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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Martial Arts > Crime > Gangsters > Japan > Horror > Comedy > Vampires > Revenge > Italy > Filmmaking > Terror In A Texas Town (1958/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)

Battle Without Honor and Humanity Trilogy (1974 - 1976/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray w/DVD)/Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Complete Series (1997 - 2003/20th Anniversary Fox DVD Box Set Reissue)/The Climber (1979/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Creep Behind The Camera (2016 w/The Creeping Terror (1964)/Synapse Blu-ray Set)/The Ghoul (2016/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)/Stormy Monday (1988/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)/Terror In A Texas Town (1958/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)

Picture: B+ & B-/C+/B+ & B-/B+/B/B+ & B-/B+ & B- Sound: B+ & B-/C+/B+ & B-/B/B+/B+ & B-/B+ & B- Extras: B (Creep: C+) Main Programs: B/C+/C+/B & C+/C+/C+/B

Here's our new set of thriller releases, involving horror, the supernatural, dankness, martial arts and other action in all kinds of forms, including a TV series that is at least some kind of minor classic and several feature films. Most come from Arrow this time out. Arrow Films continues to be a strong voice in cinema and a brand that continues to deliver high quality presentations and fantastic extras. These new releases are no exception and are all worth checking out no matter where your tastes are...

Battle Without Honor and Humanity Trilogy

I hadn't heard too much about this Kinji Fukasaku (Battle Royale) directed series initially other than it's a favorite of Quentin Tarantino's and he even went as far as using one of the songs in the first Kill Bill film. If you like dark sunglasses wearing mean Yakuzas armed to the teeth, then Arrow has got your back. They did a great job with this new remastered set of these three Battle Without Honor and Humanity films, which were released only a year apart, and include:

New Battles Without Honour and Humanity (1974) - Centering around Miyoshi Makio, a member of the Yamamori crime family, is involved in a bungled hit and fails to kill his target. Soon behind bars and facing power struggles from a man named Aoki, who threatens to steal power from his mob boss, plans start to brew leading up to Makio's release from prison.

New Battles Without Honour and Humanity: The Boss' Head (1975) - a gambler takes a fall for a Hit Man and serves some major jail time. But when he's released and realizes that he won't get getting the hard earned cash he deserves, there's gonna be hell to pay!

New Battles Without Honour and Humanity: Last Days of the Boss (1976) - When his boss is killed, a lieutenant of an Amagasaki crime family heads to Osaka to take on the country's biggest and most powerful yakuza gang.

The original five movies in the Battles franchise from Fukasaku were a huge hit in Japan and they have never been available in a deluxe set like this. These yakuza films are brutal and a little comedic with everything that we have come to expect from a film in that genre, and reminded me a lot of Seijun Suzuki films such as Branded to Kill and Youth of the Beast.

The films are presented on both high definition 1080p 2.35 X 1 Blu-ray discs as well as standard definition DVDs as well. The Blu-ray presentations are newly remastered and included the original, uncompressed PCM 2.0 Mono audio tracks sound great on Blu. There's a noticeable bump in quality with more compression evident on the anamorphically enhanced DVDs with their lossless Dolby Digital sound, however both presentations are up to the standards of their respectable formats. Arrow also went through the pain staking process of re-subtitling all three films in English for us Americans that don't speak Japanese.

Special Features...

Beyond the Films: New Battles Without Honour and Humanity, a new video appreciation by Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane.

New Stories, New Battles and Closing Stories, two new interviews with screenwriter Koji Takada, about his work on the second and third films in the trilogy.

Original theatrical trailers for all three films.

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist.

Illustrated collector's book featuring new writing on the films, the yakuza genre and Fukasaku's career, by Stephen Sarrazin, Tom Mes, Hayley Scanlon, Chris D. and Marc Walkow.

Collectible packaging box.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Complete Series (1997 - 2003)

Joss Whedon felt he had something good going with the new idea of a self-centered gal who suddenly finds herself with the responsibility and even powers to the 'the chosen one' of her generation to lead a battle against killer vampires amongst her teen/young adult crowd. This would obviously be a comedy in part, but a genre work where it was even more action with a still-rare female lead hero. After a 1992 feature film that yielded mixed results, he and Fox (just getting their TV network started) decided they would try to make a TV series out of it all.

This had worked for TV before whether the series was a direct revisit of a feature film that was a moderate hit (Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore became Alice with Linda Lavin), a loosely-based adaptation that still delivered well (What's Happening was based on the hit Cooley High) or even a loose take-off of a trend (The Dukes of Hazard managed to find a way to be a weekly version of all the usually B-movie bandit/chase films of the 1970s) so maybe Buffy The Vampire Slayer could find a new life on TV.

The result was a huge early hit for the Fox Network and now, another DVD Box Set, has arrived, this time for the 20th Anniversary of the show. Sarah Michelle Geller would now play the title character and though I have never been a fan and am not even that impressed with her acting abilities, she was able to subsume the character on her own terms and it propelled the show into a franchise that included many tie-ins, hit TV spin off Angel and some influence on future such movie and film projects.

I'll never be a big fan of the show and it is formula that is at least consistent and built the audience it built, but I don't think the show (as expected) ages well (fans won't care) and what is meant for a teen audience found a larger demographic just the same. I just never bought Geller (or Swanson before her, frankly) in the role, but she is supposed to be a little different, a bit off, it is not a serious enough show for me to take it seriously, yet owes a debt to the greatest Horror show in TV history that knew how to combine the genre with comedy: Kolchak: The Night Stalker, the direct inspiration for The X-Files, a better hit show and one even bigger for Fox.

But for fans, the show is a big deal and this reissued DVD box set of the whole original show will do. A nice new artwork for the cover, it is intended as a gift set as well and all of the show is here. It might even get the series new fans.

The series was shot on 16mm film for its debut season, then moved to 35mm for the remainder of its run, all presented in a 1.33 X 1 frame from the original DVD masters we've already seen. This is fine for the format, but some shows can look rougher than expected, while other look fine. The latter seasons were apparently shot soft matte (1.33 X 1 with 1.78 X 1 in mind) so you can zoom in to later season images to see if that works for you. The sound is Dolby Pro Logic surround from lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (common for TV at the time) and also shows its age a bit, but neither presentation should be taken directly from 'master material' quality. These are fine for the format, but this inevitably has to come out on Blu-ray.

Extras on all seven sets include exclusive interviews, featurettes, photo galleries, sometimes even scripts, then there are Season Overviews starting with the Third Season, a faux A&E Biography on a latter set, some select episode commentary tracks and all repeat the extras (along with those older transfers) from the already-issued individual sets.

*NEW* however is the Official Buffy Dark Horse Comic Book featuring Exclusive Cover and Coloring Sheet Inside Packaging as a Gift With Purchase for Limited Time Only!!!

That should be just enough to make this worth it to fans or those who have not seen the show on DVD or bought it before, but again, we'll see how a Blu-ray version will compare to what Fox did for another 1.33 X 1 horror hit of the time when it hit Blu-ray: The X-Files.

One thing not included here (no room left unless they wanted to get crazy and issue a larger, more expensive box!) is a Season 8 done as a 'motion comic' that you can read more about at this link...


The Climber

If you're a fan of counterculture icon Joe Dallesandro (who starred in many Andy Warhol films, plus the Warhol-produced Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula among others), then you may enjoy this bizarre Italian Gangster film. Similar to Scarface (as mentioned on the slipcase for the film) in that it follows the rise and fall of a Gangster, this '70s film as been praised as the one of the best Italian crime dramas out there. The Climber (1979) is written and directed by Pasquale Squitieri (Gang War in Naples, I Am the Law), and also stars Stefania Casini, and Benito Artesi.

Starting out as a simple smuggler, Aldo (Dallesandro), soon figures out the harsh reality of the Italian crime syndicate. After he attempts to rip off a local gang boss, he soon finds himself in a unique position to exact revenge as he builds his own little crime empire.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an original Italian soundtrack in uncompressed PCM 2.0 Mono (with optional newly-translated English subtitles), this 4K restoration of the film looks stunning on Blu-ray disc that is so clear it almost makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into the 1970s. Also included is a standard definition DVD with similar yet compressed technical specs but still looks good for the format.

Special Features...

Little Joe's Adventures in Europe, a brand-new interview with Joe Dallesandro on his numerous European film appearances during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon.

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Roberto Curti, author of Italian Crime Filmography, 1968 - 1980.

The Creep Behind The Camera w/The Creeping Terror

While it's been thought that Ed Wood may have made the worst film of all time (Plan 9 From Outer Space), these documentarian filmmakers set out to prove that The Creeping Terror (1964) is the worst. Director A.J. Nelson, also known as Vic Savage, is not only an infamously crappy filmmaker but a true psychopath behind the scenes as well. Part documentary and part narrative, The Creep Behind the Camera (2014) is a fun little movie that tells a larger than life story about how an insane B-Movie came to life. Much like Ed Wood, Savage (played in the film by Jodi Lynn Thomas) used every hair brained scheme that he could think of to convince producers to fund his monster movie opus whilst being a womanizer and con man in the process. Using animation, reenactments, and clips from the original movie, the film is polished and fun in the most absurd way possible.

Also included is a crystal clear 2K restoration of the original B-Movie, The Creeping Terror (1964), which isn't a good film by any means but pretty entertaining in a bad Z grade movie kind of way. Centering around a newly married Sheriff who must protect a small town from an intergalactic green space monster with an appetite for human flesh, the film was infamously parodied by Mystery Science Theater, and the film is sure to be a hit for you and your friends to rip apart as well.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a nice sounding English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, The Creep Behind the Camera looks great on disc with nicely saturated colors and rich details that don't disappoint. The original black and white film is in its original full frame aspect ratio and really stands out on disc as well. This Blu-ray exclusive restoration of the B-Movie is no doubt the best it's ever looked.

Special Features include...

Audio Commentary with Director Pete Schuermann, Producer Nancy Theken and Stars Josh Phillips & Jodi Lynn Thomas.

The Making of The Creep Behind the Camera.

How to Build a Carpet Monster.

Breaking Down Art's Death Scene.

Monster Movie Homages.

"One Mick to Another" with Byrd Holland & Allan Silliphant.

Deleted Scenes.

Alternate Ending.

Screamfest Black Carpet Q&A with Frank Conniff.

The Creep Behind The Camera Original Theatrical Trailer.

The Creeping Terror Screamfest Promotional Trailer.

The Ghoul

Similar in tone and feel to an early Christopher Nolan film and the debut feature of writer-director Gareth Tunley, The Ghoul (2016), is a British film noir-style thriller that centers around a detective who goes under cover as a psychotherapist's patient in order to investigate a double homicide. Released in the U.S. only recently, this is the first big release of the film on disc, which is an impressive disc to say the least.

The Ghoul stars Tom Meeten, Alice Lowie, Rufus Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Dan Renton Skinner, and Paul Kaye. The film is executive produced by Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Free Fire).

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and an original DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the film looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray disc with a presentation that was also approved by the Director himself. The cinematography and sound design have a haunting and surreal feel to them that's captured well on disc.

The Director Approved Special Features include...

Commentary by writer-director Gareth Tunley, actor-producer Tom Meeten and producer Jack Healy Guttmann.

In the Loop, a brand-new documentary on the conception and making of The Ghoul produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release. Featuring interviews with Tunley, Meeten, Guttmann, actors Alice Lowe, Geoff McGivern, Niamh Cusack Rufus Jones and Dan Skinner, composer Waen Shepherd, and executive producers Dhiraj Mahey and Ben Wheatley.

The Baron, a 2013 short film with optional commentary by writer-director Tunley and writer-actor Meeten.

Theatrical trailer.

Collectible, full color insert booklet and reversible cover.

Stormy Monday

Stormy Monday (1988) is a sexy '80s noir thriller with a great cast in Tommy Lee Jones (who steals the show here), Sean Bean (years before he made Game of Thrones, GoldenEye, Ronin and Lord of the Rings), Sting (yes, that Sting), and a young and sultry Melanie Griffith. While a little dated in terms of look and technology and an at times confusing political subplot, the film is beautifully photographed by the one and only Roger Deakins and has a rich jazzy soundtrack that captures the murky darkness of the overall tone. The directorial debut of Mike Figgis (Internal Affairs, Leaving Las Vegas), this film earned huge raves from critics and remains an interesting little piece of cinema to this day.

Brendan (Bean), is taken under the wing of jazz club owner Finney (Sting), who is under pressure from a slimy American mobster Cosmo (Jones). Cosmo was Finney to sell his club in exchange for a cut of a local land development deal, however things go south when Brendan falls in love with Cosmo's ex-lover Kate (Griffith), who is mixed up in all kinds of bad business and soon jealousy gets the best of Cosmo. Perhaps an inspiration in part to True Romance, Stormy Monday features a great climax that makes up for the at times predictable plot line.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an original uncompressed PCM 2.0 Stereo track, the film looks and sounds great in high definition with a little grain here and there (specifically a scene where Bean shoots some men in the rain when Griffith is being taken prisoner) but overall rich colors and fine character detail. Also included is a standard definition DVD of the film which features the same specs yet in a more compressed format (like Dolby Digital audio) that isn't as impressive as the Blu.

Special Features include...

New video appreciation by critic Neil Young (not that Neil Young), and a 'then and now' tour of the film's Newcastle locations.

Theatrical trailer.

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacey.

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing by critic Mark Cunliffe.

Terror in a Texas Town

Last but not least, we have the classic Western Terror in a Texas Town (1958), directed by the much-liked B-movie filmmaker Joseph H. Lewis (Gun Crazy), gets the deluxe Blu-ray treatment thanks to the good folks at Arrow. In the era when Rawhide and Spaghetti Westerns were popular, in fact this film could have easily starred Clint Eastwood and fit in well with his filmography, this violent look at the past will make sure you never look at harpoons the same way again!

The film stars Sterling Hayden (Kubrick's The Killing, Johnny Guitar), Sebastian Cabot (The Time Machine), Nedrick Young (who also wrote the classic film The Defiant Ones) and Carol Kelly to name a few.

A small Texas town is threatened when McNeil (Cabot), a greedy hotel owner, decides to take control and drive the local farmers off their land, threatening the community but bettering his evil agenda. McNeil hires a gunman, Johnny Crale (Young), who kills a former whaler. However when that dead whaler's son, George Hansen (Hayden), arrives in town to inherit his father's farm, he is soon hellbent on revenge. Armed with only his father's deadly harpoon that he wishes to kill his father's murderer with, a deadly showdown results in a battle of bullets versus blades!

Presented in 1080p high definition with a gorgeous Black and White high definition transfer with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM Audio, the film looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray disc with little left to be desired in terms of transfer. This is a great film restoration with skin textures and blacks on point. However, fair warning, you will definitely have the trumpet-centric film score stuck in your head hours after viewing.

Unlike most Arrow titles, it should be noted that this set only features the Blu-ray disc and not the standard definition DVD edition.

Special Features include...

Introduction by Peter Stanfield, author of Hollywood, Westerns and the 1930s: The Lost Trail and Horse Opera: The Strange History of the Singing Cowboy.

Scene-select commentaries by Stanfield.

Theatrical trailer.

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov.

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing by Glenn Kenny.

- James Lockhart & Nicholas Sheffo (Buffy)



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