Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pray for Death (1985, Gordon Hessler)

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Anyone who knows anything about Ninja cinema, knows Sho Kosugi. The martial artist/actor who came to prominence in the 80s with Cannon films' Ninja trilogy (Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination) was untouchable when it came to over the top, violent, gory martial arts films. Arrow Video's new release of the 1985 classic Pray for Death is no exception.
In this film, Kosugi plays Akira Saito, a Japanese businessman who, unbeknownst to his wife and two sons (played by his real life sons Kane and Shane), also happens to be a ninja. Saito's wife talks him into moving to the USA, where he opens up a Japanese restaurant. Unfortunately, some mobsters also happen to use the restaurant's back room as a place to deal drugs and stolen jewelry. After a crooked cop steals the mob's goods, Saito is blamed and is thrust into a one man war that requires his secret skills.
Pray for Death is as gory, sleazy and fun as any 80's Ninja film you're going to find. Kosugi kicks major ass and spills blood at every chance. The film is filled with colorful characters, including good cop Lt. Anderson (Norman Burton), kind old timer Sam Green (Parley Baer), crime boss Mr. Newman (Michael Constantine) and James Booth as what is probably the greatest villain name ever in the history of the world - Limehouse Willie. Willie is a nasty bastard who gets his jollies from killing and Booth's portrayal is hilariously sadistic. Though the story is fairly simple and predictable, the stunt work is top notch and the action doesn't let up. This film fits well with the many martial arts films of the time and Arrow's release is another small miracle. Featuring the rarely seen uncut version (as well as the original R rated version), this disc is really special. Also including some great extras featuring Sho Kosugi and a nice booklet that makes Arrow's discs stand out from the rest. My only one gripe is that the scenes originally cut from the R rated version look a little washed out and dark compared to the rest of the beautiful transfer, but I'd much rather they were here than not and praise Arrow for including them.
Bonus Features include:
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a transfer of original elements by MGM
-R-rated and Unrated Versions
-Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
-Brand new interview with star Sho Kosugi
-Archive interview and Ninjutsu demonstration with Kosugi from the film's New York premiere
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
Purchase this film directly from MVD HERE




Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Mutilator (1984, Buddy Cooper)

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Just when I thought there can't be any more 80's slasher films I haven't seen, a great company like Arrow surprises me. The Mutilator, (originally titled Fall Break) is one such title. An obscure, zero budget film whose cover art no doubt lured many video fans to check it out, hoping for something as good (and gory) as Friday the 13th, Halloween or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I wish I could go back in time and see how this film would have stacked up back then to a young, virginal, horror lover. Now I definitely wouldn't call this film a classic like the other films mentioned, but it does have some things going for it.
The Mutilator tells the tale of young Bill, a boy who decides he'll make his dad happy by shining his shotgun for him. But whoops, he accidentally blows his mother away which causes his father to snap. Several years later, Bill gets a random call from his dad at a bar (did his dad know he frequented this bar?) to come and get his beach side house ready for the winter. So Bill's friends talk him into letting them come along for a road trip. Unfortunately, Bill's dad is still there...waiting.
First of all, I have to ask. Is Fall Break a thing? I've heard of Spring Break, Winter Break and Summer Break. But Fall Break? Is it like Thanksgiving break? I don't know why it even matters because nothing in this damn movie makes any sense. Why would a group of kids want to travel to a beach house in fall when it's too cold to go swimming? Oh wait, there is a random pool there with a heated bubble over it! That explains it. And why would Bill's dad lure his son to be slaughtered after years of being a highly functioning alcoholic who regularly hangs out with his drinking/hunting buddies? I can't answer these questions, but there is one question you are probably wondering that I can answer. Why should I watch this film? Well the answer is - GORE! For all of the film's nonsensical shortcomings, the gorey bits are expertly done by makeup maestro Mark Shostrom (Evil Dead 2, Nightmare on Elm St). Not to say that's ALL it has going for it. The characters are goofy and though I wouldn't call them loveable (or really even likeable), I didn't hate them. That's good, right? Above all though, this film is a perfect example of a first (and only) time film maker, getting some money together with a bunch of first (and only) time "actors" (or relatives as half of the people have the same last name as the director) and making a fun, silly horror movie. That's all it is, that's all it should be and if you take it seriously then you are missing the point.
Arrow's Blu Ray/DVD combo features pretty much everything you could ever want to know about The Mutilator. Interviews with pretty much everyone involved, commentaries, a neat booklet, great artwork...it's all here (and more). The picture quality is beyond amazing for such a low budget film and Arrow should be commended for doing this type of work on such a niche title. Full list of extras below:

Bonus Features include:

-Brand new 2K restoration of the unrated version from original vault materials
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
-Original mono 1.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray
-Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
-Introduction to the film with writer-director Buddy Cooper and assistant special make-up effects artist/assistant editor Edmund Ferrell
-Audio Commentary with Cooper, Ferrell, co-director John Douglass and star Matt Mitler
-Audio Commentary with Buddy Cooper and star Ruth Martinez Tutterow
-Fall Breakers: The Story of The Mutilator – brand new feature-length documentary on the making of the splatter classic featuring interviews with Cooper, Douglass, Ferrell, Mitler, actors Bill Hitchcock, Jack Chatham and more
-Mutilator Memories – special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom looks back at one of his earliest projects
-Tunes for the Dunes – composer Michael Minard reveals how The Mutilator’s unique score was created
-Behind-the-Scenes Reel
-Screen Tests
-Alternate Opening Titles
-Trailers and TV Spots
-‘Fall Break’ Theme Song (Original and Instrumental Versions)
-Opening Sequence Storyboards
-Motion Stills Gallery
-Original Fall Break Screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM content)
-Reversible sleeve featuring two original artworks

Purchase this film directly from MVD HERE







Monday, February 15, 2016

MEDOUSA - Coming Soon from Mondo Macabro!




OUT APRIL 12!

You can now pre-order MEDOUSA direct from Mondo Macabro! $15 plus shipping.

Copies will be mailed out as soon as stock arrives, likely ahead of the official street date.


http://mondomacabro.bigcartel.com/product/medousa


In this surreal retelling of the ancient myth of the Medusa, bizarre, clothed statues of men

are appearing all over Greece. Only Perseus, the leader of a gang of modern Athenian

thieves, holds the answer to the mystery. It has something to do with a beautiful, long-

haired women in black who is connected with his troubled childhood. One night his gang

breaks into a deserted house in the countryside looking for goods to steal. What they find

is entirely unexpected and leads Perseus on a dangerous journey into his past.

Medousa is one of the very few attempts to make a modern Greek horror film. Its

intriguing plot unfolds in a surprising and yet entirely logical way, creating a memorably

atmospheric thriller that reworks familiar myths into an original and highly personal

narrative.


Mondo Macabro are very proud to be presenting for the first time on US video this

overlooked gem of genre cinema. The film was screened at a number of international

festivals and won a prize at World-Fest Houston in 1998. It’s a film ripe for rediscovery

and this long overdue release announces the re-emergence of a unique film making talent.



SPECIAL DVD FEATURES


Interview with writer/director George Lazopoulos

Interview with lead actor Thanos Amorginos

Extensive background notes

Trailer

Newly created optional subtitles

Mondo Macabro previews

Newly commissioned cover art by Gilles Vranckx


Teaser Trailer:  https://vimeo.com/154745840


Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971, Lucio Fulci)

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Just released by Mondo Macabro is one of the Italian Godfather of Gore Lucio Fulci’s giallo masterpieces, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. I first saw this film more than five years ago and it totally blew me away. I’ve been planning on checking it out many times since then and I’m glad I waited because I had forgotten much of the film and also because this new Blu Ray is a such revelation, both in quality and for its wealth of extras.
Florinda Bolkan plays Carol Hammond, the daughter of a rich lawyer, who also employs her husband Frank (Jean Sorel). Carol is plagued with strange, sensual dreams which frequently involve her neighbor Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg). After one of these dreams turns violent, Julia’s body is found murdered in the same way as in Carol’s dream. Police Inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker) is assigned the case and has to determine what role Carol’s dreams play in the murder. Did she do it? Is someone trying to drive her crazy and frame her?
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is one of the most vivid, artful and gory giallo films that I have seen, and also one of the best. As soon as you think you know the killer’s identity, a new plot device is revealed, throwing your assumptions out the window. I’ve seen Bolkan in many Italian films and she is easily one of the most diverse actresses of the genre. Just watch this alongside Fulci’s equally twisted giallo Don’t Torture a Duckling and you’ll see what I mean. Fulci doesn’t hold back when it comes to gore here (those damn dogs!), but beyond that he lets his technical abilities shine more than probably any other film I’ve seen from his oeuvre. The dream sequences are so well shot, it’s hard to believe its Fulci…at least if you are only familiar with his low budget gore films. Plus there is a well developed story (which actually makes sense) that many of his later films (even some of his classics) lack. I can’t forget to mention one of the absolute greatest scores Ennio Morricone has ever written. Its funny because I have listened to the soundtrack many times over the past couple years and even included a song on a Morricone mix I made, so it’s neat to hear the songs along with the film now that I am more familiar with them.
Mondo Macabro’s new Blu Ray (which was first released as a limited edition of 999 and sold out very quickly) is a dream come true for genre fans. It features one of the most beautiful restorations I’ve seen in a long time. The disc is also packed with extras including interviews and commentaries. Full list of extras below:
-Complete version of the feature, 104 minutes 11 seconds, with alternative English and Italian audio tracks with newly created English subtitles.
-Documentary Shedding the Skin, with optional commentary from director Kris Gavin. (34 minutes).
-When Worlds Collide - Interview with Stephen Thrower author of Beyond Terror: the film of Lucio Fulci. (30 minutes).
-Dr Lucio Fulci's Day for Night: An interview with Lucio Fulci. (30 minutes)
-From Burton to Baker - interview with actor Tony Adams about his experiences of working on the film. (11 minutes).
-Feature Length audio commentary with Pete Tombs and Kris Gavin.
-Radio spots for the Schizoid release of the film.
-Alternative Italian title sequence.
-Original Trailers