Erotic ‘Caligula’ Titles, Australian Actioner ‘Stone’ Due on Blu-ray April 26 From MVD and Severin

The erotic features Caligula & Messalina and Caligula: The Untold Story, as well as the Australian biker actioner Stone, will be available on Blu-ray Disc April 26 from MVD Entertainment Group and Severin Films.

In Caligula & Messalina (1981), one of the earliest entries in the subgenre, ItaloFilth veteran Bruno Mattei (The Other Hell, Women’s Prison Massacre) set the Caligsploitation standard for informative history and jaw-dropping depictions of ancient Roman depravity. When the deranged emperor (Vladimir Brajovic of The Story of O) falls for an insatiable gladiatrix (Betty Roland of Mattei’s Caligula Reincarnated as Nero), their reign will launch a mind-bending bacchanal of torture, sodomy, incest, castration, borrowed footage and aroused livestock. Françoise Blanchard (The Living Dead Girl), Florence Guérin (Cozzi’s The Black Cat) and Sal Boris (The Beast in Heat) co-star in this saga of saturnalian obscenity, presented in both the explicit Italian version and the unrated U.S. Release scanned in 2K from the original negatives. Special Features include “Caligula: The Life Behind the Legend,” an interview with Anthony A. Barrett, author of Caligula: The Corruption Of Power; a trailer; and the CD soundtrack.

Also due is Caligula: The Untold Story (1982). Directed by Joe D’Amato (Emanuelle in America, Absurd), the erotic exploitation film stars David Brandon (Beyond Darkness, Stagefright) as the insane young emperor whose love of brutality and degradation is surpassed only by his hunger for enslaved virgins, cruel vengeance, extreme acts of “horseplay” and beyond. Laura Gemser (Black Emanuelle), Gabriele Tinti (Endgame), Charles Borromel (Absurd) and future director Michele Soavi (Cemetery Man) star in this epic of orgiastic excess written by D’Amato and Luigi Montefiori/George Eastman with a score by Carlo Maria Cordio, presented in both the explicit Italian version and the U.S. release scanned in 2K from the original negatives. Special features include “The Orgy Of Power,” an interview with actor David Brandon; “A False True Story,” an interview with screenwriter Luigi Montefiori; “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy,” an interview with actor Mark Shannon; deleted scenes; the U.K. video trailer; and the CD soundtrack.

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Stone (1974), released five years before Mad Max, comes from producer/director/co-writer/star Sandy Harbutt. In his first and only feature film, he ignited Australia’s exploitation explosion, launching a global censorship battle with this biker movie. In the film, an undercover cop (Ken Shorter of Sunday Too Far Away) infiltrates an outlaw motorcycle gang (led by Harbutt). Hugh Keays-Byrne (Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road), Helen Morse (Picnic at Hanging Rock), Roger Ward, Vincent Gil, Reg Evans of Mad Max fame, and members of the Sydney Hells Angels co-star in the film, which features an uncut 4K scan from original vault elements supervised by Harbutt himself shortly before his death. Special features include “The Making of Stone“; deleted and extended scenes; “Stone Forever”; “Not Quite Hollywood,” extended interviews: make-up tests; a slideshow with commentary by Harbutt; the trailer; and the CD soundtrack.

Exploitation Classic ‘Girl on a Chain Gang’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD April 19 From Film Detective and MVD

The exploitation classic Girl on a Chain Gang (1966) will be released on special-edition Blu-ray and DVD April 19 from Cinedigm’s The Film Detective, Something Weird Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

From famed shlock distributor-producer-director Jerry Gross, who made his directorial debut with Girl on a Chain Gang, the stirring feature about small-town hate stars William Watson, Julie Ange and Ron Charles. It follows three young people who are framed, arrested and tossed into jail by corrupt Southern police.

Gross — who produced everything from Blaxploitation films to features about teen pregnancy — exercised his social conscience in this drama about racist Southern cops. Made the year after three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi, Girl on a Chain Gang addresses a subject Gross must have believed worth exploiting into drive-in theater fare. True to his low-budget roots, the movie was filmed nowhere near the South, but in Long Island, N.Y.​

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Special features include full-length audio commentary with Movies are Magic author and “Classic Films for Kids” host Jennifer Churchill; a new, original essay from Something Weird Video’s Lisa Petrucci, in a full-color booklet insert; and “It’s All in the Title: Exploiting Jerry Gross,” a short history of the semi-legendary producer with author/film historian Chris Poggiali, from Daniel Griffith at Ballyhoo Motion Pictures.

Music Doc ‘Where Are You, Jay Bennett?’ Due on Blu-ray April 19, DVD With Vinyl Albums April 23 From MVD

The feature-length documentary Where Are You, Jay Bennett?, on the renown multi-instrumentalist and recording studio savant, will have its Blu-ray Disc and pay-per-view release on April 19 from MVD Entertainment Group.

Four days later on April 23, it will have a “Record Store Day” release featuring the film on DVD along with Bennett’s last two albums Kicking at the Perfumed Air and Whatever Happened I Apologize available for the first time on vinyl.

As a member of Wilco, Bennett was a large part of the genius behind their three seminal albums. He joined the band prior to the recording of their second album Being There and subsequently co-wrote most of Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with Jeff Tweedy (and has been called the sonic architect of both albums). Bennett was also instrumental in the recording of the Mermaid Avenue/Woody Guthrie sessions with Billy Bragg, and went on to a critically acclaimed solo career before dying tragically at the age of 45.

Directors Gorman Bechard and Fred Uhter use a mixture of audio interviews with Bennett, never-before-seen performance footage, animation, and extensive interviews with those who knew him best to give an account of the artist’s life. The offers a look at the other side of the narrative that had been created in the media once Bennett had been asked to leave the band.

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“At the time of his firing, Jay’s behavior was cast in a negative light. But there are always two sides to every story,” Bechard said in a statement. “In this film, we show just how instrumental Jay was to Wilco’s brilliance. How Bennett and Tweedy together truly were one of the greatest collaborative teams in rock history, but also how they were both perfectionists who needed to push boundaries. Ultimately, that was simply not sustainable in a band setting.”

The film, funded completely through KickStarter, is an insight into a piece of American musical history exploring Bennett’s life, his influences, his art, his obsessions, his vices, music, recording, and Wilco and their unfortunate split.

“The animation by Ed Gendron brings to life these amazing interviews with Jay,” Uhter said in a statement. “To be able to hear his voice, to have Jay himself tell his side of the story, talk about how records were made, and what role he played, it’s a priceless piece of music history.”

Bechard is the filmmaker behind 2011’s Color Me Obsessed, a Film About the Replacements.

‘Ballad in Blood,’ ‘Forbidden Door’ Among Horror Films Due on Disc March 29 From MVD and Severin

Three horror films — Ballad in Blood, House on the Edge of the Park and The Forbidden Door — are being released on disc March 29 from MVD Entertainment Group and Severin Films.

House on the Edge of the Park (1980) will be available on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc. For his follow-up to Cannibal Holocaust, director Ruggero Deodato delivers one of the most disturbing exploitation films of all time. In the film, David Hess, of The Last House on the Left infamy, stars as a charismatic psychopath who, with his equally unhinged sidekick (Giovanni Lombardo Radice of City of the Living Dead), turns a get-together of chic New Yorkers into an ordeal of class warfare and sexual violence. Annie Belle (Absurd), Christian Borromeo (Tenebrae) and Lorraine De Selle (Wild Beasts) co-star in this notorious DPP 39 “video nasty” from the screenwriters of The New York Ripper with a soundtrack by Riz Ortolani.

The film is scanned uncut in 4K from the original negative. Special features in the limited edition, three-disc Blu-ray set include audio commentary by Bruce Holecheck (Cinema Arcana) and Art Ettinger (Ultra Violent); interviews with Deodato, cinematographer Sergio D’Offizi and Radice; “External Beauty & Internal Ugliness,” an archival interview with David Hess; “House Sweet House,” an interview with set designer Antonello Geleng; and Deodato Holocaust, a feature-length documentary by Felipe M. Guerra that explores the film-by-film triumphs, tragedies and controversies of Deodato; deleted scenes; and a CD soundtrack. Extras on DVD include audio commentary by Bruce Holecheck (Cinema Arcana) and Art Ettinger (Ultra Violent); interviews with Deodato, cinematographer Sergio D’Offizi and Radice; “External Beauty & Internal Ugliness,” an archival interview with David Hess; and “House Sweet House,” an interview with set designer Antonello Geleng.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD is Ballad in Blood (2016). For his first film in 23 years, Deodato — the director of such ItaloSleaze classics as Cannibal Holocaust, House on the Edge of the Park and Raiders of Atlantis — explored a different breed of butchery inspired by the Perugia exchange student murder that shocked the world. In the film, after a wild night of sex, drugs and clubbing, a young woman, her boyfriend and his dealer pal wake to find her straight-laced roommate brutally murdered. Special features include an interview with Deodato; an interview with Nina Burleigh, author of the New York Times bestseller The Fatal Gift Of Beauty: The Trials Of Amanda Knox; “It Happened in Perugia,” an interview with film historian Fabio Melelli; “Things to Do in Perugia When You’re Dead,” an interview with actress Noemi Smorra; an interview with executive producer Raffaele Mertes; a behind-the-scenes featurette; and trailers. 

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The Forbidden Door (2009) will be available on DVD and for the first time in North America on Blu-ray Disc. With his third disturbing feature, Joko Anwar, Indonesian writer/director of Impetigore and the remake of Satan’s Slave, became one of the most daring new genre filmmakers in the world. In the film, as a successful young sculptor increasingly loses his grip on sanity, he imagines his wife, friends and family are all conspiring against him and begins filling his best-selling works with unspeakable human matter, becomes obsessed with brutal hidden-camera abuse videos, and inches inescapably closer towards the most horrific final act of all. Special features include audio commentary with Anwar; an interview with Anwar; deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary by Anwar; a behind-the-scenes featurette; Herosase footage; a poster and still gallery; and trailers.

Troma’s Horror Comedy ‘The Good Exorcist’ Due on Blu-ray March 22 From MVD

The horror comedy The Good Exorcist (2017) will be released on Blu-ray Disc March 22 from Troma Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

In the film — which pokes fun at the exorcism horror sub-genre — after a ranch in Texas is befallen to a mysterious, demonic presence, it is up to an eccentric, wandering priest to find answers and dispel the darkness. As he digs deeper he soon finds that he may be in over his head and out of time.

The film is directed by Josh Stifter (Greywood’s Plot, Scumbag), and the production of The Good Exorcist was featured on the TV series “Rebel Without a Crew.” It features music by The Pentagrammas, Crowz & Hoggz, Mommy Sez No and Joe Shields.

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The film won the 2018 Best Texas Narrative at the Austin Revolution Film Festival.

‘Game 6’ and ‘Modern Vampires’ Due on Blu-ray March 22 From Ronin Flix and MVD

The comedic sports drama Game 6 and the horror film Modern Vampires are being released on Blu-ray Disc March 22 from Ronin Flix and MVD Entertainment Group.

In Game 6 (2005), New York playwright Nicky Rogan (Michael Keaton) is a playwright desperate for another success. From the outset, things begin to go wrong. His daughter informs him that his wife wants a divorce. His mistress notifies him that his lead actor has a parasite in his brain and can’t remember his lines, and an old acquaintance regales him with tales of Steven Schwimmer, a new and powerful critic who is so poisonous, so destructive, that the New York theater community lives in terror. Although Nicky has grown up in New York, he is a die-hard Red Sox fan and the film is set on October 25, 1986, the day of the most Shakespearian of sporting events, Game 6 of the World Series. At the last minute, Nicky decides to skip his opening night in order to watch his beloved team. The film also stars Robert Downy Jr., Griffin Dunne and Catherine O’Hara. Special features include a making-of featurette and audio commentary by director Michael Hoffman.

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In Modern Vampires (1998), Los Angeles has a discreet community of tortured, bloodthirsty creatures of the night. But when a mysterious vampire (Natasha Gregson Wagner, Lost Highway) enters the scene, the Count wants this blood-sucking seductress eliminated before her rampage of death exposes the cult. Her only chance at immortality lies in the fangs of Dallas (Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers). But when a distraught mortal, Dr. Frederick van Helsing (Rod Steiger, The Amityville Horror), seeks revenge on the vampires that damned his son, he vows to kill them all, slowly. Special features include a behind-the-scenes featurette, a new interview with director Richard Elfman, and audio commentary with director Elfman and actor Casper Van Dien.

‘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.

Horror Flick ‘Ditched’ Due on Blu-ray Feb. 22 From MVD and Epic

The horror flick Ditched will be released on Blu-ray Disc Feb. 22 from MVD Entertainment Group and Epic Pictures.

In the film, Melina, a paramedic, wakes up in an overturned ambulance with no memory of the accident. She is trapped in the woods with two prisoner medical transfers and the police escort team, and they are all desperate to escape. The group quickly discover that they are the victims of an ambush with the perpetrators hunting them down one by one.

The cast is led by Marika Sila, known for her roles in “The Twilight Zone” and “Lucifer.” Directed by Christopher Donaldson, the film also stars Mackenzie Gray, Lindsay Robinson and Kris Loranger. 

The film was featured in Popcorn Frights, the Molins Horror Film Festival (Spain) and EIFF (Edmonton).

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1980s Flicks ‘Deep Space’ and ‘3:15’ Due on Blu-ray Feb. 22 From Ronin Flix and MVD

Two 1980s flicks, the action adventure 3:15 and the sci-fi fantasy Deep Space, are headed to Blu-ray Feb. 22 from Ronin Flix and MVD Entertainment Group.

In the classic ’80s grindhouse film 3:15 (1986), “The Cobras” rule Lincoln High and everyone in it — everyone except Jeff Hanna. Once the most feared member of the Cobras, Hanna got sick of fighting and got out of the gang. Now the Cobras have brutalized his new girlfriend and threatened to kill him for his disloyalty. It’s time for one last fight.

The film stars a young Adam Baldwin (Independence Day, TV’s “Chuck” and “Firefly”) and Deborah Foreman (Valley Girl, April Fool’s Day), Gina Gershon, Danny De La Paz and Mario Van Peebles. The release features DTS-HD master audio stereo, a new 2019 HD master, an on-camera interview with actor Danny De La Paz, and the theatrical trailer.

In Deep Space (1988), a U.S. satellite transporting a secretly engineered creature crashes to Earth near Los Angeles. Police officers McLemore (Charles Napier, Last Embrace, One Eyed Monster) and Sandbourn (Ann Turkel, The Cassandra Crossing, Golden Rendezvous) are assigned to pursue the escaped mutant beast. Along the way, they clash with their superior, Capt. Robertson (Bo Svenson, Breaking Point, Final Chapter: Walking Tall, Delta Force), and the scientists behind the project. Psychic Lady Elaine Wentworth (Julie Newmar) also lends them a hand.

The film also stars Ron Glass (“Barney Miller”), James Booth (Avenging Force, Zulu), Elisabeth Brooks (The Howling) and Norman Burton (Scorchy, The Terminal Man) and is directed by cult icon Fred Olen Ray. The release features a new 2018 HD master  and audio commentary with the director.

Classic Kung Fu Films ‘Monkey Kung Fu’ and ‘Shaolin Mantis’ Due on Blu-ray March 22 From 88 Films USA and MVD

The classic kung fu films Monkey Kung Fu (1979) and Shaolin Mantis (1978) will be released on Blu-ray March 22 from the 88 Films USA label in partnership with MVD Entertainment Group.

A cult classic from the Shaw Brothers Studio, Monkey Kung Fu (aka Stroke of Death) is directed by Mar Lo (Shaolin Thief) and stars Siu-Tung Ching (The Shaolin Boxer). In the film, when a prisoner is given half of a wooden keepsake by a one eyed-master about to be executed, he breaks out of prison to go in search of the other half to discover its purpose. However, on his quest he is pursued by a gang leader who will also stop at nothing find out its secrets.

Included in the package are a limited edition slipcase with new artwork from R.P. “Kung Fu Bob” O’Brien; a double-sided A3 foldout poster; extensive booklet notes; audio commentary by Kenneth Brorsson and Phil Gillon of the Podcast On Fire Network; “Stunting Around,” an interview with choreographer Tony Leung Siu-hung; and the original trailer. 

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Also from the Shaw Brothers studio, Shaolin Mantis is from the golden age of Hong Kong martial arts cinema. In the film, when scholar Wei Fung (David Chiang) is hired by the emperor to infiltrate a clan of rebellious Ming loyalists, his mission goes adrift when he falls in love the clan leader’s granddaughter and his plans are discovered. The film is directed by Lau Kar Leung (The Spiritual Boxer, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin).

Included in the package are a limited edition slipcase with new artwork from R.P. “Kung Fu Bob” O’Brien; a double-sided A3 foldout poster; four collectible art cards; audio commentary with Asian cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema; audio commentary with Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng; “Complicated Families,” David West on Shaolin Mantis; an interview with actor John Cheung; the Deadly Mantis trailer; and an original Hong Kong trailer.