Blu-Ray Review: The Bloodstained Butterfly

the-bloodstained-butterfly-av063Duccio Tessari’s 1971 thriller The Bloodstained Butterfly is a great entry point to the genre for those squeamish viewers curious about gialli but not willing to commit to the more violent entries known to more ardent fans. The film is part murder mystery, part courtroom drama and part revenge flick, all stylishly shot and scored to excellent effect.

It’s also a bit of a slow fuse to its conclusion, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The film’s structure where a murder is committed and witnessed, a suspect is caught, tried and jailed, but more murders take place is yes, pure TV drama stuff you’ll see on way too many episodes of whatever Law & Order series you’ve been hooked on for who knows how long. But, Tessari’s confident style comes through in every shot, making for a highly watchable viewing experience.

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Blu-Ray Review: Blood & Black Lace

blood-and-black-lace-mvd7206brThe words “Perfect” and “Essential” don’t often get tossed around here, but both describe Arrow Video’s stunning Blu-Ray of Mario Bava’s influential horror masterpiece, 1964’s Blood and Black Lace. If you consider yourself at all a horror fan, this one’s a no brainer BUY for your library or a great gift for that horror fan in your life who’s never seen Bava’s beautiful ballet of brutality.

From the eye-popping 2K restoration to every single bonus feature on the Blu-Ray, this set’s great for anyone who wants to see a truly great pre-giallo work that inspired many directors to play with elements found here and in Bava’s earlier The Girl Who Knew Too Much, a lesser, but still important work from a year earlier.

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When models start getting killed in and around the Cristiana Haute Couture fashion house, the hunt is on for the masked killer and pretty much everyone is a suspect… that is, until the suspects start getting killed off. The film throws around its gorgeous use of color, stylized violence, rich soundtrack and a bottle full of vintage bubbly paranoia quite well, cooking up implausibilities as a good giallo should.

 

 

Somehow, the killer is in more than one place! Explained! How did that one person know so much about the SECRET diary? Explained! What’s up with the fuss over one girl having a shady boyfriend into drugs? EX-PLAINED! Well, sort of. Anyway, the film hits you with a lot of information at a mostly rapid-fire pace and Bava’s assured direction gets his vision onscreen at full tilt guaranteed to keep you glued to your seat until the bitter end.

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On Der Backlog: More Movies Than You Can Stick A Shake At

mo_movies_mo_reviewsGah. More stuff to review, but not review in a few cases where that homework was already done. I did a few of these already based off of TCM showing them during the wee hours, so I’ll only need to do five of eight. Five of these are from Severin Films’ big sale last month after their publishing rights expired for Horror Express, The Baby, Bloody Birthday, The House of Seven Corpses, and Psychomania. I actually thought I’d reviewed HotSC already, but can’t locate the review, so I guess it’s one I dreamed I wrote or something. No big deal, as I’ve seen this enough to tap out impressions in my sleep.

Vamp is yet another Arrow Video screener I need to get to, Just Desserts I’ve seen already and need to write up (it’s brilliant), and MVD Visual sent over this lovely Unearthed Francesca set that includes a Blu-Ray/DVD and soundtrack from this recent retro giallo that, based on the trailer I just watched, REALLY looks as it was made in the 70’s.  Anyway back in a bit with a review of something NOT here I think you’ll like.

-GW

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October’s Arrows Draw PLENTY of Blood

Only three releases next month, but one is a SUPER biggie. That said, getting that that particular Arrow Video October release will be tough as hell for some budget-minded collectors unless they score a great online deal. Anyway, here’s what’s coming up soon:

vamp_av067Vamp [Blu-ray] (October 4th, $29.95 MSRP)

THE FIRST KISS COULD BE YOUR LAST!

Two fraternity pledges head to a seedy part of town to find some entertainment for their college friends but are faced with bloodthirsty vampires! Keith (Chris Makepeace, Meatballs) and AJ (Robert Rusler, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge) want to make the right impression at college and so they devise a plan to get them into the best frathouse on campus. They head to the After Dark Club where they want to find a stripper for a party their friends won’t forget, instead they find themselves among vampires led by Kinky Katrina (Grace Jones, A View to a Kill)!

Almost certainly an influence on From Dusk til Dawn, Vamp is superbly designed by many of Grace Jones’ own award-winning collaborators and features stunning effects by four-time Oscar winner Greg Cannom (The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Dracula). Delivering laughs and scares in equal measure, with the added bonus of vampy sex appeal, Vamp is a comedy horror romp with real bite!

Bonus Materials
– High Definition digital transfer
– Original mono audio
– Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– One of those Nights: The Making of Vamp – a brand new documentary featuring interviews with director Richard Wenk, stars Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe
– Behind-the-scenes rehearsals
– Blooper Reel
– Image gallery
– Dracula Bites the Big Apple (1979) – Richard Wenk’s celebrated short film
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
– First pressing only: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Cullen Gallagher

More below the jump (MUCH more!)… Continue reading

Arrow Video September: Back to Film School With An Unholy Trio of Horror Flicks

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Ah, September. Kids are back in school whining, parents still daily grinding it to make ends meet, pets being pets and not knowing what the hell time it is but play/sleep/eat time. You’re bored already, right? Well, looky here, lazybones: Arrow Video US and MVD Entertainment have got your back with a trio (that’s three, oh?) of horror flicks for your viewing displeasure. So, roll up the kids in a rug and send them to gramma’s place – it’s about to get steamy inside (well, if you keep the windows closed and a scream too much):

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Dead-End Drive-In [Blu-ray] (September 20th)

THE PRICE OF ADMISSION IS THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

One of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite directors, Brian Trenchard-Smith was a key figure in the Ozploitation movement, responsible for The Man from Hong Kong, Stunt Rock, Turkey Shoot, BMX Bandits… and dystopian cult classic Dead-End Drive-In!

Set in a near-future where the economy has crumbled and violent gangs play havoc in the streets, the powers-that-be have decided to lure the delinquent youth into drive-in cinemas and keep them there. No longer just a place to watch trashy movies and make out, these outdoor picture shows have become concentration camps for the unruly and unwanted.

With its day-glo color scheme, new wave soundtrack and extraordinary stunt work, Dead-End Drive-In is in the tradition of Ozploitation milestones Mad Max and The Cars That Ate Paris only very, very eighties.

Bonus Materials
* Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
* High Definition (1080p) Presentation
* Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
* Audio commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith
* The Stuntmen, Trenchard Smith’s classic television documentary on Grant Page (Mad Max, Road Games) and other Australian stunt performers
* Hospitals Don’t Burn Down, Trenchard-Smith’s 1978 public information film told in pure Ozploitation fashion
* Behind-the-scenes gallery by graffiti artist Vladimir Cherepanoff
* Theatrical Trailer
* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon

Hey! You’re not done reading and I’m not done cutting and pasting! Siddown and see what else is on the plate, mate.

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Arrow Video August Releases: Double Dog Dare Days Ahead

Just two titles for August, but that’s fine by me. My backlog is big enough that I’m comfortable being uncomfortable with next month’s Arrows arriving in time for me to finish up half the ton of stuff on my plate. Let’s get to it, then -it’s hot as hell outside and I do need to go out and get some solar rays cooking up post ideas.

Amusingly enough, a little home cooking is the subject of our first film…

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Microwave Massacre [Blu-Ray + DVD] (August 16th, MSRP $34.95):

THEY CAME FOR DINNER…TO FIND THEY WERE IT!!

Microwave Massacre stars legendary stand-up comedian and actor Jackie Vernon as Donald, a disgruntled construction worker whose wife’s predilection for haute cuisine drives him to cannibalism.

Donald unwittingly stumbles upon a solution to his two major problems in his life – his nagging wife and his lack of decent meals – when, one night, he bludgeons his better half to death with a pepper grinder in a drunken rage. Thinking on his feet, Donald dismembers the body and sets about microwaving the remains, which turn out to be rather delicious. Trouble is, now he has a taste for human flesh that needs satisfying…

Eschewing all notions of good taste, Wayne Berwick’s Microwave Massacre is a deliciously depraved exercise in political incorrectness that has gone on to gain a cult following thanks to a characteristically deadpan performance from Vernon, who delivers such choice lines as “I’m so hungry I could eat a whore.” Vegetarians need not apply!

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
– Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
– Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Brand new audio commentary with writer-producer Craig Muckler, moderated by Mike Tristano
– Brand new making-of featurette including interviews with Muckler, director Wayne Berwick and actor Loren Schein
– Trailer
– Original treatment and 8-page synopsis (BD/DVD-ROM content)
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter

Oops. I should have noted this one was a bit of an icky Blue Plate Special. Well, it’s too late – eat up! OR ELSE…

Oh, by the way… look out below!

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Arrow Video UK Sale: Build A Wall of Cult Flicks To Keep You Indoors For The Long Haul

ARROW UK SALE
 

Well, this is pretty cool if you’re a collector with an all-region Blu-Ray/DVD player who wants to beef up your library with some sharp Arrows. CLICK HERE and make with the wallet noises. If you’re outside the UK, shipping will be a kick in the head, but the discounts are worth it for the films in the catalog US fans of Arrow haven’t yet seen. Hell, I’d buy everything on that list if I had the scratch handy. Act fast, though – the sale ends July 11.

Blu-Ray Review: Black Mama, White Mama

BMWM_AV041Okay, it was Pam Grier‘s birthday last week and I only know this because I overheard some OG’s doing some paper bag stoop drinking talking about the lady today while I was out shopping. They were trying to recall the names of two movies she was in back before she became a bigger name star and you better believe yours truly stepped in to inform them HIT MAN and Black Mama, White Mama were the movies they were looking for.

I don’t think I’d seen a more grateful group of old guys since Prohibition ended and even better, when I told them both movies had been restored and can be bought online AND they both pop up on TCM on occasion, I ended up getting a free beer for that information. Yes, it was still sealed – I don’t do that passing around stuff with former total strangers. Unless it’s some Thunderbird or Night Train. That stuff can kill germs from 50 paces and tastes like someone put a heaping spoonful of sugar into a pint of paint thinner (yum!).

Anyway, I got back home, tossed the groceries I’d bought aside like Frank Cannon used to do on that old CBS show (much to the surprise of the groceries) and got to this review of Arrow Video’s chock full of fun Blu-Ray released a little while back. Black Mama, White Mama is an excellent exploitation flick with Grier and the still stunning Margaret Markov that takes the plot of The Defiant Ones, adds a dash of Caged!, and sets the whole shebang in the (literally and figuratively) steamy Philippines (doubling for a never-named Latin dictatorship of some sort). The results are a sexy, sassy potboiler/revenge flick complete with copious female nudity, sudden (but expected) violence, and the always entertaining Sid Haig in a colorful role as a really bad man. Continue reading

Arrow Video July Releases: Hot Summer Nights, Indeed

While there are only a mere three releases in July from Arrow Video through MVD Entertainment, they’re all worth nabbing thanks to being a nice set of eclectic films to watch. Amusingly enough, all are about women in trouble and/or various states of undress for plot purposes (of course). A classic sex comedy, a weird, unintentionally funny sex drama, and a killer Japanese film set that’s one of the ultimate revenge flick compilations of the era all await your eager eyeballs and shelf space.

The Swinging Cheerleaders AV058First up: on July 5th, say hello to The Swinging Cheerleaders (MSRP $34.95, Blu-ray + DVD, MVD Shop or Amazon pre-order)

They gave it all for their team…

 

Jack Hill spent the seventies specializing in tough female characters. He made movies about girl gangs (Switchblade Sisters) and women in prison (The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage), turned Pam Grier a star with Coffy and Foxy Brown, and contributed to the Cheerleaders line of drive-in favorites with The Swinging Cheerleaders.

 

Kate, an undergraduate at Mesa University, goes undercover as a cheerleader for her college newspaper in order to expose ‘female exploitation in contemporary society’. But instead of oppression she finds love, friendship and a bigger fish to fry: corruption in the football team, headed up by the coach and his pals.

 

A favorite of Quentin Tarantino, who screened it at the very first Tarantino Film Fest, The Swinging Cheerleaders features a cast of cult favorites including Colleen Camp (Wayne’s World, Game of Death), Rainbeaux Smith (Caged Heat, The Incredible Melting Man) and future Playmate of the Month Rosanne Katon.

 

BONUS MATERIALS
– Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
– High Definition (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD Presentations
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– Audio commentary by writer-director Jack Hill, recorded exclusively for this release
– Brand new interview with Jack Hill
– Archive interview with cinematographer Alfred Taylor
– Archive interview with Hill and Johnny Legend
– Q&A with Hill, and actors Colleen Camp and Rosanne Katon recorded at the New Beverly Cinema in 2012
– TV spots
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
– Illustrated booklet containing new writing by Cullen Gallagher (first pressing only)

 

But wait, there’s more!
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Arrow Video June Releases: Blu-Rays of Sun For Your Collection

Arrow Video is set to heat up your June with four more video releases through MVD Entertainment Group, all worth a buy for collectors and film buffs with a taste for the intriguing. Let’s take a look at what’s coming soon:

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Vol. 2 AV038 Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 2 (June 14, $49.95) rolls up first and looks to be the perfect companion piece to the first three-film set. Akira Kobayashi (Tokyo Mighty Guy), and Jo Shishido (Danger Pays, Murder Unincorporated) are the featured actors in this trio of films that like the first Diamond Guys, is limited to 3000 sets. The first collection was a nice set of surprises, so expectations are high for this one to be equally fun and revealing.

Bonus Materials

  • Limited Edition Blu-ray collection (3000 copies)
  • High Definition digital transfers of all three films in this collection, from original film elements by Nikkatsu Corporation
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
  • Original uncompressed mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • Specially recorded video discussions with Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp on Diamond Guys Jo Shishido and Akira Kobayashi
  • Original trailers for all three films
  • Extensive promotional image galleries for all films
  • Reversible sleeve featuring brand new artwork by Graham Humphreys
  • Booklet featuring new writing on all the films and director profiles by Stuart Galbraith IV, Tom Mes and Mark Schilling

Three more below the jump, so JUMP! Continue reading