The Human Vapor (Ishiro Honda, 1960)

IS HE MAN OR ASTRO-MAN?

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddSomething evil has drifted into Tokyo.  High security banks have been mysteriously robbed with only murdered staff left to mark the crime.  The police are baffled – no fingerprints, no weapons, no clues are found.  The culprit is THE HUMAN VAPOR, an atomic age nightmare spawned of science-gone-mad!  Once just a harmless librarian, a scientific experiment grants him the power to disintegrate into an indestructible gaseous thing.  With a city on edge and journalists keenly following this fantastic figure of modern terror, the police pursue their only clue – a beautiful dancer with an unknown sponsor financing her comeback.  Is she the key to stopping the Gas Man from ruthlessly killing again?

Following in the footsteps of their 1954 sci-fi classic Godzilla, director Ishiro Honda, special effects designer Eiji Tsuburaya, editor Kazuji Taira, and producer Tomoyuki Tanaka create a new story of irradiated horror, this time with a human face.  The Human Vapor is presented here, for the first time, in high definition presentations of both the original Japanese version and the recut American version that transforms Honda’s film from a science fiction mystery into a flashback tale told by the Gas Man himself.

Special Features:

  • New high definition digital transfer of the original Japanese cut of The Human Vapor and of the American version recut by Brenco Pictures
  • High definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original Japanese and English mono audio soundtracks (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Japanese soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • Audio commentary by actress Kaoru Yachigusa
  • Interview with special effects designer Koichi Kawakita
  • Half Man … Half Beast! – featurette on Eiji Tsuburaya’s special effects with special effects photographer Motoyoshi Tomioka
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by David Kalat, an essay by special effects designer Koichi Kawakita, behind the scenes photos, and poster art

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“We’ve Lost! Let’s Try the Kitchen!”

Hey kids, enjoy the fun of fleeing for your life and abandoning your spaceship to an unstoppable monster!

Were kids in 1979 clamouring for an 18-inch replica toy of a terrifying monster from an R-rated movie?  That’s hard too imagine (although that toy looks pretty great).  I love the idea that when some young boy wasn’t looking, that Alien doll was stolen by some little girl who put a bonnet on it and seated it at a tiny table as a guest at an imagined tea party.  “Would you like a biscuit, Mrs. Scaryskullface?”  “Yessssssssssss.”

Golden Bat (Hajime Sato, 1966)

WHERE, WHERE, WHERE DOES HE COME FROM, THE GOLDEN BAT?

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddThe strange alien menace Nazo has set the planetoid Icarus on a collision course with the Earth!  Only Doctor Yamatone (Sonny Chiba, The Street Fighter) and his team at the Pearl Research Institute can prevent humanity’s obliteration by destroying Icarus with their Super Destruction Beam Cannon, but they can’t defeat Nazo and his henchmen alone.  Thankfully they have the sworn protection of the Golden Bat, a skull-faced superhero awoken from a 10,000 year-long sleep.  With his Baton of Justice, Golden Bat laughs in the face of danger and leaps where others fear to tread, ready to save mankind from its extraterrestrial threat!

Originally created in 1931 by writer Ichiro Suzuki and illustrator Takeo Nagamatsu, Golden Bat is transported to the Space Age in this low-budget, science fiction masterpiece from Toei.  Director Hajime Sato (Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell) fills the screen with alien bad-guys, super-science laboratories, buzzing laser beams, and plenty of cool ’60s gadgetry.  This early example of tokusatsu entertainment and Toei’s prominent superhero productions is sure to please kids and adults alike!

Special Features:

  • New high definition digital transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
  • Uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • New interview with actor Sonny Chiba
  • Golden Bat, the First Superhero, a video essay by Eric P. Nash on the origins of Golden Bat
  • Reversible sleeve with original and commissioned artwork
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Japanese film scholar Chris D., illustrated with historical artwork of Golden Bat

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Despair has no wings, A Crystal Maze, Alphaville and Film Studies for Free

Yesterday at Film Studies for Free, Catherine Grant posted “STUDY OF A SINGLE FILM: On Godard’s ALPHAVILLE – Dystopia 50 years on!”  We love dystopias and Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville (1965), and are only too pleased to nerd out on some French New Wave scholarship.  Enjoy Patricia Pisters’ Despair has no wings (2015) and Henrike Lindenberger’s A Crystal Maze (2014) embedded here and the other essays collected at the Film Studies for Free page.

Thanks Catherine!

Ikarie XB 1 (Jindrich Polak, 1963)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Ikarie XB 1.

criterion logoJindrich Polák’s pioneering feature Ikarie XB 1 is a cornerstone of modern science fiction cinema.  Based on Stanislaw Lem’s The Magellanic Cloud, this enigmatic film follows a crew of 22nd Century space explorers to their destination, the Alpha Centauri solar system, where they hope to make contact with extraterrestrial life.  On their way, they struggle with the boredom of interstellar travel, meet the dangerous legacy of 20th Century Earth, and battle the effects of a Dark Star’s radiation.  Punctuated by Zdenek Liška’s brashly electronic score and the careful compositions of cinematographers Jan Kalis and Sasa Rasilov, Ikarie XB 1 merges high concept and high art to produce a profoundly influential and highly atmospheric vision of space travel.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored 2K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Isolated score by Zdenek Liška
  • New video tribute from director Ari Folman
  • New interview with film critic Glenn Erickson comparing the film with its American-International cut, retitled Voyage to the End of the Universe
  • Except from a documentary about Stanislaw Lem, the author of the film’s source novel
  • Plus: A booklet featuring a new essay by director Alex Cox, a 1998 interview with director Jindrich Polák by Czech science fiction magazine Ikarie, interviews with Polák’s wife Zuzana Polaková, assistant director Hynek Bocan, actor Radovan Lukavský, and Czech science fiction author and journalist Ondrej Neff.

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Black Mirror (Charlie Brooker, 2011/2013)

“Beg.  Borrow.  Steal.  It doesn’t matter what you do, but find a way to watch Black Mirror.” – Andy Greenwald, GRANTLAND.

Drafthouse Films LogoCharlie Brooker’s Black Mirror gazes into the depths of our dormant device screens and finds the dark side of life and technology staring back.  A worthy heir to The Twilight Zone, Brooker’s six twisted tales of techno-paranoia, separated into two seasons, examines everything from viral videos and TV talent contests to artificial intelligence, media pervasiveness, and total memory, and, in doing so, explores how digital culture may aggravate our moral failings and human frailties.  Imagined by its creator as “the way we might be living in 10 minutes’ time if we’re clumsy,” Black Mirror is sometimes funny, often unsettling, and always intelligently conceived, revealing that no smart device is smart enough to save us from ourselves.

Special Features:

No More Edition – Package Includes:

  • Black Mirror Seasons 1 and 2 on Blu-ray or Standard DVD featuring over 5 hours of bonus material
  • High Quality 720p Digital Download Available on Street Date
  • 27″ x 40″ Posters for Seasons 1 and 2
  • Digital Download of the Collected Scripts with foreword by Charlie Brooker
  • White Bear T-shirt

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