‘JSA: Joint Security Area,’ ‘Southland Tales’ on Blu-ray in January From MVD and Arrow

JSA: Joint Security Area and Southland Tales are coming to Blu-ray in January from MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video.

On Jan. 19 comes JSA: Joint Security Area (2000), a thriller from Park Chan-wook. It follows a Swiss-Korean major as she leads an investigation into a shooting incident at the North/South Korean border that results in two Korean soldiers’ death. The film became the highest-grossing Korean film when it was released and won multiple awards for best film. In 2009, director Quentin Tarantino placed JSA among his top 20 films since 1992. Special features include new audio commentary by writer and critic Simon Ward; an isolated music and effects track; a newly recorded video interview with Asian cinema expert Jasper Sharp; two archival featurettes on the film’s production; a series of archival introductions to the film by members of the cast; a behind-the-scenes montage; opening ceremony footage; two music videos, “Letter from a Private” and “Take the Power Back”; the theatrical trailer; a TV spot; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Kieran Fisher.

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On Jan. 26, Arrow will release Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales, starring Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mandy Moore and Seann William Scott, among others. The story about a conspiracy involving an action film star stricken with amnesia, a porn star with reality TV dreams and a police officer was panned during its 2006 release. Yet, over the years, the film has maintained a strong, loyal fanbase that continues to grow, with many admiring the film’s attempt at doing something grand. Arrow gives the film a new lease on life with new 2K presentations of the film, approved by Kelly, in both the 145-minute theatrical cut and the 160-minute “Cannes cut.” Special features include audio commentary on the theatrical cut by Kelly; “It’s a Madcap World: The Making of an Unfinished Film,” a new in-depth retrospective documentary on the film, featuring contributions by Kelly and members of the original crew; an archival featurette on the making of the film, featuring interviews with the cast and crew; “This is the Way the World Ends,” an archival animated short set in the Southland Tales universe; the theatrical trailer; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacey; and a limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Peter Tonguette and Simon Ward.

‘Lake Michigan Monster,’ ‘Silent Running’ Among Titles Due on Blu-ray in November From MVD and Arrow

Lake Michigan Monster, Silent Running, Burst City and He Came From the Swamp: The William Grefe Collection are coming to Blu-ray in November from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Lake Michigan Monster (2018), due Nov. 3, is an action-packed tale of nautical derring-do and monster mayhem. It was the winner of the Audience Award for Best International Feature at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival. The low-budget film — shot with most of the cast also performing multiple roles behind the camera — is a love letter to the sci-fi creature features of the 1950s. This story about an eccentric ship captain determined to tame the beast that slew his father was shot on 16 mm black-and-white film and is the stuff of Saturday matinees. On the shores of Lake Michigan, the eccentric Captain Seafield (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, who also writes and directs) enlists a colorful crew of misfits in a bid to slay the hellish sea monster that prowls the murky depths. But as Seafield’s obsession with exacting revenge on the creature that killed his father threatens to consume him, can weapons expert Sean Shaughnessy (Erick West), sonar whiz Nedge Pepsi (Beulah Peters) and former N.A.V.Y. — Nautical Athletes and Adventure Yunit — officer Dick Flynn (Daniel Long) hold the show together? Extras include two commentaries and multiple interviews.

Killer sharks, human jellyfish and living mummies appear in the first ever collection of works by William “Wild Bill” Grefé, the maverick filmmaker who braved the depths of the Florida everglades to deliver outrageous exploitation fare. Bringing together seven of Grefé’s most outlandish features, all new to Blu-ray, He Came from the Swamp: The William Grefé Collection, due Nov. 24, features demented jellyfish men (Sting of Death, 1966), zombified witch doctors (Death Curse of Tartu, 1966), homicidal hippies (The Hooked Generation, 1968) and seductive matrons (The Naked Zoo, 1971) — not to mention the ubiquitous go-go dancing college kids. Also in the collection are The Psychedelic Priest (1971), Mako: Jaws of Death (1976) and Whiskey Mountain (1977).

Burst City (1982), due Nov. 10, features dystopian sci-fi, Mad Max-style biker wars against yakuza gangsters and the police, and performances from members of the real-life Japanese punk bands The Stalin, The Roosters, The Rockers and INU. In a derelict industrial wasteland somewhere on the outskirts of Tokyo, two rival punk bands and their unruly mobs of fans gather for a Battle of the Bands-style protest against the construction of a nuclear powerplant, bringing them head to head with the yakuza industrialists behind the development of their turf. This extraordinary celebration of Japan’s punk music scene of the early 1980s thrust Sōgo Ishii (now known by the name of Gakuryū Ishii), the underground filmmaking wunderkind behind such works as Half Human: Einstürzende Neubauten (1986), Angel Dust (1994) and Electric Dragon 80,000V (2001), to the next level and is cited as an early landmark in Japanese cyberpunk cinema.

Due Nov. 17 is Silent Running (1972). Visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull (The Andromeda Strain, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) contributed to the ground-breaking special photographic effects of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Four years later, he stamped his own indelible mark on the science fiction genre with his directorial debut — Silent Running. In the not-so-distant future, Earth is barren of all flora and fauna, with what remains of the planet’s former ecosystems preserved aboard a fleet of greenhouses orbiting in space. When the crews are ordered to destroy the remaining specimens, one botanist, Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern), rebels and flees towards Saturn in a desperate bid to preserve his own little piece of Earth that was, accompanied only by the ship’s three service robots.

The Last Starfighter (Limited Edition)

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

MVD/Arrow;
Sci-Fi;
$39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Preston, Dan O’Herlihy, Norman Snow, Dan Mason, Chris Hebert, Barbara Bosson, Vernon Washington.

In the decades since its release, The Last Starfighter has proved to be one of the seminal space fantasies of the 1980s, and Arrow Video’s new special-edition Blu-ray gives it the treatment it deserves.

On the surface, the 1984 space adventure would appear to be a mish-mash of a few of the biggest trends at the time. The plot is a bit Star Wars meets Tron, involving a teenager named Alex (Lance Guest) living in a trailer park and dreaming of a better life as he distracts himself playing a video game called Starfighter. After he sets the high score on the machine, he learns it’s a recruitment tool monitored by a fast-talking alien named Centauri (Robert Preston of The Music Man in his final film role) who wants him to become a warrior for an interplanetary alliance preparing to fend off an invasion, joining the ranks of the starfighters — who serve as elite gunners for the Star League’s fighting ships.

However, when an attack cripples the fleet and kills all the other starfighters, Alex is left as the final hope for the galaxy, aided by his pilot and navigator, Grig, a humanoid lizard played by Dan O’Herlihy, who is perhaps best known as the old man from Robocop.

Overt parallels with the story of Arthur pulling the sword from the stone are no accident, as screenwriter Jonathan R. Betuel had been reading The Once and Future King when he got the idea of substituting a video game for Excalibur.

The film story also offers a touch of The Wizard of Oz in its tale of someone transported from obscurity to a strange land and confronted with the task of freeing it from evil.

But in focusing on the sci-fi and video game crazes that dominated the era, the film and its notion of fanboys becoming the next Luke Skywalker was the ultimate fantasy fulfillment for boys (and perhaps a few girls) growing up in the ’80s.

As if Alex’s offworld adventures weren’t enough, the film adds a subplot about a robot lookalike sent to replace Alex on Earth so no one will notice he’s missing. This dovetails into yet another plot thread of the film, a love story, with Alex promising to take his girlfriend (Catherine Mary Stewart) away to a better life. His robot doppelganger, however, throws a complication into their relationship with his awkward attempts to understand humanity. He’s also the target of alien bounty hunters who want to eliminate the last starfighter to ensure the invasion goes smoothly — the robot serving as a nice decoy while the real Alex prepares for his mission. (The film is at least wise enough to broach the question of why the robots aren’t doing the fighting, even if it doesn’t want to delve too heavily into the answer.)

So, with these additional elements, the presages elements of Starman, which came out later the same year, as well as 1999’s Galaxy Quest, another story of people connected to fictional space adventure discovering the fantasy is real.

It almost seems like too much stuffed into one movie, but director Nick Castle makes it work, aided by several energetic performances and a rousing musical score by Craig Safan. The worldbuilding is sufficient enough to warrant a sequel, but one never emerged despite a few ideas being kicked.

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The bigger irony may be how the film’s credits promote a tie-in video game, which would seem to be an obvious marketing tool for the film, but Atari never got around to making it. A few games based on the film did pop up over the years, but most of these were just retools of pre-existing games, and certainly didn’t match the gameplay depicted within the film itself. As chronicled in the Blu-ray extras, one fan did manage to eventually program a Starfighter cabinet that served as a reasonable facsimile to the game as depicted within the movie.

While the trope of a video game as a recruitment tool has been aped in subsequent movies and TV shows, in terms of film history The Last Starfighter might be most notable as one of the first films to use extensive CGI for visual effects, particularly using computer animation to depict things meant to exist in reality — in this case for all the spaceflight shots. Before this, CGI had been limited mostly to depicting displays on computers and in simulations. Even in Tron, which came out two years earlier in 1982, the CGI effects were used to depict the digital landscape within a computer.

Though the effects were groundbreaking at the time, they are far from photorealistic and still carry the obvious sheen of early CGI, reminiscent of how video games looked in the 1990s. The filmmakers in various bonus materials discuss how time limitations forced them to not fully develop some of the shots as detailed as they would have liked, or the movie could have taken another year to finish. But it was an important step in advancing the technique for visual effects within the industry. For context, it was only nine years before Jurassic Park, and 11 years before the first Toy Story.

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The new Arrow Video edition is a huge improvement over the previously released Blu-ray from Universal Pictures, which originally distributed the film in theaters. The picture and sound are a step up thanks to Arrow’s fresh remastering of the film elements.

In addition, the bonus materials from previous releases have all carried over alongside a trove of new ones.

Among the legacy materials are a 32-minute, four-part making-of documentary from the 1999 15th anniversary DVD, a 25-minute retrospective featurette from the 2009 25th anniversary Blu-ray, several photo galleries and the film’s trailers. There’s also the informative 1999 DVD commentary by Castle and designer Ron Cobb, who just died this past September.

Among the new extras are two additional commentary tracks, both of which are worth a listen. One is by Mike White of “The Projection Booth” podcast, which is a bit more of a fan’s perspective on the film and it’s place in the sci-fi genre. The other is star Lance Guest with his 16-year-old son, Jackson, which serves as a nice inter-generational reflection.

The new featurettes are a series of retrospective interviews with people involved with the film: 10 minutes with Stewart, 12 minutes with Safan, 10 minutes with Betuel, and 10 minutes with special effects supervisor Kevin Pike.

There’s also an eight-minute video of sci-fi author Greg Bear discussing Digital Productions, the effects house that used a Cray supercomputer to render the film’s CGI.

Rounding out the package is an eight-minute interview with arcade game collector Estil Vance, the aforementioned fan who took it on himself to re-create the game as depicted in the film.

 

Mallrats (Limited Edition)

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

MVD/Arrow;
Comedy;
$39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong language, including sexual dialogue, and for some scenes of sexuality and drug content.
Stars Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Claire Forlani, Michael Rooker, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Renee Humphrey, Ehtan Suplee, Priscilla Barnes, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Stan Lee.

A box office bomb upon its release, director Kevin Smith’s second feature, 1995’s Mallrats, has since developed a huge cult following for an embrace of a nerd culture that was well ahead of its time.

Smith had already introduced his pop culture proclivities with the previous year’s indie darling Clerks, but Mallrats was his first big-studio effort, though aimed at the same basic target audience. (In fact, Smith recounts in one of the new interviews included with this Blu-ray that he pitched it as “Clerks at a mall”).

Though one of the film’s producers considered it ahead of its time, the financial and critical drubbing endured by Mallrats led Smith back into the realm of indie production, where he’s pretty much spent his entire feature directorial career since (the exceptions being 2010’s Cop Out for Warner, his only film he didn’t also write, and directing for television, mostly episodes of Warner’s Arrowverse here and there).

With Mallrats, Smith began to lay the foundation for his own cinematic universe, long before Marvel Studios came along. In addition to the return of Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith), there are references to other characters and events mentioned in Clerks. And Smith would continue to mine the Mallrats cast for his future projects, reteaming with the core trio of Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams two years later for Chasing Amy, his heartfelt return to the indie fold.

What Mallrats is perhaps best known for, however, is the lengthy cameo by comic book icon Stan Lee. While the former Marvel Comics publisher had made a handful of movie and TV appearances beforehand, his role in Smith’s film is generally considered the genesis of a cinematic tradition that saw him appear in nearly every Marvel movie since — so much so that in one of his final cameos, for the ’90s set MCU prequel Captain Marvel, Lee is seen rehearsing his lines for Mallrats.

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The new Arrow Video edition of the film is a big step up from the previous Blu-ray released by Universal in 2014, which was basically just a re-creation of the 10th anniversary DVD set from 2005.

Arrow has restored both the 95-minute theatrical cut and the half-hour longer extended edition that first appeared on that earlier DVD. The new Blu-ray also adds a third version: the 85-minute TV-suitable cut featuring some amusing overdubbing of Jay’s dialogue with a noticeably different voice since Mewes didn’t show up to re-record his dialogue.

The always loquacious Smith provides new introductions for the theatrical and TV cuts, while he and producer Scott Mosier’s introduction for the extended cut comes from the old DVD (and Blu-ray).

Other new extras include an informative half-hour reflection from Smith about the making of the film; a 13-minute remembrance by Smith of producer Jim Jacks, who was the one who predicted the film’s audience would eventually grow to find it; a 10-minute retrospective from Mewes, who expected to be fired from the role he originated in Clerks due to his acting inexperience (Smith recounts the studio wanting Seth Green or Breckin Meyer to play Jay); a six-minute interview with cinematographer and frequent Smith collaborator Dave Klein; and Hollywood of the North, a 10-minute animated documentary about the local crew that worked on the film when it was shot in Minnesota.

The two-disc set also includes nearly two hours of footage from the film’s dailies, plus an extensive photo gallery.

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Carryovers from the previous releases include an hour of deleted scenes, eight minutes of outtakes, nine minutes of on-set cast interviews, a 22-minute archive making-of, a 10th anniversary Q&A with Smith running nine minutes, a “Build Me Up Buttercup” music video, and a featurette about the soundtrack.

The disc also comes with an essay booklet and a reversible slipcover containing both new box art and the classic poster art.

Not everything carried over, however. Among the missing extras from previous releases are a 10th anniversary cast reunion Q&A, a 10-year retrospective featurette, and a collection of vignettes offered as Easter eggs. So, collectors may want to hold onto that 2014 Blu-ray, but between that and the new version, Arrow’s edition is the one to get.

 

‘Mallrats,’ ‘The Last Starfighter’ Among Releases Coming to Blu-ray in October From Arrow and MVD

Kevin Smith’s Mallrats, The Last Starfighter and the horror film The Deeper You Dig are among the titles coming to Blu-ray Disc in October from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Oct. 6 comes The Deeper You Dig (2019), which follows a mother, daughter and stranger as they deal with the aftermath of a roadside accident. The film is a family affair written and directed by husband and wife tandem John Adams and Toby Poser, who also start alongside daughter Zelda. The limited-edition release also comes with The Hatred, a previously made feature film by the Adams family. Bonus features include a reversible sleeve featuring two exclusive choices of artwork; a double-sided fold-out poster; a limited edition illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Neil Mitchell; audio commentary by writers/directors/stars Toby Poser and John Adams; “At Home with the Adams Family,” an exclusive, in-depth interview with the trio of filmmakers responsible for The Deeper You Dig; “It’s in the Blood: The Family in the Horror Genre,” an exclusive visual essay by critic Anton Bitel exploring the theme of family in The Deeper You Dig and the Adams family’s broader filmography; a special effects breakdown with commentary by Trey Lindsay; a FrightFest TV interview with the Adams family; Hellbender music videos; the theatrical trailer; and an image gallery.

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Due Oct. 13 is Kevin Smith’s cult classic Mallrats (1995), a comedy about a pair of recently dumped best friends seeking refuge at their local mall. The new release includes new restorations for both the theatrical and extended cuts approved by Smith and cinematographer David Klein. Bonus features include a newly assembled TV cut of the film featuring hilarious overdubbing to cover up profanity with an intro by Smith; a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Philip Kemp; a fold out poster featuring replica blueprints for “Operation Drive-by” and “Operation Dark Knight”; audio commentary with Smith, producer Scott Mosier, archivist Vincent Pereira, and actors Jason Lee, Ben Affleck and Jason Mewes; a new introduction to the film by Smith; “My Mallrat Memories,” an all-new interview with Smith; a newly filmed tribute to producer Jim Jacks by Smith; a new interview with Mewes; a new interview with cinematographer Klein; “Hollywood of the North,” a newly produced animated making-of documentary featuring Minnesota crew members who worked on the film; Smith and Vincent Pereira discussing deleted scenes and sequences originally cut from the film; outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage; cast interviews from the original set; “Erection of an Epic: The Making of Mallrats,” an archival retrospective with cast and crew looking at the making of and release of the film; a 10th anniversary archival Q&A with Smith; “Build Me Up Buttercup” music video; stills galleries; the theatrical trailer; a stills gallery of the comic books featured in the film’s opening sequence; and Easter eggs.

Also coming Oct. 13 is Kôji Shima’s 1956 classic Warning From Space. The first Japanese science-fiction film to be shot in color, it’s the story of giant starfish-like aliens that land in Tokyo. It’s the film’s first-ever HD release in America and includes a newly restored English dub. Extras include a new commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV, author of Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo!; theatrical trailers; image galleries; a reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin; and, for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring an essay on artist Taro Okamoto by Japanese art historian Nick West and an essay on the production of the American edit of the film by David Cairns.

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Coming Oct. 27 is the serial killer film Cold Light of Day (1989), a fictionalized story about one of Britain’s most brutal serial killers, Dennis Nilsen. The limited-edition release includes a new 2K restoration approved by the film’s director Fhiona-Louise. Bonus features include a new audio commentary with writer/director Fhiona-Louise; a new audio commentary with film historians/writers Dean Brandum and Andrew Nette; a newly-filmed interview with actor Martin Byrne-Quinn; a newly filmed interview with actor Steve Munroe; an original Cold Light of Day promo film made to raise financing for the feature; the re-release trailer; two short films starring director Fhiona-Louise and photographed by Star Wars DP David Tattershall, newly restored in HD, Metropolis Apocalypse (1988) and Sleepwalker (1993); a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx; a limited-edition, die-cut O-card; and a limited-edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jo Botting and a look at how the press reported Dennis Nilsen’s real-life crimes by Jeff Billington.

Finally, also on Oct. 27, comes Nick Castle’s The Last StarfighterReleased in 1984, The Last Starfighter follows gamer Alex Rogan who thinks he’s just playing another game until he finds himself transported to another planet where he learns the game was actually a recruitment effort. The Last Starfighter lands with a new 4K scan. Bonus features include a new audio commentary with Mike White of “The Last Projection Booth” podcast; an archival audio commentary with director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb; the “Heroes of the Screen” archival featurette; the “Crossing the Frontier: The Making of The Last Starfighter” archival four-part documentary; image galleries; theatrical and teaser trailers; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Ferguson; a limited edition reversible poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork; and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Amanda Reyes and sci-fi author Greg Bear’s never-before-published Omni magazine article on Digital Productions, the company responsible for the CGI in The Last Starfighter.

‘Graveyards of Honor,’ ‘ivansxtc’ and ‘Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway’ on Arrow’s September Blu-ray Slate

A double feature of the original and remake of the Japanese horror film Graveyards of Honor, the absurd comedy Jesus Shows you the Way to the Highway and the drama ivansxtc are coming to Blu-ray in September from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Due Sept. 8 is the double feature of Kinji Fukasaku’s 1975 original film Graveyards of Honor and Takashi Miike’s 2002 remake. Both films are based on the life of real-like Yakuza member Rikio Ishikawa. In 1999, the original was voted the 38th best Japanese film of all-time by Kinemo Junpo. Both films are presented with an assorted of new and archival bonus features.

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Coming Sept. 15 is Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway (2019), the second feature from director Miguel Lanso. Featuring encounters with an Irish-accented Joseph Stalin, a kung-fu-fighting Batman, and Jesus Christ himself, to name but a few, it’s an absurd comedy set in the year 2035. Special Agent Gagano (Daniel Tadesse, Crumbs) dreams of leaving the CIA to open a business with his wife Malin (Gerda-Annette Allikas). Before he can hand in his resignation, however, a strange cyber virus attacks Psychobook, the CIA’s operating system, forcing Gagano to enter cyberspace via virtual reality to combat the threat. Before long, however, the virus starts to reach out into the real world, destabilizing the fragile socio-political order for its own ends, and Gagano, trapped in the VR world, must find a way out before it’s too late. The release also includes Lanso’s debut feature Crumbs.

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Due Sept. 28 is ivansxtc, an update of Leo Tolstoy’s novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich. It stars Danny Huston and moves the story to contemporary Hollywood. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2000 and earned four Independent Spirit Award nominations. The release includes two versions of the theatrical cut, an extended producer’s cut, and a new documentary on the making of the film.

MVD Releasing ‘Flash Gordon’ and ‘Pitch Black’ as Arrow’s First 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays

Arrow Video is set to release its first-ever 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles — the sci-fi cult movies Pitch Black, starring Vin Diesel, and Flash Gordon, featuring an iconic soundtrack by the rock band Queen.

Restored in 4K with Dolby Vision, the releases include numerous extras. The titles, distributed by MVD Entertainment Group, will also be available on as standalone Blu-rays.

“At Arrow we have always sought to have the best standards in home video presentation so it seemed a logical step that we would embrace this new format, to present you with the best versions of the finest cult and classic films,” said Francesco Simeoni, Arrow Video’s director of acquisitions and business development, in a statement.

Arrow is producing a slate of 4K releases, many completed in-house, but also in partnership with world leading labels.

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“Whilst we are focused on new releases, we do have select releases we are planning to release from our catalog in 4K with Dolby Vision,” said Simeoni in a statement. “For this year this will be releasing all upcoming UHD titles in separate UHD and new Blu-ray editions. This development will not change our processes at Arrow, and you can continue to expect the same variety of special and limited editions for our UHD releases as you have our Blu-rays. Whilst we would love to release certain titles on UHD, rights restrictions and materials will not make all releases possible. Any releases currently planned for Blu-ray will not have plans for subsequent UHD releases.”

Arriving Aug. 18 is Flash Gordon, produced by Dino De Laurentiis (Dune, Barbarella), which brings Alex Raymond’s classic cartoon strip and the long running movie serial to the big screen with director Mike Hodges at the helm. With camp style and the sonic stylings of rock band Queen, the film stars include Max von Sydow, Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Ornella Muti, Timothy Dalton and Brian Blessed.

The director-approved limited edition 4K Ultra HD release includes:

  • A new 4K restoration by Studiocanal from the original camera negative approved by director Hodges;
  • a booklet featuring new writing on the film by critics and film historians including Neil Snowdon, Dennis Cozzalio, John-Paul Checkett, A.K. Benedict, and Kat Ellinger illustrated with original stills;
  • a fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork;
  • six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions, alternative posters and promotional images; and
  • limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais.

 

Disc one (4K Ultra Blu-ray) has Flash Gordon (1980) and special features, including:

  • archival audio commentary with Hodges;
  • archival audio commentary with Blessed;
  • interviews with actors Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Blessed, Queen icon Brian May, composer Howard Blake, and poster designer Renato Casaro;
  • “Behind the Scenes of Flash Gordon,” an archival documentary on the making of the film;
  • archival interviews with Hodges, screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. and comic book artist Alex Ross;
  • “Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon,” a new documentary program exploring the version Roeg (The Man Who Fell to Earth) had originally planned to make with producer Dino De Laurentiis;
  • “Gremlin’s Finest Hour,” an episode from the animated “Flash Gordon” TV show written by J. Michael Reaves from November 1982;
  • deleted scenes and original endings with prop collector Bob Lindenmayer discussing dropped sequences and sequel ideas;
  • a 35th anniversary greenroom featurette, in which Hodges meets the cast for the first time since filming at the 35th anniversary reunion;
  • a 35th anniversary reunion featurette, in which the cast and crew discuss Flash Gordon;
  • Entertainment Earth on Flash Gordon merchandise;
  • a storyboards gallery;
  • a stills gallery;
  • the original trailer; and
  • Easter eggs.

 

Disc 2 (Blu-ray) has Life After Flash and special features, including:

  • 2017 feature length documentary by filmmaker Lisa Downs on the rollercoaster life of Sam J. Jones since his role in Flash Gordon, featuring the main cast and crew as well as a host of fans. including Stan Lee, Robert Rodriguez, Mark Millar and more;
  • “Sam J. Jones,” a variety of interviews and featurettes including coverage of a script read from the Chattanooga Film Festival, Sam discussing his career in Mexico, his “prayer walk,” and more;
  • “Melody Paintings Extended,” in which actress Melody Anderson talks about her love of painting and talks about various pieces displayed in her home;
  • “Topol,” a variety of interviews with the actor on his collections, awards and charity work;
  • “Brian Blessed,” in which the actor recounts amusing stories about Flash Gordon;
  • “Late, Great Wyngarde,” in which actor Peter Wyngarde discusses his experiences filming Flash Gordon and his relationship with Hodges;
  • “Deep Roy,” in which the actor raps about ambition and recounts an amusing story about “Eastbound & Down”;
  • “Alex Ross Talks Early Art,” in which the artist talks about Flash Gordon and the many pieces of art he created for it from childhood to modern day;
  • “Tell Me More About the This Man Houdini,” in which actor Rich Fuller and Jason Lenzi, founder of toy brand Bif Bang Pow, discuss a scene from Flash Gordon;
  • a Comic-Con early draft, a featurette looking at the phenomenon that is Comic-Con, featuring interviews with attendees and a host of regular talent including Sam J. Jones, Rich Fulton, Jason Mewes, Michael Rooker, Claudia Wells and more;
  • an interview with Lisa Downs, the director of Life After Flash, exploring her motivation to make the film and experiences during the production;
  • “Life After Flash on the Road,” a variety of featurettes on the film travelling to various festivals and production including Q&A excerpts with the Flash Gordon cast, behind-the-scenes footage and the Kickstarter funding video;
  • a trailer.

 

The director-approved special edition 4K Ultra HD release includes:

  • new 4K restoration by Studiocanal from the original camera negative approved by director Hodges;
  • archival audio commentary with Hodges;
  • archival audio commentary with Blessed;
  • interviews with actors Jones, Anderson, Blessed, Queen icon Brian May, composer Howard Blake, and poster designer Renato Casaro;
  • “Behind the Scenes of Flash Gordon,” an archival documentary on the making of the film;
  • archival interviews with Hodges, screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. and comic book artist Alex Ross;
  • “Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon,” a new documentary program exploring the version Roeg (The Man Who Fell to Earth) had originally planned to make with producer Dino De Laurentiis;
  • “Gremlin’s Finest Hour,” an episode from the animated “Flash Gordon” TV show written by J. Michael Reaves from November 1982;
  • deleted scenes and original endings, in which prop collector Bob Lindenmayer discusses dropped sequences and sequel ideas;
  • a 35th anniversary greenroom featurette, in which Hodges meets the cast for the first time since filming at the 35th anniversary reunion;
  • a 35th anniversary reunion featurette, in which the cast and crew discuss Flash Gordon;
  • Entertainment Earth on Flash Gordon merchandise;
  • a storyboards gallery;
  • a stills gallery;
  • the original trailer;
  • Easter eggs; and
  • a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais.

 

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Arriving Sept. 1, pushed back from its original Aug. 18 street date, is the 2000 film Pitch Black. The standalone Blu-ray version is still slated for Aug. 18.

Starring Vin Diesel, the film is about the crew of a crashed spaceship fighting for survival, is a creature-feature in which the monsters outside finally meet their match against a monster within. The release includes director’s cuts of the film and a host of behind-the-scenes featurettes. They include:

  • A new 4K restoration by Arrow Films of the theatrical and director’s cuts of the film, approved by director David Twohy;
  • archive commentary with Twohy and stars Diesel and Cole Hauser;
  • archive commentary with Twohy, producer Tom Engelman and visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang;
  • “Nightfall: The Making of Pitch Black,” a newly filmed interview with director/co-writer Twohy;
  • “Black Box: Jackie’s Journey,” a newly filmed interview with actor Rhiana Griffith
  • “Black Box: Shazza’s Last Stand,” a newly filmed interview with actor Claudia Black;
  • “Black Box: Bleach Bypassed,” a newly filmed interview with cinematographer David Eggby;
  • “Black Box: Cryo-Locked,” a newly filmed interview with visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang;
  • “Black Box: Primal Sounds,” a newly filmed interview with composer Graeme Revell;
  • “The Making of Pitch Black,” a short behind-the-scenes featurette;
  • “Pitch Black Raw,” a comparison between early CG tests and the final footage
  • additional behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the film;
  • 2004 archive bonus features, including an introduction by Twohy, “A View Into The Dark,” and “Chronicles of Riddick Visual Encyclopedia”;
  • “Johns’ Chase Log,” a short prequel narrated by Cole Hauser detailing the character’s hunt for Riddick;
  • “The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury,” an animated short film directed by Peter Chung that acts as a bridgepoint between Pitch Blackand The Chronicles of Riddick, featuring vocal performances by Diesel, Keith David and Griffith reprising their roles;
  • “Dark Fury” bonus features, including “Bridging the Gap,” “Peter Chung: The Mind of an Animator,” “A View Into The Light” and a “pre-animation” version of the film;
  • “Slam City,” a motion comic from the film’s official website;
  • “Into Pitch Black,”a TV special offering an alternative non-canon glimpse into what happened before and after the events of the film;
  • “Raveworld: Pitch Black Event,” footage of a dance music event held to promote the film;
  • theatrical trailers, plus trailers for the two sequels and video game
  • image galleries; and
  • a reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned ‘night’ and ‘day’ artwork by Luke Preece.

 

For the first pressing only, editions include a collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Simon Ward on the film’s creature designs (including a new interview with creature designer Patrick Tatopolous), original production notes and information from the film’s official website, and an archive interview with Vin Diesel from Starlog magazine.

Arrow announced that due to a printing error, its UHD versions of Pitch Black in all territories will no longer include a slipcase.

Comedy ‘Zombie for Sale,’ Thriller ‘Black Rainbow’ and Atomic Bomb Drama ‘Hiroshima’ Among Titles Due on Blu-ray in July from Arrow and MVD

The Korean comedy Zombie for Sale, the British thriller Black Rainbow and the Japanese atomic bomb drama Hiroshima are among the titles coming to Blu-ray Disc in July from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

In 2019’s Zombie for Sale, due July 7, the illegal human experiments of Korea’s biggest pharmaceutical company go wrong, and one of their “undead” test subjects escapes and ends up in a shabby gas station owned by the Park family — a band of misfits spanning three generations who hustle passers-by to make ends meet. When the family uncovers their undead visitor, he bites the head of their household, who instead of transforming into an undead ghoul becomes revitalised and full of life. The family then hatches a plan to exploit this unexpected fountain of youth, allowing locals to pay to be bitten, too, until things go wrong. Extras include an audio commentary with filmmakers and critics Sam Ashurst and Dan Martin; a Q&A with director Lee Min-jae from a 2019 screening at Asian Pop-Up Cinema in Chicago, moderated by film critic and author Darcy Paquet; “Eat Together, Kill Together: The Family-in-Peril Comedy,” a video essay by critic and producer Pierce Conran exploring Korea’s unique social satires; a making-of featurette; behind-the-scenes footage; the trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Mike Lee-Graham; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Josh Hurtado.

Also coming July 7 is the British thriller Black Rainbow (1989). Mike Hodges (Flash Gordon, Get Carter) wrote and directed this supernatural chiller as a meditation on the human race’s ability to destroy the world, a gothic tale of suspense and the occult. Martha Travis (Rosanna Arquette, Pulp Fiction, Crash) is a travelling clairvoyant on the road with her sceptic father (Jason Robards, Once Upon a Time in the West, Magnolia). During a séance, Martha communicates a message from a dead man to his wife in the audience. Shocked the wife insists her husband is still alive. Later that evening the husband is killed by a ruthless assassin. As Martha foresees more and more tragic events journalist Gary Wallace (Tom Hulce, Amadeus, Animal House) follows the pair in pursuit of a hot story with catastrophically eerie results. Sent direct to cable by its struggling distributor on initial release, Black Rainbow never got wide exposure. It is newly restored from the original negative. Extras include new audio commentary by film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan; archival audio commentary by Hodges; an archival making-of documentary; several archival featurettes; the trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh; and for the first pressing only, a booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Hodges and more, illustrated with stills.

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Also on tap July 7 is 1969’s Inferno of Torture. Japanese exploitation legend Teruo Ishii (Horrors of Malformed Men, Orgies of Edo) delivers one of his most extreme visions of violent eroticism in the sixth in his abnormal love series, in which tattoos and torture await women forced into servitude. Unable to repay a local lender, Yumi (Yumika Katayama) takes up an offer to serve as a geisha for two years with a promise of freedom once her debt is repaid. She quickly realizes that this is less a house of geishas than an extremely cruel brothel specializing in supplying Western visitors with tattooed playthings. Extras include audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes; “Erotic Grotesque Nonsense & the Foundations of Japan’s Cult Counterculture,” a condensed version of Jasper Sharp’s Miskatonic Institute lecture; the trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris D.

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Due July 14 is Hiroshima (1953), about the devastation wrought by the world’s first deployment of the atomic bomb and its aftermath, based on the written eye-witness accounts of its child survivors compiled by Dr. Arata Osada for the 1951 book Children of the A Bomb: Testament of the Boys and Girls of Hiroshima. Adapted for the screen by independent director Hideo Sekigawa (Listen to the Voices of the Sea, Tokyo Untouchable) and screenwriter Yasutaro Yagi (Theatre of Life, Rice), Hiroshima combines a harrowing documentary realism with human drama in a tale of the suffering, endurance and survival of a group of teachers, their students and their families. It boasts a score composed by Akira Ifukube (Godzilla) and stars Yumeji Tsukioka (Late Spring, The Eternal Breasts), Isuzu Yamada (Throne of Blood, Yojimbo) and Eiji Okada (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Woman in the Dunes), appearing alongside an estimated 90,000 residents from the city as extras, including many survivors from that fateful day on Aug. 6, 1945. Hiroshima was produced and distributed outside of the studio system by the Japan Teachers’ Union following the mixed critical reception to Children of Hiroshima (1952), directed by Kaneto Shindo the previous year, the first dramatic feature to deal directly with the atomic bombing. Although sequences from the film were used in Alain Resnais’ classic of French New Wave cinema, Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), it has been effectively out of circulation in Japan and the rest of the world since its original release due to the force and political sensitivity of its message. This new HD presentation is the complete version, restoring the footage from the international edit that was released in the United States in 1955. Extras include an archive interview with actress Yumeji Tsukioka; Hiroshima Nagasaki Download (2011), a 73-minute documentary featuring interviews with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings now residing in the United States, with an introduction by the director Shinpei Takeda; a new video essay by Jasper Sharp; newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mick Broderick.

Coming July 21 are two films from 1988, Bloodstone and Life Is a Long Quiet River.

In Bloodstone, a man of action and a cab driver pair up to save a young girl from the clutches of an evil criminal magnate. The Bloodstone, a priceless stolen ruby, accidentally ends up in the possession of American newlyweds Sandy (Brett Stimely, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death) and Stephanie (Anna Nicholas, “Remington Steele”). Now, their honeymoon in India is interrupted as they become the target of international fence Van Hoeven (Christopher Neame, The Prestige) and his evil henchmen. When Van Hoeven kidnaps Stephanie and ransoms her for the jewel, Sandy joins forces with the cabby and dormant stunt-driver Shyam Sabu (Rajinikanth, 2.0) to rescue his young bride. Co-written and produced by Nico Mastorakis (Island of Death, The Wind), the film features a performance by legendary Tamil megastar Rajinikanth in his first English-language role. Extras include new audio commentary by Bryan Reesman; “Keeping it to Myself,” a new interview with producer and co-writer Nico Mastorakis; a new video essay on Rajinikanth by Indian cinema expert Josh Hurtado; trailers; an image gallery; the original screenplay; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mark Cunliffe.

Life Is a Long Quiet River is a fast-paced French satire. The radiantly bourgeois Le Quesnoys, with their immaculate children and perfect manners, and the grubby, disreputable Groseilles are thrown together in absurd chaos by an act of revenge as they discover that 12 years prior their babies were switched at birth. A witty send up of class relations and family ties, Life Is a Long Quiet River was celebrated with a host of trophies at France’s César Awards ceremony, winning best screenplay, best debut work and acting prizes for Héléne Vincent and Catherine Jacob. Extras include archival interviews with director Étienne Chatiliez, actor André Wilms, co-writer/co-producer Florence Quentin and producer Charles Gassot; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jonathan Romney.

MVD and Arrow Video June Slate Includes 1960s Western ‘Django’

MVD Entertainment Group has announced the Arrow Video Blu-ray lineup for June 2020.

Arrow Academy’s Blu-ray of 1960’s America as Seen by a Frenchman was released June 2. French documentarian François Reichenbach spent a year and a half traveling the United States capturing some of the most famous sites and sounds. The result was a look at America with a French sensibility.

Arrow Academy will have a second release for the month June 23 with director Tomu Uchida’s 1962 film The Max Fox. The film was highlighted in the August 2007 issue of Sight & Sound as one of their “75 Hidden Gems — The Great Films Time Forgot.” This release, featuring a brand new restoration courtesy of Toei, will mark the film’s worldwide Blu-ray debut.

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Also June 23 comes the Blu-ray release of 1988’s Dream Demon via Arrow Video. A soon-to-be-wed woman starts having terrible dreams that start to blend into a frightening reality. Harley Cokeliss’ gory 1980s psychological nightmare has languished in obscurity for the past three decades, but that will soon change with this new 2K restoration approved by Cokeliss. In addition to the theatrical release, Arrow’s edition also includes the director’s cut.

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The 1966 Spaghetti Western Django arrives June 30 as a limited edition Blu-ray set that includes a fold-out poster and photo cards of images from the film. A collectible Steelbook edition also will be available.

‘Django’ Steelbook cover

Franco Nero stars as Django, a mysterious loner who arrives at a mud-drenched ghost town on the Mexico-U.S. border, ominously dragging a coffin behind him. With Django, director Sergio Corbucci upped the ante for sadism and sensationalism in Westerns, depicting machine gun massacres, mud-fighting prostitutes and savage mutilations.

A huge hit with international audiences, Django’s brand of bleak nihilism would be repeatedly emulated in a raft of unofficial sequels. The film is presented here in an exclusive new restoration with a wealth of extras including the newly restored bonus feature Texas Adios, which also stars Franco Nero, and was released as Django 2 in several territories.

‘Blood Tide,’ ‘White Fire,’ ‘The Woman’ and Tsukamoto Boxed Set Coming to Blu-ray May 26 From MVD

Blood Tide, White Fire, The Woman and a Tsukamoto boxed set are coming to Blu-ray May 26 from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Blood Tide (1982), a horror title from director/co-writer Richard Jefferies and producer/co-writer Nico Mastorakis, stars James Earl Jones as a treasure hunter that mistakenly awakens an ancient underwater beast on a small Greek island. The film is restored in 4K and features a new commentary with Jefferies and a new interview with Mastorakis; a reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by Mike Gingold.

Musician turned actor Robert Ginty stars in White Fire (1985), an action thriller from director Jean-Marie Pallardy. The film follows a pair of brother-and-sister jewel thieves that encounter tragedy while on the hunt for the elusive “White Fire” diamond. The plan hits an unexpected snag with the arrival of smooth-talking badass Noah Barclay, played by Fred Williamson (From Dusk ‘Til Dawn). The film features a theme song from ’80s British rockers Limelight. Special features include a feature-length audio commentary by critic Kat Ellinger; “Surviving the Fire,” a new interview with writer-director Pallardy; “Enter the Hammer,” a new interview with Williamson; and “Diamond Cutter,” a new interview with editor Bruno Zincone.

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The Woman, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, stars Pollyanna McIntosh as the last surviving member of a deadly clan of feral cannibals. While out hunting, all-American dad Sean Bridgers discovers the woman and decides to capture her with plans to make her more “civilized.” What ensues is a brutal, bloody nightmare. The new 4K restoration, supervised by directory Lucky McKee, includes such special features as new commentary with director McKee, editor Zach Passero, sound designer Andrew Smetek and composer Sean Spillane; new commentary by McIntosh; commentary by critic Scott Weinberg; a Frightfest panel discussion; and making-of featurettes.

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Finally comes the box set Solid Metal Nightmares: The Films of Shinya Tsukamoto, featuring shorts and eight feature-length films, including Tetsuo: The Iron ManTetsuo II: Body HammerTokyo FistBullet Ballet, and the home video debut of Tsukamoto’s latest effort Killing. Among the numerous special features are “An Assault on the Senses,” a new visual essay on the films and style of Tsukamoto by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp and multiple archival interviews with Tsukamoto, covering every film in the collection.