Posts Tagged ‘Arrow Video’

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Video

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 96 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: English Mono Linear PCM Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Ratio: 1.85:1

Notes: This edition also includes a DVD copy of the film.

Title

It wasn’t long before the Blaxploitation boom moved into the horror market, bringing the world Blacula, Blackenstein, Abby (a Blaxploitation rip-off of The Exorcist) and cult favorite J.D.’s Revenge, which is the focus of this review.

The film’s ridiculous story is interesting enough to recommend a rainy day viewing if one happens to be at a loss for something to watch. We follow a law student named Ike who enjoys a night on the town with his devoted girlfriend and another couple. They all attend a night club that is showcasing a hypnotist act, and Ike is one of the volunteers chosen from the audience. This throws his entire loss into chaos, because it turns out that this somehow allows the spirit of a violent gangster named JD to possess his body. Through Ike, JD attempts to take revenge upon those who were responsible for his death.

It is all much too silly to ever become frightening and the acting is a bit uneven as it has a tendency to go over the top. However, this silliness is probably partly responsible for its cult following.

SS01

The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow Video houses the Blu-ray and DVD discs in a sturdy clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve featuring the choice of newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips and what is presumably the film’s original poster art (which is marginally superior but not particularly impressive). There is also an attractive booklet that features an essay entitled Psychic Connections that was written by Kim Newman (author of Nightmare Movies) and a number of stills.

[Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02

Picture Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

By no means can this new high definition transfer be listed amongst Arrow’s best, but it does offer a superior visual experience to the previous DVD incarnations (while retaining its somewhat gritty aesthetic). Detail and color see the most improvement here with some deep blacks that seem reasonably rendered. There doesn’t seem to be any problematic digital manipulation and the thin layer of grain is rather stable throughout the duration. All in all, this is the most anyone has the right to expect for this particular film.

SS03.jpg

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The Linear PCM English Mono audio track is relatively solid as well. It features clear dialogue throughout and the music and ambience also seems to be well represented.

SS04.jpg

Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

The Killing Floor – (HD) – (46:03)

Arthur Marks (Director), Jaison Starkes (Screenwriter), George Folsey Jr. (Editor), and Glynn Turman (Actor) feature largely in this better than average retrospective document about the making of the film. Anecdotes about various aspects of the production are peppered throughout and it makes for a rather engaging and surprisingly informative experience. One might even say that this is essential viewing for fans of the film.

Here Lies J.D. Walker – (HD) – (17:42)

David McKnight (the actor who portrayed J.D. Walker) discusses the film with Steve Ryfle in this extremely rare interview. The topics covered here are surprisingly vast as te actor remembers how he won the role, his working relationship with Arthur Marks, his work ethic, and his efforts to make his portrayal as authentic as possible. A lot of information is packed into these seventeen minutes and one only wishes that it could have been longer. Fans should really love this!

Theatrical Trailer – (HD) – (02:08)

The Theatrical Trailer (which has seen better days) should bring a smile to the faces of anyone who enjoyed the fake trailers that featured in Tarantino and Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double feature. It’s pretty campy and ridiculous, but this is part of the charm of having it included here.

Arthur Marks Trailer Reel – (HD)

There is some guilty pleasure to be derived from these very vintage trailers from a number of the directors other feature films.

Bonnie’s Kids – (03:11)
Bucktown – (02:17)
Friday Foster – (02:38)
Monkey Hustle – (02:20)
A Woman for All Men – (02:27)

Radio Spots – (HD) – (01:49)

The same can be said of these two radio spots (one of which advertises a double feature with Coffy).

Image Gallery – (HD)

A basic slideshow of film-related images is exactly what one has come to expect from such galleries It isn’t anything special, but one supposes that fans of the film will welcome its inclusion here in any case.

SS05.jpg

Final Words:

J.D.’s Revenge is one of Arrow’s “lesser” releases, but it is still given a strong transfer and a generous helping of worthwhile supplements. Fans of the film should be pleased. One can imagine Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez having a lot of fun with this disc!

Advertisements

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Video

Release Date: October 03, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 92 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio:

5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio

2.0 English Linear PCM

Subtitles: English SDH

Ratio: 1.85:1

Bitrate: 30.92 Mbps

Note: This title has seen a number of Blu-ray releases, but this Arrow Video package is by far the best available.

Title

It wouldn’t be right to offer this review of Children of the Corn without admitting to a rather embarrassing prejudice. While I have always enjoyed adaptations of Stephen King’s more grounded stories (The Shawshank Redemption, Stand by Me, Hearts in Atlantis, Misery, and even The Green Mile immediately spring to mind.), the film adaptations of his more fantastic horror stories usually don’t appeal to me. Understand that this is coming from someone who adores the horror genre. It’s difficult to determine the reason for my dissatisfaction except to say that “realistic” stories tend to appeal to me more than the fantastic. However, even this is an oversimplification. After all, I enjoy such films as The Exorcist, Let the Right One In, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and a number of other sensational stories. Children of the Corn is probably more believable than some of those films, but it doesn’t at all appeal to my tastes. Nothing I could possibly say about this film would be at all fair because it’s impossible to experience it objectively.

The story follows a young couple traveling cross-country only to find themselves stranded in the small town of Gatlin—home of a mysterious religious cult of children. With no adults in sight, the terror brews as the new arrivals find the secrets of the prospering corn fields and the children who inhabit them. The blood-curdling secrets of the children of Gatlin are soon revealed to their new “Outlander” guests.

Children of the Corn isn’t a great horror film by any stretch of the imagination, but those who enjoy horror fantasy should probably give the film a chance. My own prejudices certainly shouldn’t dissuade others from enjoying the film.

SS01

The Presentation:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow Video houses the Blu-ray disc in a sturdy clear case with a reversible sleeve featuring the choice of newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin and the film’s original one sheet. The case is protected by an attractive slipcover featuring the new artwork, and it must be said that this adds something to the presentation.

One Sheet

The film’s original one-sheet artwork.

An attractive collector’s booklet that features an article about the film’s production history entitled “Behind the Rows” by John Sullivan, and an essay by Lee Gambin entitled “Praise God! Praise the Lord!” The second text is more theory than the first and examines the influence of the child preacher in reference to Children of the Corn. The booklet is illustrated with production stills from the production and original artwork.

Interestingly, there is also a small reversible poster featuring the film’s original one-sheet artwork and newly commissioned artwork (which is different from the Blu-ray cover design) included inside the case.

[Note: The aforementioned slipcover and booklet and slipcover is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02

Picture Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

This release was given restoration by Arrow Video which has been detailed in the collector’s booklet.

Children of the Corn was exclusively restored by Arrow Films and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1… The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution at EFilm, Burbank. The film was graded and restored on the Nucoda grading system at R3store Studios, London. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, and other instances of film wear were repaired or removed through a combination of digital restoration tools and techniques. There are many instances of optical and animated special effects which could only be restored to an extent without creating unwanted digital artifacts… The original film and audio elements for Children of the Corn were made available for this restoration by Lakeshore Entertainment.” -Collector’s Booklet

The mention of a 4K restoration is somewhat confusing because Arrow’s packaging indicates a 2K restoration (as do their promotional materials for this release). Whatever the case may be, this new transfer is an improvement over the film’s earlier Blu-ray editions as it exhibits an impressive increase in fine detail and a considerable decrease in age-related anomalies. The overall image might be a shade darker than the earlier releases and the grain is slightly more evident here. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing will depend on the individual, but this is likely closer to the theatrical presentation. There is also more information on the sides of the frame, which should be a welcome discovery for those looking to upgrade.

SS03

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The original 4-track stereo mix was transferred from the original Dolby mag reels and was re-mastered to 5.1 by Lakeshore at Deluxe Audio Services, Burbank, and the resulting mix is included here along with a more faithful 2.0 LPCM track. The 5.1 isn’t as dynamic as one might hope for, but there is some good spacing when it comes to the film’s music and atmospherics. The dialogue is clear and well prioritized in the front speakers, and there is little to no discernible distortion evident. Purists may prefer the LPCM track as it seems to be a good representation of the original.

SS04

Special Features:

5 of 5 Stars

Feature Length Audio Commentary with Fritz Kiersch (Director), Terrence Kirby (Producer), John Franklin (Actor), and Courtney Gains (Actor)

It’s nice that Arrow has carried over this commentary featuring Fritz Kiersch, Terrence Kirby, John Franklin, and Courtney Gains. The participants discuss a number of topics and share stories about the film’s production, location shooting, issues with the field of corn, the film’s reception, thematic elements, and much more. It should certainly be of interest to fans of the film.

Feature Length Audio Commentary with John Sullivan and Justin Beahm

John Sullivan (childrenofthecornmovie.com) and Justin Beahm (horror journalist) discuss a rather wide variety of topics throughout the duration of the track. They seem to be well versed in the film’s production history and impart all sorts of trivia. We learn about the cast and crew, a deleted segment involving the death of one of the characters, the impact that the film had upon popular culture, and other pertinent information. It’s an enjoyable track that should engage fans of the film.

Harvesting Horror: The Making of ‘Children of the Corn’ – (36:15)

Harvesting Horror is an interesting retrospective documentary about the making of the film that features interviews with several key participants including Fritz Kiersch. Courtney Gains, and John Franklin. It’s all pretty standard and isn’t terribly comprehensive, but the general information available here will interest most viewers.

It Was the Eighties! – (14:07)

Linda Hamilton doesn’t seem to be terribly fond of the film but discusses her experiences anyway. The most interesting aspect of the entire interview is her somewhat apathetic attitude.

Return to Gatlin – (16:29)

John Sullivan gives viewers a video tour of the original locations used during the production of Children of the Corn. As a bonus, various residents share their recollections and thoughts about having a horror film being produced on their turf. There is more specific information here than in many other “location tour” featurettes.

Stephen King on a Shoestring – (11:18)

Donald Borchers discusses the low budget nature of the production.

Cut from the Cornfield – (05:30)

Rich Kleinberg goes into detail about a scene that was cut from the film. The actor apparently appeared throughout the scene and was stabbed to death. Fans should certainly enjoy hearing about the scene since it couldn’t be included here.

“…And a Child Shall Lead Them” – (50:52)

Julie Maddalena and John Philbin go into some depth about their experiences during the film’s production, and their recollections cover quite a bit of territory. This is certainly one of the better supplements included here.

“Field of Nightmares” – (17:19)

George Goldsmith discusses his writing origins and how his career progressed before coming around to Children of the Corn. It is interesting to learn about the script’s development and how he approached his adaptation of Stephen King’s original short story.

Welcome to Gatlin: The Sights and Sounds of ‘Children of the Corn’ – (15:29)

Craig Stearns (production designer) and Jonathan Elias (composer) discuss their work on the film.

Disciples of the Crow (1983) – (18:56)

This short 16mm film was the original film adaptation of King’s original short story, and it has been given a new HD transfer. This is probably the most interesting supplement on the entire disc, and it adds an incredible amount of value to the overall package. It should thrill fans of the feature.

Theatrical Trailer – (01:28)

The trailer for Children of the Corn is cut in an interesting way. It is reminiscent of some of the old grindhouse trailers from the seventies. Fans should be happy to have it included here.

Storyboard Gallery – (05:31)

Anyone interested in the pre-visualization of a film should be happy to have this storyboard gallery.

SS05

Final Words:

Children of the Corn has been given the royal treatment by Arrow Video. Those who enjoy the film should certainly be very happy to own this edition of the film.

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Video

Release Date: October 03, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 01:48:03

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio:

5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 3495 kbps, 24-bit)

English Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 1152 kbps, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English (SDH)

Ratio: 1.85:1

Bitrate: 35.01 Mbps

Notes: This edition also includes a DVD copy of the film.

Title

“This is not a profound film, let’s be quite clear about it: the only purpose of this film is to give people a very happy hour and forty-five minutes.” –John Cleese (Time Out, September 07, 1988)

The above quote says everything that needs to be said about A Fish Called Wanda. Monty Python fans need no introduction to the talents of John Cleese, who penned the script for this crazy comedy with director Charles Crichton (The Lavender Hill Mob). The film’s all-star cast includes Cleese, fellow Python Michael Palin, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Kevin Kline (who won an Academy Award for his performance in the supporting actor category). Anyone looking for an irreverent comedy that will actually make them laugh should see this 1980s classic!

Cleese plays Archie Leach, a weak-willed barrister who finds himself embroiled with a quartet of ill-matched jewel thieves—two American con artists played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline, Michael Palin’s animal-loving hitman, and London gangster Tom Georgeson. Only he and Palin know the whereabouts of the diamonds, prompting plenty of farce and in-fighting as well as some embarrassing nudity and the unfortunate demise of some innocent pooches. In short, the entire film is a ridiculous load of nonsense and a lot of fun.

SS01

The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow Video houses the Blu-ray disc in a sturdy clear case with a reversible sleeve featuring the choice of newly commissioned artwork by Jacey and the film’s original poster art. The case is protected by an attractive slipcover featuring the new artwork, and it must be said that this adds something to the presentation. An attractive collector’s booklet that features an essay entitled “Laughing and Not Laughing at a Fish Called Wanda” by Sophie Monks Kaufman, and an archival article entitled “Wanda Lust” by John Morrish that originally appeared in the September 07, 1988 issue of ‘Time Out.’ Kaufman’s essay is a sort of appreciation and criticism of the film that spends a good amount of space lamenting the film’s unfortunate homophobic gags, and the Morrish article is based upon an exclusive interview with John Cleese. It compares the comedian’s work in the film with his previous projects. These texts are illustrated by production stills from the production, and the usual credits and transfer information can be found here as well.

[Note: The aforementioned slipcover and booklet and slipcover is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02

Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

It was clear after reading the transfer information in the collector’s booklet that Arrow’s new image transfer for this film would be incredibly strong.

A Fish Called Wanda has been exclusively restored for this release by Arrow Films. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1… The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution on a pin-registered Northlight Scanner at Pinewood Studios. Picture grading was completed on a DaVinci Resolve. Picture restoration was performed using PFClean software. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, and other instances of film wear were repaired or removed through a combination of digital restoration tools and techniques. Image stability was also improved…” –Collector’s Booklet

The result looks better than the film ever has on home video. Fine detail is impressive as it exhibits textures that haven’t been seen since the film’s original theatrical exhibition. Grain is evident but natural and never unwieldy, and compression is kept in check by the high bitrate. Colors are not only accurate but are also bold and attractive with skin tones always appearing natural. Contrast is remarkable with accurate black levels, and depth is equally impressive. The restoration work has resulted in an incredibly clean image with only the occasional blemish—all of which are likely to go unnoticed by most viewers as none of these are even remotely distracting.

SS03

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Fans are given the choice between a faithful mono track in the LPCM audio format or a bump up to a 5.1 English DTS-HD mix that shows occasional depth despite the dialogue-heavy nature of the film—the dialogue in question always being clean and clear. Effects and music create any existing depth and are always well prioritized. In short, both options are solid representations of the film’s original sound with the 5.1 being the more dynamic option and the LPCM being more faithful to the original.

SS04

Special Features:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Feature Length Commentary by John Cleese

John Cleese is surprisingly informative as he discusses his work on the film as well as his collaborators. Fans of the film and those who admire Cleese should find this track instructive and well worth their time.

Trivia Track

Viewers can choose to watch the film with a trivia track with textual information about the film and those who made it that pops up throughout the duration.

24 Deleted/Alternate Scenes (with Introductions by John Cleese) – (29:38)

This reviewer has a fondness for deleted material, because it gives viewers a look into the editing of the film. It’s always interesting to see what was originally written but not needed or wanted. 26 deleted scenes are included here in standard definition with contextual introductions by John Cleese.

They following material can be played either together or individually: Rendezvous, Pop Quiz, Pop Quiz Part 2, Court Victory, Truly Sorry, Truly Sorry Part 2, The Witness, Nice Shootin’, Nice Shootin’ Part 2, Archie’s Plan, Spill the Beans, Triple Cross, Boarding Pass, Brief Encounter, Third Time Lucky, Wanda’s Bag, Blood and Guts, Blood and Guts Part 2, Inquires, Tractions, See You Duckie, Good News, and an Alternate Ending.

John Cleese’s Final Farewell Performance – (48:03)

John Cleese’s Final Farewell Performance is essentially a promotional documentary from 1988 about the making of A Fish Called Wanda. It was obviously shot during the production of the film and this adds interest to the material. Interviews with John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Palin, and Charles Crichton make up a good portion of the program, but there is also a bit of “fly-on-the-wall” footage. It is better than the standard EPK fluff that studios insist on producing today, but it might be too much to claim that it is comprehensive.

Something Fishy – (30:32)

Something Fishy is a retrospective documentary produced on the film’s 15th Anniversary. It includes interviews with John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Alan Hume (Director of Photography), Michael Shamburg (Producer), and Steve Abbott (Executive Producer). These participants remember the production of the film and discuss the film’s surprise success. The interview footage is intercut with footage from the film itself. It’s a fairly standard retrospective but is both entertaining and informative. It’s a nice follow-up to the 1988 documentary.

Fish You Were Here – (16:32)

Robert Powell as he takes the viewer on a tour of the film’s set locations as a history of the film is given. It’s interesting to see the locations utilized by the production. It isn’t one of the disc’s better supplements, but it manages to be informative enough to warrant a viewing.

An Appreciation by Vic Pratt – (16:55)

One of Arrow’s new additions to the disc’s collection of supplementary material is this “appreciation by Vic Pratt of the BFI National Archive. Pratt’s admiration for the film is evident in his enthusiastic and informative discussion about the film—but it should be said that the information given isn’t incredibly new to fans of the film.

Interview with Roger Murray-Leach – (07:31)

The film’s production designer discusses his work on the film and tells an entertaining anecdote about the fish named Wanda (who was apparently dying to be in a movie). One only wishes that this interview could’ve been longer than 7 and ½ minutes.

A Message from John Cleese – (04:56)

This is a silly introduction to the film that won’t surprise anyone familiar with Cleese’s work as a member of the Monty Python troupe. It isn’t at all informative but it will probably entertain fans of the film.

Theatrical Trailer – (01:28)

This trailer is a product of the eighties and is, therefore, a fun marketing artifact.

Image Gallery

The image gallery included here offers a few photographs utilized to market the film and is rather standard. However, it’s a great way to wind down going through the disc’s other supplements.

SS05

Final Words:

A Fish Called Wanda is a box of giggles in a world of pursed lips. Laughter is essential to your health, and this disc should supply a good dose. The film has never looked this good on home video.

SS06

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Video

Release Date: October 03, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 01:45:05

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: Italian Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 1152 kbps, 24-bit)

Alternate Audio: English Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 1152 kbps, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English (SDH)

Ratio: 2.35:1

Bitrate: 27.38 Mbps

Title

“…My favorite remains Don’t Torture a Duckling… I think my real golden time was in the early seventies, with Perversion Story [and] Don’t Torture a Duckling. But yes, of course, the beginning of the eighties brought me much fame.” -Lucio Fulci (Draculina)

Lucio Fulci (The Beyond) has been called—and is called on the back of this Blu-ray package—the godfather of gore, but nothing in Don’t Torture a Duckling really warrants such a title. This old-school Giallo tale has other agendas and is one of Fulci’s most interesting films despite (or perhaps even because of) this fact.

When the sleepy rural village of Accendura is rocked by a series of murders of young boys, the superstitious locals are quick to apportion blame, with the suspects including a local “witch” named Maciara—but the viewer never buys into her eventual confession. With the bodies piling up and the community gripped by panic and a thirst for bloody vengeance, two outsiders—city journalist Andrea and spoilt rich girl Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet)—team up to crack the case. But before the mystery is solved, more blood will have been spilled, and not all of it belonging to innocents.

Like many (if not all) Giallo titles, the film is very much a whodunit that has been built around a rather predictable and overblown twist ending. Many will see the ending coming but few should disagree that it is a lot of fun. It’s the sort of ridiculous camp nonsense that viewers either find endearing or annoying as hell. One’s enjoyment will depend on which of these categories they happen to belong.

Deemed shocking at the time for its brutal violence, a negative depiction of the Catholic Church, and its themes of child murder and pedophilia, Don’t Torture a Duckling was cursed with troubled distribution upon its release. However, it is widely regarded today as Fulci’s greatest film, rivaling even the best of his close rival Dario Argento. Whether this is actually true is impossible to say.

SS01

The Presentation:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow Video houses the Blu-ray and DVD discs in a sturdy clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve featuring the choice of newly commissioned artwork by Timothy Pittides and what is presumably the film’s original poster art. The case is protected by a very attractive texturized slipcover featuring Pittides new cover art, and it must be said that this adds a great deal to the presentation. An attractive collector’s booklet that features an essay entitled “Lucio Fulci’s Dark Dream” by Barry Forshaw, a second essay entitled “In Sunshine and in Shadow: The Film Music of Riz Ortolani” by Howard Hughes, and a number of archival stills.

[Note: The aforementioned slipcover and booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02

Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow’s 2K restoration transfer is obviously the result of a lot of painstaking work. The image was taken from two different sources: an original 2-perf “Techniscope” Eastman camera negative and a 4-perf 35mm duplicate negative. This fact created a number of challenges, but the result seems to have been worth the effort. It has never looked this good on home video. Colors impress, the image exhibits a good amount of fine detail despite an organic layer of grain, and blacks are reasonably rich without inappropriate crushing. Compression artifacts never become an issue, and there isn’t enough film damage here to even mention (the restoration team removed most of the blemishes). Fans can upgrade with confidence.

SS03
Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow includes two 24-bit LPCM audio tracks: one in English and another in Italian. Both are solid representations of the original tracks. Obviously, the mono sound isn’t going to be incredibly dynamic, but most will agree that the most important thing is for a soundtrack to be a strong reproduction of the original sound. Both tracks meet these criteria admirably, but the original Italian track is the superior choice. It is simply a much more natural mix than the English dub, and this goes beyond the dialogue elements. The ambiance, effects, and music also sound much better in the Italian mix.

SS04

Special Features:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Audio Commentary by Troy Howarth
Troy Howarth is the author of a number of books on the horror and Giallo genres, including Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films, So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films (Volumes 1 & 2), The Haunted World of Mario Bava, Tome of Terror: Films of the Silent Era (Volume 1), Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the1930s (Volume 2), and Real Depravities: The Films of Klaus Kinski. This list should be a pretty good indication of his obvious fascination with the genre, and it is clear that he has more than a general knowledge about this film as he admits that this is one of his personal favorites. The result of his fondness for the film translates into a casual but enthusiastic helping of information about Lucio Fulci, the cast, shooting locations, the film’s controversial nature, and some interesting production anecdotes. The result is entertaining in addition to being educational, and it is a decidedly superior third-party track.

Giallo a la Campagna (The Blood of Innocents) – (27:44)

Mikel J. Koven (author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film, Blaxploitation Cinema, and Film, Folklore, and Urban Legends) discusses the Giallo genre and the public’s reaction to it. He claims that the cinemas in Italy acted as a sort of social gathering during the 1970s and the differences between various regions of Italy. It offers a bit of contextual information that should only add to the viewer’s appreciation of this film and other films like it.

Every (Wo)man Their Own Hell (Hell is Already in Us) – (20:30)

Kat Ellinger’s scholarly essay examines themes inherent in Lucio Fulci’s work and discusses her opinions about what many consider misogynistic qualities in his work (such as violence against women) and how religion plays into these themes. It is an interesting addition to the disc.

Lucio Fulci Remembers:

Segment #1 – (28:33)
Segment #2 – (13:12)

These audio interviews from 1988 are perhaps the most interesting addition to the disc and they find the director discussing the beginning of his career, his influences, the films that he has directed, and other pertinent topics. The interview was transcribed and published in Spaghetti Nightmares.

Interview with Florinda Bolkan (Actor) – (28:20)

This Freak-O-Rama interview finds Florinda Bolkan discussing her work with Lucio Fulci on Don’t Torture a Duckling and A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin in some detail. Her anecdotes are entertaining and the information divulged is consistently interesting. The 28 minutes simply fly by making the viewer wish that there was more.

Sergio D Offizi (Cinematographer) – (46:31)

Sergio D’Offizi discusses his easy collaboration with Fulci and his career in this lengthy interview. He seems especially pleased with his work Don’t Torture a Duckling. He reveals a good deal of background and anecdotal information that Fulci fans should appreciate.

Bruno Micheli (Assistant Editor) – (25:38)

Bruno Micheli gives a somewhat brief overview of his career and discusses his work with Lucio Fulci on the editing of Don’t Torture a Duckling. Interestingly, it seems his sister (Ornella Micheli) also worked with the director on some of his other films.

Maurizio Trani (Assistant Makeup Artist) – (16:03)

Maurizio Trani discusses his career in this short but very interesting interview and eventually gets around to his collaboration on Don’t Torture a Duckling with Lucio Fulci.

SS05

Final Words:

Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture a Duckling is has been given an incredible Blu-ray release by Arrow Video.

SS06

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Video

Release Date: October 03, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 01:40:24

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: Italian Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 1152 kbps, 24-bit)

Alternate Audio: English Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 1152 kbps, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English, English (SDH)

Ratio: 2.35:1

Bitrate: 34.68 Mbps

Note: This edition also includes a DVD copy of the film.

Title

In the wake of the success of Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, numerous other directors stepped forward to try their hand at these lurid murder-mysteries. At the forefront was Sergio Martino, whose sensual 70s thrillers starring Edwige Fenech and George Hilton are widely celebrated as some of the best the genre has to offer.

However, the final of Martino’s six Gialli, The Suspicious Death of a Minor, isn’t pure Giallo. It combines everything one expects to see in the standard Giallo thrillers with conventions found in ‘poliziotteschi’ crime thrillers and broad comedy (although this comedy is admittedly dark. The story itself is pretty standard: Claudio Cassinelli (What Have They Done to Your Daughters?) stars as undercover cop Paolo Germi, on the trail of a Milanese criminal outfit following the brutal murder of an underage prostitute. Meanwhile, a killer-for-hire is on the prowl to bump off witnesses before they have a chance to talk.

The resulting film is a unique blend of two different movements in Italian popular cinema that employed an interesting roster of participants that includes Mel Ferrer (Nightmare City), Barbara Magnolfi (Suspiria), and Jenny Tamburi (The Psychic), and a script by Ernesto Gastaldi (All the Colors of the Dark, Death Walks at Midnight). It is balls-to-the-wall nonsense but is sure to delight fans of either genre.

SS01

The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow Academy houses the Blu-ray and DVD discs in a sturdy clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve featuring the choice of newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon and what is presumably the film’s original poster art. There is also an attractive booklet that features an essay written by Barry Forshaw and a number of archival stills.

[Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02

Picture Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow’s 2K restoration transfer was taken from the original camera negative and transferred here using a maxed out bitrate, and the result is an image far superior to any previous release of the film. It is a gritty image by anyone’s standards, but this was inherent in the original mid-seventies cinematography. The filmic layer of grain never gets in the way of fine detail (which is much more impressive than a 2K restoration has any right to be), and the colors seem to be representative of the original cinematography. The frame certainly contains a lot more information here than what was on display in previous home video transfers, and depth and contrast are revelatory in comparison to those releases. There are two different credit sequences—one for each language option.

SS03

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Both of the two LPCM audio options are offered in their original mono mixes and are relatively free of any distracting anomalies, but the original Italian mix is the strongest option here for reasons that go beyond the fact that this is the film’s original track. The dialogue is also richer here than it is in the English dub but this is to be expected. However, we do enjoy hearing Ferrer’s own voice on the English track. The music sounds great in both mixes and is the most dynamic element if each track. Either version will please fans.

SS04

Special Features:

3.5 of 5 Stars

Feature Length Commentary by Troy Howarth

Troy Howarth is the author of a number of books on the horror and Giallo genres, including So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films (Volumes 1 & 2), Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films, The Haunted World of Mario Bava, Tome of Terror: Films of the Silent Era (Volume 1), Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the1930s (Volume 2), and Real Depravities: The Films of Klaus Kinski. This list should be a pretty good indication of his obvious fascination with the genre, and it is clear that he has more than a general knowledge of the genre (which is more than we can say for a good many so-called scholars that contribute third-party commentary tracks. His track is somewhat casual, but he reveals a good amount of pertinent information as he discusses such topics as cast and crew information, light theoretical musings about the ways in which the film manages to conform to Giallo conventions even as it subverts them, continuity errors, and quite a bit more. Anyone who enjoys the film should find this track worth their time.

Violent Milan – (42:55)

The obvious stand out amongst this modest collection of supplements is this excellent interview with Sergio Martino and cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando. It is listed as being an interview by Freak-o-Rama, and it is both instructive and entertaining. Martino discusses the film’s origins and his intentions for making it (he wanted to try something that wasn’t purely Giallo), the fact that the film was originally titled Violent Milan, Ernesto Gastaldi’s script, working with Mel Ferrer, his cast, the Italian films being made during that period, working with his brother Lucio (who was the producer), the death of Claudio Cassinelli on another production, and much more. This is well worth the viewer’s time as it is rich in information.

Theatrical Trailer – (03:27)

The film’s cheesy trailer is also a happy addition to the package.

SS05

Final Words:

Those who enjoy the genre should enjoy this great Blu-ray release from Arrow Video, and those who don’t probably aren’t reading this anyway.

SS06

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Video

Release Date: September 12, 2013

Region: Region Free

Length: 85 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Ratio: 2.34:1

Note: A DVD edition of this film is also available.

“I’d describe it as a psychological thriller about a cop who goes undercover to investigate a strange double murder. He goes undercover as a psychotherapy patient, and as his sessions continue the lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur. I’m not reading that from a rehearsed script I promise. Entirely off the top of my head. Beyond that, I would agree it’s a hard one to describe. We do front load our twist rather. That said, I think it’s rather spoiler-proof as the twists and turns keep coming as the story progresses.” –Gareth Tunley (Interview with John Townsend, Starburst Magazine)

Tunley’s description is as good as any (although it is a bit misleading). The trouble with talking about (or writing about) this kind of film is that one cannot help but be intentionally vague. This isn’t merely because spoilers are unforgivable, but how can one discuss a film that is vague without being vague? Frankly, if one is to enjoy the film, they should come at it without any knowledge about its content. These films are intended to be experienced differently by each viewer.

It probably isn’t giving away anything worthwhile to say that the story concerns an awkward man named Chris. It seems for a while that he is a homicide detective who is working on a case involving a double murder. Both victims appear to have continued moving towards their assailant despite multiple gunshots to the face and chest. On a hunch, Chris decides to go undercover as a patient to investigate the suspect’s psychotherapist… but is he really undercover? It is clear that Chris is depressed and highly susceptible to the whims and ideas of others. At this point, it becomes impossible to discuss the film any further, because doing so would only make one’s head explode. Suffice it to say that The Ghoul is somewhat like a David Lynch film without the bizarre characters and surreal diversions…  Actually, the film is tonally more similar to Christopher Nolan’s Following than anything David Lynch ever created, but this only goes to show just how impossible it is to definitively discuss this film. Amendments would constantly have to be added for every statement made about it.

If any of this peaks your interest, it is well worth trying out—but those who need everything spelled out for them will quickly become irritated.

One Sheet
The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow Video houses the Blu-ray disc in their usual clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve featuring that offers the choice of displaying the one of the film’s original one sheet designs (which is rather attractive and the better of the two options) and alternate artwork. There is also an attractive booklet that features an essay about the film entitled, “The Straight Line and the Circle” by Adam Scovell. The essay is a bit of film theory that concerns itself with the film’s themes, and it adds a bit of value to Arrow’s modest package. (We should point out that the package is really only “modest” by Arrow’s standards).

[Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

While Arrow’s notes about this transfer are decidedly vague, they do tell us that it was provided by the filmmakers themselves. Considering the fact that the film was released rather recently, we can assume that this “HD master” is as good as the film has ever looked or will ever look.

This is perfectly acceptable, because it looks pretty good. Sharpness and fine detail vary wildly but organically considering the low budget nature of the production. Frankly, we find that the image exhibits excellent detail at its best and acceptable detail at its worst. Black levels are strong for the most part, and when they are occasionally washed out, this is the result of the production photography. There aren’t any anomalies or distracting digital anomalies to distract the viewer either. This is an extremely good representation of the original material.

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The 5.1 DTS-HD Audio mix is more dynamic than one might expect from a low budget feature, and this is mostly due to the film’s score and the dreamy sound design. The dialogue is consistently clean and clear throughout the duration of the film and is more focused towards the front end. It’s a solid reproduction of the film’s original mix.

Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

Feature Length Filmmaker’s Commentary

Gareth Tunley, Tom Meeten, and Jack Guttmann discuss the production of The Ghoul in surprisingly vivid detail—and this means that it can become rather technical at times. This should be of endless value to anyone interested in low-budget filmmaking. It is packed with interesting information without ever becoming too dry. It’s such a great addition to the disc.

In the Loop – (HD) – (36:17)

It is impossible not to admire the filmmakers after watching this rather interesting “making of” documentary. The program features Gareth Tunley, Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe, Geoff McGivern, Niamh Cusack, Rufus Jones, Dan Skinner, Ben Pritchard, Jack Guttmann, Waen Shepherd, Dhiraj Mahey and Ben Wheatley. Most of these participants appear against a solid black background as they individually discuss the project and its origins. Future filmmakers should find it extremely instructive as they do cover the process of creating The Ghoul on a budget. Some may even enjoy this to be even more enjoyable than the film itself.

The Baron (with Optional Commentary) – (HD) – (09:27)

Gareth Tunley’s 2013 short, The Baron, stars Tom Meeten and Steve Oram and is based on a character that Meeten created for a comedy routine. Like The Ghoul, this short concerns itself with depression, but this film goes an entirely different way with the subject and follows an unhappy outcast who creates an alternate identity of sorts in order to exact revenge on those who have wronged him. It is really quite enjoyable and perhaps the disc’s strongest supplement. The optional commentary track makes this experience even sweeter as Tunley and Meeten discuss the production and the background of the titular character.

Theatrical Trailer – (HD) – (01:34)

The theatrical trailer is pretty standard, but it is pretty interesting to see how the marketing of this little British Indie was handled. Oh course, they took the typical “it’s a police procedural” approach, which is a bit misleading and therefore bound to irritate anyone hoping to see such a film. Someday marketing departments will realize that this is bad technique and counterproductive… actually, they probably won’t. Never mind.

One Sheet 2

Final Words:

File this one under “not for everyone.” However, those who enjoy this sort of movie will be happy to know that this is a solid Blu-ray transfer with some interesting supplemental material.

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Video

Release Date: August 29, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 01:29:55

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4 AVC)

Main Audio: English Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 1152 kbps, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English SDH

Ratio: 1.85:1

Bitrate: 37.70 Mbps

Note: This package includes a DVD copy of the film.

Title

Here’s another post Halloween slasher knockoff that calls the protagonist’s reality into serious question. It is something of a rarity on home video and is therefore somewhat obscure, but there is a small cult following amongst diehard horror fanatics who will certainly be celebrating this release.

The story is typical: Two young couples set off to a secluded island for what promises to be a restful retreat… Do you really need to know anything more? If so, you must be new to the slasher genre. But okay… Their peaceful holiday fun is short-lived. Kay (one of the four vacationers) has been experiencing horrifying nightmares and begins to sense that a malevolent presence is on the island and stalking them at every turn. Is she losing her mind, or are her childhood nightmares of a demonic assailant coming to terrifying life? The answer to this question isn’t really important. A body count is a body count.

I must admit to being somewhat disappointed by this film. For one thing, the “twist ending” wasn’t really very effective and was incredibly predictable. Worse, J.S. Cardone doesn’t seem to have even a rudimentary knowledge of how to build suspense or maintain a consistent tone. These two skills are essential to the construction of any horror movie. Needless to say, The Slayer isn’t one of the better eighties slasher titles—but it does make for interesting viewing if you happen to have a special fondness for the genre. My advice is to gather the wittiest of your friends together so that you can all make fun of the movie (sort of like a makeshift Mystery Science Theatre 3000). This will ensure that everyone has a great time.

SS01

The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow Video houses the Blu-ray and DVD discs in a sturdy clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve featuring the choice of newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn and what is presumably the film’s original poster art. This reviewer prefers the original artwork to the new design, but it is always nice to have a choice. There is also an attractive booklet that features an appreciative essay by Lee Gambin entitled “‘If Someone Else Should Die before I Wake’… Demons and Dream Logic in ‘The Slayer.’” It makes for light but interesting reading and adds a bit of extra value to the package.

[Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

SS02

Picture Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow’s transfer was taken from a new 4K restoration and the result is simply the best that this film has ever looked. According to the transfer information included in Arrow’s collector’s booklet:

“The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution on a pin-registered Arri-scan at OCN Digital. The film was graded and restored on the Nucoda grading system at R3store Studios, London. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches and other instances of film wear were repaired or minimized through a combination of digital restoration tools and techniques…” –Collector’s Booklet

Their efforts were not in vain (although some might argue that other films deserve this kind of attention more than The Slayer). One can certainly see a dramatic difference when comparing this with previous home video releases. For one thing, this transfer looks much better in motion. The biggest issue here seems to be with consistency. Both the grain structure and the pictures clarity vary wildly throughout the film’s duration, which is probably an issue that was inherent in the source materials. However, there are times when it becomes rather difficult to determine the reason behind these weaknesses. Detail is rather remarkable throughout the film despite what might be described as a “noisy” grain structure, and colors are natural and vibrant in the tradition of the 1980s—which basically means that they are often intentionally lurid. Film damage has been diminished significantly and there aren’t any distracting age related anomalies to distract viewers.

SS03

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The original mono soundtrack was also given a restoration (which utilized the optical negative held at the BFI National Archive), and this cleaned up version of the films soundtrack is represented by a Linear PCM audio transfer. It is a surprisingly solid track that features robust low to mid-range sound that supports the film’s various elements nicely. Dialogue is clean and clear and the music and effects showcase a bit of depth. Anomalies such as pops, crackle, hums, and hisses have been eliminated. It isn’t the sort of polished track that high budget contemporary films enjoy, but it does represent the original source admirably.

SS04

Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

Audio Commentary with J.S. Cardone (writer/director), Carol Kottenbrook (actress) and Eric Weston (executive in charge of production)

The disc’s best commentary offering (assuming that the viewer listens to these tracks for actual information and not to hear the commentators make stupid wisecracks) is this track finds three key participants discussing the production. They are all somewhat in denial about the film that they have actually made as they are emphatic that while the film was influenced by the slasher genre, it is so much deeper because of the psychological aspects of the story. They are delusional. There is nothing terribly deep here (despite obvious pretentions throughout the film that attempt to convince the audience otherwise). The track was moderated by Ewan Cant and should please those who enjoyed the film.

Audio Commentary with The Hysteria Continues

Arrow also includes a track with ‘The Hysteria Continues’ (podcasters who covered the film in one of their episodes). They try very hard to relay pertinent theories about the film while keeping things light and humorous, but it all grows rather old pretty fast. Their insights aren’t particularly revelatory. The strongest attribute to this track is their rundown of the film’s release history.

Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer Robert Folk

This track is a sort of hybrid. It combines an interview/commentary with Robert Folk with what is essentially an isolated score. It should appeal to anyone who has an interest in the art of film scoring, but one wishes that it had been organized a bit differently. Instead of interspersing the interview with the music throughout the film, Arrow puts the interview at the beginning before the score takes over at approximately 50 minutes into the film. Unfortunately, the score doesn’t proceed until the end of the film. The regular soundtrack kicks in long before the track is over. This doesn’t really seem like the best way for these elements to be presented.

The Tybee Post Theater Experience:

Event Introduction – (02:38)

Audience Participation Track

Post Screening Q&A with Arledge Armenaki and Ewan Cant – (17:50)

You have to love an audience that has a personal connection to a film. They always treat it with a lot more love than it might actually deserve. This 3 piece supplement gives fans a glimpse of a screening of The Slayer held in the Tybee Post Theater and includes a short Introduction that doesn’t add much to the disc, an Audience Participation Track (so that fans can pretend they are watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show), and a Post Screening Q&A with Arledge Armenaki and Ewan Cant that actually provides something in the way of actual information (though not an overwhelming amount).

Nightmare Island: The Making of The Slayer – (52:24)

Nightmare Island is by far the most substantial and instructive of the supplemental offerings. The retrospective “making of” look at the film features interviews with J.S. Cardone (Writer/Director), William Ewing (Producer), Karen Grossman (Director of Photography), Robert Short (Special Effects and Make-up), Arledge Armenaki (2nd Unit DOP/Still Photographer), Carol Kottenbrook, Eric Weston, and Carl Kraines as they discuss their experiences on the production. It is nice to have their interviews edited into a proper documentary instead of simply including individual interviews on the disc. It makes for a much better and more organized experience.

Return to Tybee Island: The Locations of The Slayer – (13:18)

Return to Tybee Island features Arledge Armenaki as he revisits the various locations on Tybee Island, Georgia. It is a sort of guided tour (complete with low-fi shots similar to those featured in the film). Fans will be quite interested in this one.

Original Theatrical Trailer – (01:56)

This is really interesting and simultaneously upsetting. It seems like a huge error to utilize the Bernard Herrmann score for Vertigo on a film that couldn’t hope to live up to the wonderful Hitchcock classic. Actually, even mentioning that film in this review feels wrong somehow. Oh well. It’s certainly an interesting artifact from the film’s publicity campaign.

Still Gallery – (09:55)

The standard still gallery with quite a few interesting stills and other marketing elements are a nice way to round out the disc.

SS05
Final Words:

Throw away those truncated and old school “full screen” versions of The Slayer! Arrow has given the film a 4K restoration and the result is the definitive home video release of the film.

SS06