VISIONARY ABERRATIONS FROM JAPAN’S ANALOG ERA
Before 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
The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival has reached its landmark tenth iteration this year and Festival Director John Allison and his team have ensured that this is the Fest’s biggest and brightest year yet by expanding it to six days, hosting a Drunken Cinema screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street, hosting another Saturday Morning All You Can Eat Cereal Cartoon Party, and bringing in as special guests director Joe Dante and actress Belinda Balaski for a three film retrospective. The SFFF kicked off with something of a soft-open with another new addition – a five film virtual reality experience held preceding the theatrical film program each weekday. Attendance was sparse on Day 1 so let this be a warning to those content to let the VR program pass them by – miss the SFFF’s Virtual Reality Experience section and you will certainly be missing out on some of the Fest’s most intriguing aspects.
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Shura.
Experimental filmmaker and critic Toshio Matsumoto followed up his queer opus, Funeral Parade of Roses, with a “mere” samurai film, yet underneath its seemingly traditional surface lurks just as many subversions. In Shura, a samurai poised to join the famous 47 ronin and avenge the death of his master becomes distracted from his duties by his love for a lowly geisha, who in turn betrays him. Driven mad by his desire for vengeance, the samurai embarks on a bloody path of revenge marked by riveting intensity, a nightmarishly black aesthetic, and an uncertain blurring of fantasy and reality. A Borgesian satire in the guise of samurai horror, this nocturnal masterpiece is one of the darkest films of its era, both visually and politically.
- New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New interview with critic, filmmaker, and festival programmer Tony Rayns
- Security Treaty, a 1959 short film by Toshio Matsumoto
- For My Crushed Right Eye, a 1969 installation piece by Matsumoto
- PLUS: A booklet featuring essays on the film by Matsumoto and Nagisa Oshima, director’s notes, and an essay by Japanese film scholar Hirofumi Sakamoto
TO FIGHT A DEMON, ONE MUST BECOME A DEMON!
Prehistoric demons, hideous and pitiless monsters that consume humans body and soul, secretly threaten mankind. Humanity’s only hope is to harness the demons’ power and turn it against them. With the help of his friend Ryo Asuka, the pure-hearted Akira Fudo merges with the demon Amon, God of War and Beast of Hell, to become Devilman, powerful defender of the human race with the strength and abilities of a demon! In Devilman: The Birth and Devilman: Demon Bird Sirène, this hellish anti-hero pits his infernal might against possessed party-goers, squid and spiders monsters, a sadistic turtle creature, and a beautiful and savage winged demoness.
Adapted from the 1972-1973 manga of visionary author and artist Go Nagai, Umanosuke Iida’s pair of original video animations faithfully represents the gory violence and incredible monstrosities that defined the series and made Devilman an iconic figure in Japanese popular culture. Arrow Video proudly presents these classic works of 1980s anime excess on high-definition Blu-ray with both their original Japanese audio and notorious English dub tracks.
- New High Definition digital transfer
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original stereo audio for original Japanese and English dub tracks (uncompressed on the Blu-ray Disc)
- Isolated music tracks featuring the compositions of Kenji Kawai
- New optional English subtitle translation
- New interview with acclaimed author and artist Go Nagai
- “We All Steal from Go Nagai!” – Directors Guillermo del Toro, Rob Zombie, and Yoshihiro Nishimura on the legacy of Go Nagai and Devilman
- Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Natsume Fusanosuke and Andrea Marinelli and an essay by creator Go Nagai written on the 30th anniversary of Devilman
- Devilman: Tanjo Hen – the single volume novel that originally accompanied the OVA in 1987, newly translated and reprinted in its entirety
- The Demon Bible – the original book published by Bandai in 1990 featuring artwork by Go Nagai, includes original Japanese and new English translations and reprinted in its entirety
A HORROR THAT GROWS ON YOU!
After a yacht is damaged in a storm and stranded near a deserted island, its passengers – a psychologist, his student, a wealthy businessman, a famous singer, a popular writer, a sailor, and the boat’s skipper – take refuge on a fungus covered ship marooned on the island’s shore. With food scarce and the ship’s logs warning that the island’s plentiful mushrooms, called “Matango,” are to be avoided, the castaways find their characters tested, leading to private deals, sexual tension, and violence. But when the hunger of the shipwrecked party becomes too great and its members begin eating the forbidden fungus, the true horror of Matango is revealed, transforming the castaways in mind and body into hideous fungal monsters!
Famed Japanese director Ishiro Honda assembles an all-star cast from his previous sci-fi films and monster movies for Matango, featuring performances by Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Koizumi, and Yoshio Tsuchiya. Captivating hallucinatory sequences, impressive set designs, and fantastically horrifying special effects by the celebrated Eiji Tsuburaya make this colorful B-movie a little known tokusatsu classic. Based on the 1907 story “The Voice in the Night” by William Hope Hodgson, Matango is one of the strangest, most horrific Toho productions to date and is presented here, for the first time, in high-definition presentations of its original Japanese version and its American cut, Attack of the Mushroom People.
- New high definition digital transfer of the Japanese cut of Matango and of the 1965 American version Attack of the Mushroom People edited for TV by American International Television
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
- Uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition
- Newly translated English subtitles for the Japanese soundtrack
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary by star Akira Kubo
- Interview with SFX cinematographer Teruyoshi Nakano
- Spoken word reading by screenwriter Masami Fukushima
- Vinyl Fungus – Artist Barry Allen Williams on Matango and its collectibles
- “Voice in the Night,” a 1958 episode of Suspicion based on the same source material as Matango
- Theatrical trailer
- Production sketches
- Collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by scholar Richard Pusateri and William Hope Hodgson’s original 1907 story “The Voice in the Night”
JAPANESE HORROR IN A GOTHIC VEIN!
In the spirit of Hammer and American International’s successful Gothic horror films comes Michio Yamamoto’s The Vampire Doll, Lake of Dracula, and Evil of Dracula – the BLOODTHIRSTY TRILOGY!
In this trio of rarely seen horror classics, Toho Studios transports the Dracula legend to the Land of the Rising Sun. Bloody fangs, vampiric brides, creepy mansions, and stormy nights abound while terrible secrets reach out from beyond the grave to threaten the living. In The Vampire Doll, a missing man’s sister and her boyfriend track him to the ancestral home of his recently deceased fiancé and uncover a gruesome and dangerous family history. A childhood nightmare of a golden-eyed vampire proves to be true in Lake of Dracula when years later a mysterious package is delivered to Lake Fujimi and local women begin suffering from blood loss and strange bite-marks. Evil of Dracula pits a remote private school’s new teacher against the terrifying evils that threaten him and overwhelm his beautiful young students. These one-of-a-kind films are highly atmospheric and genuinely creepy experiments in terror, sure to fascinate fans of Gothic horror and Japanese monster movies alike.
- New High Definition digital transfer
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
- Newly translated English subtitles
- Audio commentary by producer Fumio Tanaka
- New interviews with stars Akira Nakao, Chôei Takahashi, Toshio Kurosawa, and Atsuo Nakamura
- Theatrical trailers
- Gallery of promotional portraits and original promotional materials
- Reversible sleeve with original and commissioned artwork
- Collector’s booklet by critic Steven Hampton and Japanese film scholar Jasper Sharp of Midnight Eye, illustrated with new artwork