Arrow Heads Roundup — September 2018

New from Arrow Video and Arrow Academy: The Baby, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, Day of the Jackal, The Hired Hand, Horrors of Malformed Men, and The Pyjama Girl Case

Arrow Heads — UK-based Arrow Films has quickly become one of the most exciting and dependable names in home video curation and distribution, creating gorgeous Blu-ray releases with high quality artwork and packaging, and bursting with supplemental content, often of their own creation. From the cult and genre fare of Arrow Video to the artful cinema of Arrow Academy, this column is devoted to their weird and wonderful output.

Hey folks, we’re debuting a new format to round up the new releases from Arrow Films. Since bringing their incredible releases stateside, the UK-based publisher has quickly become one of our favorite physical media companies thanks to their excellent curation of cult and classic films, and high quality releases.

We’re playing a bit of catch-up with our initial Roundup entry, looking at last month’s releases. In September, the Arrow Video label has brought us US releases of The Pyjama Girl Case, Horrors of Malformed Men, The Baby, and The Day of the Jackal, while Arrow Academy, which focuses on more traditional classics, served up Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji and The Hired Hand.

Amazon links are included for titles below. If you enjoy reading Cinapse, purchasing items through our affiliate links can tip us with a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Editor’s Pick: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji (1955)

Director: Tomu Uchida

What a pleasant surprise this was. One might reasonably expect a violent samurai epic, but it’s a much different film than its title suggests. Simultaneously a road movie of sorts and a comedy of manners, the film follows a loose group of unrelated wayfarers who are traversing the same road, continually crossing paths with each other, both on the road itself and staying at the same inns. The primary focus is Genpachi, loyal spear carrier to a kindly samurai, as he observes and interacts with other travelers. He befriends an orphan boy on the road and takes him under his wing, and finds himself attracted to a sweet-natured traveling singer. Other travelers include a policeman on the trail of a thief, a nervous workman, a distressed father with his daughter, among other colorful characters.

The tale initially seems to meander without any specific plot, simply allowing viewers to meet its characters, but as they get closer to their destinations and interact, the various threads weave into a beautiful and very heartfelt narrative which emerges organically. The film examines and is critical of Edo-era societal castes which hold the rich over the poor, instead extolling kindness and lifting up the humanity of us all. It’s this sweetness that makes the film’s jarringly violent conclusion, where it earns its title, all the more impactful.

  • A trio of French-produced featurettes: Uchida Par Uchida, La Cineaste Vagabond: La Cinema Japonois, and Entretien avec Kazunori Kishida
  • Brand-new audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp, recorded exclusively for this release
  • Packaging: Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley; booklet featuring writing by James Oliver (first pressing only).

Day of the Jackal (1973)

Director: Fred Zinneman

Probably the best known of Arrow’s September offerings is the assassination thriller The Day of the Jackal, a mostly fictional tale loosely based on actual events. In the early 1960s, political dissidents hire notorious contract killer “The Jackal” (Edward Fox) to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle. The film was notably — and unofficially — remade, separated from its historical context, as 1997’s The Jackal with Bruce Willis and Richard Gere.

The universally praised thriller, which stars Edward Fox, was nominated for numerous BAFTA awards and won for Best Film Editing, and its influence can be felt in numerous films depicting assassins or urban snipers.

The Pyjama Girl Case (1977) [La ragazza dal pigiama giallo]

aka The Girl in Yellow Pajamas; Director: Flavio Mogherini

An Italian giallo, that takes place in Australia, starring Welsh-American Ray Milland? Believe it or not, this is a thing that exists. At 70, Milland was nearing the end of a long and storied film career when he took on the role of Inspector Thompson in this stylish murder mystery.

Arrow’s edition features a new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, lossless mono Italian and English audio, and English subtitles for both the Italian track and English dub.

  • New audio commentary by author Troy Howarth
  • New video interviews with author/critic Michael Mackenzie, actor Howard Ross, and editor Alberto Tagliavia
  • Archival interview with composer Riz Ortolani
  • Image gallery
  • Italian theatrical trailer
  • Packaging: Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon; booklet with writing by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (first pressing only)

Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

Director: Teruo Ishii 
This perversely ugly horror film is a pinnacle of Japanese weirdness. Bizarre, gruesome, surreal, and often wildly colorful, the film takes viewers to a Doctor Moreau-esque island of a mad scientist and his hideous freaks. The disturbing film is considered part of the “ero guro nansensu” (erotic grotesque nonsense”) genre and was famously banned, though from what I’ve read on the subject it was more of a voluntary withdrawal.

Arrow’s presentation features a new 2K restoration from the original negative with Uncompressed 1.0 PCM mono audio, and new English subtitles.

  • Two audio commentaries by Tom Mes and Mark Schilling
  • Featurettes: Malformed Movies with Toei screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda, Malformed Memories with Filmmakers Shinya Tsukamoto and Minoru Kawasaki, and Ishii in Italia with Ishii and Mark Schilling.
  • Image Gallery
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Packaging: Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford; booklet with writing by Jasper Sharp, Tom Mes and Grady Hendrix (first pressing only)

The Hired Hand (1971)

Director: Peter Fonda

When I think of Peter Fonda and Warren Oates, the first film immediately comes to mind is their awesome action/horror/road movie Race With The Devil, which I’d desperately love to remake. But before the pair were chased across Texas by Satanists, they starred in Peter Fonda’s directorial debut The Hired Hand. Fonda plays a man who abandoned his family years ago to wander. A fatal run-in convinces him to return home to his wife and daughter after seven years drifting with his best friend (Oates). His wife, rightfully unwilling to simply take him back, instead allows him to stay as a hired hand.

The Hired Hand did poorly upon its release, but has been reassessed as a forgotten classic, praised for its quiet, elegaic approach, cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond, and somber themes.

  • Audio commentary by actor-director Peter Fonda
  • The Return of The Hired Hand, a 2003 documentary containing interviews with Fonda, cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, composer Bruce Langhorne, actor Verna Bloom and others
  • Deleted scenes
  • The Odd Man, 1978 documentary portrait of Scottish screenwriters, including Alan Sharp [Blu-ray exclusive]
  • Interview with Martin Scorsese
  • Warren Oates and Peter Fonda at the National Film Theatre — 1971 audio recording
  • Still gallery
  • Trailers, TV spots, and Radio spots
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips

The Baby (1973)

Director: Ted Post

Ted Post is best known for the western classic Hang ’Em High and sequels in high-profile franchises (Magnum Force, Beneath the Planet of the Apes), but he wasn’t above experimenting with some pretty weird shit. Atop that list is The Baby, a bizarre tale about a social worker who takes an interest in a developmentally stunted man with the mind of an infant — incurring the wrath of his abusive family.

This film was previously available on Blu-ray from Severin, now out of print. Arrow’s edition includes new special features (audio commentary by Travis Crawford, retrospective featurette with Rebekah McKendry), widescreen and full screen options, as well as the bonus content which previously appeared on the Severin disc (audio interviews with director Ted Post and star Ted Mooney, theatrical trailer). The initial pressing includes a booklet with writing by Kat Ellinger.

  • 1.85:1 and 1.33:1 versions of the feature
  • Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
  • Featurettes: Down Will Come Baby with film professor Rebekah McKendry, A Family Affair Marianna Hill, Nursery Crimes with Stanley Dyrector
  • Archival interviews: Tales from the Crib with director Ted Post, Baby Talk with Star David Mooney
  • Packaging: Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil; booklet featuring writing by Kat Ellinger (first pressing only)

A/V Out.

Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

Previous post BUYBUST: The Philippines’ Answer To THE RAID
Next post Exhumed Films Looks to Fund “The Space”