“Shivers” Arrow Video Steel book blu ray review

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Shivers (1975) dir: David Cronenberg

Ok, I’m not going to pretend I’m not disappointed. Anyone that reads this blog (both of you) will know that I love the work that Arrow do and there will be many Arrow reviews in the coming days. However, they have dropped the ball with this one.

‘Shivers’ is a film I’ve loved since I was 11 years old. I had the old Intervision VHS in my possession and upgraded it many years later with the Metrodrome DVD. I was so looking forward to this blu ray that I included it on my Christmas list in September. Sadly I discovered the issues with it too late to cancel.

Lets get the big issue out of the way first. This disc is cut. Between 18-20 seconds of gore have been exorcised from this print. A print, apparently approved by David Cronenberg, who later admitted he did not watch the whole print through. In my opinion, which is generally worthless, this makes this disc of the film equally worthless. It looks better that the DVD I already have, not by a huge amount it has to be said, but it’s still worthless.

The rest of the package is flawless which makes the missing seconds even more difficult to take. The steel book itself is wonderful. Two different images, one from the UK ‘Shivers’ and a second on the rear from the US ‘It Came From Within’ are both lovely. The booklet, with images from the normal ‘non steel book’ are great as are the writing and interviews.

The extras are fantastic. As well as the aforementioned booklet we have a brand new documentary about the making of ‘Shivers’, A programme from Canadian television about the making of the film,  plus much, much more.

But in the end, without a complete version of the film, I feel this is an empty release.

I hope, against hope, that Arrow are able to release a BD of the uncut film to go with the superb package that they have provided with it but as someone who’s loved ones have paid out the £25 (or thereabouts) for this disc in steel book I feel quite let down, which is unusual for me with a disc from Arrow.

Summing up, the extras, the booklet, and the overall presentation is top notch but with a cut version of the film I sadly cannot recommend it.

Come on, Arrow, get us a replacement disc. Please?

Merry Christmas

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I’ve been away for a spell. Part of the reason was that I was helping Donna Lucas test the digital edition of Video Watchdog. The testing process was over the entire month of November and was as equally arduous as it was fantastic.

That is finished now and the final product is available from the video watchdog site and I urge all fans of horror, science fiction, and fantastic films in general to head on over there and make a purchase or six!

So, the big day is less than 48 hours away. I do know some of the delights that await me. I will be receiving many things from those wonderful people at Arrow Video including The Vincent Price 6 film set, Night of the Comet, Mark of the Devil, and the steel book of Shivers, so expect reviews of those shortly after the big day.

I just want to say thanks to all those that have viewed this blog in 2014. I appreciate that posts have been ‘spotty’ in terms of regularity and that is something that I aim to correct in 2015 with between 2-5 new pages per week (I have to leave some time for watching and reading).

Have a great Christmas. I hope you all stay safe and get what your heart desires and I shall see you all back here in the new year.

God bless us all, everyone of us 😉

Video Watchdog – FREE ISSUE!

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Anyone reading this blog will no doubt have an interest in other genre films too. Video Watchdog has been at the fore front of fantastical cinema (and television) since 1990 and a magazine I have always enjoyed reading.

Their latest venture is to digitise all their issues (174 of them) for your computer, your phone, your ipad and other digital devices.

To get a free taste of what’s on offer (trailers and the such) then head on over to http://vwdigitaldog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/a-taste-of-things-to-come.html?spref=tw (copy and paste that into your browser) and pick up your free digital copy of issue 2 (their fabled Twin Peaks edition).

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All issues will be available as one gigantic package, or individually from mid December but issue 2 is available, for a limited time only, as a freebie.

So what are you waiting for. Go get yours!

Remember, Remember, The 5th of November.

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Have fun out there all of you in UK land.

Don’t burn too much stuff down, be safe, and of course feel free to burn any Christians*

Robin HardyÕs THE WICKER MAN (1973). Courtesy: Rialto Pictures/ Studiocanal

*Joke. Please don’t burn Christians.

Unless it’s Terry Christian. In which  case we not only recommend it but positively encourage it.

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‘Phantom of the Paradise’ Arrow Blu Ray steelbook review

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‘Phantom of the Paradise’ (1974) Arrow Steel book blu ray review

Writer/Director Brian De Palma

Cast: Wiliam Finley, Paul Williams, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham.

Along time ago I once taped a film off the television because it had the word ‘horror’ in it. I knew nothing about the film and because it was showing in the early hours of the morning I time recorded it (this was the mid 1980’s). A week or so later I finally got round to watching the tape and initially I was disappointed that it wasn’t a horror film at all but a musical. Of course that film was ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. I continued to watch, despite my initial misgivings, and ended up being swept away in it’s pastiches of old horror and sci-fi films and superb soundtrack. A few years later I was talking with a friend of mine and when I professed my love of Rocky Horror he told me to seek out ‘The Phantom of the Paradise’. It would be right up my alley he said. I ignored him. Which brings us to the present day. Rocky Horror had by now become a tad vieux chapeau as they say in French and I had heard that Arrow Video was releasing Phantom on a brand new blu ray. I took the plunge and boy, how I wished I had not let all these years go by before watching it. Straight from the start the film gets rocking. The Juicy Fruits open the film with a superb number and from there on in the film never lets up. Obviously, given the title, the actual story is pretty familiar (with one or two twists down the line) but for me the film wins due to the great music and Jessica Harper. I’ve professed my desire for Harper in a previous piece but in my opinion this is the film she is best in, and it’s her film debut to boot! Quite honestly I could watch her belt out  ‘Special to Me’ (her audition song in the film) all day long. Of course the direction from De Palma is assured and innovative. We have come to expect nothing less. I don’t want to go on too much, in case you have yet to see it. I want you to discover the film yourself but let me say that if you thought Rocky Horror was the final word in the specialised genre of horror/musicals then you are very wrong my friend. Get it today!

Video

The blu ray disc is crisp and clear. The movie looks like it was filmed yesterday. Just check out the opening scenes and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Top class.

Audio

Uncompressed stereo/ 4.0 DTS-HD. This sounds beautiful and it needed to be to do justice to the soundtrack. Disc also comes with and isolated music and effects track which is just perfect.

Extras.

Man, this disc is stacked. A 50 minute making of documentary with all the principle cast and crew is followed by an all new 72 minute interview with Paul Williams by Guillermo Del Toro!

What follows this is a piece cataloging all the changes made to the film because of copyright issue, where the changes were made, which ones you can still see in the film and how it was done in post production.

Paradise lost and found is a piece on bloopers and alternate takes including a great alternate take of Harper singing ‘Special to Me’ (which makes this disc worth the cash just for that).

Of course the usual array of trailers and radio spots are included as well as the usual great collectors booklet.

This is one stunning film and this disc from Arrow is one stunning package.

5/5 Highly recommended


			

2 More Days To Halloween

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Continuing the countdown of my favourite 11 horror films.

#2 “Creepshow” (1982)

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I was a geeky 13 year old boy in 1982. I had plenty of passions but up at the top of the list were the following three things; Films of George A. Romero (having been delighted by ‘Dawn of the Dead’), EC Horror comics (which I had just discovered a year or two earlier through the Ballantine paperback’s of ‘Tales From The Crypt’ and ‘Vault of Horror’), and the novels and short stories of Stephen King. So when ‘Creepshow’ was announced it was like all my Christmases had come at once. When ‘Creepshow’ finally did hit the shores here in the UK it was classified as a AA certificate, which meant that no one under 14 could see the film. I was just under that age limited but went anyway. And I was not disappointed. What followed was three or four more trips to the cinema to see the film plus a trip to London’s Forbidden Planet where I picked up (at the cost of 3 weeks pocket money) Bernie Wrightson’s wonderful graphic novel/album of the film.

I don’t know whether I view the film today through rose tinted glasses but I think it’s superb. The ensemble cast is first rate (especially Leslie Nielson, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, E.G Marshall and Ed Harris, just for that dance.) I adore the score. It matches the comic book feel so well. The direction is fantastic and King’s script is perfect. The film does not have a mean bone in it’s body and it’s just such great fun.

Second Sight in the UK have released a superb blu ray of the film bursting with fantastic extras including a making of documentary that is nearly as long as the film itself.

So that’s my #2 pick. It was a hard choice between this and the eventual winner. Come back tomorrow and see what just edged ‘Creepshow’ from the top slot.

4 More Days To Halloween

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Continuing the countdown of my favourite 11 horror films

#4 “Profondo Rosso” (1975) (aka ‘Deep Red’, ‘The Hatchet Murders)

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I first saw ‘Profondo Rosso’ via an imported NTSC VHS tape under the title ‘The Hatchet Murders’ in the mid 1980’s. The tape was a blurry pan and scan edition which completely obliterated Argento’s careful composition. A few years later I bought the Anchor Bay region 1 DVD of the film and it was like watching it for the first time.

Unlike many of Argento’s films ‘Profondo Rosso’ is probably his most linear film. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. The script is witty and clever and the cast are superb. The chemistry between Hemmings and Nicolodi is wonderful. What I love about the film most (and what was completely lost on the VHS tape I watched) is that the answer to who the murderer is is there all along…As long as you were paying attention. And I’ve never come across anyone who has noticed it in their first viewing.

The Goblin score, although borrowing quite heavily from Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells in places, is their best in my opinion and works extremely well with the film. Everything about the film is polished and Argento has never been better than ‘Profondo Rosso’.

If you wish to watch the film today there are two options. For the best presentation of the film I recommend the Blue Underground blu ray disc which includes the director’s cut and the shorter export cut with many Italian only scenes exorcised. Personally I prefer the director’s cut. The Blue Underground disc is region free. The other option is Arrow Video’s presentation. The presentation of the film has some issues, which if you are interested can be found out easily enough with a google search. The extras on the Arrow discs are far superior than the Blue Underground disc and for that reason, and the fact that it’s a superb film, I recommend double dipping and getting both. Those of you reading this from outside the UK be aware that the Arrow package is region B locked.

Argento was on top form when he made ‘Profondo Rosso’. It’s a shame to see how far he has fallen from his pedestal with films like ‘Argento’s Dracula’ but don’t let that take anything away from his work here. It truly is a work of art.

4 and a half More Days to Halloween.

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Not long now folks, although you wouldn’t know it if you lived in the UK (unless you shopped at one of the big supermarkets where they are desperately trying to sell you skeleton shaped tat).

So I have four more films to count down to. I can reveal that there are two John Carpenter films in the list plus one from Romero and one from Argento.

Can you guess what these films may be? I’m sure you will have all seen them but perhaps they are not what you are expecting. Tune in tomorrow for the fourth entry.

Hope to see you all there!

7 More Days To Halloween

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Continuing the countdown of my favourite 11 horror films

#7 “Re-Animator” (1985)

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I was sixteen when ‘Re-Animator’ was first released. Living in the UK (as I still do) my first encounter with this outrageous film was via the Vestron (I think) VHS tape which was cut quite severely. Even so, there was still enough left in (just) that the film had an immediate impression on me. Down the years I have bought this film on VHS, Laserdisc, several different DVD editions (my favourite being the one with the hypodermic needle/pen included) and now on Blu Ray via Second Sight in the UK (in steel book no less).

This edition from Second Sight (completely uncut) no only contains great picture and sound but also includes the ‘integral’ version of the film with scenes filmed for the TV version spliced back into the main film making it quite different from the version we know and love.

Of course, being a horny teenager, the film appealed to me via the delightful Barbara Crampton who spends a good portion of the film in the buff. What’s not to like! (She’s also great in ‘From Beyond’ for mostly the same reasons.).

Of course the film is mostly remembered for the severed head of Dr Hill giving, well, head to Crampton’s character but the superb gore effects, most notably the bone saw through the chest, are show stoppers.

I’ll always have massive affection for this film. Not only did it step over the boundary of what we had ever seen before in a horror film but it did it with style and wit to boot!

8 More Days To Halloween

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Continuing the countdown of my favourite horror films.

#8 Dawn of the Dead

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I first saw this on a pre-certificate VHS tape from Intervision. Of course in those days the tape was cut but there was still enough gore to keep me satisfied. This was not my first interaction with the film however. A year or two before i got to see it I had read the novelisation of the film by George A Romero and Susanna Sparrow. Below is a picture of the novel I owned (and still do own in fact).

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The late seventies and early eighties was a great time to be a horror fan and 1978 was a particularly good year with films such as ‘Halloween’, ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’, ‘Blue Sunshine’, ‘Piranha’, ‘Damien: Omen II’, and of course ‘Dawn of the Dead’ all making their bow.

Nowadays I am too over familiar with the film having watched it at least twenty times. It’s power to shock has dissipated and that’s a real shame because I still remember reeling from the movie after the first time I watched it. The last time I truly felt like I was experiencing something new from the film was when watching Arrow Video’s superb blu ray release of the film.

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Sadly this version is now out of print but I think it’s worth paying for it on the second hand market. I’ve seen this edition going for £50 and that’s a decent price to pay for such a great film and a great package. It’s still a great film and by far the best of all the Romero zombie films in my opinion and whilst the 2004 re-make is a good effort nothing surpasses the Romero original.

So Romero finally makes the list but not for the last time. He will make one more appearance here before the 31st of October and it’s probably not the film you’re thinking of.

Stay tuned in for future blogs in the coming days to find out which one it is.