March 4, 2022
The horror classic An American Werewolf in London, the kung fu classic Come Drink With Me and the Japanese film noir To Sleep So as to Dream are being released on disc from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group in March.
Director John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Trading Places) combines macabre horror with dark humor in An American Werewolf in London (1981), newly restored and due on 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision March 15. In the film, American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are savaged by an unidentified vicious animal whilst hiking on the Yorkshire Moors. David awakes in a London hospital to find his friend dead and his life in disarray. Retiring to the home of a beautiful nurse (Jenny Agutter, Walkabout) to recuperate, he soon experiences disturbing changes to his mind and body, undergoing a full-moon transformation that will unleash terror on the streets of the capital. The film features Rick Baker’s ground-breaking, Oscar-winning special makeup effects.
Extras include audio commentary by Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis; audio commentary by actors Naughton and Dunne; “Mark of the Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf,” a feature-length documentary by filmmaker Daniel Griffith, featuring interviews with Landis, Naughton, Joe Dante and more; “An American Filmmaker in London,” an interview with Landis in which he reflects on British cinema and his time working in Britain; “I Think He’s a Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret,” a video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira (Elstree 1976) about how Landis’ film explores Jewish identity; “The Werewolf’s Call,” in which Corin Hardy, director of The Hallow and The Nun, chats with writer Simon Ward about their formative experiences with the film; “Wares of the Wolf,” a featurette in which SFX artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of Prop Store look at some of the original costumes and special effects artifacts from the film; “Beware the Moon,” Paul Davis’ feature-length exploration of Landis’ film which boasts extensive cast and crew interviews; “An American Werewolf in Bob’s Basement” and “Causing a Disturbance: Piccadilly Revisited,” two 2008 featurettes filmed by Paul Davis; “Making An American Werewolf in London,” a short archival featurette on the film’s production; “An Interview with John Landis,” a lengthy archival interview with the director about the film; make-up Artist Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London; “I Walked with a Werewolf,” an archival interview with Rick Baker about Universal horror and its legacy of Wolfman films; “Casting of the Hand,” archival footage from Rick Baker’s workshop showing the casting of Naughton’s hand; outtakes; a storyboards featurette; the original trailer and teaser plus TV and radio spots; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original poster art and artwork by Graham Humphreys; a double-sided fold-out poster; six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions; and a limited edition 60-page, perfect-bound book featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann and Simon Ward, archival articles and original reviews.
Years before the Shaw Brothers’ kung fu films made them the biggest film studio in Hong Kong, local audiences flocked to their wuxia pian films — mythic tales of swordfighting (and often gravity-defying) heroes fighting for honor. In his final film for the studio, Come Drink With Me (1966), due on Blu-ray March 22, director King Hu (A Touch of Zen) broke fresh new ground in martial arts storytelling, and catapulted lead actress Cheng Pei-pei to stardom. In the film, when the Governor’s son is taken hostage by bandits, a mysterious swordsman named Golden Swallow (Cheng) is hot on their trail to ensure the son’s release. What the bandits don’t realize, however, is that Golden Swallow is actually a woman, and that the hostage is her brother. Determined to set him free, no matter how many goons she has to fight her way through in doing so, she is aided in her quest by a drunken beggar (Yueh Hua), who may have a closer connection to the bandits’ leader than he initially lets on. Decades before Ang Lee brought the wuxia genre to international attention with the Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (in which Cheng played the villainous Jade Fox), King Hu set the original template in what is still considered one of Shaw Brothers’ greatest and most influential action masterpieces.
The Japanese To Sleep So as to Dream (1986) follows two private detectives who hunt for an actress trapped within the reel of a silent ninja film. The dreamlike debut of Kaizo Hayashi (Circus Boys, Zipang), an homage to the movie worlds of the 1910s and 1950s, is due on Blu-ray March 22. In the film, when private eye Uotsuka (Shiro Sano, Violent Cop, Shin Godzilla) and his sidekick Kobayashi are approached by an aged former actress, Madame Cherryblossom, to go in search of her kidnapped daughter Bellflower, their investigation leads them to the studios of the mysterious M. Pathe company. Here Uotsuka has a strange vision in which he comes face to face with the beautiful star of a 1915 chanbara film that appears to have no ending. From then on, things begin to get a little strange. To Sleep So as to Dream makes its home video debut outside of Japan in a brand new restoration supervised by the director himself. Drifting between illusion and allusion, it is chockfull of references to Japan’s rich cinematic heritage and features cameos from a host of veteran talent and baroque sets created by Takeo Kimura, the Nikkatsu art designer remembered for his flamboyant work with Seijun Suzuki in the 1960s.
Extras include new audio commentary by Japanese film experts Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp; audio commentary with director Kaizo Hayashi and lead actor Shiro Sano recorded in 2000; “How Many Eggs?, Actor Shiro Sano Talks,” a new interview with the film’s lead actor; “Talking Silents: Benshi Midori Sawato Talks,” a new interview on early Japanese film culture and the art of the benshi silent film commentator; “Midori Sawato Performs ‘The Eternal Mystery,’” an exclusive benshi performance to the film within the film; the “The Restoration of To Sleep So as to Dream” featurette; “Fragments from Japan’s Lost Silent Heyday,” a selection of scenes from silent jidai-geki films from the Kyoto Toy Museum archives; the original theatrical trailer and English-language restored re-release trailers; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by David Downton; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Aaron Gerow.