MMC! asked for it 2 years and 9 months ago in a Criterion edition, but it’s Arrow Academy that has answered our request for Tomu Uchida’s Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, a classic of Japanese cinema and a welcome entry point for a great director little known outside his homeland. Those looking for more on Uchida and a spoiler filled survey of the film can refer back to my post on Bloody Spear as well as my discussion of Uchida’s other masterpiece, A Fugitive of the Past. Here’s hoping that Arrow Academy’s foray in Uchida’s filmography is a sign that an AA edition of Fugitive (and other Uchida films) might also be on the horizon and that Japanese film fans might find a new director to celebrate and, in the case of Fugitive, a new favourite crime procedural to embrace. Take that High and Low!
The Criterion Collection’s July announcements are truly stacked – the Palme d’Or-winning initiator of the American independent cinema movement of the 1990s, a classic sports-comedy, Criterion’s long-awaited second King Hu film, and a six-film set commemorating one of cinema’s iconic collaborations – but MMC!‘s most anticipated title is Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death. This is not simply a great film getting a wacky “C,” but a movie that requires me to re-write my all-time top ten Criterion titles. I could use this space to point out that MMC! had this more than two years ago or to partially lament that the CC release lacks a variety of the disc features MMC! canvassed in our imagined edition, but I don’t really care. One of my all time favourite films is coming to the Collection in a new 4K restoration and I couldn’t be happier! Once again movie nerds, you’re welcome.
MMC! is happy to report that our plaintive cries into the cinematic darkness have been answered once again, this time by Arrow Films! The label’s May 2018 announcements for the Arrow Video line dropped this morning and amongst a stacked collection of six announcements (including 3 North American editions, one of which is Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left!) is Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy. The upcoming Arrow Video edition even includes a video appraisal by Kim Newman and writing by Jasper Sharp, although nothing from MMC! 😦
I am happy to say we had this one back in May 2015 and I encourage readers to check out that post as it includes a variety of links to other articles on the films, most notably Jasper Sharp’s review of Lake of Dracula.
Typically, our “— Made Mine!” posts involve our happily reporting that an MMC! proposal has become a reality. The extra features might vary and the cover treatment is always different, but the title now in fact bears the our desired label’s insignia and that always feels like something to celebrate. MMC! doesn’t commemorate instances where labels that usually are not the focus of our title proposals subsequently release editions of movies discussed here. For example, Kino Lorber has released Blu-ray editions of quite a few films proposed here for Criterion treatments. Beggars of Life, The Chase, The Knack … and How To Get It, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three have all received fine hard media releases with a prominent KL on the spine. We don’t go down the rabbit hole of trying to keep up with parallel editions from labels not regularly discussed at MMC! but they’re out there and we’re buying them.
And then we come to the strange case of Joe Dante’s The ‘Burbs and Matinee. At the time they were proposed by MMC! to be part of the Criterion Collection, The ‘Burbs had been announced as a UK only title for Arrow Video with no special features yet detailed. Arrow Video’s release of a UK only edition of Matinee was not even on the horizon. MMC! overlooked these editions primarily because they were not for the North American audience, but now Shout Select has announced a forthcoming edition of The ‘Burbs for March 20, and with a January 16 release date already forthcoming for Matinee, we had to make something of an exception and celebrate these past MMC! titles given a new life on an MMC! favoured imprint, even if they don’t exactly match up with our original intentions.
Once again, film world, you’re welcome.
Maybe it’s because Arrow Video made their announcements while I was at the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival. Maybe I’m just asleep at the wheel. Either way, MMC! is overdue in noting that Arrow Video will be releasing Robert Harmon’s The Hitcher (1986) at the end of this month, albeit not in the hi-def Blu-ray edition previously proposed here but rather in a scholarly monograph.
Robert Harmon’s 1986 film The Hitcher is a complex beast: reviled at the time of its release, it has been adored in the long term as one of the most intoxicating, unrelenting highway cult films ever made. Starring Rutger Hauer in the title role whose alluring villainy would give his turn as Blade Runner’s Roy Batty a run for its money, The Hitcher – both the film and the character – is simultaneously of its time and of the now, a film about the real and the mythic, and a film that challenges our assumptions about masculinity and femininity. Its horrors unfold as The Hitcher tracks and tortures the film’s protagonists across the highways of Nowhere USA, and the film reveals a tangle of contradictions: it is, at times, simultaneously dense, shallow, obvious, subtle, absurd and deeply intelligent.
The critical paths into The Hitcher that this book explores are rich and plentiful, and through an exploration of its origins and production history, a close analysis of the film itself and a consideration of the immediate fallout following its release and its longer legacies, this book celebrates one of the greatest highway horror movies ever made.
Alexandra Heller-Nicholas is a film critic and academic from Melbourne, Australia, who has written four books on cult, horror and exploitation cinema.
Featuring new artwork by Gary Pullin and original stills.
Sounds good! I’ll definitely be picking this one up.
And once again, MMC! shapes the boutique film label world. You are welcome, cinephiles.
Criterion’s April 2017 titles have been announced and in addition to Buena Vista Social Club (Wim Wenders, 1999), Woman of the Year (George Cuckor, 1942), and Rumble Fish (Francis Ford Coppola, 1983), Juzo Itami’s Tampopo (1985) has made its expected arrival to the Collection. Now MMC! can’t take all the credit for Tampopo‘s admission to the Collection, but I can’t help but note the upcoming Criterion edition includes The Making of Tampopo, Rubber Band Pistol, and a Nobuko Miyamoto interview and addresses the concept of seishin in Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos’ video essay. MMC! so rarely gets to pat itself on the back when Criterion makes its announcements, but I’ll say that MMC!‘s proposed edition from nearly four years ago had this.