Crisis on Infinite Earths

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Available With:
Supergirl: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
Batwoman: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
Arrow: The Complete Eighth Season Blu-ray, $29.98;
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, $29.98;

Warner;
Sci-fi/Action;
Not rated;
Stars Stephen Amell, Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, Caity Lotz, Ruby Rose, Brandon Routh, Cress Williams, David Harewood, Tom Cavanagh, Tyler Hoechlin, John Cryer, Matt Ryan, David Ramsey, LaMonica Garrett.

Multiverses are all the rage nowadays.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the live-action DC movies are scrambling to introduce the concept in their upcoming blockbusters, filling the Internet with casting rumors of the return of previous versions of certain characters. And one reason they may be motivated to do so is how popular the idea proved in the CW Arrowverse’s big crossover event last season, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which brought together characters from six of the DC superhero shows and featured cameos from several more, and even referenced a few from the big screen.

The TV Crisis is based on a major DC Comics storyline from the mid-1980s, which redefined and modernized all the publication’s classic characters while seeking to streamline convoluted histories that went back decades. In doing so, characters encountered versions of themselves from parallel realities in an epic battle against a villain called the Anti-Monitor who was destroying entire universes.

The CW networks’ “Arrowverse” shows adopted the same basic premise. The series have been doing annual crossovers for a while, and have been laying the groundwork for Crisis on Infinite Earths for years.

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The crossover itself is structured like a miniseries, though each of the five parts are actually an episode from one of the participating series: part one is an episode of “Supergirl,” part two is an episode of “Batwoman,” part three is an episode of “The Flash,” part four is an episode of “Arrow,” and part five is an episode of “Legends of Tomorrow.” Though they use a unified Crisis title card instead of the individual show, the main credits still reflect the cast of that show. This is likely more a matter of contractual obligations, since it probably would have made more sense to produce the crossover as a separate production outside the purview of any of the shows. The fact that these are technically separate episodes of different series makes for some awkward distribution scenarios.

For home video, Warner has chosen to include a special bonus disc containing all five episodes and bonus materials with the relevant season Blu-ray releases of each of the series. It’s the same disc for every show, so “Arrowverse” fans who pick up the Blu-ray for each show will get it five times.

Since the individual parts are also episodes of the shows, they are also included with the regular episode runs for each show on disc. Since the miniseries version is exclusive to the Blu-ray, anyone wanting each part just on DVD has to buy each show’s separate season, and those don’t come with the special “Crisis” extras.

In years past, the crossovers on disc were handled a bit differently, with Warner including all crossover episodes on the Blu-ray for each show’s relevant season as part of the regular episode listings, so that they’ll come up in a “play all” binge.

Either way, it kind of points to a more common sense solution being to release the Crisis disc as a standalone miniseries, and not part of any of the shows’ seasons, but contracts are what they are.

The fact that these are individual episodes of each show makes for some messy plot developments in terms of where certain events happen in relation to what show they are technically happening on. Major life events affecting Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) happen on “Supergirl,” and not his own show, “Arrow.” However, “Arrow” does get a monumental cameo involving The Flash, rather than that bit of fan service actually happening on “The Flash.”

With the central conceit that every TV show and movie ever based on a DC Comics property exists alongside the others in a multiverse, producers have packed in cameos from a number of these other shows, in many cases offering a reunion or update for some of the characters. These range from quick glances at other current shows such as “Titans” and “Stargirl,” as well as drop-ins on the worlds of Superman Returns, the 1989 Batman movie, the 1960s “Batman” series, “Smallville,” the 1990 “Flash” TV show and even the recent Justice League movie.

It’s all in good fun for the fans of these characters who have been following them not just on the CW, but on the other shows as well, not to mention the original comics. The idea of using “Batman: The Animated Series” star Kevin Conroy to play a live-action version of an older Bruce Wayne is just a marvelous idea. As is putting Brandon Routh back in the Superman suit to play an older version of the character. Routh already plays the Atom in the Arrowverse, but physically he seems much more suited to play Superman now that he’s a bit older than he did in 2006, which he was a bit to thin for the part.

For comic book fans, the looks of Conroy’s Bruce Wayne and Routh’s older Superman borrow a lot of influence from the 1990s Kingdom Come miniseries.

Tom Welling also makes an appearance as the “Smallville” Clark Kent, and between him and Routh they just make the Arrowverse’s Superman, Tyler Hoechlin, seem way too undersized for the role.

In addition, Cress Williams shows up in a couple episodes to play Black Lightning from his own CW show. While “Black Lightning” doesn’t have one of the Crisis episodes, it did do its own prelude to Crisis episode similarly to the other participating shows. That episode isn’t included here, but it is available with the third season of “Black Lightning” which is available digitally now and coming to DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Archive Oct. 27.

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Nostalgia aside, Crisis does a lot to resolve several of the storylines from the various shows, not the least of which is to finally put Supergirl and Black Lightnine in the same universe as the other heroes (though that has raised its own plot problems as the shows have continued post-Crisis). It’s an ambitious piece of television that should satisfy fans of the series involved, but the various crossovers and nostalgia bait do a lot to distract from flaws that become apparent on subsequent rewatches.

Primarily, the quaintness of plotting that persists on the five main shows carries over here, and the dialogue can get a bit grating the more one hears it. In some instances the collective writing teams may have been in over their heads coordinating such a big production, as there are many attempts to cram in the supporting casts of the various shows in their series’ respective episodes with subplots that end up going nowhere or having no effect on the larger storyline. Some of these are excuses for cheap cameos, while others just seem like they are giving the characters busy work.

When these shows are syndicated to various stations and streaming services in the future and have to stand on their own, I can only imagine the confusion some viewers might having when encountering the crossover episodes in the middle of a binge and seeing partial storylines that have little to do with the rest of the show they’ve been watching. But, a happy fan is an informed fan, and they should know what they’re getting into with the Arrowverse to begin with.

The extras on the Crisis bonus disc are fun backgrounders typical of the kinds usually found on Blu-rays of DC-based content, particularly the DC Universe animated movies.

Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Architects Return” is a 12-minute featurette that reflects on the original comic book, featuring interviews with its original creators, plus a look at the new comic book tie-in created for the Arrowverse version.

“Crisis Management” is a 13-minute making-of featurette looking at how the five shows coordinated to bring the crossover together.

“Crisis Past and Present: Kevin Conroy Bat Legend” is a three-minute profile of Conroy and bringing him to play a live-action Batman for the first time.

“Crisis Past and Present: Superman vs. Superman” is a four-and-a-half-minute featurette about a showdown between Routh and Hoechlin for super-supremecy.

“Characters in Crisis: Pariah” is a four-minute video about turning Tom Cavanagh’s “Flash” character into the Pariah role from the original comic.

Finally, “Characters in Crisis: The Anti-Monitor” is a five-minute examination of the main villain of the story.

‘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.

‘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.

‘Arrow’ Showrunner Reflects on Series’ Legacy on Eve of Final Season Arriving on Blu-ray

For most successful TV shows, a final season allows the writers to prepare for the finale by wrapping up various storylines in a way that sends the characters out on a high note. For the CW’s “Arrow,” wrapping up the series was going to be a bit more complicated, considering the series was the anchor of a multi-media franchise of several shows based on various DC Comics characters.

In its eighth and final season, “Arrow” was tasked with not only its own finale, but also a setting up a potential spinoff, not to mention servicing one of the largest crossover events in television history. And it had just 10 episodes to do it, when previous seasons had averaged about 23.

“There were challenges, but also we were very excited about the shorter episode order because  it allowed us the freedom to do a different kind of structure, and I don’t think we would have been able to do that if we had a full 22 or 23 episodes,” said executive producer Beth Schwartz, who has written for the show since its first season and served as showrunner for seasons seven and eight.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment April 28 will release Arrow: The Eighth and Final Season as three-disc Blu-ray Disc and DVD sets. The same day also sees the release Arrow: The Complete Series on 31 Blu-ray Discs or 38 DVDs containing all 170 episodes of the show that began in 2012.

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Adapted from the Green Arrow comic book, “Arrow” stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, the billionaire’s son who spends five years in exile following a shipwreck that leaves him stranded on a distant island. Tasked by his father’s dying wish to clean up Starling City, Queen returns home and takes up the mantle of a ruthless vigilante who will stop at nothing to complete his mission.

“Arrow”

The show’s cast included David Ramsey as John Diggle, Rick Gonzalez as Rene Ramirez, Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake, Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, and Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak. Former cast members such as Paul Blackthorne, Willa Holland, Colton Haynes, Colin Donnell, Echo Kellum, Susanna Thompson, John Barrowman and Josh Segarra return as guest stars in the final season, many in the finale, called “Fadeout.”

For the first five seasons, the show used a flashback structure interweaving and contrasting Oliver’s time in exile with events of the present.

“In some ways the flashback structure was so great, especially in the first two seasons, where is explains that missing time and that’s how it’s constructed,” Schwartz said. “But once we got past that time, it started to feel a little formulaic, where we were just putting flashbacks in because that’s what the structure was. I think that’s when we all realized that it would be nice to take a break from the flashback structure and spend more time with our present-day characters.”

In season seven, the show adopted a flash-forward narrative set in 2040 focused on Oliver’s children, Mia (Katherine McNamara) and William (Ben Lewis).

“We always talked about flash forwarding, but we didn’t want to assume the show was going to go for as many years as it went for, so we didn’t know if that was ever going to be a possibility,” Schwartz said. “But there was always the discussion early on that it would be interesting to see this idea of flash-forwarding to his children.”

Over the course of the series, Oliver meets new heroes, spawning a shared universe, known as the Arrowverse, that contains the TV shows “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” “Batwoman,” “Legends of Tomorrow” and “Black Lightning.”

“Arrow”

In the final season of “Arrow,” Oliver becomes one of the key players in averting a crisis that threatens to destroy the multiverse. While annual crossovers between the Arrowverse have become a tradition, the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event was bigger than them all, involving characters from all the Arrowverse shows, but also cameos from previous DC Comics movies and TV shows such as “Smallville” and the 1966 version of “Batman.”

“Crisis” began with an episode of “Supergirl,” continued on “Batwoman,” “The Flash” and “Arrow” before concluding with an episode of “Legends of Tomorrow.”

The season-eight and complete-series Blu-ray sets include a limited-edition bonus disc with all five episodes of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and six crossover featurettes. The ability to collect the entirety of “Crisis” thus gives the Blu-ray a distinct advantage over the DVD, which just includes the “Arrow” episode of the crossover.

“Arrow”

“We wrote the story imagining the viewer experiencing all of them in order as you watch them live on television,” Schwartz said. “You want to serve your own show obviously in your hour, but you’re also serving a larger story. And how the crossovers have evolved, especially ‘Crisis,’ is it has turned into a huge movie event. But it’s not even about your show anymore, it’s about the story of ‘Crisis.’ Yes, on the DVD it probably won’t make sense if you haven’t seen the other ones.”

Schwartz credits the shows’ assistant directors for keeping all the logistics of the crossover sorted out.

The real heroes are the first A.D.s on all the shows because the scheduling has the most challenges,” Schwartz said. “And for us having the crossover and also the series finale where we have so many guest stars from the other shows, I’m super grateful for all those actors who were able to squeeze that in after working tirelessly on all the crossover episodes.”

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Because the ‘Crisis’ storyline involved alien beings with the power to bend time and space, Oliver’s future children were brought to the present to join the fight.

That was super important in terms of getting that connection between Mia and Oliver because they never met,” Schwartz said. “So as soon as we knew we were doing ‘Crisis’ and we were allowed to do things like that, because our show as much as we can keep it is very grounded, so it opened it up a lot more which we were grateful for because we knew we could get these amazing scenes between Stephen and Kat. Mia and Oliver because had never met before and she was so much like him, and those scenes were great.”

“Green Arrow & The Canaries”

The fourth episode of “Crisis” was also the third-to-last episode of “Arrow.” The second-to-last episode of the final season, “Green Arrow & The Canaries,” was made as a backdoor pilot for a new spinoff in which Mia picks up the mantle of the Green Arrow 20 years in the future.

“The spinoff was the most challenging because we had to fit it right between ‘Crisis’ and the finale,” Schwartz said. I think it works really well looking back because you were actually able to see 20 years in the future after ‘Crisis’ …  and the other future that we saw leading up to ‘Crisis’ had been changed forever. So I think it allowed us to do a lot of things that we wouldn’t have been able to do if we didn’t have that backdoor pilot in that position.”

Production shutdowns associated with the coronavirus pandemic have delayed the decision about whether the spinoff has been picked up, she said.

The Blu-ray and DVD also include deleted scenes, the Arrow: Hitting the Bullseye finale retrospective special, and highlights from the DC Comics shows at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. The series is also available for purchase through digital retailers, and the Blu-ray editions of the series and final season will come with digital copies of the episodes.

Schwartz is now working on a project that will take her beyond the Arrowverse, but looks back fondly at her time helping to develop the franchise.

I think about it more in terms of the characters and not the reality of how they’re making all the shows, but the legacy of ‘Arrow’ and specifically Oliver Queen brings out this world that sort of got out of control with so many shows and it’s so crazy to think about it,” Schwartz said. “I just remember season one, watching the pilot and joining everyone in the writers room and wondering if people were going to like this show. We all liked it and we felt it was something different, but we had no idea how people would respond to it. It’s just so hard to wrap your brain around what it has created and it just makes me feel happy to have been a part of this experience.”

“Arrow”

‘Arrow’ Final Season on Disc April 28

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Arrow: The Eighth and Final Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD April 28 (order date March 24). Arrow: The Complete Series also will be available on Blu-ray and DVD the same day. All episodes from the series are currently available for digital sellthrough purchase.

The CW series debuted in 2012 as an adaptation of DC Comics’ Green Arrow character, a vigilante archer named Oliver Queen who fights corruption and injustice in Star City, with Stephen Amell in the title role.

The series eventually spawned the CW’s “Arrowverse,” which includes “The Flash,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “Supergirl,” “Batwoman” and “Black Lightning.”

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In the 10 episodes of the final season, Oliver joins forces with current allies and his family from the future to fight an intergalactic crisis that threatens to destroy the multiverse, culminating in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover with the other Arrowverse shows.

The cast in the final season also includes David Ramsey, Rick Gonzalez, Juliana Harkavy, Katherine McNamara, Ben Lewis, Joseph David-Jones and Katie Cassidy.

The ninth episode of the season, “Green Arrow & The Canaries,” serves as a backdoor pilot for an upcoming spinoff about Oliver’s daughter (McNamara) taking up his mission twenty years later with the help of the two Black Canaries (Cassidy and Harkavy).

Season eight Blu-ray and DVD extras include deleted scenes, the “Arrow: Hitting the Bullseye” retroactive documentary special, and highlights from the DC TV panels at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. The Blu-ray also contains a code redeemable for digital copies of the episodes.

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The Blu-ray for the eighth season (also contained in the complete-series Blu-ray set) will include a bonus disc containing the complete five-part “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover with episodes from “Supergirl,” “Batwoman,” “The Flash,” “Arrow” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” Extras on the “Crisis” bonus disc include the featurettes “Crisis Past and Present: Kevin Conroy Bat Legend,” “Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Architects Return,” “Crisis Past and Present: Superman vs. Superman,” “Characters in Crisis: Pariah,” “Crisis Management” and “Character in Crisis: The Anti-Monitor.”

 

‘Manon,’ ‘One Missed Call Trilogy’ and Slasher ‘Deadly Manor’ Due on Blu-ray Feb. 25 From MVD and Arrow

Three titles are coming on Blu-ray Feb. 25 from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group: Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Manon, the Japanese “One Missed Call Trilogy” and the slasher Deadly Manor.

Manon comes via Arrow Academy. Loosely adapted from Antoine François Prévost’s 1731 novel, this French drama is the story of a French Resistance fighter that rescues and falls in love with a woman accused of working with the Nazi’s. The couple moves to Paris where their life begins to spiral out of control as they get caught up in prostitution and murder. The film took home the Golden Lion award at the 1949 Venice Film Festival. The new high definition release includes a new video appreciation by critic Geoff Andrew and an archival documentary that features Clouzot discussing his love for literature.

The multi-disc “One Missed Call Trilogy” features a legendary trio of J-horror films launched with Takashi Miike’s 2003 film about people who receive strange voicemails from their future selves predicting their deaths. Yumi Nakamura, a young psychology student, begins to investigate the calls and discovers this terrifying circumstance has been plaguing Japan for centuries. The original was followed by two more films, One Missed Called 2 and One Missed Call: The Final Call. Special features include interviews, documentaries, a TV special and a short film.

Also on tap is José Ramón Larraz’s slasher Deadly Manor (1990), also known as Savage Lust. This final genre effort from Larraz follows teens who stay the night in an abandoned mansion that happens to be home to a lunatic killer. Restored in 2K using the original elements, Deadly Manor is making its Blu-ray debut. Special features include a new interview with actress Jennifer Delora and the original VHS trailer.

‘RoboCop,’ ‘Flowers in the Attic’ on November 2019 Disc Slate From Arrow and MVD

The 1980s sci-fi actioner RoboCop, Flowers in the Attic and a 1950s James Stewart classic western are among the five titles on the November Blu-ray slate from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Due Nov. 5 is the horror flick Apprentice to Murder. Chad Lowe, younger brother to Rob, stars as Billy, a young man who falls under the spell of folk magic healer Dr. Reese (Donald Sutherland). As the two begin to investigate a strange sickness infesting their community, the lines between good and evil start to blur. Bonus features include a video interview on religious horror with Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine; new audio commentary by author and critic Bryan Reesman; a new video interview with cinematographer Kelvin Pike; a new video interview with makeup supervisor Robin Grantham; the theatrical trailer; and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love.

Nov. 12 comes Flowers in the Attic, based on VC Andrews’ novel, a Gothic tale about four siblings locked away in the attic by their evil grandmother (Louise Fletcher). Originally panned by critics, director Jeffrey Bloom’s adaptation has developed a cult following over the years. The new Arrow release comes loaded with special features including new interviews and the original, studio-vetoed ending.

Also due Nov. 12 is Anthony Mann’s Technicolor western The Far Country, in which James Stewart stars as an adventurer that bumps heads with a corrupt judge (John McIntire). Despite being filmed in Canada, The Far Country is one of the rare westerns to be set in Alaska. The two-disc limited edition release features the film in two aspect ratios with a new 4K restoration.

Irvin Berwick’s Hitchhike to Hell hits Blu-ray for the first time on Nov. 19. Inspired by the brutal crimes of the “Co-ed Killer” Edmund Kemper, Hitchhike to Hell is a classic slice of American exploitation. Extras include a newly filmed appreciation by Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower; “Road to Nowhere: Hitchhiking Culture Goes to Hell,” a new video essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas exploring the dark side of hitchhiking in the real world and on the screen; a reversable sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Heather Drain.

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Finally, Nov. 26 comes Paul Verhoeven’s action classic RoboCop. Set in the not-too-distant future, RoboCop is the story of officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) who is gunned down in the line of duty before being brought back to life as a half-man/half-machine crime-fighter. This new limited-edition release features the director’s cut and the original theatrical release, both presented with a 4K restoration approved by Verhoeven himself. Among the numerous extras are a limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Omar Ahmed, Christopher Griffiths and Henry Blyth, as well as a 1987 Fangoria interview with Rob Bottin and archive publicity materials (some contents exclusive to the limited edition); archive commentary by Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davison and co-writer Ed Neumeier (originally recorded for the theatrical cut and re-edited in 2014 for the director’s cut); and new commentary by film historian Paul M. Sammon. RoboCop will be available in standard and steelbook editions.

‘Weird Science,’ Bigelow’s Debut ‘The Loveless’ and Classic ‘Hold Back the Dawn’ Coming to Blu-ray From Arrow and MVD in July

The 1980s teen comedy Weird Science, Kathryn Bigelow’s debut feature The Loveless and the classic Oscar nominee Hold Back the Dawn are among the films on the July Blu-ray slate from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

First up July 2 is the late 1970s rock-n-roll comedy FM. Oscar-nominated John A. Alonzo directs this story of radio station mutiny. After being forced to play more commercials, including military recruitment ads, DJs and other employees take control and fight their corporate bosses by playing as much music as possible. The new HD release, transferred from the original camera negatives, features extras including a new interview with the film’s star Michael Brandon; a new interview with writer Ezra Sacks; “The Spirit of Radio,” a newly filmed video appreciation of the era of FM radio and the FM soundtrack by film and music critic Glenn Kenny; a gallery of original stills, promotional images and soundtrack sleeves; original trailers; a reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer and critic Paul Corupe.

Due July 9 is Oscar-winner Bigelow’s debut feature (co-directed by Monty Montgomery) The Loveless. Set in the 1950s, The Loveless is the story of a motorcycle gang heading to the races in Daytona. Along the way they stop in a small southern town, leaving the locals less they pleased. Willem Dafoe, also making his debut, stars. The Loveless is presented restored and in HD for the first time, with a new transfer approved by Montgomery and director of photography Doyle Smith. Extras include a new audio commentary with Montgomery, moderated by Elijah Drenner; making-of featurettes; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Stanfield.

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On July 16 come two releases, 1941’s Hold Back the Dawn and 1990s horror flick The Chill Factor.

Nominated for six Oscars, Hold Back the Dawn stars Charles Boyer and Olivia de Havilland in the story of one man’s hope of making it to the United States by marrying a citizen. The plan is to leave his would-be bride upon making his way into the country, but the plan has a few hiccups thanks to a determined immigration officer and a true love that begins to blossom. Presented in HD for the first time, the release includes extras such as new audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin; “Love Knows No Borders,” a newly filmed video appreciation by film critic Geoff Andrew; a career-spanning onstage audio interview with de Havilland recorded at the National Film Theatre in 1971; an hour-long radio adaptation of Hold Back the Dawn from 1941 starring Boyer, Paulette Goddard and Susan Haywood; a gallery of original stills and promotional images; the original trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer and critic Farran Smith Nehme.

The Chill Factor, also known as Demon Possessed, is the only film directed by producer Christopher Webster. In the film, a group of friends out on a snowmobile trip seek refuge when one of them gets knocked unconscious following an accident. They locate an abandoned cabin to take cover. The cabin happens to hold a number of bizarre religious artifacts, and they mistakenly awaken a terrible evil. Extras include a new audio commentary with special effects artist Hank Carlson and horror writer Josh Hadley; a new on-camera interview with makeup artist Jeffery Lyle Segal; a new on-camera interview with production manager Alexandra Reed; a new on-camera interview with stunt coordinator Gary Paul; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach; and for the first pressing, only a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Mike White.

Steelbook packaging

Due July 23 is the 1980s John Hughes classic Weird Science available in regular and steelbook packaging. Starring Anthony Michael Hall, the comedy follows a pair of nerds that attempt to create the perfect woman via their computer. The release features a new 4K restoration from the original negatives and includes the original theatrical version as well as the extended version. As an added bonus, a standard definition transfer of the edited-for-TV release is included. Additional special features include an archive making-of documentary; new interviews with special makeup creator Craig Reardon, composer Ira Newborn, supporting actor John Kapelos and casting director Jackie Burch; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Amanda Reyes.