Blu-Ray Review: Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood


AmericanHP_AV043Having seen my share of horror oddities on TV, in theaters an via assorted video formats since the 1970’s (okay, late 60’s if you count those Chiller Theater and Creature Feature reruns), I have to say Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood is way up there as one of the more bizarrely unfocused storytelling-wise but visually striking genre films I can recall. Thanks to Arrow Video, the film has been lovingly restored and presented as one of the three films in its must-own American Horror Project Volume 1.

Director Christoper Speeth‘s unusual flick is a loosely (VERY loosely) plotted tale of a family who’s invested in a run-down carnival that has some pretty grim secrets underneath its dilapidated thrill rides. Some viewers may note slight similarities to Carnival of Souls, Night of the Living Dead and certain silent films the movie itself spotlights at certain moments. While the film does suffer from a number of continuity issues no editor could fix thanks to many shots being done in a single take, the production design and overall tone here makes this one well worth watching. Trust me, if the bizarre found object set design doesn’t hook you in, it’ll be the general weirdness and downbeat tone you can feel from the outset that work their magic on your eyes and brain. Did I mention you also get to see singing ghouls and cannibalism by said ghouls here? Nope? Well, yes indeed you do.
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Blu-Ray Review: The Premonition (1976)


 

AmericanHP_AV043As with The Witch Who Came From the Sea, the second film in Arrow Video’s mostly great American Horror Project Volume 1 collection isn’t really a traditional genre flick at all. Robert Allen Schnitzer‘s 1976 film, The Premonition is more of a visually intense psychological thriller with a supernatural theme running through it.

Don’t go into this one expecting gallons of blood and guts all over the walls and floors, folks. The film is a more deliberately paced thriller with a somewhat complex “child in danger” plot that seems to have been rewritten over another idea for a competent family drama of the week TV movie. Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: The Witch Who Came from the Sea

AmericanHP_AV043Arrow Video and MVD Visual are giving horror genre fans a true trio of rarely seen treat with its new American Horror Project series. Volume 1 (limited to only 3000 copies) contains three films from the 1970’s restored as best as possible and packed with loads of must-see bonuses that make this collection well worth the cost. Each of the films here is such a revelation of both great, bizarre and bad elements that I’ll be covering them in separate reviews starting with (in my opinion) is the best of the trio.

Matt Cimber‘s 1976 film The Witch Who Came From the Sea is both amazing and disturbing on a few levels. A startling performance by Millie Perkins (best known to classic film fans for The Diary of Anne Frank) and lovely cinematography by Dean Cundey make this one of those films that creeps up under your skin and stays there for a while. Molly (Perkins) watches her young nephews during the day, filling their heads with tales of their seaman grandfather’s heroic deeds and pumping them up with admiration for sports stars they see on TV. At night she works as a barmaid in a dockside dive, sometimes sleeping with her boisterous boss, Long John (Lonny Chapman). That’s not her biggest secret, however. She was a severely abused child who descended into a quiet madness during her years of torture who’s now a serial killer with specific men as her targets. Continue reading

Four More Arrow Video Releases Landing Soon

NikkatsuDG_AV037 Your movie collection is about to get four more titles larger thanks to Arrow Video’s upcoming releases though MVD Entertainment Group. January brings you Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 1 (1/26/16, $49.95 MSRP), a set of three films from the famed Japanese studio from directors Seijun Suzuki (Voice Without a Shadow), Toshio Masuda (Red Pier) and Buichi Saito (The Rambling Guitarist).

Hideaki Nitani,Yujiro Ishihara, and Akira Koabyashi  are the Diamond Guys represented in this first volume, so this set will be another essential for fans of Japanese cinema. This set also makes me wonder if there’s a Nikkatsu Diamond Gals series coming at some point as I can think of a few actresses who worked for the studio that merit a collection like this. Amusingly enough, as I was typing this, the mail arrived and yep, those Diamond Guys are nowhere. I know what I’m doing this evening, folks.
 

ShebaBaby_AV042February brings Pam Grier to you in fine form indeed, but don’t get any bad ideas, buster. William Girdler’s 1975 blaxploitation hit Sheba, Baby (2/9/2016) will set you straight for the more than reasonable price of $29.95 plus tax where applicable.

One of Pam’s three flicks from that busy year (the other two being Bucktown and Friday Foster, both of which really deserve the Arrow treatment along with an all-new interview with Pam on her magnificent body of work), this one’s probably the most noteworthy in my book. Word on the street is you’re going to get it or someone will give it to you but good (well, if you’re lucky, that is…).
 

PrayForDeath_AV039 Pray For Death ($29.95) also comes your way in February (2/16/2016) and if you’re into mid 80’s action flicks, this one’s got you name all over it in big neon letters. Martial arts star Sho Kosugi (Enter The Ninja) gets his kicks on some poor villainous dopes who try to ruin his American dream.

Revenge fans, take note: director Gordon Hessler (Scream and Scream Again) amps up the violence here with a killer finale that shows Sho showing up a bunch of baddies, badly maiming them to the point that the don’t need an ambulance at all, but a nice meat wagon to take what parts remain to the closest cannibal stew pot. Ouch.
 

AmericanHP_AV043Speaking of horrors, American Horror Project Volume 1 ($99.95) hits at the end of February (2/23/2016) in a limited edition of 3000 copies, bringing three restored and hard to find fright flicks to you… if you dare (or something like that).

Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood(1973), The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976), and The Premonition (1976) all get the 2K treatment and a wealth of special features horror film aficionados will appreciate. This series in particular piques my interest because there are plenty of films I can recall partially from my younger days that have yet to appear on a decent home video format in the US. Granted, some of those are in the public domain, but in pretty lousy condition. Having the fine folks at Arrow give these three oldies a new life is the best thing that’s happened to them in decades.