Arrow Heads Roundup — October 2018

New from Arrow Video and Arrow Academy: 12 Monkeys, Deadbeat at Dawn, Distant Voices Still Lives, Schlock, & Torso

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.

In October, Arrow’s varied US offerings included 12 Monkeys, Schlock, Deadbeat at Dawn, and Torso, and from Arrow Academy, Distant Voices, Still Lives.

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Editor’s Pick: 12 Monkeys

Director: Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam has led a huge career of personal and professional ups and downs. The sole American of the legendary Monty Python troupe, the animator and filmmaker has crafted both big studio pictures and small, independent films — but always with an artful eye. One of his biggest films, both in creative scope and box office, is 12 Monkeys. Inspired by the 1962 film La Jetee, the film stars Bruce Willis as a time traveler who is sent to the past (our present) from a dark future in order to unravel a mystery and alter the course of history. Huge in scope, manic in its presentation, and packing an unforgettable ending, it’s one of Gilliam’s most accomplished creations — no small compliment.

It almost feels wrong to make such a famous film my editor’s pick against some deserving and lesser known pictures, especially for a film that’s been released on Blu-ray before, but this disc is an absolute revelation with new 4k scan of the original negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Terry Gilliam. Arrow’s painstaking restoration absolutely blows away Universal’s previous version. You may have seen 12 Monkeys, but you’ve never seen it like this, as my exploration of the disc’s visuals demonstrates:

Here at Cinapse Jon Partridge has also reviewed the disc in full; you can read his thoughts here:

In addition to a new 4K restoration, the film’s presentation also features DTS 5.1 Master Audio and audio commentary by Gilliam and producer Charles Roven.

  • The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, feature-length making-of documentary by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha)
  • The Film Exchange with Terry Gilliam, a live interview moderated by Jonathan Romney
  • Appreciation by Ian Christie
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Packaging: Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin; booklet written by Nathan Rabin (first pressing only)

Get it at Amazon:

Distant Voices, Still Lives

Director: Terence Davies

Arrow Academy and the BFI present Distant Voices, Still Lives, Terence Davies’ 1988 exploration of post-war recovery and family life in Liverpool, England, in the 1940s and 50s.

The great Peter Postlethwaite establishes a commanding presence in an early role as the difficult and domineering father whose impact marks the lives of his family. Fans of Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life will find similarities here, and would do well to seek this out.

The disc features a brand new 4K restoration, carried out by the British Film Institute. With original stereo audio (uncompressed LPCM), Optional English subtitles, and Audio Commentary by writer-director Terence Davies.

Much of the disc’s bonus features are produced or provided by BFI.

  • Interviews with director Terence Davies and art director Miki van Zwanenberg
  • Q&A with Terence Davies, live interview by Geoff Andrews
  • Remembrance by film critic Mark Kermode
  • Theatrical and Re-release trailers
  • Vintage newsreels: “Home for Workers” and “Worker and War-Front”
  • Liverpool, 1941 (vintage footage)
  • Image Gallery
  • Packaging: Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio; booklet written by Christina Newland (first pressing only)

Get it at Amazon:


Director: Sergio Martino

Sergio Martino’s filmography includes a varied output across many genres including exploitation, gialli, spaghetti westerns, poliziotteschi (Euro-crime), and even comedies, but his relatively early psycho-sexual effort Torso remains one of his most best-known and celebrated films, thanks to memorable characters and elements like its creepy masked killer and the sultry beauties he victimizes.

Partially a sleazy exploitation but also an analysis of leering men and attitudes about femininity and promiscuity, the film has a lot on its mind but it’s not always clear where its head is — the disc includes a lot of interviews and extras that explore those questions.

Torso was previously released on Blu-ray by Blue Underground. Arrow’s edition features a new 2K restoration from the original camera negative; you can see comparison shots of the two discs here.

The disc features both the the 94-minute Italian and 90-minute English cuts, Italian and English mono soundtracks, and both English subtitles (for Italian track) and ‘dubtitles’ (for English track). The 94-minute cut didn’t have full English dubs recorded, so some Italian audio is peppered into those extra minutes.

Arrow has interviewed many folks to produce a number of new featurettes for this disc.

• New audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author of All the Colours of Sergio Martino
 • New filmmaker video interviews with co-writer/director Sergio Martino, actor Luc Merenda, co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi
• New video interviews with filmmaker Federica Martino, daughter of Sergio Martino, and Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film
 • 2017 Abertoir International Horror Festival Q&A with Sergio Martino
 • Italian and English theatrical trailers
 • Packaging: Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais; booklet written by Adrian Smith and Howard Hughes (first pressing only)

Get it at Amazon:


Director: John Landis

Watching the classic John Landis comedy Trading Places, the film eventually careens to a really weird and almost surreal sequence involving (among other kooky elements), a man trapped in a gorilla suit, fondled by another gorilla — technically also a man in a gorilla suit.

Perhaps there’s a bit of a wink and nod here to Schlock from ten years earlier, his low budget feature film debut about a prehistoric ape-man, “Schlockthropus”, in modern times . It’s an homage of sorts to science fiction movies from King Kong to 2001: A Space Odyssey to the cheesy, well, schlock of the 50s. While a silly comedy, the PG-rated movie goes to some dark places that you wouldn’t expect.

  • 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative, original lossless mono soundtrack.
  • Audio commentary by writer/director John Landis and makeup artist Rick Baker
  • New video interview with author and critic Kim Newman
  • Birth of a Schlock, a 2017 video interview with John Landis
  • Archival video interview with cinematographer Bob Collins
  • 1972, 1979 and 1982 US theatrical trailers; US radio spots
  • Packaging: Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys; booklet written by Joe Bob Briggs (!)

Get it at Amazon:

Deadbeat at Dawn

Director: Jim Van Bebber

I’m at a bit of a loss to explain the aesthetic of Jim VanBebber and his debut feature, Deadbeat at Dawn. While this description is hardly comprehensive, it’s a bit like Rob Zombie’s ultra-trashy, heavy metal, lowlife vibe — but without the much better production values that accompany those films. Still, this bloody 16mm tale of thugs and drugs looks unbelievable with a new 2K restoration.

This disc isn’t the best movie of the month by a long shot, but it’s by far the most packed. The cover may say “Deadbeat at Dawn”, but this is well and truly a collection of VanBebber’s works, including several short films and music videos. Fans would be crazy not to pick this up. All others — proceed with caution. It’s not for everyone.

  • Brand new free-wheeling audio commentary with Jim VanBebber (’Goose’, The Ravens’ Gang Leader), actor Paul Harper (’Danny Carmodi’, The Spyders’ Gang Leader) and guest Cody Lee Hardin, moderated by filmmaker Victor Bonacore (Diary of a Deadbeat: The Story of Jim VanBebber)
  • Jim VanBebber, Deadbeat Forever! — a brand new retrospective documentary on VanBebber and the Deadbeat legacy by Filmmaker Victor Bonacore
  • Archival 1986 behind-the-scenes documentary — Nate Pennington’s VHS documentary on a failed Deadbeat shoot
  • Outtakes, newly transferred in HD
  • Four newly-restored VanBebber short films — Into the Black (1983, 34 mins), My Sweet Satan (1993, 19 mins), Roadkill: The Last Days of John Martin (1994, 14 mins) and Gator Green (2013, 16 mins)
  • Jim VanBebber Music Video Collection, featuring never-before-seen Director’s Cuts
  • Chunkblower — promotional trailer for an unfinished Gary Blair Smith-produced gore-soaked feature film
  • Extensive Image Gallery — Never-Before-Seen Stills!
  • Packaging: Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain; booklet written by Scott Gabbey and Graham Rae (first pressing only)

Get it at Amazon:

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.

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