Japanese Horror Film ‘Evil Dead Trap’ Due on DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 24 From MVD

The 1988 Japanese horror flick Evil Dead Trap will come out on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 24 from MVD Entertainment Group and Unearthed Films.

In the slasher, a TV station employee takes a camera crew out to an abandoned factory to investigate a purported snuff film that was made there, only to end up running for her life. Nami, who hosts a late night home video program, receives a tape which appears to be a real snuff film. She and her crew investigate the location where she meets a man looking for his brother who warns her to stay away.

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Special features include audio commentary with director Toshiharu Ikeda and SPFX manager Shinichi Wakasa; audio commentary by filmmaker Kurando Mitsutake (Karate Kill, Gun Woman); audio commentary with James Mudge of easternKicks; “Trappings of the Dead, Reflecting on a Japanese Cult Classic”; storyboards; behind-the-scenes stills; promotional artwork; and the trailer.

TiVo Renews Product and Patent License Agreements With Panasonic

TiVo has renewed product and patent license agreements with Panasonic Corporation. Panasonic signed a new multiyear extension of the company’s products for the Japan market, including G-Guide, G-Guide HTML and G-Guide xD, enabling Panasonic to continue providing advanced entertainment discovery experiences across its TV, DVR and set-top box products.

The agreement also commits Panasonic to deploying the newly released OTT-Link functionality that enables consumers to deep link directly into content from within TiVo’s G-Guide, a content recommendation software platform.

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TiVo has spent decades investing in research and development to create technologies licensed to the media and entertainment industry. TiVo’s innovations make it easier for viewers to find, watch and record all their content across a multitude of platforms.

“Our continued collaboration with Panasonic to build and deploy innovative content discovery solutions is strengthened with this new agreement,” Matt Milne, chief revenue officer with TiVo parent Xperi, said in a statement.

Amazon Prime Video Streaming Japanese Anime Movie ‘Evangelion:3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time’ Aug. 13

Amazon Prime Video Aug. 13 is streaming the global premiere (outside of Japan) of Japanese anime movie Evangelion:3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time. The movie is the fourth and final chapter in the theatrical franchise that has been the most-watched movie in Japan in 2021.

To celebrate the finale of the franchise, Prime Video will also release the three previous movies, Evangelion:1.11 You Are (Not) Alone, Evangelion:2.22 You Can (Not) Advance, Evangelion:3.33 You Can (Not) Redo in more than 240 countries and territories.

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The franchise is based on the story of Evangelion, an artificial human and multipurpose humanoid weapon, and the Angels, an unknown life-form which takes place after the Earth has been shattered by a cataclysmic event.

The movies will be dubbed in 10 languages including English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, and offer subtitles in 28 languages.

“The Evangelion films have been thrilling Japanese fans for years and we know that there is a huge appetite around the world for the finale,” Brad Beale, VP, worldwide content licensing Prime Video, said in a statement.

Horror Film ‘The Stylist,’ Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Major Dundee’ Among Titles on Blu-ray from MVD and Arrow in June

The horror film The Stylist, Italian crime thrillers from the 1970s, Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee and the Japanese film Irezumi are coming to Blu-ray Disc in June from MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video.

The Stylist, due June 8, is a female-led psychological horror film nominated for the New Visions Award for Best Motion Picture at the 2020 Sitges International Film Festival and based on co-writer/director Jill Gevargizian’s award-winning short film of the same name. We all dream of being someone else, but for Claire (Najarra Townsend, Contracted), that dream goes from an obsession to a living nightmare. Hairstylist by day, serial killer and collector of scalps by night, Claire’s lonely existence is thrown into turmoil when her regular client, Olivia (Brea Grant, After Midnight, Lucky), asks her to style her hair for her wedding day. Increasingly fixated on Olivia’s seemingly flawless life, Claire vows to lock up her scalp collection and change her ways for good — only to discover that repressing deadly desires is easier said than done.

Coming on Blu-ray Disc June 22 is Years of Lead: Five Classic Italian Crime Thrillers 1973-1977. The 1970s were a time of intense uncertainty and instability in Italy. Political corruption and widespread acts of left and right-wing terrorism, alongside a breakdown in social cohesion and a loss of trust in public institutions such as the government and police, created a febrile atmosphere of cynicism, paranoia and unexploded rage. Throughout this period, these sentiments found expression in a series of brutal, often morally ambiguous crime thrillers which tapped into the atmosphere of violence and instability that defined the so-called “Years of Lead.” This box set gathers five films from the heyday of the “poliziotteschi” — the umbrella term used to describe this diverse body of films. In Vittorio Salerno’s Savage Three (1975) and Mario Imperoli’s Like Rabid Dogs (1976), random acts of violence committed by vicious young sociopaths threaten the fragile fabric of respectable society. In Massimo Dallamano’s Colt 38 Special Squad (1976) and Stelvio Massi’s Highway Racer (1977), renegade cops battling against red tape and political corruption turn to new and morally dubious methods to dispense justice. Finally, class dynamics are explored in Salerno’s No, the Case is Happily Resolved (1973) as an innocent man finds himself under suspicion for a savage crime committed by a highly respected member of society. The collection features a  line-up of Euro-cult stars, including Joe Dallesandro (The Climber), Ivan Rassimov (Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key), Maurizio Merli (Violent City) and Enrico Maria Salerno (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage).

Due on Blu-ray June 22 is the 1966 Japanese film Irezumi. Drawn from the pen of one of Japan’s foremost writers of the 20th century, Junichiro Tanizaki (A Fool’s Love, The Makioka Sisters), Irezumi is a tale of lust, betrayal and revenge directed by Yasuzo Masumura (Giants and Toys, Blind Beast). Masumura’s muse Ayako Wakao (The Blue Sky Maiden, Red Angel) stars as Otsuya, the daughter of a rich merchant, who is tempted by her lover Shinsuke, a lowly employee of her father’s, to elope. During their flight, Otsuya’s beauty attracts the gaze of Seikichi, a mysterious master tattooist who sees her pristine white skin as the perfect canvas for his art. The image of the large demonic spider that he emblazons across Otsuya’s back marks her as the property of another man, radically altering her relationships with all around her as her personality transforms under its influence. Available for the first time outside of Japan in a new 4K restoration, Irezumi sports some of Japanese cinema’s most respected talent of its day both in front of and behind the camera. The cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa (Rashomon, Ugetsu) captures the sensual atmosphere of the period setting, while the script by Kaneto Shindo (Onibaba, Kuroneko) lends a modern twist to this feverish meditation on obsession and the act of creation.

After making his classic in Ride the High Country, director Sam Peckinpah took a step towards the epic with 1965’s Major Dundee, coming out on Blu-ray June 29. The drama behind the camera matched the action in front of it. Charlton Heston stars as Major Amos Dundee, a vainglorious Union Cavalry officer, who mounts an expedition to hunt down Apache war chief Sierra Charriba. Building his own army of criminals, ex-slaves and Confederate POWs — among them one Captain Ben Tyreen (Richard Harris), whose intense former friendship with Dundee is tainted with a sense of betrayal on both sides — Dundee heads into Mexico, his eye fixed firmly on a last shot at greatness. Legendarily acerbic, Major Dundee would be the first time that Peckinpah had a movie taken away from him. While a director’s cut may be lost to us, the limited edition shows the thrilling, morally complex epic that Peckinpah was aiming for. The stellar supporting cast includes James Coburn, Warren Oates and L.Q. Jones.

Japanese Action Film ‘Hydra’ Coming to Hi-Yah! Streaming Service July 2, Disc and Digital July 20 From Well Go

The Japanese actioner Hydra will debut exclusively on the martial arts streaming service Hi-Yah! on July 2, before hitting digital, Blu-ray and DVD July 20 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Directed by Kensuke Sonomura (action director from the Resident Evil games, Vendetta and Degeneration) and starring Masanori Mimoto (Enter the Fat Dragon, Death Note), the film follows retired assassin Takashi (Mimoto), who leads a quiet life as a chef at a sushi bar, where he secretly watches over the daughter of a former associate. His peace is short-lived. Soon, he is recruited for a final job that he can’t refuse.

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The film co-stars newcomer Miu and Tasuku Nagase (Iwane: Sword of Serenity).

Netflix Launching 40 Original Anime Titles in 2021

Netflix returned to the virtual AnimeJapan March 27-28, 2021, to showcase its pending slate and voice casts. Netflix is trying to strengthen its anime portfolio with the premiere of about 40 new original titles this year — double the number of titles released in 2020.

Netflix announced the upcoming release of Record of Ragnarok (premiering in June), an anime adaptation of the successful manga of the same name. The story about the epic fight for the fate of humanity will join previously announced titles The Way of the Househusband (premiering April 8) or Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness (premiering later this year).

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Netflix also gave sneak peeks at upcoming projects Yasuke (April 29) and Eden (premiering May 27), including special artwork by Yasuke’s character designer Takeshi Koike. Both projects are new stories brought to life by international creators, further strengthening Netflix’s ambition to diversify its line-up of original anime by working with creators from both in and outside of Japan.

The event also included appearances from Japanese voice talents Kenjiro Tsuda (The Way of the Househusband), Marika Kono (Eden) and Toshiyuki Morikawa (Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness).

 

Poe-Based ‘The Bloodhound,’ Japanese ‘Invisible Man’ Classics Due on Blu-ray in March From MVD

Two Arrow Video mystery thriller releases, the double feature The Invisible Man Appears/The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly and The Bloodhound, are coming to Blu-ray in March from MVD Entertainment Group.

Released outside Japan for the first time, The Invisible Man Appears and The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly are available on one Blu-ray March 16. Unique riffs on H.G. Wells’ classic character (though undoubtedly also indebted to Universal’s iconic film series), these are two of the earliest examples of tokusatsu (special effects) cinema from the legendary Daiei Studios. In The Invisible Man Appears, written and directed by Nobuo Adachi in 1949, a scientist successfully creates an invisibility serum, only to be kidnapped by a gang of thugs who wish to use the formula to steal a priceless jewel. In addition to being the earliest surviving Japanese science fiction film ever made, the film’s  special effects were an early credit for the legendary Eiji Tsuburaya, five years before he first brought Godzilla to life. Eight years later, Mitsuo Murayama’s The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly tells the story of a series of mysterious murders where the only clue is strange buzzing noise at the scene of the crime. Could it be linked to secret wartime experiments in shrinking humans to the size of insects? And can a scientist who’s just invented an invisibility ray be the one to stop it? Extras include “Transparent Terrors,” a newly filmed interview with critic and genre scholar Kim Newman on the history of the ‘Invisible Man’ in cinema; the theatrical trailer for The Invisible Man Appears; image galleries for both films; a reversible sleeve featuring new and original artwork by Graham Humphreys; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Keith Allison, Hayley Scanlon and Tom Vincent.

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Due March 23 is The Bloodhound (2020). First-time feature director Patrick Picard brings a fresh take to one of the best-known stories from the master of mystery and the macabre Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher. Francis (Liam Aiken, A Series of Unfortunate Events), a dispossessed young man, is summoned to the secluded home of his wealthy childhood friend, J.P. Luret (Joe Adler, The Maze Runner), who is suffering from a mysterious affliction. Upon his arrival, Francis realizes that J.P. and his ethereal twin sister Vivian (Annalise Basso, Ouija: Origin of Evil) are the sole surviving members of the privileged Luret family, whose legacy has been one of depression and self-destruction, and are the only occupants of their family estate. As the old friends attempt to reconnect, a number of inexplicable incidents begin to occur within the house, and Francis finds himself drawn into a world of malaise and despair, where an act of betrayal might provide his only way out. From Leal Naim and Thomas R. Burke, producers of The Endless and Synchronic, The Bloodhound explores themes that are as relevant to today as ever, such as the yearning for emotional connection, the perils of social isolation and the fragility of mental health. Extras include audio commentary by Picard and editor David Scorca; four experimental short films by Picard; “On the Trail of The Bloodhound: Behind the Scenes of a Modern Chiller,” a 45-minute making-of featurette; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anton Bitel.

Netflix Set to Raise Subscription Fees in Japan

Netflix is reportedly planning to raise the basic subscription fee in Japan by as much as 13%, following a trend that has seen the SVOD behemoth raise monthly prices in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average disclosed the news, which helped send Netflix shares up more than 2% in midday trading.

The increase, which does not affect the premium-priced plan, would see the basic plan price increase to ¥990/month ($9.39) from ¥880/month ($8.34).

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Netflix launched service in Japan — then the world’s No. 2 home entertainment market — six years ago in 2015, largely through the efforts of Greg Peters, current COO/chief product officer, who back then was GM of Netflix Japan.

Peters, on the October fiscal call, said Netflix increased spending of more than $15 billion annually on original productions justified subscription price hikes.

“We feel like there is that opportunity to occasionally go back and ask. for members where we’ve delivered that extra value in those countries to pay a little more,” Peters said.

Netflix added 1.99 million subs in the Asia Pacific region in the most-recent fiscal period (ended Dec. 31, 2020). The region totaled 25.5 million subs, including more than 3 million in Japan. The region is Netflix’s third-lowest generating revenue per subscriber at $9.32, ahead of Latin America at $7.12 per sub. The North American region leads Netflix with $13.51 in monthly revenue per sub.

“With its rich culture and celebrated creative traditions, Japan is a critical component of our plan to connect people around the world to stories they love,” co-founder/co-CEO Reed Hastings said in 2015 at the Japan launch.

‘Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1’ Coming to Hi-Yah! Streaming Service Feb. 12, Digital and Disc March 2 From Well Go

The Japanese action epic Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1 will debut exclusively on the martial arts streaming service Hi-Yah! Feb. 12, before hitting digital, Blu-ray and DVD March 2 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Director Yuji Shimomura (Death TranceRe: Born) crafts action choreography around leading Japanese martial arts icon Tak Sakaguchi (VersusRise of the Machine Girl) who plays Japan’s most legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645), a warrior undefeated in at least 60 documented duels. When the master samurai arrives to duel the disgraced Yoshioka dojo, he walks into an ambush.

The film includes a 77-minute action sequence shot in one continuous take in which Musashi (Sakaguchi) fights for his life against 400 warriors, earning a place in history as the Crazy Samurai Musashi.

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Japan, IOC Officially Postpone Tokyo Summer Olympics to 2021

As expected, the International Olympic Committee and Japan March 25 formally announced postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics until 2021. The Games were originally slated from July 24 to Aug. 9.

“We have agreed that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held by the summer of 2021 at the latest,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a brief statement.

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The delay comes after mounting pressure from countries and athletes regarding ongoing concerns about the safety of traveling and competing during the coronavirus pandemic that has infected nearly 390,000 people and killed 17,000.

Australia and Canada had already announced they would not send delegations, a move the United States Olympic Committee was set to follow.

Comcast, which is the exclusive TV and streaming video distributor of the Games in the United States, has about $1.2 billion in advertising commitments for the two-week event. CEO Brian Roberts has said the company has insurance against cancellation of the Games.

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