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The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast | A fitting farewell tribute to the goremeister who was born on this day in 1926

The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast

On 26 September 2016, Herschell Gordon Lewis – who was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 15 June 1926, headed to the last drive-in in the sky aged 90. But, in doing so, he left behind an enduring legacy as the Godfather of Gore.

It was in 1963 that the exploitation film-maker decided to branch out from his nudie movies and attempt to emulate the success of American International Pictures (AIP) – but with his own style of shocking imagery (cow tongues, anyone?), bizarre visual slapstick and a ‘fuck-you ‘ attitude towards established film tropes. He ended up changing the horror cinema landscape forever.

In celebration of the schlock master, Arrow Video released 14 of HGL’s exploitation movies (including nine Blu-ray world debuts) in one giant box-set, filled with a bucket-load of bonus content, last October.

Blood Feast

Yes, his blood-n-guts epics are all presented in restored versions (Two Thousand Maniacs!, The Wizard of Gore et al.), but also included are his rarely-seen exploitation flicks on sleazy photographers (Scum of the Earth), sex robots (How to Make a Doll), biker girl-gangs (She-Devils on Wheels), youths-run-amok (Just for the Hell of It), psychic witches (Something Weird) and hard liquor-loving hill-billies (Moonshine Mountain).

Color Me Blood Red

I’ve finally got my hands on the box-set and am now looking forward to some exploitation HGL’s movie madness. Now, bring on the moonshine…

WHAT’S IN THE BOX…
• Newly-restored from original and best surviving vault materials of Blood Feast, Scum of the Earth, Two Thousand Maniacs!, Moonshine Mountain, Color Me Blood Red, Something Weird, The Gruesome Twosome, A Taste of Blood, She-Devils on Wheels, Just for the Hell of It, How to Make a Doll, The Wizard of Gore, The Gore Gore Girls, This Stuff ll Kill Ya!
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the features and extras on 7 Blu-ray and 7 DVD discs
• Brand new introductions to the films by HGL
• Newly-produced interviews and featurettes, commentaries, and short films
• Two bonus Blu-rays featuring 1.33:1 versions of Blood Feast, Scum of the Earth, Color Me Blood Red, A Taste of Blood and The Wizard of Gore [limited editions exclusive]
• Bonus DVD: Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore documentary [limited editions exclusive]
• 28-page HGL annual stuffed full with Lewis-themed activities plus archive promotional material [limited editions exclusive]

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Phantasm 1-5: Limited Edition Collection | Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm series is back – with added balls on Blu-ray

Phantasm Gift Box Set

Few horror movie franchises are as iconic as Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm series. From its deadly flying silver spheres through to its hooded dwarf minions, and of course, the towering figure of arch villain The Tall Man himself, the imagery conjured up by the Phantasm films remains etched in the psyche of genre fans everywhere.

The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) reigns supreme in the Morningside Mausoleum in Phantasm.

The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) reigns supreme in the Morningside Mausoleum in Phantasm.

Beginning with the 1979 original through to 2016’s Phantasm: Ravager, the five films follow Mike (A Michael Baldwin) as he battles against the enigmatic Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) – an extraterrestrial being intent on harvesting the human race as slaves for his home planet. Aided by his friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister) and a four-barrelled shotgun, Mike resolves to vanquish the Tall Man before he wipes out humanity altogether…

Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) meets the Black Sphere in Don Coscarelli's PHANTASM III.

Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) meets the Black Sphere in Don Coscarelli’s PHANTASM III.

Presented here in a stunning Limited Edition Dual Format release by Arrow Video, it’s the first time all five films have been brought together on Blu-ray – including a brand new 4K restoration of the 1979 classic, Phantasm, overseen by JJ Abrams. Check out the full specs below ad  order from Amazon here

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LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES
• 5 movies together on Blu-ray for the first time!
• Limited Edition Bonus Disc
• Exclusive 152-page book with new writing on the Phantasm universe
• Replica Sphere
• Newly-commissioned artwork from Gary Pullin

PHANTASM (1979 – 2016 REMASTERED)
• Original Mono and 5.1 Surround Audio Options
• The Los Angeles Premiere Experience – join the audience of die-hard phans as they experience the restored classic for the first time! Watch the entire feature with a 5.1 Surround audience track recorded at the 2016 Los Angeles premiere followed by the full Phantasm Q&A panel
• Audio commentary with director/writer Don Coscarelli and actors A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury and Angus Scrimm
• Archive Introduction by “Tall Man” Angus Scrimm
• Reflections of Fear: Realising Phantasm – In this brand new pheaturette, experience new stories about the people and personal inspiration behind Phantasm, and learn how the film’s success has impacted on the actors and filmmakers’ lives. Features interviews with Don Coscarelli, actors A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister, Kathy Lester and Ravager director David Hartman
• Q&A panel from the 2016 Austin Premiere of Phantasm: Remastered
• 1979 TV interview with Don Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm
• Behind-the-Scenes with optional audio commentary by Don Coscarelli and Reggie Bannister
• Phantasm: Actors Having a Ball – Phantasm cast and crew offer up various recollections from the making of the film
• Deleted Scenes
• Original Trailer, TV and Radio Spots

PHANTASM II (1988)
• Original Stereo and 5.1 Surround Audio Options
• Audio commentary with director/writer Don Coscarelli and actors Angus Scrimm and Reggie Bannister
• Reflections of Fear: Realising Phantasm II – In this brand new pheaturette, learn from the cast and crew how and why a Phantasm sequel happened, the evolution of the story, and the introduction of the most iconic props in the series. Features interviews with Don Coscarelli, Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin, special make-up artists Mark Shostrom and Dean Gates and Ravager director David Hartman
• The Ball is Back – archive making-of documentary featuring interviews with Don Coscarelli, Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister and others
• The Gory Days – FX artist Greg Nicotero looks back at his work on Phantasm II • Deleted and Workprint Scenes
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage
• Angus Scrimm Fangoria Convention Appearance
• Angus Scrimm Fangoria TV Spot
• Original Trailer and TV Spots
• Still Gallery

PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD (1994)
• Original Stereo and 5.1 Surround Audio Options
• Audio commentary with actors A. Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm
• Reflections of Fear: Realising Phantasm III – In this brand new pheaturette, the cast and crew reflect on the third chapter in the Phantasm series and the vast amount of make-up work on the film. Features interviews actor A. Michael Baldwin, Ravager director David Hartman and make-up artists Mark Shostrom and Dean Gates
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage with optional audio commentary by Mark Shostrom and Dean Gates • Deleted Scene
• Original Trailer
• Still Gallery

PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION (1998)
• Original Stereo and 5.1 Surround Audio Options
• Audio commentary with director/writer Don Coscarelli and actors Angus Scrimm and Reggie Bannister
• Reflections of Fear: Realising Phantasm IV – In this brand new pheaturette, the cast and crew reflect on how the fourth Phantasm film evolved and reflect on their personal relationship with The Tall Man, Angus Scrim. Features interviews with director Don Coscarelli, actor A. Michael Baldwin, special make-up artists Mark Shostrom and Dean Gates and Ravager director David Hartman
• Behind-the-Scenes
• Original Trailer
• Promo
• Still Gallery

PHANTASM: RAVAGER (2016)
• Exclusive Introduction(s!) by director David Hartman
• The Los Angeles Premiere Experience – join the audience of die-hard phans as they experience Phantasm: Ravager for the first time! Watch the entire feature with a 5.1 Surround audience track recorded at the 2016 Los Angeles premiere
• Audio commentary with director David Hartman and writer/producer Don Coscarelli
• Reflections of Fear: Realising Phantasm: Ravager – Brand new pheaturette looking at the final chapter in the Phantasm series, featuring interviews with actors A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister, Kathy Lester, Daniel Schweiger and director David Hartman
• Q&A panel from the 2016 Austin Premiere
• Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
• Deleted scenes with optional audio commentary
• Bloopers and Outtakes
• Original Trailer
• Phantasm and You – a light-hearted recap of the Phantasm franchise by David Hartman

BONUS DISC
Phantasmagoria: feature-length documentary covering Phantasm I-IV
Phantasmagorical Mystery Tour: location tour hosted by actor Reggie Bannister
Tall Tales: newly-edited featurette comprised of largely unseen footage from Phantasmagoria
Dear Angus: a tribute to Angus Scrimm by long-time friend and collaborator Kristen Deem
Phantasm: Genesis: featurette looking at some of the key stunt sequences from the series
Phandom: A look at the enduring nature of ‘phandom’

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We Are The Flesh (2016) | Arthouse porn or transgressive treat?

We Are The Flesh (2016)

‘I loved this film. It takes over our waking thoughts, like a recurring dream we try to forget,
because we are fearful of finding out it may be a memory.’
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)

We Are the Flesh is a very personal, very powerful film that deeply impressed me.’
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu (The Revenant)

From Mexico comes writer/director Emiliano Rocha Minter’s surreal fantasy horror feature debut We Are The Flesh (aka Tenemos la carne), which gets a UK Blu-ray and DVD release from Arrow Video.

We Are The Flesh (2016)

Stumbling on the filthy lair of hermit Mariano (Noé Hernánedez), homeless brother and sister, Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) and Fauna (María Evoli), are given shelter in return for helping Mariano to create a womb-like structure out of scrap, and are then forced the siblings into having sex with each other. But incest isn’t the only taboo that the youngsters face as they are propelled towards self-awakening…

We Are The Flesh (2016)

With its graphic displays of unsimulated fellatio, masturbation and menstrual blood licking, this is not for the faint-hearted, and most viewers (who do last the distance) will simply cast it off as pervy arthouse porn, but devotees of transgressive cinema will be primal screaming with delight as Emiliano Rocha Minter’s powerful head-fuck hums to the transformative beat of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s magick cinema and the unrestrained morality of the Marquis de Sade. Death, rebirth and the liberation of the soul is at the dark heart of the surreal journey which culminates in a cannibalistic orgy and a gender-blending metamorphosis.

Beautifully shot, with a haunting drone-like score and featuring an utterly compelling physical performance from multi-award winning Noé Hernánedez (Miss Bala) as the prophesying hermit, We Are the Flesh is a visceral cinematic experience like no other.

Highly recommended (after watching the film) is author Virginie Sélavy’s illuminating video essay on Minter’s theatre of cruelty, which puts the director’s vision in perspective and certainly made me revisit this surreal surprise a second time.

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SPECIAL FEATURES
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) & High Definition digital transfer (DVD), with 5.1 surround and uncompressed stereo 2.0 audio options, and optional English subtitles
• Video essay by critic Virginie Sélavy
• Interviews with director Emiliano Rocha Minter and cast members Noé Hernández, María Evoli and Diego Gamaliel
• Two short films by Emiliano Rocha Minter; Dentro and Videohome
• Trailer
• Gallery
• Illustrated collector’s booklet

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The City of the Dead (1960) | The British horror classic gets a 4k restoration release

The City of the Dead (1960)From Arrow comes the long-awaited 4k restoration release of The City of the Dead, out now on dual format (Blu-ray/DVD).

The City of the Dead (1960)

SCREAM With Guests From The “Other World” When You Ring For DOOM SERVICE!
Professor Driscoll (Christopher Lee), is an authority on the occult who persuades one of his students (Venetia Stevenson) to research his hometown, Whitewood, once the site of witch burnings in the 17th century. Booking herself into the Raven’s Inn, she soon learns that devil worship among the locals hasn’t been consigned to the past…

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Produced by future Amicus founders Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg, and beautifully shot by Desmond Dickinson (whose credits ranged from Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet to Horrors of the Black Museum), The City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel) is a wonderfully atmospheric and still shocking slice of horror that stands firmly alongside with its Hammer contemporaries.

The City of the Dead (1960)

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• New 4K digital restoration by the Cohen Film Collection and the BFI
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of two versions of the film: The City of the Dead and the alternative US cut, Horror Hotel
• Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM Audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Audio commentary by film critic Jonathan Rigby
• Trailer
• Newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• First pressing only: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Vic Pratt

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Arrow to release Caltiki: The Immortal Monster in a brand new 2K restoration

Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959)On Monday 10 April 2017, Arrow Video will release 1959’s Caltiki: The Immortal Monster from two giants of Italian cult cinema – Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava.

Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959)

Crawling, Crushing Colossus of Terror!
A team of archaeologists led by Dr John Fielding (John Merivale, Circus of Horrors) descends on the ruins of an ancient Mayan city to investigate the mysterious disappearance of its inhabitants. However, the luckless explorers get more than they bargained for when their investigation of a sacrificial pool awakens the monster that dwells beneath its waters – the fearsome and malevolent god Caltiki.

Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959)

Though Riccardo Freda received sole directing credit, a significant portion of the film was in fact the work of Mario Bava, who also served as its cinematographer and was responsible its striking special effects. Drawing on a diverse array of influences, from The Quatermass Experiment to the works of HP Lovecraft, Caltiki the Immortal Monster is a unique and unforgettable sci-fi chiller which showcases these two legendary filmmakers at their most inventive.

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SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
• Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
• Audio commentary by Mario Bava biographer Tim Lucas
• Audio commentary by Italian Giallo cinema author Troy Howarth
From Quatermass to Caltiki: a new discussion with author and critic Kim Newman
Riccardo Freda, Forgotten Master: an archival interview with critic Stefano Della Casa
The Genesis of Caltiki: archival interview with filmmaker Luigi Cozzi
• Archival introduction to the film by Stefano Della Casa
• Alternate opening titles for the US version
• Newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• First pressing only: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Kat Ellinger and Roberto Curti

 

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The Blue Dahlia (1945) | Raymond Chandler’s only original screenplay is a hard-boiled film noir classic must-see

The Blue Dahlia (1945)The classic 1940s noir thriller, The Blue Dahlia, stars Alan Ladd as discharged naval flier Johnny Morrison who returns home to Los Angeles to discover his wife Helen (Doris Dowling) has been unfaithful. When she is found murdered, Johnny becomes the prime suspect and promptly goes on the run.

The always gorgeous Veronica Lake then turns up as Joyce, the wife of nightclub owner Eddie Harwood (Howard Da Silva) – who was Helen’s lover – and with the help of Johnny’s army pals, Buzz (William Bendix) and George (Hugh Beaumont), tries to clear his name…

The Blue Dahlia (1945)

Crime writer Raymond Chandler scored an Oscar nomination for his lean and mean original screenplay. It was the only one he ever wrote specifically for a movie and one in which he completed while ‘drunk’ when production was speeded up on the film because Paramount studio bosses feared Ladd would be re-inducted into the real-life US army.

The film, which was directed by George Marshall (of Destry Rides Again fame), also marked the third pairing of Ladd and Veronica Lake following 1942’s This Gun for Hire (which made Ladd a star) and The Glass Key (also available from Arrow Academy). It was released to great acclaim and has since become a must-see film noir classic.

The Blue Dahlia (1945)

William Bendix is a standout as Ladd’s shell-shocked war buddy who keeps complaining of ‘monkey-music’ in his head and the complicated story – all set in Hollywood’s decadent night club strip – keeps twisting brilliantly until the final cop-out ending (that was also done to placate the US war office).

A radio play version of the film was broadcast on 21 April 1949 as part of the The Screen Guild Theater, starring Ladd and Lake in their original film roles.

The Blue Dahlia is out now on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy in the UK. The extras include selected scene commentary and an introduction from author Frank Krutnik, the 1949 radio play, original trailer, gallery and promotional materials. Plus, a collector’s booklet (first pressing only).

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Hangmen Also Die! (1943) | A must-see wartime melodrama for all Fritz Lang fans

Hangmen Also Die! (1943)

At the height of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, four German exiles in Hollywood – director Fritz Lang, playwright Bertolt Brecht (earning his only US credit here as Bert Brecht), composer Hanns Eisler and actor Hans Heinrich von Twardowski – pooled their efforts into Hangmen Also Die!, an important historical film from 1943 about the Czech resistance, which gets a 2k restoration release from Arrow in the UK from 29 August.

Hangmen Also Die! (1943)

Taking as its starting point, the assassination of the real-life Nazi ‘Reich-Protector’ of Czechoslovakia, Reinhard Heydrich (Twardowski), Lang’s studio-bound suspenser sees an act of kindness by the courageous Marsha (Anna Lee) – hiding the culprit (a deadpan Brian Donlevy) from the Gestapo – result in her professor father (Walter Brennan) and 400 Czech compatriots facing execution unless Donlevy’s resistance fighter is turned over…

Hangmen Also Die! (1943)

Shot in atmospheric black and white by the legendary James Wong Howe, and featuring a Oscar-nominated score from Eisler, Lang’s anti-Nazi gift to wartime American cinemagoers is a masterful blend of war picture, film noir and political thriller. It may loose points for its overly melodramatic Hollywood treatment of the story (all the non-Nazi’s have American accents and Twardowski’s Heydrich comes off like Colonel Klink in Hogan’s Heroes), but its revolutionary spirit shines through.

Eagle-eyed cinephiles can watch out for Dracula‘s Dwight Frye as one of the hostages (it was his last film role before a heart attack cut short his life aged 44 in 1943), and hear the unmistakable growl of Cul-de-sac‘s Lionel Stander as the getaway driver.

Hangmen Also Die! (1943)

The Arrow release features a 2012 2k restored print by Pinewood from the Cohen Film Collection, and includes an audio commentary by film historian Richard Peña, along with an interview with author Robert Gerwarth on Reinhard Heydrich, plus newsreel footage, restoration comparison anda trailer. The first pressing of this release comes with a collector’s booklet.

A must-have for fans of Fritz Lang fans and lovers of wartime cinema.

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) | The Gothic giallo cult gets a definitive re-release

The Night That Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

A cacophony of crazed, cruel, camp characters, cockamamie plot, killer soundtrack, kaleidoscopic visuals and cool 70s fashions and furniture, Emilio Miraglia’s 1971 Italian giallo horror thriller, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, is one helluva ride.

For decades, the only way to see the film was in dreadful pan and scan VHS and DVD releases or in butchered TV edits, which denied fans the chance of witnessing Miraglia’s visual treat in all its eye-popping splendor. But Arrow’s restored 2K release has gore-geously redressed this, bringing genre fans the definitive version of the compelling Eurotrash cult favourite.

The Night That Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

 

The scenario (co-written by Massimo Felisatti, Strip Nude for Your Killer) is typical giallo, filled with planet-sized plot-holes and ridiculous red-herrings, but Miraglia fuses it with Gothic horror devices that turn the whodunit into a dark fairytale: like an S&M version of Roger Corman’s Tomb of Ligeia meets Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Béte on an acid trip.

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Set in an England that looks like Veneto, Italy (basically because that’s where the film was shot), La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba (to give it’s Italian title) centres on wealthy aristocrat Alan (Anthony Steffen), who has turned into a psychotic killer of redheaded prostitutes and strippers as a result of his late wife Evelyn cheating on him. In a bid to control his urges, his doctor convinces him to remarry another redhead (go figure), called Gladys (Marina Malfatti – who passed away aged 76 this week). But Alan’s mental state unravels when Gladys raises his suspicions that Evelyn faked her death to elope with her mystery lover.

The Night That Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

What happens next is either inspired lunacy or just outright crazy… depending on how you like you giallo. But it does involve Evelyn’s ghoulish return (as promised in the original film posters), a cage of foxes chewing on intestines, someone being bitten by a deadly snake, and lots of nipple shots.

However Miraglia’s pièce de résistance is a real doozy of a climax involving a white-tiled modernist pad smeared in the blood of two knife-wielding redheads – oh, and a pool of sulphuric acid. And bringing all of this together is Bruno Nicolai’s evocative soundtrack which is so lush and hypnotic, you’ll be searching the internet for a copy as soon as the end credits roll.

Killer DamesTHE ARROW FEATURES
When it comes to these heavily dubbed Euro thrillers, it is always a challenge deciding which audio track to choose. The Arrow Video 2k release has both Italian and English soundtracks as options, with new English subtitles on both. I tried the English first, but frankly hated the fake posh accents, so went back to Italian, which is way more preferable.

Giallo specialist Troy Howarth supplies an informative audio commentary, while writer Stephen Thrower shines a light on the film’s production history. There’s also a new interview with Erika Blanc, who elaborates (quite theatrically) about her big scene in which she rises from a coffin bum first; and an archival interview with Blanc (in which she says basically the same things). But my favourite extra is an archival interview with Lorenzo Baraldi, the art director responsible for the film’s fab 70s stylings. In my book, he’s the film’s real hero.

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is a dual format release available from Arrow Video as part of their Killer Dames box-set.

Retaliation (1968) | Yasuharu Hasebe’s Japanese gangster thriller is a knockout

Retaliation

In 1968, Japanese director Yasuharu Hasebe teamed up with the inimitable Jô Shishido (Branded to Kill, Youth of the Beast) for a follow up to their 1967 yakuza hit, Massacre Gun.

Retaliation is a tale of gang warfare that features a raft of the period’s most iconic stars, Akira Kobayashi is a yakuza lieutenant who emerges from jail to find his gang dispersed and his aging boss in his sickbed. Shishido is the rival waiting to kill him and a young Meiko Kaji is the girl caught in the crossfire. Gritty and cynical, Retaliation is a hardboiled precursor to Kinji Fukasaku’s revisionist yakuza pictures of the 1970s.

Retaliation

In May 2015 Arrow Films put out the Blu-ray world premiere release of the Japanese thriller (limited to 3000 copies). The special features include new interviews with star Jô Shishido and a retrospective look at the careers of Hasebe and Shishido, plus trailer and gallery, new artwork by Ian MacEwan, and a booklet featuring an article by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp. If you haven’t added this to your cult film collection, then maybe it’s time.

 

Coffy (1973) | The Godmother of Blaxploitation in motherf***ing HD

Coffy on Blu-rayOne of my Top Five re-releases of 2015 has to be Arrow’s Blu-ray release of Jack Hill’s 1973 thriller Coffy, one the best Blaxploitation films of the era, and the one that turned Pam Grier into a cinematic icon.

‘This is the end of your life you motherfucking dope pusher’
LA nurse Flower Child Coffin (Pam Grier), aka Coffy, goes on a one-woman mission to take down those responsible for turn her little sister onto heroine and putting her honest cop friend Carter (William Elliott) in hospital. Posing as a junkie hooker and a high-class Jamaican escort, Coffy works her way into the inner circle of drug-dealing pimp King George (Robert DoQui), where she finds the level of corruption is much closer to home than she expected…

Coffy (1973)

Coffy was a godsend part for exploitation actress Pam Grier. Her baddass vigilante was a landmark in 1970s cinema and redefined what it meant to be a powerful black woman on screen. As the street wise and fiercely independent hard-working nurse who isn’t unafraid to put her body and her life on the line to exact her own form of justice, she was the perfect modern, revolutionary heroine. And Grier brilliantly brought her to life.

Coffy (1973)

The American International Pictures actioner was also a career boast for B-movie auteur and director for hire, Jack Hill, who had previously lensed two ‘chicks in chains’ grindhouse movies (both with Grier), as well as the Lon Chaney Jr cult curio, Spider Baby, and also shot the US scenes for Boris Karloff’s infamous Mexican horror quartet.

Coffy (1973)

When Cleopatra Jones, AIP’s female Shaft project, ended up being picked up Warner Bros, AIP put Coffy together in just 18 days in a bid to beat them to the punch. Director Hill certainly delivered the goods, as audiences really dug the film. A follow-up, Foxy Brown, quickly followed, again with Grier in the lead, and Hill directing – and it was just as good.

Coffy (1973)

Despite it’s grindhouse veneer, Coffy‘s sex and violence isn’t done solely for cheap thrills. There’s a strong morale code running under the surface, while the racial issues it touches on reflected what was going on in 1970s America – and still does today, particularly in the light of those events in St Louis and Baltimore. But its Hill’s street smart script and tight direction that sets this Blaxploitation feature apart.

Coffy (1973)

But Coffy is also pure entertainment, with some great ‘guilty pleasure’ moments that stay with you forever, like the call-girl cat fight scene and Coffy hiding razor blades in her Afro. There’s also King George’s wicked fashions (he also gets his own theme tune) and the funky R&B Roy Ayers soundtrack (which peaked at No31 in the US charts in 1973). Oh, and let’s not forget THAT poster, which Tarantino called ‘the epitome of a great exploitation poster’. Grier followed this film with AIP’s Scream Blacula Scream, which also available on Blu-ray (click on the link for my review).

Coffy on Blu-rayTHE BLU-RAY RELEASE
Arrow’s director-approved presentation features a restored HD transfer (which looks fantastic btw) alongside an audio commentary with Jack Hill. Among the new interviews on this release is A Taste of Coffy, featuring Hill on making the film (19min), and The Baddest Chick in Town!, in which Pam Grier discusses the films and her inspiration behind the character (17min). Also included is an academic video essay on the Blaxploitation genre, image gallery, and a collector’s booklet, with new artwork packaging by Gilles Vranckx.

Foxy Brown, director Jack Hill’s follow up to Coffy, is also out on Blu-ray from Arrow, along with the director’s Spider Baby and Pit Stop, which are also on Dual Format (DVD and Blu-ray). Click on the links for my reviews.

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