‘Executioner Collection,’ ‘Dunwich Horror’ Among Titles Due on Blu-ray in January From MVD and Arrow

Two Sonny Chiba martial arts masterpieces in The Executioner Collection, The Lucas Moodysson Collection, the martial arts double feature Lady Whirlwind & Hapkido, and the horror flick The Dunwich Horror are being released in January on Blu-ray Disc from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Due Jan. 10 is the limited-edition box set The Executioner Collection, featuring two films with Chiba. The collection features an illustrated collector’s booklet with new writing on the films by Mark Schilling, new audio commentaries featuring Chris Poggiali and Marc Walkow, a 30-minute featurette on Chiba, original trailers and image galleries. In The Executioner, legendary cult director Teruo Ishii joins forces with action superstar Chiba in a tale of classic karate exploitation from Toei. Ryuichi Koga (Chiba) is a descendant of the Koga Ninja school, now earning his living through more nefarious means as a gun for hire. When he is enlisted to take down a drug cartel alongside Hayabusa (Makoto Sato), a disgraced former narcotics detective now operating within the criminal underworld, and renegade Aikido master Sakura (Eiji Gō), tensions grow. Koga returns in The Executioner II: Karate Inferno as the ringmaster of a gang of thieves plotting to steal a priceless jewel from a master criminal.

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Available Jan. 10 is The Dunwich Horror, American International Pictures’ and Roger Corman’s foray into the world of H.P. Lovecraft, directed by Daniel Haller and also the first screenwriting credit for Curtis Hanson, who would later direct the multi-award-winning L.A. Confidential. Newly restored by Arrow from the original 35mm camera negative, The Dunwich Horror features an illustrated collector’s booklet with new writing by film critics Johnny Mains and Jack Sargeant; new audio commentary by Guy Adams and Alexandra Benedict; new interviews with film historian Stephen R. Bissette and horror author Stephen Laws, science fiction and fantasy writer Ruthanna Emrys, and music historian David Huckvale; the original trailer; and image galleries. In the film, Dean Stockwell stars as Wilbur Whateley, a mysterious young man who travels from the small town of Dunwich to the library of Miskatonic University intent on returning with the legendary book of occult lore, the Necronomicon. Graduate student Nancy Wagner (Sandra Dee, in her final film role) falls under Wilbur’s malignant influence and travels back home with him — oblivious to her sacrificial role in a ritual to summon Cthuloid beasts from another dimension.

On Jan. 17, Arrow heads back into the world of martial arts with the Angela Mao double feature Lady Whirlwind & Hapkido. Enter the Dragon producer Raymond Chow discovered the Taiwanese ingenue when she was barely out of the Beijing Opera School. Despite her fresh-faced femininity she became one of Hong Kong’s toughest action icons of the 1970s — due in large part to this one-two punch of martial arts action. The two-disc set features brand new 2K restorations for both films, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the films by critic James Oliver; commentaries on both films by Frank Djeng, Robert “Bobby” Samuels and Michael Worth; a two-part, new interview with star Angela Mao; archival interviews with Mao, Carter Wong, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao; alternate opening credits; trailers; and image galleries. Lady Whirlwind stars Mao as a young woman dead set on avenging the death of her sister, only to find herself fighting a common enemy alongside the man she wants revenge on. Hapkido, made in the same year as Lady Whirlwind, finds Mao once more pitted against a gang of thugs, alongside soon-to-be kung fu legends Sammo Hung and Carter Wong as disciples of Hapkido, a Korean fighting style, studying under real-life Hapkido grandmasters Ji Han-jae and Hwang In-shik. 

Arrow closes out the month with The Lukas Moodysson Collection. The Jan. 31 release is a limited-edition boxed set featuring all seven narrative films from the director hailed as “a young master” by Ingmar Bergman. Available together for the first time, Moodysson’s eclectic filmography can now be appreciated as the work of a singular filmmaking voice. The six-disc set includes a 200-page hardback book featuring new writing by Peter Walsh, excerpts from the original press kits for each film and essays on Moodysson’s films from a 2014 special issue of the Nordic culture journal Scandinavica. There are new interviews with Lukas Moodysson, actor Alexandra Dahlström, producer Lars Jönsson, editor Michal Leszczylowski, costume designer Denise Östholm, line producer Malte Forssell, script supervisor Malin Fornander, and cinematographer Ulf Brantås. Moodyson’s short films are included, as are the London Film Festival Q&As for Lilya 4-ever and We Are the Best, with trailers. Moodysson’s first film Fucking Åmål (released internationally as Show Me Love), was quickly heralded as a new Queer cinema touchstone and one of the most authentic portrayals of youthful relationships on film. He swiftly followed this with the bittersweet, satirical 1970s-set Together, in which the inhabitants of a commune try to reconcile their ideals with their hearts’ desires. Having made a name for himself as the new master of tragicomic, feel-good humanism, Moodysson suddenly switched gears with a trio of startlingly confrontational works: the hauntingly bleak Lilya 4-ever, the abrasive and semi-improvised A Hole in My Heart and the avant-garde Container, narrated in its English version by Jena Malone. After making his mainstream English-language debut with the expansive Mammoth, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams, Moodysson returned to his roots with We Are the Best!, the charming and funny tale of three schoolgirls starting a punk band in early-1980s Stockholm.

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