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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Contamination > Alien > Thriller > Italian > Western > Contamination (1980/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray w/DVD)/Run Of The Arrow (1957/RKO/Warner Archive DVD)

Contamination (1980/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray w/DVD)/Run Of The Arrow (1957/RKO/Warner Archive DVD)

Picture: B & C+/C Sound: B- & C/C+ Extras: C+/D Films: C+/C

PLEASE NOTE: The Run Of The Arrow is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here are two genre films that may not always work, but you should know about them...

Luigi Cozzi's Contamination (1980) is one of those amusing Italian knock-offs of a big Hollywood hit. In this case, it joins the obvious Alien 2 (also reviewed on this site) as a major takeoff of Ridley Scott's Alien (1979, also on several sections of this site) combined with the first two Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, the original RKO The Thing with touches of John Carpenter, Dario Argento and George Romero in this sometimes effective amalgamation of their elements with a mix if good scenes and one too many campy ones. To its credit, it can be suspenseful and contextually graphic.

A cargo ship arrives in New York City with its crew brutally decimated, but how? A scientific crew immediately investigates, discovering the body exploded in parts as if from miniature grenades, but the real source soon turns out to be the gooey insides of mysterious, sometimes glowing pods no one has ever seen before. Thus the scientists have to use the best technology of the day (which looked a bit dated even then) to solve the mystery and stop the killing before its too late.

Unfortunately, the film gets crazy with its latex effects, storyline and gets slap happy silly in the end, ruining any chance for greatness or for this to play to its best strengths and really work. It is still worth a look for what works and Arrow does a great job of restoring it and bringing together a great extras package on it for Blu-ray. Ian McCulloch and Marlene Marleau lead the cast.

Extras include a reversible sleeve featuring original, newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin & a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by filmmaker, Fangoria Magazine editor & Contamination super-fan Chris Alexander, illustrated with original archive stills and posters, while the discs add a feature-length audio commentary by Alexander that by his own admission does not stick with the film, then we get Luigi Cozzi on the Creation of Contamination - an archive documentary hosted by the director and including behind-the-scenes footage, 2014 Q&A with Cozzi and star Ian McCulloch, Sound of the Cyclops: Goblin's Maurizio Guarini on the music of Contamination; the Goblin keyboardist discusses Contamination's dark, progressive rock score and a lifetime of making music for Italian terror, the well done Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery - a critical analysis of the Italian ''Mockbusters'' trend of filmmaking which sought to capitalize on the success of Hollywood blockbusters and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Sam Fuller's Run Of The Arrow (1957) has Rod Steiger so disgusted the South lost the Civil War that he heads West, only to get nabbed by the Sioux Native American tribe (more realistic here compared to most Westerns of the time, if still obviously dated) and forced through the title endurance ritual. Stereotypes still abound despite some grittiness and thoughtfulness on Fuller's part and Steiger steals just about every scene he's in.

RKO made this one in their waining years before being sold and like Tennessee's Partners, Underwater and Sightly Scarlet proves the studio could still produce films that were, interesting, different and ambitious, even if not as consistently as in their heyday. Brian Keith, Ralph Meeker and Charles Bronson also star in this curio that has some scenes and moments that work. Unfortunately, it has not aged well.

There are no extras.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Contamination comes from the original 35mm camera negative, is a new 2K transfer and has been restored very well, though the age of the materials used can show in spots. Otherwise, this is pretty impressive throughout and shows the film had a smart use of color like so many Italian horror films. The anamorphically enhanced DVD is not bad, but cannot handle the better definition or color.

Run was shot in a 1.33 X 1 frame, then cropped and issued in 35mm anamorphic widescreen in what was briefly known as RKO Scope, the studio's attempt to come up with a successor to their SuperScope format (a precursor to Super 35 which faked scope by not using squeeze lenses, but cutting a small scope frame out of a 35mm square). This was one of only 3 films to be dubbed as being in the format, the second one and the second of two to cheat with coming from a 1.33 X 1 shoot. This DVD version gives us an anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image that has detail issues and color issues, which is a shame because the RKO Scope prints were (compromised as they may have been) in 35mm, dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints. This never look that good, can be muddy and has detail issues, as well as fading in parts and should be redone in 1.33 X 1 for Blu-ray.

The PCM 1.0 Mono Italian track on the Contamination Blu-ray is a bit better than the English PCM 1.0 track, both coming from original magnetic soundmasters, then restored. The Goblin score is a highlight and sounds good here too, while it ids the same story for both language tracks in lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono on the DVD version of the film. However, it is much weaker in both cases.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Run actually falls between the two, sounding good for its age and a candidate for a lossless sound restoration.

To order the Run Of The Arrow Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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