V-Splatter Cinema: Direct-to-Video Rarities from Japan’s 1980s

VISIONARY ABERRATIONS FROM JAPAN’S ANALOG ERA

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddBefore Japan’s direct-to-video film industry exploded into the V-Cinema phenomenon that defined much of the 1990s, filmmakers during the 1980s were testing the limits of gore and taste with a wave of horror videos that were short on runtime but long on trauma. This collection celebrates this “V-Splatter” era with six hard-to-find classics, many of which are presented here for the first time on Blu-ray and DVD in the West.

Taking inspiration from the mini-monsters that became popular in American horror films of the 1980s, Masayoshi Sukita’s Gakidama features a reporter who is possessed by a forest spirit and spawns a gruesome little humanoid monster that torments him and his wife. Next, Akihiro Kashima’s Biotherapy combines 1950s science fiction with Italian giallo killers as a group of scientist are stalked by a murderous alien monster who hides its identity beneath a black hat and trench coat. Shigeru Izumiya’s seminal cyberpunk film Death Powder features an android hunter who finds his consciousness radically altered when he breathes in a replicant’s powdery remains. Kazuo “Gaira” Komizu’s Guzoo: The Thing Forsaken by God – Part 1 merges The Thing with the “young women in peril” slasher film to create the prototypical Japanese tentacle-horror film. In Takuro Fukuda’s Conton, a young man is harassed by gangsters and plagued by dreams of a creature hunted by monstrous knights until his dream and his reality combine. Finally, Jôji Iida’s Cyclops takes place in a world where mutants hide amongst us and where The Terminator is spiked with a violent dose of body horror.

Running just 30 to 60 minutes each, these mind-blowing, stomach-turning Japanese nasties pack a fleshy punch for horror fans and Japanophiles alike.

Special Edition Contents:

  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of all six films
  • Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio for all six films
  • Optional English subtitles on all six films
  • New interviews with director Masayoshi Sukita and visual effects artist Shin’ichi Wakasa, actors Hirohisa Nakata and Jun’ichi Haruta, director Shigeru Izumiya, and director Kazuo “Gaira” Komizu
  • Interview with director Jôji Iida
  • Newly filmed appreciations by critic Kat Ellinger and special effects artist Dan Martin
  • Extensive image galleries
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writings by Japanese cinema experts Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp

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Trailer Tuesday – Halloween 2022

October is always a fun month so let’s celebrate it with a long overdue “Trailer Tuesday.” The Criterion Collection has a 2022 October slate that is more horror-centric than it has been in years with releases of Kasi Lemmons’ Eve’s Bayou (1997), Jayro Bustamante’s La Llorona (2019), Frank Capra’s Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), and a 4K UHD edition of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). MMC! loves its Japanese cinema and so it’s only natural that we pay particular attention to the chilling Janus Films trailer for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure (1997) which brilliantly captures the frightening banality and emptiness of the film’s insidious psychopathy. Criterion’s hard media library welcomes Cure on October 18.

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Arrow Made Mine! The A Fugitive from the Past Edition

AV A Fugitive From The PastLiterally nothing on this blog makes me happier than posting about MMC! titles getting actual spine numbers and Arrow Video has made that happen once again with the announcement that Tomu Uchida’s A Fugitive from the Past will be released in September! A massive film that nicely bookends with his Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji (another film also promoted by MMC! and later released by Arrow Video), Fugitive is a masterpiece of Japanese guilt, treating the demand for atonement as a near metaphysical inevitability. Gritty in texture yet profound in its look and sensibility, Fugitive will likely catch many Arrowheads off guard and find the declaring a newly discovered masterpiece. Once again, you’re welcome!

Taxidermia (Gyorgy Palfi, 2006)

A BAD TRIP(TYCH) THROUGH HUNGARIAN HISTORY.

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddThree stories. Three eras. Three men. One is an orderly in a remote outpost during World War II consumed by lust but who passes the boredom by spying on the women around him and discovering his ability to ejaculate fire. The next is his son, a corpulent speed-eater competing for the glory of the Communist state and the attention of a hefty female colleague. The last is their son, a master taxidermist in the post-socialist era who turns his trade onto himself with gruesome effect. This is Taxidermia, a grotesquely surreal offering from director György Pálfi that inscribes the history of his native Hungary into the unusual bodies of three generations of men who are all damned from birth. Based in part on the stories of Lajos Parti Nagy, Pálfi creates a queasy masterpiece of historical body horror not recommended for the squeamish.

Special Edition Contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio
  • Optional newly translated English subtitles
  • Feature-length audio commentary with director György Pálfi
  • Making of Taxidermia behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Horrific Histories and Bachelor Machines, a brand new featurette with Steven Shaviro on the film’s political and philosophical underpinnings
  • Deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary
  • Visual design and concept gallery
  • Storyboards
  • Interactive game
  • Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen, Pálfi’s feature-length extravaganza of movie love and adventure pieced together from found-footage taken from Hollywood and abroad
  • Taltosember vs Ikarus, a short film by Pálfi with optional director commentary
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by scholar László Strausz

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Sam, Dan, and a (fake) MAD GOD!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddWe can imagine few better ways to ring in the new year than listening to two of your favourite podcast men stumble onto one of your posts during an episode and geek out at the prospect of an imagined Arrow Video edition, and MMC! headquarters is full of cheers at having listened to just that happen during the second half of Sam Ashurst and Dan Martin’s Top Ten Films of 2021 countdown!

During this latest episode, Sam and Dan extol the virtues of Phil Tippett’s amazing stop motion opus Mad God and inadvertently discover our post imagining an Arrow Video edition of the title. Their words were exceedingly kind and MMC! is naturally grateful for the shout-out. If only we had known at the time of their abiding love for the brilliant Dinner in America, MMC! would have made some space for them as well on our imagined Arrow Video edition of that film as well. Thanks gents, and keep up the good work!

Office Royale (Kazuaki Seki, 2021) – Fantasia International Film Festival 2021

THE OL BATTLE ROYALE BEGINS!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddNaoko Tanaka (Mei Nagano) is a 26 year-old office lady – a secretarial and clerical worker in a large Japanese company. Her job at Mitsufuji is reliable, the atmosphere is laid-back, and she has some friendly colleagues, but the fires of war burn brightly beneath the veneer of the office’s calm banality. Cliques of office ladies fight for departmental supremacy like sneering gangsters and posturing delinquents. These warring clans battle daily until a new employee arrives, Ran Hojo (Alice Hirose), armed with the strength and charisma of a manga hero to become the company’s top office lady and unite its competing factions. An unlikely friendship between Naoko and Ran is found, but what will happen to them and their company when powerful OL gangs from other companies arrive to test their honor and resolve? Can Ran, Naoko, and the office ladies of Mitsufuji survive the onslaught?

Director Kazuaki Seki’s debut feature is a hilarious, uproarious, action-packed send-up of workplace pettiness and office territorialism, pitting mild-mannered, pink-collar workers in vicious duels over coffee breaks and alongside photocopiers, all under the oblivious noses of their male superiors. Comedian Bakarhythm’s screenplay riffs on the conventions of Japanese comics with a witty meta-commentary and a furiously paced series of fights. Setting superhero grandeur in an unremarkable context, Office Royale is a hysterically energetic satire and a grandiloquent action spectacle.

Special Edition Contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio
  • Optional newly translated English subtitles on both films
  • Introduction by historian and critic Kim Newman
  • Yankees, Yakuza, and Making Copies, interview with director Kazuaki Seki
  • Heroic OL Diary, interview with screenwriter Bakarhythm
  • One-Punch Lady, interview with actress Mei Nagano
  • Ran’s House, interview with actress Alice Hirose
  • Press conference interviews with the cast
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian McEwan

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