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.

‘The El Duce Tapes,’ ‘Shogun’s Joy of Torture’ Due on Blu-ray in February From MVD and Arrow

The El Duce Tapes and Shogun’s Joy of Torture are coming to Blu-ray Disc in February from MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Films.

The El Duce Tapes comes out Feb. 9. In the early 1990s aspiring filmmaker and part-time actor Ryan Sexton grabbed a camcorder and followed shock rockers The Mentors into the sleaziest and grimy clubs in the Hollywood area. The band, known for wearing black executioner masks over their heads, caused controversy wherever they went with their vulgar lyrics and decidedly non-PC approach. Sexton kept the cameras rolling at all times while putting a special focus on the band’s infamous singer-drummer, El Duce. Now 30 years later, filmmakers Rodney Ascher and David Lawrence have taken the footage and edited it together as The El Duce Tapes, a documentary that John Carpenter has praised as “dark and irresistible.” The Blu-ray Disc comes with special features including unused VHS footage, brand-new audio commentary, and an interview with Steve Broy, aka Dr. Heathen Scum of The Mentor.

On Feb. 23 comes Teruo Ishii’s euro-guro Japanese drama Shogun’s Joy of Torture. This 1968 anthology includes three different tales of crime and punishment, all based on true-life cases. This precursor to Toei’s “pinky violent” films of the 1970s isn’t for the easily squeamish. The opening credits feature a decapitation and a burning at the stake. The film is presented in high-definition and includes a new audio commentary, an interview on the work of Ishii, and a feature that explores the history of Japanese exploitation.

‘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

‘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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‘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.

‘Ultraman Taro’ Bowing on Blu-ray Jan. 12 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will bow the next release from the “Ultraman” superhero library — Ultraman Taro — on Blu-ray as both a special edition Steelbook and in standard packaging Jan. 12.

It’s the North American debut of the series, which has never been broadcast on TV or available on any home entertainment format.

Ultraman Taro is the sixth entry in the “Ultraman series,” premiering in Japan in April 1973.  After being scouted to the Earth defense team ZAT (Zariba of All Territory), young boxer Kotaro Higashi is severely injured during a Kaiju attack. At the chasm between life and death, Mother of Ultra appeared and saved Kotaro by merging his life with a young Ultra Hero, thus giving birth to the sixth Ultra Brother — Ultraman Taro.

Ultraman Taro took a kid-friendly approach, introducing several new monsters and aliens inspired by folklore. Classic Ultra heroes, such as Ultraman, Ultraseven and Zoffy, also return to assist the powerful but inexperienced Taro as he learns the ropes of being an Ultra Brother.

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The Steelbook and standard Blu-ray releases of Ultraman Taro will each contain high definition video for all 53 half-hour episodes with DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles.

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

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

‘Graveyards of Honor,’ ‘ivansxtc’ and ‘Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway’ on Arrow’s September Blu-ray Slate

A double feature of the original and remake of the Japanese horror film Graveyards of Honor, the absurd comedy Jesus Shows you the Way to the Highway and the drama ivansxtc are coming to Blu-ray in September from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Due Sept. 8 is the double feature of Kinji Fukasaku’s 1975 original film Graveyards of Honor and Takashi Miike’s 2002 remake. Both films are based on the life of real-like Yakuza member Rikio Ishikawa. In 1999, the original was voted the 38th best Japanese film of all-time by Kinemo Junpo. Both films are presented with an assorted of new and archival bonus features.

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Coming Sept. 15 is Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway (2019), the second feature from director Miguel Lanso. Featuring encounters with an Irish-accented Joseph Stalin, a kung-fu-fighting Batman, and Jesus Christ himself, to name but a few, it’s an absurd comedy set in the year 2035. Special Agent Gagano (Daniel Tadesse, Crumbs) dreams of leaving the CIA to open a business with his wife Malin (Gerda-Annette Allikas). Before he can hand in his resignation, however, a strange cyber virus attacks Psychobook, the CIA’s operating system, forcing Gagano to enter cyberspace via virtual reality to combat the threat. Before long, however, the virus starts to reach out into the real world, destabilizing the fragile socio-political order for its own ends, and Gagano, trapped in the VR world, must find a way out before it’s too late. The release also includes Lanso’s debut feature Crumbs.

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Due Sept. 28 is ivansxtc, an update of Leo Tolstoy’s novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich. It stars Danny Huston and moves the story to contemporary Hollywood. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2000 and earned four Independent Spirit Award nominations. The release includes two versions of the theatrical cut, an extended producer’s cut, and a new documentary on the making of the film.

‘Gamera: The Complete Collection’ Blu-ray Boxed Set Coming Aug. 18 From MVD

The limited edition “Gamera: The Complete Collection” Blu-ray box set will come out Aug. 18 (Aug. 17 in the U.K.) from MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video.

The set ($179.95) includes all 12 tales of the adventures of the titanic terrapin, tracing the decades-long evolution of Gamera from the “friend of all children” in his more light-hearted earlier films to the Guardian of the Universe in the groundbreaking 1990s reboot series, often hailed as three of the best kaiju films ever made.

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The collection includes Gamera the Giant Monster, Gamera Vs. Barugon, Gamera Vs. Gyaos, Gamera Vs. Viras, Gamera Vs. Guiron, Gamera Vs. Jiger, Gamera Vs. Zigra, Gamera Super Monster, Gamera the Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion, Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris and Gamera the Brave.

The set features limited collectors’ edition packaging, housed in a large-format rigid box, fully illustrated by Matt Frank; a casebound, illustrated disc book containing eight Blu-ray discs; HD (1080p) versions of all twelve films, with lossless original Japanese audio and a complete collection of English dub tracks, including classic American International dubs on the Showa-era films remastered from original MGM elements; a hardback 130-page comic book including a color reprint of the four-issue Gamera comic series originally released by Dark Horse Comics in 1996, and the first-ever English-language printing of the prequel comic The Last Hope by Matt Frank and Joshua Bugosh; an 80-page book including a new retrospective on the series by Patrick Macias, an archive interview with Noriaki Yuasa by David Milner, kaiju X-ray illustrations by Jolyon Yates, Fangoria set reports on the Heisei trilogy by Norman England, and a viewers’ guide to the English-dubbed versions of the films; a double-sided four-panel poster of “Gamera’s Map of Japan” in both Japanese and English; and collectors’ art cards for each film, featuring new artwork by Matt Frank.