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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(Not So) Random Film of the Week: Humanoids From The Deep

Humanoids From the Deep MPIt’s pretty much a 60’s “B” flick dipped in the not for the kiddies gore and nudity of early 80’s slasher flicks. But on that level Humanoids of the Deep works. You’re pretty much getting The Horror of Party Beach and Creature From the Black Lagoon with a bit of actual horror, but the film is more notorious for its added in post-production scenes of icky, horny sea creatures molesting a few young actresses after whipping their bathing suits off. That caused a bit of a stir back when I saw this in 1980 with a few friends and I also recall a handful of people screaming and doing an exit dash at the film’s somewhat ALIEN-inspired final scene.

Back then I didn’t like the film all that much because of its extremes and that it felt like two different films crunched together at the expense of the better one. But over time it’s become something of a mash-up of intentional and unintentional comedy, eyeball-rolling “shock” scenes and yes, well-known cast members who didn’t realize they’d be starring in a rather mean-spirited exploitation moneymaker that would garner a loyal fan base. For me it’s more of a great guilty pleasure when I look at it now. Albeit with a big blood red caution buoy in the water if you’re squeamish or easily annoyed by gore and gratuitous nudity in a “roughie” manner.

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Random Film of the Week(end), Too: Battle Beyond The Stars

 

BBTS_posterAfter Star Wars was released and hit it huge at the box office, nearly every sci-fi film made afterward during the next decade plus was immediately (and unfortunately) compared to it. This bit of mental short-handing by critics, fans and other detractors with short attention spans may have been correct about most of these films’ characters, visual effects and overall designs being influenced by the art direction and effects found in George Lucas’ movie, but in terms of story, well… that’s where some needed their heads handed to them. That easily digestible tale of mystic good versus mystic evil in an epic fantasy/space opera lite setting was cut from the cloth of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials, assorted WWII movies (The Dam Busters, 633 Squadron and others) and most importantly, a great “little” film by Akira Kurosawa called Hidden Fortress (which SHOULD be a RFoTW, but I haven’t gotten around to seeing it again).

In fact, Kurosawa’s films have formed the basis of a few important American and international film hits, and if you poke around enough, you’ll see (and be surprised) that some of your own favorites started life as Kurosawa projects. Probably his best known film (at least here in the US), Seven Samurai was reworked into a few films over the years as The Magnificent Seven and this particularly cool 1980 sci-fi sleeper produced by Roger Corman and directed by Jimmy T. Murakami. As fun as Lucas’ flick was, as a lower budgeted quickie, Battle Beyond The Stars manages to be its equal in a few small areas and actually surpasses it in at least one surprising manner… Continue reading