‘Donnie Darko’ 4K Ultra HD, ‘Elvira’ Blu-ray Among Titles Available From MVD and Arrow in April

Donnie Darko on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark on Steelbook Blu-ray, and two 1970s cult films on Blu-ray, Switchblade Sisters and Death Has Blue Eyes, are available in April from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Richard Kelly’s debut feature Donnie Darko (2001) is coming to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray April 27 in a two-disc set that includes both the theatrical and director’s cut. Initially beset with distribution problems, it would slowly find its audience and emerge as a cult classic. Donnie is a troubled high school student: in therapy, prone to sleepwalking and in possession of an imaginary friend, a six-foot rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world is going to end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. During that time, he will navigate teenage life, narrowly avoid death in the form of a falling jet engine, follow Frank’s maladjusted instructions and try to maintain the space-time continuum. Described by its director as “The Catcher in the Rye as told by Philip K. Dick,” Donnie Darko stars Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore, Mary McDonnell, Katharine Ross and Noah Wyle and features a soundtrack of 1980s classics by Echo and the Bunnymen, Tears for Fears and Duran Duran. The new 4K restorations of both the theatrical cut and the director’s cut from the original camera negatives by Arrow Films were supervised and approved by director Richard Kelly and cinematographer Steven Poster and feature Dolby Vision. The release includes a 100-page hardcover book featuring writing by Nathan Rabin, Anton Bitel and Jamie Graham; an in-depth interview with Richard Kelly; an introduction by Jake Gyllenhaal; and contemporary coverage, illustrated with original stills and promotional materials. It also includes a double-sided fold-out poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Luke Preece; six double-sided collector’s postcards; and limited edition packaging with a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Luke Preece. Both discs include numerous extras, including commentaries and featurettes.

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Horror icon Elvira’s big screen debut Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) is coming to Blu-ray in a Steelbook special edition April 27. In the film, having just quit her job as a Los Angeles TV horror hostess, Elvira receives the unexpected news that she’s set to inherit part of her great aunt Morgana’s estate. Arriving in the small town of Fallwell, Mass., to claim her inheritance, Elvira receives a less than enthusiastic reception from the conservative locals — among them, her sinister uncle Vincent, who, unbeknownst to Elvira, is in fact an evil warlock secretly scheming to steal the old family spell book for his own nefarious ends. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark helped solidify the horror hostess (played by Cassandra Peterson) as a major pop culture icon. Featuring a 2018 restoration from a 4K scan of original film elements, the release includes an introduction by director James Signorelli; 2017 audio commentary with Signorelli, hosted by Fangoria editor emeritus Tony Timpone; 2017 audio commentary with Patterson Lundquist, www.elviramistressofthedark.com webmaster and judge of U.S. TV show “The Search for the Next Elvira”; “Too Macabre – The Making of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark,” a 2018 version of this feature-length documentary on the making of the film, including interviews with various cast and crew and rare never-before-seen archival material; “Recipe for Terror: The Creation of the Pot Monster,” a 2018 version of this featurette on the concept and design of the pot monster, as well as the film’s other SFX; original storyboards; extensive image galleries; original U.S. theatrical and teaser trailers; a limited edition Steelbook featuring newly produced artwork; and a limited edition booklet featuring a foreword by writer and director Sam Irvin and writing on the film by Kat Ellinger and Patterson Lundquist.

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From Jack Hill, director of Spider Baby, Coffy, Foxy Brown and The Swinging Cheerleaders, comes the 1975 grindhouse classic Switchblade Sisters, due on Blu-ray April 27. In the film, Lace (Robbie Lee), the leader of inner-city girl gang the Dagger Debs, meets her match when new girl Maggie (Joanne Nail) moves into the neighborhood. Mistrust and conflict turn to friendship as the girls end up in Juvenile Detention together at the mercy of abusive guards. Meanwhile, the Dagger Debs’ male counterparts the Silver Daggers have to contend with the arrival of a new gang, led by the villainous Crabs (Chase Newhart). But when the girls get back on the streets, a planned retaliation strike in tandem with the Silver Daggers backfires and puts Lace in hospital. Maggie assumes control, teaming up with Muff (Marlene Clark) and her gang of African-American militants from across town to declare all-out war, but there’s a traitor in their midst. Extras include a new audio commentary by historians/critics Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger; “We Are the Jezebels,” an archival documentary featuring director Jack Hill, producer John Prizer, casting director Geno Havans, production designer B.B. Neel, stunt coordinator Bob Minor, and stars Joanne Nail, Asher Brauner, and Chase Newhart; “Gangland: The locations of Switchblade Sisters,” an archival documentary in which Jack Hill and filmmaker Elijah Drenner revisit the shooting locations; Jack Hill and Joanne Nail at the Grindhouse Film Festival, a 2007 archival interview with the director and actor; an interview with Jack Hill, Robbie Lee and Joanne Nail, an archival 1990s interview with the director and stars in conversation with Johnny Legend; galleries of behind the scenes stills, international posters, video covers and lobby cards; theatrical trailers; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil; and, for the first pressing only, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Heather Drain.

Available now is Death Has Blue Eyes (1976) on Blu-ray, a paranormal action thriller from the director of the cult classic Island of Death (1976). In the film, when local gigolo Chess (Chris Nomikos) greets his vacationing friend Bob Kovalski (Peter Winter) at Athens airport, the pair embark on a string of scams and erotic dalliances that eventually lead them into contact with an elegant wealthy woman Geraldine Steinwetz (Jessica Dublin) and her glamorous daughter Christine (Maria Aliferi). Geraldine blackmails the two bachelors into acting as bodyguards for Christine, whom it transpires has telepathic abilities and has had her eye on them for some time. After fleeing from a series of assassination attempts, it soon becomes clear that Geraldine herself might not be quite who she seems, as the two young men find themselves caught up in a political conspiracy of international dimensions. In his debut feature, filmmaker Nico Mastorakis presents viewers non-stop car, bike and helicopter chases, a bevy of beautiful girls with guns, softcore sex scenes, psychic thrills, and Cold War political intrigue set against the picturesque landscapes of 1970s Greece. The release features a new restoration from the original camera negative approved by the director; two versions of the film, the widescreen 1.85:1 version and the full-frame 1.33:1 version; an exclusive new interview featurette with Nico Mastorakis; an exclusive new interview with actress Maria Aliferi; “Dancing with Death,” tracks from the Death Has Blue Eyes original soundtrack; original theatrical trailers; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys; and, for the first pressing only, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Julian Grainger.

‘Teenage Hitchhikers,’ ‘Ator: The Fighting Eagle’ Among Titles on Disc in May From Dark Force and MVD

The cult film Teenage Hitchhikers and the sci-fi adventure Ator: the Fighting Eagle are among the titles available on disc in May from Dark Force Entertainment and MVD Entertainment Group.

Available now on DVD and Blu-ray is the 1970s cult exploitation film Teenage Hitchhikers. In the film, Mouse (Kathie Christopher, The Taking of Christina) and Bird (Sandra Peabody, Last House on the Left) are a couple of sassy and sexy young hitchhikers who embark on a cross country trip in search of freedom, excitement and independence. The lovely ladies use their bodies as currency and encounter a diverse array of libidinous folks on their journey. Available for the first time on Blu-ray, the release features a new HD master from the original uncut 35mm camera negative with extensive scene by scene color correction; audio commentary with director of photography Bill Lamond; and a new 2019 interview with writer/director Gerri Sedley. Featured in Quentin Tarantino’s “QT Fest,” the film also stars Claire Wilbur (Score) and Margaret Whitton (The Secret of My Success, Major League).

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Due on DVD and Blu-ray May 26 is the horror double feature of The Gates of Hell and Psycho From Texas (1980). In The Gates of Hell, a reporter and a psychic race to close the gates of hell after the suicide of a clergyman caused them to open, allowing the dead to rise from their graves. It’s a new HD master created from a U.S. theatrical 35mm print. In Psycho from Texas, a drifter/hitman is hired by a local businessman to kidnap the local oil baron. The hitman had been reared in squalor, suffering the abuses of his whoring mama. When the baron escapes, his assistant must chase him while the hitman takes care of a few loose ends. The HD master is created from the only available source masters with extensive scene by scene color correction. The films are available in Dark Force Entertainment’s exclusive “Drive-In Mode” featuring cult director Damon Packard.

Also coming on DVD and Blu-ray May 26 is Breeders (a remake of the 1986 movie Breeders and also known as Deadly Instincts). When a meteorite crash lands onto a Boston college campus and an alien beast is released, only one man understands its mission to mate. From the depths of an all-girls college, the monster stalks his prey in a cat-and-mouse chase until the final conflict where only one species can survive. The 1997 cult classic DTV sci-fi horror entry stars Samantha Womack (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Todd Jensen (It’s Alive), Oliver Tobias (The Wicked Lady), Clifton Lloyd Bryan (The Fifth Element) and Melanie Walters (“Gavin and Stacey”).

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Finally, for fans of Conan: The Barbarian and “Hercules” comes the sci-fi fantasy Ator: The Fighting Eagle Collector’s Edition (1982) May 26 on DVD and Blu-ray. In the film’s lore, it is written that the son of Thorn will put an end to the tragic dynasty of the Spider. Thus, the Grand Priest of the Spider orders the slaughter of the newborn son. However, the old Griba hides the newborn safe from the slaughter, and he grows up strong and brave with his adoptive parents. Miles O’Keeffe (Tarzan The Ape Man) plays Ator, son of Thorn. He falls in love with Sunya (Ritza Brown), whom he believes to be his sister. When the truth is revealed that Ator was adopted, he gains the approval for the marriage. But on their wedding day, the Black Knights, guards of the Grand Priest, begin a massacre in Ator’s village as they search for old Griba and they kidnap Sunya, the bride. Ator must then begin his long, perilous journey toward the Temple of the Spider. On his way he learns the secrets of martial arts and befriends Roon (Sabrina Siani), a thief Amazon who joins Ator on the journey to the temple. Together they conquer danger after danger. The film is directed by Italian cult director Joe D’Amato (Death Smiles on a Murderer). The HD master was made from the only existing 35mm print with extensive restoration. Ator: The Fighting Eagle was featured in season 12 of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

Mill Creek Launches Low-Cost Transactional Digital Service movieSpree

Independent home entertainment distributor Mill Creek Entertainment has launched low-cost transactional purchase streaming service movieSpree.

The service’s app is now available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android devices, and movieSpree has no long-term contracts, subscription fees or advertisements.

Offering more than 2,500 hours of entertainment, movieSpree features catalog film and TV bundles, genre-based collections and specially curated compilations, including such titles as Lonesome Dove, The 10th Kingdom, “The Kids in the Hall,” “Documentary Now!,” Benji and Gone in 60 Seconds.

Purchase prices range from 99 cents to $29.99 depending on content. For instance, the entire “Kids in the Hall” series is available for $14.99.

All users of the new service will receive an offer to redeem 100 free movies to be added to their library.

“The establishment of movieSpree is an important growth opportunity for us,” said Patrick McDonough, EVP of sales and marketing for Mill Creek, in a statement. “As the content distribution model shifts to a direct-to-consumer strategy, building our own streaming service allows us to connect to our customers and showcase our entertainment offerings in a meaningful and targeted way.”

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Many of Mill Creek Entertainment’s DVD and Blu-ray releases include digital redemption offers allowing consumers to add to their movieSpree library, according to the company.

Content can be streamed from the movieSpree apps and website using a phone, tablet, laptop or supported OTT devices. The service also features exclusive content and offers that do not have a DVD or Blu-ray counterpart or availability on other streaming platforms, according to Mill Creek.

Mill Creek collaborated with OTT content distribution provider ViewLift on the new service.

“The ViewLift team is thrilled to partner with Mill Creek Entertainment to launch movieSpree,” said ViewLift president Manik Bambha in a statement. “Our alliance showcases the robust features and functionality of a backend system developed by the ViewLift team. ViewLift’s monetization and distribution expertise launched movieSpree, which will help cinephiles watch movies they love and introduce new viewers to great films.”