb. 

Onto the extras Arrow Video do not disappoint with three viewing options to enjoy, the longer Italian cut with both original Italian and English-dub, and the shorter International version with English only audio. While the shorter version is just a re-edited version of the longer Italian version there is one scene not included on the longer cut that appears on the shorter version, which is included here as a stand-alone deleted scene. 

REVERSIBLE ARTWORK 
There are three interviews totalling over an hour, the first with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi who write not only many spaghetti westerns, such as The Grand Duel, but some classic giallo titles like Blade of the Ripper, all the Colors of the Dark and Torso. Additionally there's a previously unreleased interview with director Tonino Valerii and a new one with his biographer Roberto Curti. Bonus content is finished up with six-minutes of trailers for the film, a reversible sleeve of artwork featuring newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist and the original poster art ad a booklet new writing on the film by Howard Hughes that is illustrated with original poster designs for the film.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
- Brand new restoration from the original 35mm Techniscope camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of both versions of the film: the original Italian theatrical release, and the shortened version that was screened internationally
- Original uncompressed mono audio, with English or Italian soundtracks on the longer cut and an English soundtrack on the shorter one
- Newly translated English subtitles for Italian audio and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for English audio
- Brand new interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (13 Mins)
- Brand new interview with Tonino Valerii’s biographer Roberto Curti (43 Mins)
- Previously unreleased 2008 interview with Tonino Valerii (11 Mins)
- Deleted scene (2 Mins)
-Theatrical trailers (6 Mins)
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist
- Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Howard Hughes (author of Spaghetti Westerns), illustrated with original poster designs

Great to see yet another bad ass Lee Van Cleef spaghetti Western arrive on Blu-ray

following the Grindhouse Releasing of The Big Gundown (1968). An enjoyable watch, if you love the spaghetti  westerns this is a solid entry with a fantastic score but not quite on par with the films of Sergio Leone or Sergio Corbucci in my opinion, but for a dusty shoot 'em up this is damn decent stuff. The presentation from Arrow Video is top-notch and stacked with value-added extras and worth a purchase if you're a fan of the Italian westerns. It should be noted that this is one of Arrow's first North American titles, playable in both Region A and B, the disc content is exactly the same as the UK version.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964)

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964) 

Label: Arrow Video
Region Code: A,B,1,2
Rating: 18 Certificate
Duration: 89 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.66:1)
Audio: Italian/English Dolby Digital Mono and PCM with optional English SDH Subtitles

Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Francesca Ungaro, Luciano Pigozzi,Claude Dantes, Mary Arden, Dante DiPaolo

Of all the releases announced by Arrow Video (US) it was Mario Bava's stylish whodunit Blood and Black Lace (1964) that most intrigued me, a  classic slice of Italian murder cinema bathed in vibrant primary colors and Euro-stylish set design with a fantastic bossanova lounge score and more than a few wonderfully staged murders. Bava set the tone for the Italian whodunit murder mysteries with the black and white The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963), a film that established many of the tropes we have come to enjoy from genre but it was Blood and Black Lace (1964) jut the year after that laid the foundation for the modern giallo with it's stylish blend of vivid set design, black-gloved murder, exotic scores, and drop-dead gorgeous women. It was a formula that would not be improved upon until Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970). 


Gorgeous brunette fashion model Isabella (Francesca Ungaro) is murdered by a man in a trench coat with a faceless mask outside the the Cristian Haute Couture fashion house on a dark and windy night. Inspector Sylvester (Thomas Reiner) is assigned the case and interviews the co-managers of the salon, Max Marian (Cameron Mitchell) and the widowed Countess Cristina Como (Eva Bartok) but finds out very little about what could have lead to the murder of the fashion model. However, when it is discovered that Isabella kept a diary pretty much everyone at the fashion house begins to act like a cat caught with the bird in it's mouth. Apparently she had dirt on everyone scribbled into that book and someone is willing to murder every model in the place to get to it before the police do. 


The murderer has a classic look, a black trench coat and a faceless stocking mask with a brimmed hat, which looks quite a but like Rorschach from Watchmen without the ink blots. On his journey to recover the diary he will strangle, mangle, drown and burn his way through a series of gorgeous models, none of which are overly graphic or gory but they are certainly vicious. The killer mangles a woman's face with a clawed gauntlet, drowning one, smothering yet another and before tied-up and tortured before having her face pressed up against a red-hot furnace, and for a model I am sure that's a double negative, disfigurement and death. 


As you might expect of a film full of fashion models the women are completely glamorous and gorgeous without exception, particularly the short-cropped Tao-Li (Claude Dantes) who gets a fantastic drowning scene in a bathtub, those eyes are something special. It's worth noting that the bathtub murder would become a pretty standard Giallo trope afterward, as would the razor which the killer uses to stage her suicide after the fact.


There's no shortage of suspects in the movie, we have a police line-up featuring Max Marian (Cameron Mitchell years before his string of b-movies), a drug addled antique dealer named Franco (Dante DiPaolo) and employees of the fashion house, the pill-popping Marco (Massimo Righi) and the shifty-eyed Cesar (Luciano Pigozzi), the latter of whom reminded me just a little of the bug-eyed Peter Lorre. It could be any one of them or maybe none of them, but one thing's for sure, once the existence of that diary is revealed it becomes painfully clear that no one at the fashion house is without some damning secret of their own.

Keeping with the high visual standards we've come to expect from cinema master Mario Bava the film looks exquisite, the scenes of the killer stalking his prey in the darkness are bathed in shadow and atmospheric colored lighting, stylistically this is a visual feast and an obvious influence on the films of Dario Argento. A scene of the faceless murderer  pursuing Peggy (Mary Arden) through a shadowy antique shop is an obvious highlight, but there are loads of atmospheric scenes to enjoy.

Arrow have meticulously restored the film from the original camera negative which is presented here in its original, uncut Italian version running eighty-nine minutes.  The screenshot comparisons below speak for themselves in respect to the quality of the restoration. The screenshots are sourced from the new 2K restoration from the Arrow Video DVD (sorry, no Blu-ray drive on the PC) compared to the 2008 DVD release from VCI Entertainment. Clearly there is no comparison when it comes to image quality with the Arrow offering more detail, clarity and depth all the way around.



SCREEN GRABS
ARROW VIDEO (2015) TOP
VCI (2008) BOTTOM





















THE ARROW VIDEO RESTORATION 

MENU SCREEN GRABS 


SPECIAL FEATURES 

 Panel discussion on Mario Bava featuring Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava and Steve Della Casa, recorded at the 2014 Courmayeur Film Festival (11 Mins)



 The alternative US opening titles, sourced from Joe Dante’s private print and scanned in 2K especially for this release (2 Mins)


 Original theatrical trailer (3 Mins)


 Gender and Giallo – a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring the giallo’s relationship with the social upheavals of the 1960s and 70s (38 Mins)


Psycho Analysis – a new documentary on Blood and Black Lace and the origins of the giallo genre featuring interviews with directors Dario Argento (Suspiria) and Lamberto Bava (Demons), screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (All the Colors of the Dark) critics Roberto Curti and Steve Della Casa, and crime novelists Sandrone Dazieri and Carlo Lucarelli (55 Mins)

  
The Sinister Image: Cameron Mitchell – an episode of David Del Valle’s television series, devoted to the star of Blood and Black Lace and presented in full (56 Mins)


An appreciation by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, the creative duo behind Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (11 Mins)


40-Page Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Howard Hughes, author of Cinema Italiano and Mario Bava: Destination Terror, an interview with Joe Dante, David Del Valle on Cameron Mitchell and more, all illustrated with archive stills and posters


- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys


Yellow – the much-acclaimed neo-giallo by Ryan Haysom and Jon Britt (Blu-ray exclusive)

Arrow Video have breathed new life into this classic slice of Italian whodunit cinema with a brand-new and gorgeous 2K restoration that is by quite a stretch the best this film has ever looked on home video. No self-respecting horror fan or Mario Bava completest should be without this on their movie shelf, an essential and seminal slice of whodunit.