Ninja Nope

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Ha! Unholy masters of unintentional comic relief, if you ask me.

 

Confession time, again. I was never much into the whole ninja craze that hit America in the 80’s and despite oh, 30+ years of trying to watch a chunk of these films, they just bounce off my imagination like bullets off Superman’s chest. Sorry, but the sight of some guy in black or white pajamas throwing down a smoke bomb and a handful of sharpened jacks just makes me chuckle to on end. Give an American ninja a deck of Hanafuda cards and he’d still be a joke shilling 3-card monte on a street corner somewhere in Baltimore.

Granted, the films I’m referring to are primarily American-made and very intentionally cheesy (even if they try too damn hard to be serious). I’ve seen a few Asian ninja flicks that I vaguely recall being “okay” in that “Well, it’s made over there, so it’s not so bad” manner one says as he politely dismisses more guys in their pajamas tossing pointy metal stars and throwing gravel in the faces of their enemies as they make a clean getaway (snicker!). Yeah, I just think the whole idea of stealthy assassins dropping in on a catered or any affair to bump off some poor sap(s) is prime hilarity more than any actual threat.

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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.