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ARROW FILMS SET TO BRING BRITISH DARK COMEDY HORROR HIT A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE TO NORTH AMERICA RELEASING ON iTUNES AND DIGITAL HD JANUARY 13, 2020

ARROW FILMS SET TO BRING BRITISH DARK COMEDY HORROR HIT A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE TO NORTH AMERICA RELEASING ON iTUNES AND DIGITAL HD JANUARY 13, 2020

Arrow Films is thrilled to announce that it will be releasing the critically acclaimed jet-black British comedy feature film A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE in the US and Canada on iTunes and Digital HD on January 13th, 2020.

Described as “Sightseers meets Thelma and Louise” (Deborah Haywood, Pin Cushion), A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE is the debut feature film from Writer-Director Staten Cousins Roe, produced by Forward Motion Pictures – a multi award-winning production company run by husband-wife duo Staten Cousins Roe and Poppy Roe, in addition to producers Charity Wakefield and Giles AldersonA SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE was inspired by the duo’s acclaimed short film This Way Out, which screened on HBO and Sundance Channel and received multiple awards.

Following its successful UK premiere at Arrow Video FrightFest 2019 in August, female-led A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE is a must-see this January, starring Olivier Award-winning Katie Brayben (Doctor Who, King Charles III, This Way Out), Poppy Roe (This Way Out, Drawn, The Leisure Class), Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Divergent, Me Before You, Malevolent) and Emmy-nominated Sian Clifford (Fleabag, Vanity Fair, Dodgy Dave).

A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE follows Lou Farnt (Katie Brayben): a 30-something, self-help addict who wants nothing more than to escape her overly controlling mother and the dead-end seaside town where she grew up. So when strange and strikingly confident new life coach Val (Poppy Roe) suddenly arrives on the scene and invites her on a road trip of alternative therapies, Lou finds the perfect opportunity to leave, and the perfect person to become. Unfortunately for Lou, Val’s a serial killer!

A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE is guaranteed to satisfy the self-help generation, and the modern human’s blood lust.

Staten Cousins Roe said:

“I started my first feature film ‘A Serial Killer’s Guide’ to Life with a small dedicated team and a tiny budget – we shot at over 30 locations in only two weeks and edited it ourselves at home. At the festival premiere the audience response was immense, and since then it’s gathered brilliant reviews. And now I’m excited to have my funny & violent road trip comedy become available to disturb audiences across the world. I followed the do-it-yourself first film approach of my heroes Christopher Nolan, the Coen brothers and Stanley Kubrick, and have made a truly independent film as my debut feature.”

A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE will be released on iTunes and Digital HD from 13th January 2020.

US: iTunes pre-order link
CAN: iTunes pre-order link

You can find out more about A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE on the website and Twitter

ABOUT ARROW FILMS: Arrow Films is a leading independent all-rights entertainment company, established in1991, operating in the UK, Republic of Ireland, U.S.A and Canada. Arrow Films is firmly dedicated to new cinema, developing an enviable slate of critically acclaimed films which will additionally enjoy a lasting lifespan across all of our ancillary channels, brands and labels, including Arrow Video and Arrow Academy. Recent acquisitions include Harpoon, Immortal, The Villainess, Aquarius and Hounds of Love. Additionally, Arrow Films is widely considered to be the global market leader in the Premium Home Entertainment market, fuelled by state-of-the-art in-house film restoration and highly sought-after Blu-ray editions of classic and cult cinema. www.arrowfilms.com

ABOUT FORWARD MOTION PICTURES: Forward Motion Pictures is a multi-award-winning independent production company based near Brighton, England. Run by husband and wife team Staten Cousins Roe and Poppy Roe, their first short film This Way Out was BAFTA-long-listed, played at over 30 Festivals, won 5 international awards and screened on HBO Europe & the Sundance Channel Europe. After producing Staten’s debut feature film, A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life, Forward Motion Pictures’ slate involves development across film and television, including a series adaptation of This Way Out, and Staten’s next horror feature film. www.forwardmotionpictures.com

Posted by Philip Rogers in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Stuff (1985)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Stuff (1985)

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By Nick Durham

Arrow Video is going to make me go fucking broke. That being said, when it comes to their quality Blu-ray releases, it's pretty much money well spent. Arrow's release of the Larry Cohen schlock classic The Stuff is no exception. A long time favorite film out of the long list of films that Cohen has been behind, The Stuff is a bona-fide guilty pleasure of ridiculousness and awesomeness; all wrapped up in a nice little package.

Most of you more than likely know the plot of The Stuff: The Stuff is a new and mysterious dessert that is taking the world by storm. Everyone seems to love it for some reason; so much so that it's putting other snack companies in tough spots. Enter professional industrial saboteur Moe (Cohen favorite and Law & Order vet Michael Moriarity), who is hired to uncover the secrets of The Stuff, and is eventually teamed up with young Jason (Scott Bloom), who has discovered that The Stuff is taking on a life of its own.

There's not much else to the story of The Stuff; other than the film is absolutely fucking bonkers. Moriarty plays it firmly tongue-in-cheek, while everyone else plays it relatively serious (for some reason), until we're introduced to Paul Sorvino's military man character, and from that point forward it's an absolute hoot. It also happens to be one of Cohen's better crafted films, and it also manages to contain enough social commentary to save it from being terrible schlock, and some of it shockingly manages to hold up today if you can believe that.

This Blu-ray release from Arrow Video is quite good, and definitely blows the old Anchor Bay DVD release from years back away. The film has been restored and looks better than ever, and the film's mono soundtrack sounds better than ever as well. There's a new documentary on the film featuring interviews from Cohen and others, the film's trailer is here as well (which features a commentary from Darren Lynn Bousman for some reason), and a collector's booklet as well.

All in all, Arrow may not have put the extreme amount of love and care into this release compared to some of their other releases, but this is still a great pick up regardless. I've always had a soft spot for The Stuff, as have many others, which is why it has managed to resonate for the past thirty plus years. So go out, pick this up, and indulge yourself aplenty.

Rating: 4/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Bride of Re-Animator (1989)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Bride of Re-Animator (1989)

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By Nick Durham

Oh Arrow Video, how you spoil me. No more having to watch that crap, out-of-print (and edited) DVD version from Artisan, here we are with a wonderful Blu-ray release of the underappreciated Bride of Re-Animator. Like they did with their Society release, Arrow has gone above and beyond with the treatment they’ve given this film, and this package is quite the sight to behold. This is a film I have held in relatively high regard, even if some of it feels a little cheaper in overall quality compared to the original.

This 1989 sequel to Stuart Gordon’s 1985 classic Re-Animator, Bride of Re-Animator finds Brian Yuzna (who produced the first film, as well as being the director of Society, Return of the Living Dead 3, and tons more) in the director’s chair this time around. The film picks up eight months after the massacre at Miskatonic, with Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot) in Peru during a civil war as meatball surgeons. They’re both still testing the limits of West’s reagent serum, and eventually the two of them wind up back at Miskatonic. There’s a cop (Claude Earl Jones) scoping them out for his own personal reasons, a beautiful woman (Fabiana Udenio) that has caught Dan’s eye, and the re-animated head of Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale) has returned to wreck havoc. Oh, and the boys are trying to make their own Frankenstein-ish monster from dead body parts, including the heart of Dan’s late fiancé Megan (who was played by the great Barbara Crampton in the original film).

Yeah, things are a little convoluted to say it lightly in terms of the plot and story of Bride of Re-Animator. Some of the character’s motivations, particularly Dan Caine’s, are so all over the place it’s hard to really sympathize with him, especially when he makes puppy dog eyes to any female character with a pulse. Plus, as I had mentioned earlier, some elements of it feel kind of cheap. One thing I will say is that the grotesque gore and makeup effects from the then fledgling KNB Effects group as well as Screaming Mad George and John Carl Buechler are the bloody icing on the cake. Some of the puppet effects have definitely not aged well though, but in all honesty that isn’t too much of a surprise. Those flaws aside, I still find this film to be an underappreciated sequel that sadly doesn’t get enough of the recognition that it deserves.

What also isn’t a surprise is how much love and care that Arrow Video has put into this Blu-ray release. The film has been remastered in 2K for the unrated version, and the R-rated version is here too for shits and giggles. While the unrated version looks great, there is a noticeable degradation in the picture quality during the unrated scenes of the film (which honestly makes it easy to tell what got cut from the film during its original release). There’s a bunch of commentary tracks featuring Yuzna, Combs, Abbot, Kurtzman, and more besides; as well as a retrospective with Yuzna, a few looks at the film’s FX, deleted scenes, and more. This limited edition set from Arrow also features a booklet reprint of the awesome comic book prequel to the first film. Yes, this set is a thing of beauty.

So yeah, it goes without saying that you need to get your hands on this Bride of Re-Animator set from Arrow. It’s a beautiful sight to behold, and it’s more than worth your time and attention. Pick this up while you still can.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Mutilator (1985)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Mutilator (1985)

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By Nick Durham

The Mutilator is one of those slasher flicks from the 80s that you may kind of remember, but if you do, you don’t remember it too well. Chances are you know the title at least, and yes, that is a great title for a piece of slasher trash. Funny enough, the original title for the film was Fall Break, which actually makes more sense considering the story revolves around a group of college douche bags on their fall break, and the film even has a fucking theme song entitled Fall Break. Oh well, a lot of films of this type in the 80s had at least two different titles at some point, so this actually isn’t that much of a surprise.

The Mutilator, as I said already, revolves around the typical brand of 80s college douche bags (and we know they’re douche bags because a couple of them wear sweaters tied around their necks or draped over their shoulders) who decide to take a trip to the beach house of owned by the father of our lead Ed Jr. (Matt Mitler). Thing is though, Ed’s father went a little off the deep end some years back when young Ed accidentally killed his mother with daddy’s rifle. Throughout the years, Big Ed has hunted a lot and made trophies of his kills, and now he has his sights set on his son and his friends.

The film’s flimsy plot isn’t done any favors by the laughably bad acting peppered throughout The Mutilator. In fact, the film as a whole seems really fucking amateurish in terms of its direction and technical aspects. This isn’t really that much of a big deal, because in the mid-80s, everyone and their mother was making slasher flicks in their back yards with camcorders they rented from the local video store. Where The Mutilator shines though is with its gore effects. For its time, they are really fucking good, and even though it takes us a while to get there, the gore shots and kills are worth the trip.

Arrow Video has done another fine job crafting a great Blu-ray set here. They’ve remastered the film in 2K, and somehow actually managed to piece together this rarely seen unrated version of the film as well. Somehow, someway, Arrow has managed to not make this movie look like shit. There’s a few different commentary tracks featuring writer/producer/director Buddy Cooper, as well as star Matt Mitler and female lead Ruth Martinez, and a new documentary featuring interviews with them and more besides. There’s a look back at the splatter effects of the film, screen tests, trailers, original and instrumental version of the film’s funky ass theme song, and a retrospective about the film’s super weird musical score (seriously, it’s weird). As usual, Arrow really packed in the goods special feature-wise.

So yeah, The Mutilator is an often forgotten 80s slasher trash fest that is gloriously awful, yet somehow endearing. It’s enjoyable in its badness though, and the film’s ending is a total hoot to say it lightly. Go check it out if you’ve never seen it before, and if you have seen the film before and have fond memories of it, pick up Arrow’s Blu-ray while you can.

Rating: 3/5 (film), 4.5/5 (special features)

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Tenderness of the Wolves (1973)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Tenderness of the Wolves (1973)

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By Nick Durham

Does the name Ulli Lommel ring a bell? If you’re a horror nerd (and chances are that you are since you’re here reading this) then you’ve no doubt heard of him, or at least been subjected to some of his more recent exercises in depravity. He really made a name for himself in the 80s with Boogeyman, which in itself was a pile of shit, but nowhere near as bad as his more recent, direct-to-DVD pieces of shit that he’s churned out at an alarming rate for Lions Gate. What you may not know however is that back in the day, Lommel was an up and coming director, and even an understudy of Andy fucking Warhol. His 1973 film, The Tenderness of the Wolves, is a surprisingly thoughtful and totally disturbing character study of infamous German serial killer Fritz Haarmann. It goes without saying that this is undoubtedly the best film that Lommel has ever made.

The late Kurt Raab plays Haarmann: a known homosexual in 1920s Germany (which was a crime by itself back then) that picks up and murders young men in horrific ways, and even moonlights into the fine delicacies of cannibalism to boot. As a known black-market criminal and homosexual, Haarmann becomes a police informant due to the poverty of the nation as a whole, which ends up finding him helping himself keeping the cops off his back so he can freely pick up and slaughter his victims. These scenes of Haarmann meeting and seducing his victims are where the real meat (no pun intended) of The Tenderness of the Wolves lies. They’re not super graphic or even really suspenseful honestly; but they really invoke how evil a son of a bitch this man is. This is both thanks to Lommel’s careful pacing, and Raab’s wonderful performance.

If there’s any drawbacks or flaws to The Tenderness of the Wolves, it’s that it doesn’t deal with the aftermath of when Haarmann is finally caught, or even deal with his origins either. The whole film is dedicated to this one particular fraction of time where he was at his most monstrous, which while incredibly effective, doesn’t do much to develop the character as a whole. Then again, this sick fuck was a real-life person after all, so maybe all we really need to know about Haarmann is what’s presented here.

Arrow Films has done another wonderful job with this Blu-ray release, but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The film itself has been remastered and looks glorious, and there’s even a new translation of the film’s English subtitles (which are way, way more accurate than any other American release of this film has ever been). There’s a commentary by Lommel, interviews with the film’s cinematographer Jurgen Jurges and actor Rainer Will (who plays one of Haarmann’s victims), an appreciation retrospective of the film, plus the film’s trailer and a fascinating booklet is included as well. Yeah, this is really good stuff here, which is the norm from Arrow.

Now in case you didn’t realize it by now, The Tenderness of the Wolves definitely isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a serial killer/thriller type flick, you’ll be disappointed here. This is a deliberate character study of a true monster, and Lommel doesn’t fuck around with expressing that to the audience. Still, with its brisk 82-minute running time, you don’t have much to lose by checking this out at the very least.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)

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By Nick Durham

Italian horror and giallos...these are two of my favorite things ever. So why the fuck did it take me this long to discover and watch this? What Have You Done to Solange? is a 1972 giallo that features all the hallmarks of the genre, yet somehow manages to have a bit of class about it (well, a small bit) that a majority of these films certainly do not. Sleaze and giallos go hand in hand, yet this film is something else entirely, and now thanks to Arrow Films, a whole new generation of viewers can discover it.

What Have You Done to Solange? revolves around an Italian teacher named Enrico (Fabio Testi) whom is trying to get in the pants of one of his students. After a nasty murder occurs literally a few yards away from them, things begin to unravel for everyone involved. Enrico becomes a suspect, his affair gets exposed to his wife (Karin Baal), and the bodies just keep piling up with no end in sight. What's their connection? And just who the hell is Solange (Camille Keaton from the original I Spit on Your Grave in her debut role) and what does she have to do with everything?

Like I said earlier, What Have You Done to Solange? features a lot of the hallmarks of the giallo genre: eroticism, rampant nudity, vile murders, a confused detective, and a black-gloved killer. One thing that is notable about the film though is its craftsmanship. The camerawork and cinematography are wonderful to say the least. This shouldn't be surprising, considering it is directed by Massimo Dallamano, who served as the cinematographer for some classic Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. Speaking of spaghetti westerns, legendary composer Ennio Morricone provides the lush score here as well. Nearly everything about this film is wonderful. If there's any flaws, it's that its conclusion is a little too anticlimactic.

This Blu-ray release from Arrow Films is a wonderful sight to behold. We get a new 2K restoration of the film, as well as a commentary track from critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman. There's interviews with Testi and Baal, as well as a visual essay that explores the themes of the film as well the sort of official, sort of unofficial sequels that would follow in its wake.

All in all, What Have You Done to Solange? is a masterwork of the giallo genre to say it lightly. This film is one of the landmarks of the genre, at least to me, and it deserves your time and attention. If you've never seen it and you dig giallos in the least, do yourself a favor and pick up this Blu-ray from Arrow Films. You'll be damn glad that you did.

Rating: 4.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Blood Rage (1983)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Blood Rage (1983)

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By Nick Durham

You guys want to see an 80s slasher that features an assload of gory moments, murderous twins, and a young Ted Raimi in a cameo as a dude selling condoms in a bathroom?

If your first question is what's a condom?, well...we're in the same boat. I don't know what they are either, but I do know what a Ted Raimi is. My preferred choice of birth control is what I call the Ted Raimi, where right before I'm about to blow a load I start chanting I'LL SWALLOW YOUR SOUL and that's when my partner runs away screaming. No babies for me.

Anyway, Blood Rage is a cheap slasher flick that was filmed in 1983, but not officially released until 1987 in a heavily edited version that was even re-titled Nightmare at Shadow Woods for some reason. The story revolves around twins named Todd and Terry (both played by Mark Soper), of which Terry is a crazed killer that has blamed Todd for a gruesome murder when they were young. In the years that followed, Todd has been institutionalized while Terry has led a pretty nice life while being smothered by his mother (Louise Lasser). Things come to a head though when Todd escapes, and Terry goes on a blood-thirsty rampage for shits and giggles.

As I had said before, Blood Rage was heavily edited upon its eventual release, and it's easy to see why. This film is a flat out fucking bloodbath literally from its beginning to the end. Some of the effects are pretty good for their time, and some of them...well, they weren't then, and definitely aren't now. Still, there are some inventive kills, and the film walks a fine line between being tongue in cheek and ridiculously mean-spirited. The film's story is fairly predictable, but it's surprisingly well-acted for what it is.

The wonderful folks at Arrow Films have unleashed another shockingly spectacular Blu-ray release. A three disc limited edition set, the Blood Rage Blu-ray set features three (!) versions of the film that encompass its uncensored version and edited cuts, along with a shitload of commentaries and interviews as well. The film itself has been restored in 2K HD, and it looks wonderful to say the least. Arrow seriously literally overdid themselves bringing Blood Rage home.

To wrap things up, Blood Rage is a fairly entertaining and somewhat forgotten slasher that has received a brilliant Blu-ray set release from Arrow Films. The features and overall presentation of this set make Blood Rage worth picking up by itself alone. This is by and far worth your time and money, and you should probably act soon and pick it up while you can, because when Arrow calls something a limited edition, they're not fucking around. Grab this while you can.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Eaten Alive (1980)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Eaten Alive (1980)

By Nick Durham

eaten alive

When you find a movie called Eaten Alive, there's probably two thoughts as to what kind of movie it is that pop in your head: is this a cannibal movie, or is it a fucking porno? Wait what? There is a cannibal movie called Eaten Alive? Okay, that makes sense I guess. What else is it? There's like over a hundred porno movies that have some variation of the phrase Eaten Alive in it? Okay, that makes sense too I guess. No matter what type of Eaten Alive strikes your fancy, I think you'd be better off with either the cannibal one, or any of the porno ones, than you would be with this fucking thing.

Anyway, Eaten Alive is Tobe Hooper's 1977 follow up to his landmark smash hit The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Only instead of revolving around chainsaw-wielding inbred hillbilly cannibal maniacs, this revolves around...well, inbred hillbilly maniacs and a giant fucking crocodile. The crocodile lives next door to a run down hotel owned by the mentally deranged Judd (Neville Brand), who often supplies the croc with fresh victims of those that cross his path. We get to meet a variety of people, including a fucked up couple (William Finley and Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre lead Marilyn Burns) and a dude named Buck (a pre-A Nightmare on Elm Street Robert Englund) that likes to do stuff that begins with the letter F and ends with -uck.

Okay, let's just get this out of the way: Eaten Alive is a terrible movie. I know this film has its fans, but holy fucking hell I can't stand this flick. Usually I wholeheartedly enjoy this kind of shit, but there's always been something about Eaten Alive that has rubbed me the wrong way. Whether it's the overall tone of the film to the fact that when compared to the magic Hooper made with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, this thing just can't compare. It almost comes off as being an ill-conceived parody of monster movies and backwoods living...without any laughs. Plus, it just drags on and on and on and feels like that it is NEVER going to end.

Now I could spend all day shitting on this movie, but I won't, because somehow this managed to get a wonderful Blu-ray release. Arrow Films, whom I worship day and night, has provided Eaten Alive with a fantastic physical media release here, more than this fucking movie deserves. The film's picture and sound have been remastered, a commentary by one of the film's writers and a couple actors (curiously nothing on the commentary from Tobe Hooper or Robert Englund), a new introduction from Hooper, new and vintage interviews with Hooper, Englund, and Marilyn Burns, and a featurette about the story of Joe Ball; the real-life Texas bar owner that the film is loosely based upon. Yes, Arrow has packed in a shitload of features for this fuckfest for some odd reason, don't ask me why.

To wrap things up here, I really dislike Eaten Alive something fierce. That being said, if you are a fan of this film, this Blu-ray release from Arrow Films is definitely worth picking up just for the special features alone. There's no denying that Arrow has given this film a treatment that it really doesn't deserve, but if you somehow enjoy this flick, by all means pick this release up. For the rest of us, we can keep pretending this movie never happened, just like Tobe Hooper has been pretending the past few films he's directed never happened either.

Rating: 2/5 (but the Blu-ray is super-mega-crocodile-tits)

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Videodrome (1983)

By Nick Durham

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It's really hard to say anything about David Cronenberg's classic Videodrome that hasn't been said a million fucking times already. It remains one of the director's crowning achievements in a filmography that features a number of classics, as well as a classic of body horror. The fact that Criterion decided to add this film to their prestigious lineup (that somehow also includes Michael Bay's Armageddon... no, I'll never understand that) speaks to the lasting effect that Videodrome has had on all of us.

James Woods, in the most unnerving performance of his long career, stars as Max Renn, the proprietor of a sleazy cable TV network that specializes in softcore porn and hardcore violence. He stumbles upon a feed for a mysterious pirate broadcast of torture and murder called Videodrome, and it isn't long before Max starts losing his mind...or does he? The thing with Videodrome is that you keep questioning yourself as to what you're seeing unfold on screen. Is it real? Is it in Max's head? Is Debbie Harry really so goddamned sexy? These are the questions you'll be asking yourself throughout the film's running time.

I could talk more about the film's intricate story and plot, or about Rick Baker's disgusting and groundbreaking effects work, but instead I'm going to focus on the special features of this Criterion Blu-ray release. They are pretty much identical to the special features included on the DVD release from years back, which is absolutely fine because they were wonderful then and are wonderful now. The film is presented here in all its uncut glory with a beautifully restored picture. There's commentary from Cronenberg as well as Woods and Harry, Cronenberg's short film Camera from 2000, documentaries and interviews, complete footage of the Samurai Dreams softcore flick that Max views in the beginning of the film, and a vintage roundtable discussion between Cronenberg, John Landis, John Carpenter, and Mick Garris. All these features make this disc more than worth its price tag.

I know I've gushed before about releases from Arrow Films and Grindhouse Releasing, saying that they are the Criterion Collection for horror films, and that remains the absolute truth. That being said, there's nothing quite like a Criterion Collection release, and their release of Videodrome is something spectacular indeed. Do yourself a favor and pick it up ASAP. You won't regret it.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Society (1989)

By Nick Durham

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Arrow Films, you treat me so good.

Long out of print on DVD, Brian Yuzna's delirious and insanely underrated Society is finally available on Blu-ray on this side of the pond, and holy sweet fucking Jesus, it's totally fucking amazing. This is quite possibly the definitive Blu-ray horror movie release not just of this year, but perhaps any year. Yes, even more so than Scream Factory's Nightbreed set. That's right, I said it.

Anyway, for the uninitiated, Society is about a teenage boy (Billy Warlock, which is probably the greatest name for an actor in a horror movie in the history of ever) who often feels out of his place with his wealthy family and contemporaries. Turns out it's because almost everyone he knows in high society is a humanoid creature that feasts upon the nutrients of the humans. Yes, the rich literally feed on the poor. The social commentary is far from subtle, but that is quite okay, because even to this very day, this 1989 (though not released until 1992) film remains shockingly and frighteningly relevant.

The real main attraction of Society is the makeup effects, which you probably already know about. Designed by Screaming Mad George, the effects here are shockingly imaginative, inventive, and totally fucking disgusting. The concluding "shunting" scene is something that you have to see to believe. Even if you've never seen the film nor have any desire to, look it up on YouTube, right now. You'll never forget what you're about to see, trust me.

I had mentioned in the beginning that Arrow Films really went out of their way with this Blu-ray set, and I wasn't kidding. Packaged in a deluxe case/box and featuring a reprint of the comic book only sequel Society: Party Animal, as well as the typical Arrow collectible booklet. There's a new commentary from Brian Yuzna, as well as new interviews with Yuzna, George, Warlock, and others involved in the film. There's a featurette on the effects work, a Q&A with Yuzna, and tons more as well. This set is fucking brilliant to put it bluntly.

I could gush over Arrow's Society Blu-ray forever, but I won't. I know I've said to pick up every other Arrow Films Blu-ray release before, and I still mean that, but you should pick up Society first and foremost. This is an absolute must own. I'm not kidding, stop what you're doing right now and go pick this up. Thank me later.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Spider Baby (1968)

By Nick Durham

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There're a lot of films I've seen over the years that have managed to make me say out loud, "What the fuck did I just watch?" Spider Baby is one of them. From exploitation director extraordinaire Jack Hill (who would go on to direct Foxy Brown, Coffy, and one of my all time personal favorites in Switchblade Sisters) and featuring the legendary Lon Chaney, Jr. in one of his last roles, Spider Baby is a nasty little gem and an underappreciated classic.

Chaney plays Bruno: a guardian and caretaker for three siblings who suffer from a strange genetic disorder that causes them to de-evolve. Bruno has always had his hands full, but things soon become a bit more complicated when some distant relatives show up to the decrepit mansion they all live in to claim the property. What happens next is some pretty nasty shit, with sanity and various body parts lost in the process.

Darkly humorous and peppered with some very freaky moments, Spider Baby is a treat. The performances from Chaney and the three siblings (which features a young Sid Haig!) are wonderful and somehow still terrifying to this very day. Granted some elements of the film itself haven't aged all that well, but it still manages to be an effective little piece of trash regardless. Originally filmed in 1964, the film didn't get officially released until 1968, and went through a whole lot of different titles in the process as well. Thanks to midnight showings over the years and word of mouth, Spider Baby has managed to become a beloved film of the era, and continues to be discovered and re-discovered as the years go by.

I know I've raved about other releases from Arrow Films before, but their release of Spider Baby is another wonderful Blu-ray package. The picture quality has been remastered, with it's stark black and white cinematography looking simply beautiful. There's a feature length commentary from Jack Hill and Sid Haig, as well as Hill's 1960 short film The Host (also starring Haig) included here as well. There's a panel discussion on the film from 2012, a rarely seen alternate opening sequence, new interviews, video of Hill revisiting the old house the movie was filmed in, and the typical collectors booklet that all Arrow releases include, among other features packed in here as well.

Like I said before, Spider Baby is a supremely underrated exploitation/horror film from an era where films like this were rarely seen. This release of it from Arrow Films is a must have for collectors and aficionados of this type of wonderful trash. Do yourself a favor, pick it up...even if you've never seen it. You won't be disappointed.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Contamination (1980)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Contamination (1980)

By Nick Durham

contamination

My trek through European splatter trash will never end.

Contamination is, as you can probably tell just from the cover, a 1980 Italian rip-off of Ridley Scott's classic Alien, which had achieved monumental success just a year prior. Armed with probably about a quarter of the budget (if I'm being generous) of the budget Alien had, Contamination is a super trashy and cheap cash-in on a much more revered film, much like Bruno Mattei's Hell of the Living Dead is a bonafide Dawn of the Dead rip-off, only this is directed by the guy that made the sci-fi shitfest Star Wars rip off known as Starcrash, and a really shitty Hercules movie starring Lou fucking Ferrigno. Even though it sounds like I'm shitting on Contaminationin this opening paragraph, believe it or not, I have a love for this Italian-branded fecal matter, and Arrow Films has blessed us once again with a beautiful Blu-ray release of the film.

The film's storyline, and I use the term loosely, revolves around a ship drifting into harbor containing a shitload of strange eggs. The eggs of course, are alien in nature, and explode, disgustingly mutilating anyone around them. Turns out there was a mission to Mars sometime prior, and the one drunken astronaut that returned may have some clues as to why these things are on Earth. What follows is a plot to destroy humanity, and quite possibly one of the most laughably awful movie monsters in the history of celluloid.

I know it sounds like I am shitting on Contamination, but I'm doing so out of love. I've always had a soft spot for this film. I know it's bad, I know it's cheap, I know it isn't anything you're likely to remember fondly...but goddammit, I adore it. It attained its fair share of notoriety upon its original release, being labeled as one of the infamous Video Nasties in its day, due to the exploding splatter effects shown mostly in slow motion. The effects, while ridiculously fake looking, are somehow a sight to behold. I know that sounds like it makes no sense, but trust me, watch it. There's also a soundtrack provided by Goblin (!) that is absolutely wonderful.

The Blu-ray rlease from Arrow Films features a bevy of special features that we've come to expect from the label. There's a commentary from super fan and filmmaker Chris Alexander, new documentaries and interviews with director Luigi Cozzi and star Ian McCulloh (who you know from Fulci's Zombie among other splatterfests of the day), a collector's booklet, and even a digital graphic novel based on the film's original screenplay. That's only a handful of what all is in this package, and it is glorious.

All in all, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Arrow Films has provided us with another wonderful release of a wonderful piece of trash from yesteryear. This Blu-ray is a wonderful addition to your collection if any of what I described of the film seems to be up your alley at all. As for the film itself, Contamination is a gloriously goofy and entertaining Alien rip-off that represents what makes this type of Eurotrash so enjoyable. Pick this up.

Rating: 4.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Island of Death (1976)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Island of Death (1976)

By Nick Durham

islandofdeath

 

What the fuck did I just watch?

That was my initial reaction to Island of Death upon my first viewing, I really didn't know what to make of it in terms of thinking it was "good" or a flaming pile of shit. Usually I base a film falling into either category on how much enjoyment I got out of it, but for a movie like Island of Death, garnering any kind of enjoyment out of it doesn't reflect on whether it's good, or whether it's shit. Basically what I'm saying is this movie is a pile of shit, but I enjoy the hell of it regardless.

Directed by Nico Mastorakis, who has gone on record to admit he only made Island of Death to make a quick profit after seeing how much money the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" raked in, Island of Death follows a newlywed couple visiting the Greek island of Mykonos. Doesn't take too long to figure out that our newlywed couple aren't what they seem: they're actually an incestuous brother and sister looking to go on a rampage of murder and mayhem on those they deem "sinful". The irony of that isn't touched upon at all, as "Island of Death" is just shock after shock for the sake of shocking. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I mean what else could we really expect here in all honesty?

Throughout the film's running time, our couple engages in all kinds of deviant behavior in addition to the murder and chaos, some of which just has to be seen to be believed (that poor goat). That being said, it's violence is surprisingly not all that graphic, but its tone borderlines between being mean-spirited and unintentionally hilarious to the point you may have to pause the movie to catch your breath from laughing so much. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the viewer, but for me, it made me enjoy it more than I probably should have to begin with.

Sitting on top of the UK's famed Video Nasty list for years before a super edited version saw the light of day across the pond, Island of Death has finally been presented here in all its uncut glory by the fine folks at Arrow Films. Arrow is much like Grindhouse Releasing: both labels release Criterion Collection-level releases to a bevy of horror films that range from being forgotten classics to best-to-be-forgotten fecal matter on film. Arrow outdid themselves here with this release, featuring a wonderful HD transfer of the film, as well as a surprisingly interesting booklet containing an essay on the film. There's also a new interview with director Mastorakis and a documentary focusing on the film as well as other selections from his filmography and an overview of his career in general (Spoiler Alert: I think he's kind of like Uwe Boll, but older).

You'll likely see worse and more depraved films than "Island of Death", but you'll certainly see better ones as well. That being said, the film does have its place in genre history for its Video Nasty notoriety, as well as managing to be a favorite among exploitation aficionados. If you want to pick it up, you can't go wrong with this Arrow release. Say whatever you want about the film itself, but the total package here well-assembled with lots of features, and is worth the price of admission if any of this sounds like your thing.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments