By Bryan Theiss
This week’s new arrivals include a special edition of one of the best horror movies of the 2010s (and its prequel), two movies about the British rock ’n roll scene, a whole bunch of Donald Pleasence, the animated family hit of the Covid-19 era, ten films by Japanese innovator Shinya Tsukamoto, four collaborations between Italian genre director Umberto Lenzi and actress Carroll Baker, Rock Hudson in 3D, and much more. You can rent them all by mail or from our pickup window.
A magician is targeted by a magic-themed serial killer in this homage to ‘70s giallo films.
AMERICAN RICKSHAW (1989)
A Miami college student teams with a witch and a stripper to clear his name when he’s framed for the murder of an evangelist’s son. Directed by Sergio Martino (Torso).
Mexican horror film about a detective investigating a school massacre who meets a Vatican priest who believes an ancient demon is involved. Released by Shudder.
BLACK RAINBOW (1989)
Rosanna Arquette and Jason Robards star as a psychic and her skeptic father in a supernatural thriller written and directed by Mike Hodges (Get Carter, Croupier, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead). Arrow’s director-approved special edition includes a new restoration from the original negative, new commentary by film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan, archival commentary by Hodges, archival interviews, featurettes and documentary.
BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948) (WARNER ARCHIVE)
A gunslinging drifter (Robert Mitchum) is torn between greed and conscience when he realizes the job he took is a setup to swindle a rancher out of his livestock. Then he falls for the rancher’s daughter (Barbara Bel Geddes). Directed by Robert Wise (The Sound of Music).
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
COME AND SEE (1985) (CRITERION)
A teenage boy finds an old rifle and joins the Soviet resistance to stop the Nazis invading his Belorussian village. In his 4-star review, Roger Ebert wrote, “It’s said that you can’t make an effective anti-war film because war by its nature is exciting, and the end of the film belongs to the survivors. No one would ever make the mistake of saying that about Elem Klimov’s Come and See. This 1985 film from Russia is one of the most devastating films ever about anything, and in it, the survivors must envy the dead.”
Criterion’s edition is a new 2K digital restoration with new and archival interviews with cinematographer Roger Deakins, director Klimov, his brother German Klimov, actor Alexei Kravchenko and production designer Viktor Petrov, a 1985 making-of short, and Flaming Memory, a three-film documentary series from 1975-1977 featuring firsthand accounts of survivors of the WWII genocide in Belorussia.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (1961)
American and Soviet nuclear blasts knock the earth off its axis, sending it hurtling toward the sun and causing heat, floods and chaos around the world in the disaster classic from director Val Guest (The Quatermass Xperiment). New 4K master, audio commentaries by Guest and film historian Richard Harland Smith, TV and radio spots.
DREAM DEMON (1988) (2 VERSIONS)
A young bride-to-be experiences strange nightmares in her new London home in this mix of psychological horror and practical gore effects from director Harley Cokeliss (Battletruck Black Moon Rising, Malone). New 2K restoration, director commentary interviews with director, cast members, producer and composer and making-of documentary. Includes both the original theatrical release and a director’s cut.
FLAME OF NEW ORLEANS (1941)
A broke 18th century countess (Marlene Dietrich) moves to New Orleans and gets engaged to a guy with some money (Roland Young), but has second thoughts when she meets a dashing captain (Bruce Cabot) in this romantic comedy from director Rene Clair (I Married a Witch). With commentary by film historians Lee Gambin and Rutanya Alda.
FLESH AND THE FIENDS (1960) (2 VERSIONS)
Peter Cushing plays a surgeon in 1827 Edinburgh who thinks he can advance medicine by practicing vivisection on cadavers he buys from grave robbers Burke and Hare (George Rose and Donald Pleasence), until he realizes those rascals ran out of graves and started creating their own corpses. New 2K master with commentary by film historian Tim Lucas and alternate cut The Fiendish Ghouls.
THE FREAKMAKER (1972)
A mad geneticist (Donald Peasence) kidnaps students, experiments on them, crossbreeds them with plants, then gives them to a circus sideshow. This was not what they had in mind for their college years, and they’re not going to stand for it. Directed by Jack Cardiff (cinematographer of The African Queen).
GO GO MANIA (1965)
A rollicking British music revue film with sixteen acts including The Beatles, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Herman’s Hermits, The Spencer Davis Group, and Donald Pleasence. (Okay, maybe not the last one.) With new commentary by author Bryan Reesman and songwriter/author Jeff Slate.
GUN FURY (1953) (3DBLU / BLU-RAY)
Rock Hudson stars as a man left for dead after a stagecoach robbery who sets out to rescue his girlfriend (Donna Reed) and let the robbers know he doesn’t appreciate what they did. This revenge western from director Raoul Walsh (White Heat, The Tall Men) was actually shot in 3D! You’ll need the right equipment to watch it that way, but this also rents with a 2D version on standard blu-ray.
(3D Blu-Ray with standard Blu-Ray)
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (1952) (WARNER ARCHIVE)
Danny Kaye stars in the fantasy musical about the great Danish children’s writer. Directed by Charles Vidor (Gilda).
HOPE GAP (2019)
After 29 years of marriage, Grace (Annette Bening) is left by her husband (Bill Nighy) and finds it’s never too late to be happy.
INFERNO OF TORTURE (1969)
Arrow films says that “Tender romance clashes with vile sadism as a sea of tattooed female flesh floods nearly every frame of this film depicting Japan’s Edo period as only [Horrors of Malformed Men director Teruo] Ishii could.” Includes audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes and condensed Erotic Grotesque Nonsense & the Foundations of Japan’s Cult Counterculture lecture by Jasper Sharp.
KNIFE OF ICE (1972)
Umberto Lenzi (Cannibal Ferox) directs Carroll Baker as a mute woman who hosts her famous singer cousin (Evelyn Stewart) at her home in the Pyrenees while a serial killer is picking off the locals. This is one of four films from Severin’s new limited edition box set The Complete Lenzi-Baker Giallo Collection. Includes interviews with Lenzi and Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower on “Carroll and Umberto’s Final Stab.”
KOTOKO (2011) / KILLING (2018)
From Arrow Films’ Solid Metal Nightmares box set comes this pair of later films by cult Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo the Iron Man). Kotoko features (and was co-written by) J-pop star Cocco as a troubled singer who starts a volatile relationship with a novelist played by Tsukamoto himself. Killing is a samurai film, the director’s most recent feature, in its video debut. With audio commentaries by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes.
“In an audacious feat of cinematic bricolage, Jess Franco utilized footage from three decades of filming to craft a unique story that pays homage to the morbid poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, while indulging the director’s personal obsessions.” Also known as Revenge in the House of Usher. With commentary track by film historian Tim Lucas.
OFFSPRING (2009) (LIMITED EDITION)
You may have seen the 2011 modern horror classic The Woman (also available in a new special edition this week), but did you know it was a spin-off of an earlier film? Pollyanna McIntosh was so great as the nameless feral cannibal woman in this (admittedly lesser) adaptation of the Jack Ketchum novel that Lucky McKee and Ketchum made a whole other movie about her. This Arrow Films limited edition disc has a new 4K restoration with a new commentary by director Andrew van den Houten, an older one with van den Houten and Ketchum, new and old interviews, documentaries and promotional webisodes.
ORGASMO (1969) (2 VERSIONS)
American actress Carroll Baker (Baby Doll, How the West Was Won) kicked off a new career in Italian films after starring in director Umberto Lenzi’s giallo about a wealthy American widow who gets into trouble letting a couple into her Italian villa. This disc from Severin’s limited edition box set The Complete Lenzi-Baker Giallo Collection includes audio commentaries by author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Mondo Digital’s Nathaniel Thompson with author Troy Howarth, an interview with Lenzi, and the X-rated U.S. version Paranoia.
THE PRINCE (2019)
A homoerotic prison drama set in Chile in the ‘70s. Includes deleted scenes and interviews with director Sebastián Muñoz and the cast.
A young NASA scientist investigating a meteor crash is abducted by aliens and wakes up three days later without memories of the incident – but with some pretty great footage on his camera! Wade Major of NPR’s FilmWeek says, “It’s a pretty solid, straightforward chase scenario and, as much as you tell yourself that it’s dumb, it keeps its grip on you.”
A QUIET PLACE TO KILL (1970)
Carroll Baker stars as a race car driver who’s having some troubles and goes to stay with her ex-husband on his estate. She becomes pals with his new wife and the two of them decide to kill him. This disc from Severin’s limited edition box set The Complete Lenzi-Baker Giallo Collection includes commentary by critic Samm Deighan, interview with director Umberto Lenzi, and alternate and deleted scenes.
RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE (1958) (WARNER ARCHIVE)
Real life married couple Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall play London aristocrats trying to introduce their American-educated teen (Sandra Dee) to upper class society and hook her up with a rich kid. But she’s got her eye on a different guy (John Saxon from Enter the Dragon!). Also starring Angela Lansbury, and directed by Vincente Minelle (Meet Me in St. Louis).
ROBERT THE BRUCE (2019)
Angus Macfadyen portrays the titular Scottish king (who he also played in Braveheart) as he’s injured and on the run, taking shelter with a widow and her family. Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times wrote, “[Bruce’s] joints may be stiffer than his resolve; but, in placing the warrior temporarily aside, Macfadyen and his director have helped us more clearly to see the man.”
SILENT WITNESS: SEASON 19 (3 DISKS)
Another season of the BBC crime drama about forensic pathologists solving crimes.
SLAY THE DRAGON (2019)
Documentary about a high tech gerrymandering scheme and the people fighting to stop it. Variety say it’s “The most important political film of the year, and it may prove to be one of the key political films of the decade.”
Max von Sydow stars in Dario Argento’s film about a police detective coming out of retirement to catch a serial killer who resurfaces after 17 years. Includes new interviews with Argento and other crew members and commentary by film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson.
A SNAKE OF JUNE (2002) / VITAL (2004)
Two more films by director Shinya Tsukamoto. The first is about a couple exploring their sexuality, and is shot in black and white tinted blue. The other is about a medical student who loses his girlfriend and his memory in a car accident, and tries to piece together his past while dissecting a body in school. With audio commentaries by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes.
SO SWEET…SO PERVERSE (1969)
A married rich guy (Jean-Louis Trintignant) gets involved with a young woman (Carroll Baker), not realizing she and her abusive boyfriend are planning to kill him. This disc from Severin’s limited edition box set The Complete Lenzi-Baker Giallo Collection finds director Umberto Lenzi borrowing elements from Diaboliques. With audio commentary by author Kat Ellinger, 1999 conversation with Lenzi and interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi.
THE SONG OF SONGS (1933)
Marlene Dietrich falls in love with a sculptor who’s more committed to his art in this tearjerker from director Rouben Mamoulian (The Mark of Zorro). With commentary by film historian David Del Valle.
SORRY WE MISSED YOU (2019)
The latest film from director Ken Loach (Land and Freedom, The Wind that Shakes the Barley) explores the exploitation of the gig economy through the story of a British couple struggling to provide for their family with a delivery driver job. Includes commentary with Loach and writer Paul Laverty, deleted scenes and making-of documentary. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post called it an “absorbing and ultimately shattering portrayal of the costs of a late-capitalist system obsessed with convenience, efficiency and nanosecond precision.”
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
STREAMLINERS COLLECTION V.2: THE WESTERNS
“Streamliners” are producer Hal Roach’s 1940s innovation of films shorter than features but longer than shorts (usually around 45 minutes). This collection includes three westerns, Dudes Are Pretty People (1942), Calaboose (1943) and Prairie Chickens (1943).
STREAMLINERS COLLECTION V.3: THE TAXI COMEDIES
William Bendix and Joe Sawyer star as Brooklyn cabbie Tim McGuerin and his buddy Eddie in this trio of streamliner comedies, Brooklyn Orchid (1942), The McGuerins from Brooklyn (1942) and Taxi, Mister (1943).
TEN LITTLE INDIANS (1989)
Late ‘80s version of the Agatha Christie classic (specifically based on her 1943 stage adaptation, and using her climax almost verbatim) stars (of course) Donald Pleasence, Frank Stallone, Brenda Vaccaro and Herbert Lom. New 2K master from Kino-Lorber.
TETSUO: THE IRON MAN (1989) / TETSUO II (1992)
The bizarre black and white cyberpunk body horror blast that put director Shinya Tsukamoto on the map, along with its bigger budget sequel. Includes new commentaries by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes.
THAT’LL BE THE DAY (1973)
David Essex, Ringo Starr and Keith Moon star in a gritty drama said to be the best depiction of the British rock scene in the ‘50s, inspired by the early life of John Lennon. With new commentary by author Bryan Reesman.
TOKYO FIST (1995) / BULLET BALLET (1998)
Two more Shinya Tsukamoto films – one about boxing and body modification, the other about a suicidal man who gets into a gang war trying to get a gun to kill himself with. With audio commentaries by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes.
TROLLS WORLD TOUR (DANCE PARTY EDITION)
I think you’re familiar with these guys – they have big hair, they are fuzzy, they apparently enjoy different styles of music? The “VIP Bonus Features” of the “Dance Party Edition” include “Dance Party Mode – Learn dance moves, sing along, enjoy surprises and more!” and “exclusive original short” Tiny Diamond Goes Back To School.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) (CRITERION)
The H.G. Wells sci-fi classic with Oscar winning FX by George Pal lands in a new 4K restoration. Includes a 2005 commentary by Gremlins director Joe Dante, film historian/collector Bob Burns and author Bill Warren, 1970 audio interview with Pal, the famous Orson Welles radio adaptation of the book, a 1940 radio discussion between Welles and Wells, new programs about the sound effects and the restoration (both featuring Star Wars sound effects genius Ben Burtt) and an optional alternate soundtrack created by Burtt.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
THE WOMAN (2011) (SPECIAL EDITION)
One of the best horror films of the ‘10s gets a well-deserved special edition. Lucky McKee (May) directed this disturbing allegory about a seemingly nice country lawyer (Sean Bridgers) who discovers a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh – Jadis from The Walking Dead) in the woods while hunting, and decides to capture and “civilize” her. The movie not only holds up, but proves to have been ahead of the curve in its depiction of misogyny and cruelty politely passed down through generations. Arrow’s new 4K restoration includes three new commentaries with McKee, McIntosh and critic Scott Weinberg, an archival McKee commentary, a 75 minute behind-the-scenes documentary made by McKee’s dad, interviews, featurettes, deleted scenes, short film, music video, 2011 panel discussion, and more.
ZOMBIE FOR SALE (2019)
A family of hustlers living in a gas station find a zombie escaped from pharmaceutical company experiments. His bite seems to have reinvigorating powers, so they rent him out as a fountain of youth. Korean horror comedy includes a Q&A with director Lee Min-jae, English language commentary with film critics, video essay and more.