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.

David Lynch’s ‘Dune’ on 4K, Italian Cinema Headline Blu-ray Releases From Arrow and MVD in August

David Lynch’s Dune on 4K, the Italian “Sergio Martino Collection,” the Japanese erotic horror film Blind Beast, Dario Argento’s Cat O’ Nine Tails on 4K and the horror film The Brotherhood of Satan are coming to Blu-ray from MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video in August.

On Aug. 3, Arrow kicks things off with the Blu-ray release of “The Sergio Martino Collection.” The three-disc set features three classic 1970s films from the Italian genre filmmaker. George Hilton stars as an insurance investigator trying to get to the bottom of a strange string of murders in The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail. Next, Martino takes on Edgar Allen Poe in Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key. Martino borrows elements from Poe’s “The Black Cat” to craft this tale of a series of murders around the estate of a degenerate author and his wife. In The Suspicious Death of a Minor, the murder of a prostitute leads to the discovery of a trafficking ring with ties to powerful people. All three films come with 2K restorations from the original camera negatives.

On Aug. 24, Arrow will release two titles on Blu-ray. First up is 1969’s Blind Beast. The erotic horror story of a blind sculptor that kidnaps a young model with the help of his mother comes courtesy of director Yasuzô Masumura, one of post-war Japan’s most important filmmakers.

Also coming from Arrow on Aug. 24 is the 4K Ultra HD release of Dario Argento’s classic giallo The Cat O’ Nine Tails, starring Academy Award winner Karl Malden. A newspaper reporter and a retired journalist work together to get to the bottom of a series of killings in this straight forward murder-mystery, offering an early glimpse into the style and technique that would later become Argento trademarks. The release features an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring an original essay on the film by Dario Argento and writing by Barry Forshaw, Troy Howarth and Howard Hughes; a fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative; six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards; and limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring originally and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative.

Arrow brings the month to a close with two titles Aug. 31. A cult of senior citizens recruits the children of a desert town to worship Satan in director Bernard McEveety’s The Brotherhood of Satan, due on Blu-ray. This low-budget horror entry was notable for giving theater patrons a packet of seeds during its original theatrical run. The seeds were labeled as “Satan’s soul” and claimed to offer protection “from the Black Magic of The Brotherhood of Satan.”

Also streeting Aug. 31 is David Lynch’s Dune (1984). The controversial adaptation of Frank Herbert’s beloved novel has achieved cult classic status over the years, and it arrives with a brand new 4K restoration on both limited edition Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray just ahead of the new blockbuster remake. The all-star cast of the sci-fi epic includes Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Sting, Patrick Stewart, Sean Young and Max von Sydow. The release includes a 60-page book featuring new writing on the film by Andrew Nette, Christian McCrea and Charlie Brigden; a large fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dániel Taylor; six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions; and limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dániel Taylor.

‘The Ultraman,’ ‘Ultraman 80’ Collections Coming to DVD Sept. 14 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release “The Ultraman” and “Ultraman 80”  in their North American DVD debut Sept. 14.

Both collections will be on six DVDs at $34.99 each.

Mill Creek Entertainment has licensed the available “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions.

“The Ultraman” is the eighth original entry in the “Ultraman” series. This DVD collection includes all 50 episodes. In the animated series, across the planet Earth, strange glowing objects in the form of an unknown language appear in the skies. In order to investigate these strange phenomena, the Earth Defense Forces form the Science Guard Agency led by Captain Akiyama. Akiyama immediately forms a top-rated team of scientific experts. Choichiro Hikari from the Earth Defense Forces space station is chosen to join the Science Guard Agency and begins making his way back to Earth. But as he is traveling through space, Hikari meets Ultraman Joneus. Ultraman Joneus tells Hikari that the Earth is in great danger. In order to defend the Earth, Ultraman Joneus says he must become one with an Earth man. Hikari agrees and he and Ultraman Joneus join forces. When danger strikes, Hikari is able to transform into the gigantic 40 meter tall superhero Ultraman Joneus.

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The ninth original series is “Ultraman 80.” This 50-episode series follows Takeshi Yamato, a 22-year-old young man who lives a double life. During the daytime, he is a rookie but popular science teacher at a junior high school in Tokyo. But after school and on Sundays he works as a member of the elite UGM (Utility Government Members), an Earth defense organization that tackles difficult situations such as alien invasion and attacks from monsters. When the situation gets out of control, Takeshi transforms into a 50-meter-tall mighty warrior, Ultraman 80, and knocks down the most terrifying monsters to save the day.

The “Ultraman” and “Ultraman 80” sets feature episode guides and audio of the original Japanese soundtracks with English subtitles.

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).

Japanese Kaiju Film ‘God Raiga vs. King Ohga’ Coming to DVD May 25 From MVD

The Japanese kaiju film God Raiga vs. King Ohga will come out on DVD May 25 from MVD Entertainment Group and SRS Cinema.

In this installment in the kaiju franchise, the giant monster Raiga returns, rising in Atami Harbor and attacking the city. A second kaiju, Ohga, soon joins the chaos, and the two monsters clash, destroying large sections of the city. Defense forces launch two new weapons, the giant tank Kamikaze and the drill tank Gokumei, to meet the monster invasion head on. But as the beasts work their way to Tokyo, will they be enough to stop the monsters from laying waste to the city?

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The film, from writer-director Shinpei Hayashiya, follows Raiga: God of the Monsters and Reigo: King of the Sea Monsters and drafts off the recent American hit Godzilla vs. Kong.

Netflix Developing ‘Ultraman’ CG-Animated Feature

Netflix is developing a CG-animated feature film Ultraman in partnership with Tsuburaya Productions and based on the iconic Japanese superhero.

In the film, baseball superstar Ken Sato returns to his home country of Japan to pick up the mantle of Earth-defending superhero Ultraman, but quickly finds more than he bargained for when he’s forced to raise the offspring of his greatest foe, a newborn Kaiju. Struggling to balance the roles of teammate and new father, Ken must confront his own ego, his estranged father, and the conniving Kaiju Defense Force to rise up and discover what it truly means to be Ultraman.

“Making this film is a dream come true. What began as an original story inspired by my love for Eiji Tsuburaya’s Ultraman somehow became an actual Ultraman film thanks to the incredible trust of the team at Tsuburaya Productions, and the support of the folks at Netflix Animation,” Shannon Tindle, who is directing the film, said in a statement. “We’ve assembled an all-star team and I can’t wait to share our unique take on Ultraman with the rest of the world.”

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“Ultraman was born in Japan 55 years ago,” Takayuki Tsukagoshi, CEO and chairman of Tsuburaya Productions, said in a statement. “This partnership with Netflix will be the first full-scale endeavor to reach the global market for Tsuburaya Productions. Ultraman, since it was created, has charmed many people around the world. And Shannon Tindle is one of those people. He was greatly influenced by Ultraman as a child, and he grew up to become a creator himself. I am delighted that families around the world will be able to  watch Shannon and his team’s vision for Ultraman on Netflix and foster feelings of courage, hope and kindness.”

“Having the opportunity to partner with our friends at Tsuburaya Productions to bring this beloved character to our members around the world is an honor,” Aram Yacoubian, Netflix’s director of original animated film, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be working with Shannon, John and an incredibly talented team of artists and lovers of Ultraman from around the world. We can’t wait to share our film with fans of this iconic Japanese hero and introduce a new generation to what’s sure to become their new favorite superhero.”

The project continues Netflix’s relationship with Tsuburaya Productions following the release of the “Ultraman” anime series which is currently in its second season.

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.

‘Ultraman Leo’ Coming to Blu-ray May 25 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release the classic Japanese series “Ultraman Leo” on Blu-ray as both a special-edition Steelbook and in standard packaging on May 25.

The seventh and final entry in the first wave of the “Ultraman” series premiered in Japan in April 1974. The mighty hero Ultraseven is crippled while defending the Earth from an invasion by the tyrannical Alien Magma. He is rescued by Gen Otori, a young Ultra warrior who had fled to Earth following the destruction of his home world, Planet L77 in the Leo constellation. Unable to return to his giant form, the injured Ultraseven resumes his human identity of Dan Moroboshi and trains Gen to become the next Ultra Hero — Ultraman Leo.

“Ultraman Leo” offered a more mature and often violent tone than its kid-friendly predecessor, “Ultraman Taro.” The show features a new Earth defense team; the Monster Attacking Crew; the return of classic Ultra Heroes such as Ultraman, Zoffy, Jack and Ace; and the introduction of three new Ultras.

The Steelbook and standard Blu-ray releases of “Ultraman Leo” include all 51 half-hour episodes in high-def with DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles.

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Digital redemption will also be available via Mill Creek Entertainment’s streaming service movieSpree.

Mill Creek Entertainment has licensed the entire available “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions.