Japanese Fantasy ‘Sayo’ Due on Digital May 24 From Mill Creek

Mutiny Pictures’ Japanese fantasy Sayo will be released on digital May 24 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

In the film, Nagisa lost her twin sister Sayo two years ago. One night, on her way home, a strange taxi driver picks her up and takes her to another world, the land of the souls where she goes on a journey to reach out to her sister one last time. 

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The fantastical twist on the road-trip genre stars Nagisa Chauveau (Sumire, Unsaid) and Jai West (Equals, Love Exposure). 

The film has English subtitles.

‘Ultraseven X,’ ‘Superior 8 Ultra Brothers’ Headed to Blu-ray April 5 From Mill Creek

Two Japanese Ultraman titles, Ultraseven X: The Complete Series and Superior 8 Ultra Brothers, are heading to Blu-ray Disc April 5 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Superior 8 Ultra Brothers unites three generations of Ultra Heroes for an interdimensional adventure. The story begins in 1966 as three boys named Daigo, Asuka, and Gamu watch the premiere of a new television series called Ultraman. Captivated from the start, they continue to follow and be inspired by the ongoing exploits of Ultraman and his fellow Ultra Brothers. Decades later, Daigo is working for the tourism board in Yokohama when he witnesses a strange mirage of a dying world ravaged by giant monsters.  Additional visions soon follow, including one in which the friendly shopkeepers Hayata, Dan, Goh and Hokuto transform into the famous Ultra Brothers from TV. Daigo confides in Asuka and Gamu, who begin to have similar dreams in which they become Ultramen called “Dyna” and “Gaia.” The sudden appearance of Monster Guesra and the hero Ultraman Mebius convince Daigo that his visions are coming true, and his world is in great danger.

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In Ultraseven X: The Complete Series, available on Blu-ray and digital, a young man is awoken from a fevered dream and barely recognizes himself. A mysterious woman hands him a spectacles-shaped item, says the key holds tremendous power, and tells him it is his duty to save the world. Before asking any more questions, he and the woman are torn apart by a violent explosion. Soon, he is contacted by a secret organization named Deus. He is told he is Agent Jin and his job is to rid this world of vicious alien invaders.

‘An American Werewolf in London’ on 4K Among Titles Due in March From Arrow and MVD

The horror classic An American Werewolf in London, the kung fu classic Come Drink With Me and the Japanese film noir To Sleep So as to Dream are being released on disc from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group in March.

Director John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Trading Places) combines macabre horror with dark humor in An American Werewolf in London (1981), newly restored and due on 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision March 15. In the film, American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are savaged by an unidentified vicious animal whilst hiking on the Yorkshire Moors. David awakes in a London hospital to find his friend dead and his life in disarray. Retiring to the home of a beautiful nurse (Jenny Agutter, Walkabout) to recuperate, he soon experiences disturbing changes to his mind and body, undergoing a full-moon transformation that will unleash terror on the streets of the capital. The film features Rick Baker’s ground-breaking, Oscar-winning special makeup effects.

Extras include audio commentary by Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis; audio commentary by actors Naughton and Dunne; “Mark of the Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf,” a feature-length documentary by filmmaker Daniel Griffith, featuring interviews with Landis, Naughton, Joe Dante and more; “An American Filmmaker in London,” an interview with Landis in which he reflects on British cinema and his time working in Britain; “I Think He’s a Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret,” a video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira (Elstree 1976) about how Landis’ film explores Jewish identity; “The Werewolf’s Call,” in which Corin Hardy, director of The Hallow and The Nun, chats with writer Simon Ward about their formative experiences with the film; “Wares of the Wolf,” a featurette in which SFX artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of Prop Store look at some of the original costumes and special effects artifacts from the film; “Beware the Moon,” Paul Davis’ feature-length exploration of Landis’ film which boasts extensive cast and crew interviews; “An American Werewolf in Bob’s Basement” and “Causing a Disturbance: Piccadilly Revisited,” two 2008 featurettes filmed by Paul Davis; “Making An American Werewolf in London,” a short archival featurette on the film’s production; “An Interview with John Landis,” a lengthy archival interview with the director about the film; make-up Artist Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London; “I Walked with a Werewolf,” an archival interview with Rick Baker about Universal horror and its legacy of Wolfman films; “Casting of the Hand,” archival footage from Rick Baker’s workshop showing the casting of Naughton’s hand; outtakes; a storyboards featurette; the original trailer and teaser plus TV and radio spots; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original poster art and artwork by Graham Humphreys; a double-sided fold-out poster; six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions; and a limited edition 60-page, perfect-bound book featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann and Simon Ward, archival articles and original reviews.

Years before the Shaw Brothers’ kung fu films made them the biggest film studio in Hong Kong, local audiences flocked to their wuxia pian films — mythic tales of swordfighting (and often gravity-defying) heroes fighting for honor. In his final film for the studio, Come Drink With Me (1966), due on Blu-ray March 22, director King Hu (A Touch of Zen) broke fresh new ground in martial arts storytelling, and catapulted lead actress Cheng Pei-pei to stardom. In the film, when the Governor’s son is taken hostage by bandits, a mysterious swordsman named Golden Swallow (Cheng) is hot on their trail to ensure the son’s release. What the bandits don’t realize, however, is that Golden Swallow is actually a woman, and that the hostage is her brother. Determined to set him free, no matter how many goons she has to fight her way through in doing so, she is aided in her quest by a drunken beggar (Yueh Hua), who may have a closer connection to the bandits’ leader than he initially lets on. Decades before Ang Lee brought the wuxia genre to international attention with the Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (in which Cheng played the villainous Jade Fox), King Hu set the original template in what is still considered one of Shaw Brothers’ greatest and most influential action masterpieces.

The Japanese To Sleep So as to Dream (1986) follows two private detectives who hunt for an actress trapped within the reel of a silent ninja film. The dreamlike debut of Kaizo Hayashi (Circus Boys, Zipang), an homage to the movie worlds of the 1910s and 1950s, is due on Blu-ray March 22. In the film, when private eye Uotsuka (Shiro Sano, Violent Cop, Shin Godzilla) and his sidekick Kobayashi are approached by an aged former actress, Madame Cherryblossom, to go in search of her kidnapped daughter Bellflower, their investigation leads them to the studios of the mysterious M. Pathe company. Here Uotsuka has a strange vision in which he comes face to face with the beautiful star of a 1915 chanbara film that appears to have no ending. From then on, things begin to get a little strange. To Sleep So as to Dream makes its home video debut outside of Japan in a brand new restoration supervised by the director himself. Drifting between illusion and allusion, it is chockfull of references to Japan’s rich cinematic heritage and features cameos from a host of veteran talent and baroque sets created by Takeo Kimura, the Nikkatsu art designer remembered for his flamboyant work with Seijun Suzuki in the 1960s.

Extras include new audio commentary by Japanese film experts Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp; audio commentary with director Kaizo Hayashi and lead actor Shiro Sano recorded in 2000; “How Many Eggs?, Actor Shiro Sano Talks,” a new interview with the film’s lead actor; “Talking Silents: Benshi Midori Sawato Talks,” a new interview on early Japanese film culture and the art of the benshi silent film commentator; “Midori Sawato Performs ‘The Eternal Mystery,’” an exclusive benshi performance to the film within the film; the “The Restoration of To Sleep So as to Dream” featurette; “Fragments from Japan’s Lost Silent Heyday,” a selection of scenes from silent jidai-geki films from the Kyoto Toy Museum archives; the original theatrical trailer and English-language restored re-release trailers; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by David Downton; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Aaron Gerow.

Crime Drama Series ‘Tokyo Vice’ Starring Ansel Elgort Headed to HBO Max April 28

The Max Original crime drama series “Tokyo Vice,” starring Ansel Elgort, will debut April 7 on HBO Max with three episodes, followed by two episodes debuting every Thursday leading up to the finale on April 28.
 
The first episode of the series, from Endeavor Content and Japanese pay-TV broadcaster WOWOW, will debut in Japan via WOWOW’s streaming service on April 7 with subsequent episodes recurring every Sunday evening on the WOWOW channel starting on April 24 through June.
 
Loosely inspired by American journalist Jake Adelstein’s nonfiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat, the series, filmed on location in Tokyo, captures Adelstein’s (Elgort) daily descent into the neon-soaked underbelly of Tokyo in the late 1990s.
 
The series also stars Ken Watanabe, Rinko Kikuchi, Rachel Keller, Ella Rumpf, Hideaki Ito, Show Kasamatsu and Tomohisa Yamashita. 

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Tony Award-winning playwright J.T. Rogers created and wrote the series and also serves as executive producer. Four-time Academy Award nominee and Emmy winner Michael Mann directed the pilot and is an executive producer along with Emmy winner Alan Poul, Jake Adelstein, Ansel Elgort, Emmy winner Emily Gerson Saines, Brad Kane, Destin Daniel Cretton, Ken Watanabe, Kayo Washio and Academy Award winner John Lesher.

‘Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle — The Complete Series’ Available on Blu-ray From Mill Creek and Distribution Solutions

Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle — The Complete Series is available now on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment and Distribution Solutions. 

In the series, a wormhole in space forms just outside the Earth’s atmosphere and monstrous creatures descend upon the world’s cities. A top-secret global defense organization code-named Guard is established to counter the attacks.

Young Gam Takayama discovers the power to transform himself into the gigantic superhero Ultraman Gaia, and joins X.I.G., Guard’s frontline defense team. A second Ultraman appears. Is this new colossus friend or foe?

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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).