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17 July 2021

Arrow Video experiences the YEARS OF LEAD: Five Classic Italian Crime Thrillers 1973–1977 (review)

Arrow Video presents five idiosyncratic Italian crime films that encompass the cultural anxiety of the "Years of Lead" marked by a spike in crime and domestic terrorism in Italy from the late sixties to the early eighties.  In SAVAGE THREE, a trio of workers for a computer company embark on a crime spree and the police are baffled at the lack of discernable motive connecting the crimes.  In LIKE RABID DOGS, three well-to-do students go on a robbery, rape, and murder spree and the only cop who suspects them runs repeatedly into red tape because of the lead suspect's social connections.  In COLT 38 SPECIAL SQUAD, a cop whose wife has been murdered by a master criminal heads a special squad to combat crime just in time for a spate of bombings all over the city.  In HIGHWAY RACER, a hotheaded cop may be the police force's only hope of infiltrating a criminal gang that use racing car maneuvers to evade capture.  In NO, THE CASE IS HAPPILY RESOLVED, a railway worker witnesses a mild-mannered schoolteacher brutally murder a prostitute.  He does not want to get involved until he discovers that the killer has gone to the cops and fingered him as the killer.

REVIEW LINK: Arrow Video USA (US) Region ALL Blu-ray (DVD Drive-in)

YEARS OF LEAD: FIVE CLASSIC ITALIAN CRIME THRILLERS 1973–1977 Blu-ray specs:

  • Disc One:
    • Savage Three (1975):
      • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen
      • Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 Mono
      • Optional English Subtitles
      • "Rat Eat Rat" interview with director Vittorio Salerno and actress Martine Brochard
      • "The Savage One" interview with actor Joe Dallesandro
      • Poster Gallery
    • Like Rabid Dogs (1976):
      • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 Widescreen
      • Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 Mono
      • "When a Murderer Dies" interview with film historian Fabio Melelli and cinematographer Romano Albani
      • "It's Not a Time for Tears" interview with assistant director Claudio Bernabei
      • Theatrical Trailer
      • Music Sampler
      • Poster Gallery
  • Disc Two:
    • Colt 38 Special Squad (1976):
      • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 Widescreen
      • English and Italian LPCM 1.0 Mono
      • Optional English and English SDH Subtitles 
      • Archival introduction by composer Stelvio Cipriani
      • "Always the Same Ol’ 7 Notes" interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani
      • "A Tough Guy" interview with editor Antonio Siciliano
      • Theatrical Trailer
      • Poster Gallery
    • Highway Racer (1977):
      • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen
      • English and Italian LPCM 1.0 Mono
      • Optional English Subtitles
      • "Faster Than a Bullet" interview with film historian Roberto Curti
      • Poster Gallery
  • Disc Three:
    • No, the Case is Happily Resolved (1973):
      • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen
      • Italian LPCM 1.0 Mono
      • Optional English Subtitles
      • "Mother Justice" interview with director Vittorio Salerno and actress Martine Brochard
      • Alternate Ending
      • Italian Theatrical Trailer
      • Poster Gallery
    • "Poliziotteschi: Violence and Justice in the Years of Lead" visual essay by critic Will Webb
  • Comes with reversible sleeves featuring original artwork for all five films and a limited edition collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films by Troy Howarth, Michael Mackenzie, Rachael Nisbet, Kat Ellinger, and James Oliver.

Severin Films goes behind enemy lines with STRIKE COMMANDO 2 (review)

In STRIKE COMMANDO 2, Mike Ransom must deliver a cache of diamonds to a drug lord who is ransoming his former commanding officer.  As he makes his way through the jungle, it seems as if everyone wants to get their hands on the jewels, including a sexy bar owner and a sadistic KGB officer.  Brent Huff, Richard Harris, Mary Stavin, and Vic Diaz star.

REVIEW LINK: Severin Films (US) Region A Blu-ray (DVD Drive-in)

STRIKE COMMANDO 2 Blu-ray specs:

  • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen presentations of the theatrical cut (90 minutes) and extended cut (96 minutes)
  • English and Italian LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Optional English SDH Subtitles
  • "Gureilla Zone" interview with writer Claudio Fragasso
  • "Michael Ransom Strikes Back" interview with actor Brent Huff
  • Theatrical Trailer

Severin Films avenges STRIKE COMMANDO (Review)

Reb Brown is STRIKE COMMANDO, an elite soldier who gets trapped behind enemy lines when one of his superiors makes a bad decision.  When he is rescued, he volunteers to go back into the jungle to rescue some villagers and obtain proof that the Russians are involved in the Vietnam War.  Christopher Connelly also stars.

REVIEW LINK: Severin Films (US) Region A Blu-ray (DVD Drive-in)

STRIKE COMMANDO Blu-ray specs:

  • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 Widescreen presentations of the theatrical cut (92 minutes) and the extended cut (102 minutes)
  • English and Italian LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Optional English SDH Subtitles
  • "War Machine" interview with writer Claudio Fragasso
  • "All Quite on the Philippine Front" interview with co-writer Rossella Drudi
  • In-Production Promo Trailer
  • Theatrical Trailer

Arrow Video is marked by IREZUMI (review)

When a tattoo artist inks his masterpiece on a girl sold into sexual slavery, he unleashes predatory vegeance on all men in this adaptation of a Janichuro Tanizaki short story scripted by the director of ONIBABA and directed by the filmmaker behind HANZO: THE RAZOR.

REVIEW LINK: Arrow Video USA/MVD Visual (US) Region ALL Blu-ray

IREZUMI Blu-ray specs:

  • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • Japanese LPCM 1.0 Mono
  • Optional English Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary by Japanese cinema scholar David Desser
  • Introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns
  • "Out of the Darkness" visual essay by Asian cinema scholar Daisuke Miyao
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Image Gallery
  • Reversible cover featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella.
  • The first pressing includes an illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing by Thomas Lamarre and Daisuke Miyao.

MVD Rewind parties at THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (review)

A sorority's final prank goes seriously wrong and they wind up with a body in the pool just before their big bash.  They may be getting an earlier sendoff than intended as a killer starts stalking them.

REVIEW LINK: MVD Visual (US) Region ALL Blu-ray (DVD Drive-in) 

THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW Blu-ray specs:

  • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 Widescreen Presentations of the theatrical version with tinted prologue and the director's preferred version with black and white prologue
  • English LPCM 2.0 Stereo (theatrical version)
  • English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (director's version)
  • Optional English SDH Subtitles (theatrical version only)
  • Audio Commentary by director Mark Rosman, moderated by Katarina Leigh Waters
  • Audio Commentary by writer/director Mark Rosman & actresses Eileen Davidson and Kathryn McNeil
  • Interviews:
    • actress Harley Jane Kozak (41:39)
    • actress Kate McNeil, conducted by Katarina Leigh Waters
    • actress Eileen Davidson, conducted by Katarina Leigh Waters
    • director Mark Rosman, conducted by Katarina Leigh Waters
    • composer Richard Band
    • co-producer Igo Kantor
  • Original Black & White Pre-credits Sequence
  • Alternate Ending with Audio Commentary by writer/director Mark Rosman, Storyboard Comparisons, and Production Stills
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • 3 TV Spots
  • Bonus Trailers
  • Reversible Cover
  • Foldout Poster
  • Collectors slipcover

Severin Films hunts GRIZZLY (review)

"The most dangerous JAWS on land" comes to Blu-ray as a national park is beset by a series of grisly grizzly killings of unsuspecting tourists.  the park ranger wants to shut the site down but the tourism-minded park supervisor puts more people in danger by making the grizzly hunt a hillbilly free-for-all.  Christopher George, Andrew Prine, Richard Jaeckel, and Joan McCall star.

REVIEW LINK: Severin Films (US) Region ALL Blu-ray (DVD Drive-in)

GRIZZLY Blu-ray specs:

  • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
  • Optional English SDH Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary by Mondo Digital's Nathaniel Thompson and film writer Troy Howarth
  • Audio Commentary by producer David Sheldon and actress Joann McCall
  • "Making Movies with Girdler" audio interview with business parneter and friend J. Patrick Kelly III
  • "The Grizzly Details" interview with producer David Sheldon and actress Joan McCall
  • "Towering Fury" interview with actor Tom Arcuragi
  • NIGHTMARE USA author Stephen Thrower on William Girdler
  • "Movie Making in the Wilderness" 1976 vintage behind-the-scenes making-of
  • "Jaws with Claws" archival making-of featurette
  • Radio Spots
  • Two Theatrical Trailers
  • Reversible Cover
  • A limited run of copies ordered directly from Severin Films includes an exclusive slipcover.

15 July 2021

Eureka Classics boards the MILLIONAIRES' EXPRESS (review)

Sammo Hung directs this epic Chinese Lunar New Year "Eastern Western" comedy in which an outlaw and a band of prostitutes set about rebuilding his home town after a bank robbery.  The outlaw hits upon the idea of bombing a train track so that the moneyed passengers of the Millionaires' Express must stay the night.  Unfortuantely, a band of gangsters and bandits have planned to rob the train and soon take over the town.  Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, and Kenny Bee star.

REVIEW LINK: Eureka (UK) Region B Blu-ray (DVDCompare)

MILLIONAIRES' EXPRESS Blu-ray specs:

  • Disc One:
    • Hong Kong Theatrical Version (98 minutes):
      • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 Widescreen
      • Cantonese LPCM 1.0 Mono
      • Optional English Subtitles
      • Audio Commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng, NY Asian Film Festival
      • Selected Scene Audio Commentary by actress Cynthia Rothrock
    • International Version (102 minutes): 
      • 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 Widescreen
      • Cantonse and English LPCM 1.0 Mono
      • Optional English Subtitles
      • Audio Commentary by film historians Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
    • "Cynthia Rothrock on Millionaires' Express" interview
    • "Shanghai Express: Behind the Scenes" archival interview with actress Cynthia Rothrock
    • "A New Frontier" interview with actor/director Sammo Hung
    • "Express Delivery" interview with actor/director Sammo Hung
    • "Trailblazer" interview with actress Cynthia Rothrock
    • "Way Out West" interview with actor/stuntman Yuen Biao
    • "On the Cutting Edge" interview with actress Yukari Oshima
    • Alternate English Opening and Closing Credits
    • Trailers:
      • Hong Kong Theatrical Trailer
      • "Shanghai Express" Export Trailer
      • Tai Seng Promotional Video Trailer
    • "My Lucky Stars" Vintage Japanese Behind the Scenes Promo
  • Disc Two (Limited Edition):
    • "Shanghai Express" Export Version (92 minutes):
    • Hybrid "Complete" Version (109 minutes):
  • The first 3,000 copies includes the limited edition bonus disc featuring the export version and hybrid cut as well as an O-Card slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling, reversible poster featuring new and original artwork, and a 27-page booklet featuring "Bullet Train: Sammo Hung and The Millionaires' Express" by James Oliver, artwork, viewing notes, and disc production credits.
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