Mill Creek Bowing Two More Ultraman Collections on Blu-ray June 15

Mill Creek Entertainment is releasing two more collections from the Ultraman superhero library on Blu-ray June 15 — Ultra Galaxy: Mega Monster Battle, containing two complete TV series and a movie on five Blu-ray discs, at $45.99 and Ultraman Zero Collection, containing two movies and two specials across three Blu-ray discs, at $34.99.

The titles are available via Mill Creek Entertainment’s license of the “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions.

Originally released in 2007, the 13-episode “Ultra Galaxy: Mega Monster Battle” was linked to a popular Japanese arcade card game in which monsters from across the “Ultraman” series engaged in head-to-head combat. The show is set in the distant future, as the Earth organization Zap Spacy explores unknown planets for much-needed natural resources. Under the leadership of Captain Hyuga, the crew of the spaceship Pendragon crash lands on Planet Boris, a desolate world teaming with warring giant monsters. There they encounter a mysterious young man named Rei who uses a device called the Battlenizer to summon and control his own monsters. The story continues in the 2008 sequel series “Ultra Galaxy: Mega Monster Battle Never Ending Odyssey.” The Pendragon team are attacked by the Reionics Hunters, members of the alien Pedan race that seek to exterminate all of Rei’s kind. The conflict leads the crew to the monster-filled Planet Hammer and an encounter with Alien Reiblood, first of the Reionics.

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Rei and the Pendragon crew return in the 2009 theatrical feature Mega Monster Battle Ultra Galaxy the Movie, a special effects extravaganza with nearly all of the Ultra Heroes. A terrifying threat returns to destroy the Ultraman homeworld, the Land of Light in Nebula M78, when the evil Ultraman Belial is released from centuries of imprisonment. Armed with a powerful Reionics weapon called the Giga Battlenizer, Bellial defeats one Ultraman after another and steals the Plasma Spark, the energy source for the Land of Light. Ultraman Mebius seeks out Rei to help rescue Ultraman and Ultraseven and recover the Plasma Spark. But will even the timely assistance of Ultraman Dyna and the powerful young fighter Ultraman Zero be enough to turn the tide against Belial and his army of monsters?

The Ultraman Zero Collection kicks off with Ultra Galaxy Legend Side Story: Ultraman Zero Vs Darklops Zero, a two-part special first released in 2010. Answering a distress call, Rei and Captain Hyuga become trapped in a pocket dimension where an unknown alien is creating evil imitations of the Ultras. When Ultraman Zero comes to their rescue, he is challenged by the black giant Darklops Zero, an armored warrior who looks just like him.

In the 2010 feature film Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial, the Ultra Heroes discover the Ultraman Belial still lives and is creating his empire by conquering planets in an alternate dimension. Dispatched to this new universe, Ultraman Zero encounters space pirates, a princess and her robot protector Jean-Bot, the hotheaded Glenfire, and the mysterious Mirror Knight, who must all join forces to put an end to Belial and his schemes.

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The two-part special Ultraman Zero Side Story: Killer the Beatstar (2011) follows the events of The Revenge of Belial. The Ultimate Force Zero team of Ultraman Zero, Glenfire and Mirror Knight come to the rescue when Princess Emerana and Jean-Bot are captured by the villainous Beatstar. Vowing to destroy all organic life, Beatstar sends the deadly robot Jean-Killer to crush his foes as plots to crash his artificial planet into an inhabited world.

The 2012 movie Ultraman Saga presents a team-up of Ultraman Zero, Ultraman Dyna and Ultraman Cosmos. The three heroes join forces with Team U (played by members of the J-idol group AKB48) to save children on an alternate Earth from the conqueror Alien Bat and his monster, Hyper Zetton.

All titles in the Ultra Galaxy: Mega Monster Battle and Ultraman Zero Collection sets feature DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtracks with English subtitles. The films Mega Monster Battle Ultra Galaxy the Movie, Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial and Ultraman Saga also come with never-before-released English dubs.

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.

‘Gamera’ Film Sets Coming to Blu-ray Jan. 26 From Arrow and MVD

Three “Gamera” kaiju film sets are coming to Blu-ray Jan. 26 from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

The Gamera: The Showa Era set includes four discs with Gamera: The Giant Monster, Gamera vs. Barugon, Gamera vs. Gyaos, Gamera vs. Viras, Gamera vs. Guiron, Gamera vs. Jiger, Gamera vs. Zigra and Gamera Super Monster. As giant monsters rampaged the Japanese cinematic landscape during the “kaiju boom” of the mid-1960s, Daiei Studios introduced a new character to the screen that would be embraced for generations: Gamera, the giant, flying, fire-breathing turtle, and friend of all children. Buried under the Arctic ice for several millennia, the colossal chelonian is unleashed upon Japan, leaving havoc in his wake. After becoming an unexpected box office sensation, Gamera returned several more times, leaping to the world’s defense against a motley assortment of evil creatures, from the death-ray-shooting flying terror Gyaos, to the knife-headed alien menace Guiron, to the underwater invader Zigra. The discs feature numerous extras, including commentaries, intros, making-of featurettes, galleries and more.

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Gamera: The Heisei Era features four discs with the films Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris as well as a bonus disc with Gamera the Brave, a mix of family-friendly adventure and kaiju action that is the most recent Gamera film to date. After laying dormant for 15 years, Gamera was rebooted for the big screen in this trilogy masterminded by director Shusuke Kaneko (Necronomicon), writer Kazunori Ito (Ghost in the Shell) and SFX director Shinji Higuchi (who went on to co-direct Shin Godzilla). Trading the campy kid-friendly surrealism of the earlier films for a darker, more realistic tone and innovative special effects, the films in the “Heisei trilogy” are still regarded as three of the best — if not the very best — kaiju films ever made. The discs feature numerous extras, including commentaries, intros, making-of featurettes, galleries and more.

The limited-edition Gamera: The Heisei Era Steelbook release includes three discs featuring the trilogy.

Gamera: The Heisei Era steelbook

‘Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters,’ ‘Raiga: God of the Monsters’ Double Feature Available on Blu-ray From MVD

A double feature of Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters and Raiga: God of the Monsters is available now on Blu-ray Disc from MVD Entertainment Group and SRS Cinema.

In Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters, the battleship Yamato, the largest and strongest of its time, is on patrol when a lookout spots a massive shape half-submerged in the distance. Believing it to be an enemy submarine, they fire and score a direct hit. But they are shocked when the object emits a strange cry as it sinks beneath the waves. Soon after, something much bigger arrives, the massive kaiju Reigo, seething with rage at the murder of its cub. The monster attacks the Combined Fleet. The naval forces are caught off guard, and Reigo is able to destroy the escort ships and damage the Yamato before returning to the ocean depths. The stage is set for a final battle to unfold between the world’s largest battleship and the mysterious dragon-like monster.

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In Raiga: God of the Monsters, global warming leads to excessive melting of the southern polar ice cap, disrupting Earth’s ecosystem. The receding ice brings long dormant ancient sea creatures back to life, monsters that set their sights on Japan. Among the kaiju is an enormous sea beast the locals refer to as the legendary Raiga. The monster attacks the city of Asakusa, bringing death and destruction as he tramples building and lays waste to the military.

Japanese Film ‘First Love’ Coming on Disc From Well Go Feb. 11

Well Go USA Entertainment will release the Japanese film First Love on digital, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Feb. 11.

First Love is prolific auteur Takashi Miike’s noir-tinged yakuza film blending genres. It follows the story of a young boxer and a call girl, who fall passionately in love while getting innocently caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme over the course of one night in Tokyo.

It stars Masataka Kubota, Nao Omori, Shota Sometani and Sakurako Konishi.

The film had a limited U.S. theatrical release in September and October.

‘Alice, Sweet Alice,’ Pacino Flick ‘Cruising’ and ‘Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy’ Coming on Blu-ray From Arrow and MVD in August

Alice, Sweet Alice, the Al Pacino flick Cruising and “Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy” are coming on Blu-ray from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group in August.

Due Aug. 6 is the 1976 slasher film Alice, Sweet Alice. A young girl is brutally murdered by an unknown lunatic in a bright yellow rain coat and a freakishly creepy translucent mask. As the killer continues to strike again and again, the young girl’s parents are forced to consider this gruesome reality — perhaps the killer is their eldest daughter, Alice. Ranked No. 89 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments, Alice, Sweet Alice features hardcore kill scenes and marks the screen debut of Brooke Shields. Special features include a new audio commentary with Richard Harland Smith; an archival audio commentary with co-writer/director Alfred Sole and editor Edward Salier; “First Communion: Alfred Sole Remembers Alice, Sweet Alice,” in which Sole looks back on his film; “In the Name of the Father,” a new interview with actor Niles McMaster; “Sweet Memories: Dante Tomaselli on Alice, Sweet Alice,” in which filmmaker Dante Tomaselli, cousin of Sole, discusses his longtime connection to the film; “Lost Childhood: The Locations of Alice, Sweet Alice,” a tour of the original shooting locations hosted by author Michael Gingold; an alternate television cut; a deleted scene; alternate opening titles; a trailer and TV spot; the original screenplay; and an image gallery.

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Coming Aug. 20 is William Friedkin’s controversial erotic crime thriller Cruising. Pacino stars as a New York City cop assigned an undercover gig that sends him deep into the world of the gay S&M and leather bars in the Meatpacking District in an effort to track down a killer targeting gay men. Special features include an archival audio commentary by Friedkin; “The History of Cruising,” an archival featurette looking at the film’s origins and production; “Exorcizing Cruising,” an archival featurette looking at the controversy surrounding the film and its legacy; and the original theatrical trailer.

Also due Aug. 20 is a collection of Akio Jissoji’s films — This Transient LifeMandara and Poem — that make up “The Buddhist Trilogy.” These three New Wave films made for the Art Theatre Guild take a controversial and shocking exploration through faith. As an added bonus, Jissoji’s 1974 feature It Was a Faint Dream, a film that touches on similar themes as the trilogy, is included. Special features include introductions to all three films in the trilogy by David Desser, author of Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave; scene-select commentaries on all three films in the trilogy by Desser; theatrical trailers for Mandara, Poem and It Was a Faint Dream; and an illustrated, 60-page collector’s book featuring new writings on the films by Anton Bitel and Tom Mes.

‘Mothra’ Hatches on Steelbook Blu-ray July 9 From Mill Creek

The 1961 sci-fi kaiju classic Mothra will be unleashed in a special edition steelbook Blu-ray July 9 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

This special edition release marks the North American Blu-ray debut of Mothra and includes both the U.S. theatrical cut as well as the original, extended Japanese version of the film. Special features include feature-length commentary with authors and Japanese sci-fi historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski, trailers, and a photo gallery.

The film is presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio with DTS-HD Master Audio for both English and Japanese tracks and English subtitles on a dual-layered Blu-ray disc.

“We are excited to offer Mothra on Blu-ray as a gorgeous steelbook release,” said Barrett Evans, VP of marketing for Mill Creek Entertainment, in a statement.  “The timing is ideal to present the original Mothra as new audiences will soon see the iconic character in the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters movie.”

Mothra was produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, directed by Ishiro Honda, with SFX directed by Eiji Tsuburaya — the same team that created the original Godzilla feature film.

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The gigantic moth became one of the most popular Japanese characters appearing in 14 feature films.

In Mothra, following reports of human life on Infant Island, the supposedly deserted site of atomic bomb tests, an international expedition to the heavily-radiated island discovers a native tribe and tiny twin female fairies called “Shobijin” who guard a sacred egg. The overzealous expedition leader kidnaps the Shobijin to exhibit in a Tokyo stage show but soon they summon their protector, hatching the egg and releasing a giant caterpillar. Mothra finally transforms into the ultimate beast, impervious to modern weapons.

Mothra stars Emi Ito and Yumi Ito (known as the popular singing duo “The Peanuts”), Hiroshi Koizumi (Mothra vs. Godzilla), Kyoko Kagawa (High and Low), Jerry Ito (The Manster) and Frankie Sakai (Shogun). Musical numbers by Emi and Yumi Ito are featured in the film as they sing “Mosura No Uta (The Mothra Song),” “Daughters of Infant Island” and “Mosura ya Mosura.”

Best Animated Film Oscar Nominee ‘Mirai’ Coming to Disc and Digital April 9 From Universal

The Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Film, Mirai, is coming out on Blu-ray combo pack, DVD, digital (including Movies Anywhere) and on demand April 9 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Japanese film follows a young boy who embarks on a fantastical journey when his new baby sister is born and learns the importance of family. The voice cast includes John Cho, (Star Trek, Searching), Rebecca Hall (The TownChristine), and Daniel Dae Kim (“LOST,” “Hawaii Five-0”).

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Mirai is the first animated feature from Japan to garner a Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature and is the 2019 Annie Award winner for Best Animated Feature — Independent.

Bonus features on Blu-ray and digital include Japanese cast interviews, in which the cast of the original language version of Mirai is interviewed by host Hiroyuki Amano; “Mirai at Cannes Film Festival,” in which director Mamoru Hosoda and Moka Kamishiraishi (voice of Kun) attend the Cannes Film Festival for the world premiere of Mirai; “The New World of Mamoru Hosoda,” a behind-the-scenes look at Studio Chizu with Hosoda as he builds a new world for Mirai; “Mirai in Japan,” in which the  the director and cast of Mirai greet audiences across Japan following the release of the film; “Mamoru Hosoda Visits Toyoma Prefecture,” in which Gen Hoshino (voice of Father) gets a special tour of Studio Chizu guided by the director; and a message from the director and Japanese cast of Mirai to their future selves.

Bonus features on Blu-ray, digital and DVD include an interview with the director; “Visiting Studio Chizu,” in which Gen Hoshino (voice of Father) gets a special tour of the studio guided by the director; trailers and TV spots.

Magnolia to Release Oscar-Nominated ‘Shoplifters’ on DVD Feb. 12

Magnolia Home Entertainment will release Shoplifters on DVD and digital Feb. 12. The Japanese drama is a nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film.

The film takes place in the slums of Tokyo, where a dysfunctional band of outsiders are united by fierce loyalty, a penchant for petty theft and playful grifting. The arrest of one of the younger members of the group tests their bonds and the belief that love, not blood, defines family.