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Arrow Staff's Top Titles of 2018

20th December 2018
By Charlotte Aitken

2018 has been a prolific year for Arrow in several areas. This year we have released over 100 Arrow and Academy titles, in the UK, including some amazing cutting-edge films such as Climax and The Endless. In the US and Canada, we released other awesome titles including region exclusives such as Basket Case. Elsewhere our Arrow Records label released several vinyl records such as Death Smiles On a Murder, Death Walks On High Heels and Erik The Conqueror. Watch this space as we’ve got lots more planned for 2019.

We’ve attended some incredible events this year. One of our highlights of the year was in August when Arrow Video joined FrightFest, the renowned horror and fantasy film festival, for its 19th addition as the headline sponsor. Also, Arrow Video was delighted to attend Beyond Fest, the highest attended genre film festival in the U.S, where it was great to see faces old and new. We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who attended our events throughout 2018 and look forward to seeing you all next year.

With such an awesome year, staff at Arrow HQ have taken a moment or two to reflect on their own particular favourite releases of 2018 (Arrow Video’s 9th year). We hope you’ve enjoyed some of our releases from 2018 just as much as we have. We look forward to sharing many more great titles with you in 2019, especially with our 10th year Arrow Video anniversary coming up. Who knows what the future holds? 

 

  

Francesco Simeoni, Director of Content and Distribution

It’s been another busy year and I am very proud that we’ve been able to host so many great films on our labels and this year was full of surprises. Usually, when we are licensing films we have a good idea of what we’re going to be looking at, years of experience trains your gut to know what to expect but this year we had some amazing films come out of left field as well as well as exciting new films and old classics.

Images

Robert Altman had about as incredible a run through the 1970s as any director ever had but Images had long been missing with only an old US DVD, long out of print and no HD release anywhere so it was a thrill to not only be able to present the film on Blu-ray for the first time but also to do a brand new restoration of it. When we do a horror film it’s often assumed it’ll be an Arrow Video title but there’s some obsessive part of me that where possible likes to keep directors within one label (though we have the odd drifter, such as Suzuki, between the labels) and since we have five Altman films it would’ve been weird to have one somewhere else! I often think it’s also great to have titles that can tempt fans of one label to another, I love making new discoveries and I hope Images was one where other people were able to find something they otherwise might not have before.

The Quiet Earth

This was a childhood favourite for me, I love dystopian or tool-up-and-survive films (which allows me to include zombies and certain monsters) and this Antipodean entry into this sort of non-specific sub-genre is one that has really stuck with me and was on my ‘to acquire’ list from pretty much day one. I loved with this film how the threat was just being alone, there wasn’t anything to fight off and so this made the challenge of the film totally intriguing and possibly quite deep for my young mind when I first watched it but the film has many pleasures and for me has not faded one bit.

Waterworld

I love explaining to people how Waterworld wasn’t a failure because people often reference the story which came out of the US where it did indeed underperform (against its budget at least) but internationally Waterworld was pretty respectable, doing double its domestic gross! So it’s going to be really interesting to see how people respond to it now after the bad PR is gone and all that’s left is a film to be judged on its own merit and the passage of time. Is it a cult title? That’s obviously debatable but the ridiculous plot, scenery-chewing baddie in Dennis Hopper, the scale and action set pieces for me make it a no-brainer to add to my collection and to be able to present three cuts, finally including the longer cut with all the censored language and violence put back in is something I thought I’d never see.

It was tough to narrow it down as I was also thrilled to release Miike’s wild and bloody opus Blade of the Immortal, present Tomu Uchida’s Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji on home video for the first time in the west, likewise multiple premieres in our Suzuki boxsets, work with Abel Ferrara again on The Addiction, with Guillermo Del Toro on Crimson Peak, Terry Gilliam on 12 Monkeys and Tideland, as well as Candyman which was a joy to see around Halloween. In this job, it’s always easy to be more excited about future projects and next year we have some of my favourite ever films including my white whale which I finally caught but this year has seen loads of amazing stuff and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we did!

 

 

Mike Hewitt, Head of Marketing

The Endless

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s third film is a magical spellbinder that blends several genres and was an absolute pleasure to work on. The directors flew over for a handful of promotional theatrical screenings and in-store signings and were both extremely laid-back, funny and genuine. It was also amazing to be able to include their first film, Resolution, on our initial Limited release of the film, and we can’t wait to see what these exciting filmmakers come up with next.  

Candyman

A personal favourite 90s horror (admittedly there are slim pickings for this decade), our Candyman release was a truly fantastic set for our main Halloween release, pulling in various cuts of the film in gorgeous restorations, and incredible extras produced by Heather Buckley. The brand-new interview with Clive Barker is simply worth the price of purchase alone, and this was backed up by many other stand-out features and extra materials. Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman… 

Climax

One of the greatest thrills of the year was debuting Gaspar Noe’s exhilarating new film Climax as the closing film at FrightFest, or rather Arrow Video FrightFest as it is now known due to our headline sponsorship of the UK’s largest genre festival. Gaspar jumped on a Eurostar to join for the Premiere, and following a quick trip to Notting Hill Carnival, came back promptly for the screening to give an introduction and interviews on the media wall, before requesting that the volume be turned up. Twice. In both screenings. Supernature indeed!

 

Louise Buckler, Marketing Manager

Basket Case

With a brand new 4K restoration from MoMA restoration and a basket crammed with a whole host of fantastic and far out extras, this release of Basket Case is really something to get excited about! I used to watch  this film time and time again when I was growing up (and once dressed up as Duane for a fancy dress party with a paper mache Belia in tow, naturally) so it was great to see this film receive the Arrow treatment and receive such great feedback from our US fans online and at events.

Horrors of Malformed Men

A cinematic experience you won’t want to miss! Murder, insanity and human experiments are the name of the game in Teruo Ishii’s euro-guro fever dream - which reportedly left cinema-goers fleeing theatres when it originally screened in Japan over 50 years ago. For those new to the works of Ishii or  Edogawa Rampo, the extras included in this release provide plenty of interesting titbits and do a great job of contextualising the film.

Heathers

This was a really fun release to work on. The Blu-ray followed a really incredible cinema run in the UK where Heathers fans to were out in full force to experience our new restoration on the big screen.  It was also an absolute pleasure to be able to work so closely with director Michael Lehmann and the OG Heather Lisanne Falk who both headed to London to attend two sold-out Q&As and were incredibly involved and supportive of the release throughout.   

Honourable mentions also go out to a few of my other favourites for this year… Candyman, Doom Asylum and The Endless. 

 

 

Ed Sherwood, National Account Manager 

Children of Men

Alfonso Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki finally showcased their talents to the wider Western world with some of the most impressive cinematography ever committed to film. Although they were both to be rewarded Oscars later for GRAVITY, it is really with this film that both men should have been recognised. A brilliantly brutal and visionary dystopian film.

The Endless

Whilst this film is not without its flaws, it does show the obvious talents of the two filmmakers and co-stars, Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, made all the more impressive considering this was all achieved with a small indie film budget. In fact, every film they’ve made so far has impressed me. Just imagine what they could achieve with Hollywood budgets? This release also has my all-time favourite Arrow Video cover artwork!

Tideland

An oft-overlooked Terry Gilliam film, despite being one of my favourites of his. A depressingly bleak film, it is nevertheless masterfully directed and beautiful in parts. Although be prepared to have a hot shower afterwards…

 

 

Rebecca Howard, Marketing Executive

Arrow Video:

Deadbeat at Dawn

A treasure trove for cult movie fans, Deadbeat at Dawn has everything from full-breasted nudity to full-badass nunchucks. Director/writer/producer/star/choreographer/editor (let’s just face it the greatest auteur since André Bazin first coined the term) Jim Van Bebber left film school to pursue this personal vision, and what a vision it was. Now fully restored and chockablock with special features, the film follows Goose (Van Bebber) in all his ninja star-wielding, wall-scaling, binge-drinking glory, who returns home one day to discover his girlfriend has been murdered by rival gang members. After emotionally feeding her body into a trash compactor – while somehow managing to keep his shirt spotlessly white – a heartbroken Goose goes on a journey of self-discovery, complete with junkie war vet dads - “that’s my beer!” -, Man Booker Prize-worthy monologues - “I don’t care, I just don’t f*cking care, I don’t care” -, and long-lost sisters-in-law – “Did you kill her?” “No…I loved her”.

While Van Bebber went on to make other strong contributions to the world of cult, including The Manson Family, this eminently quotable addition to any slashathon drinking game was the one that started it all. One thing’s for sure – you’ll never leave your motorcycle unattended again.

Arrow Academy:

Secret Beyond the Door

Fritz Lang brought a sharply surreal aesthetic eye and a fatalistic sense of storytelling to the shadowy streets of Hollywood’s film noir era, and spun cinematic gold. Perhaps one of the most overlooked masterpieces of his career is Secret Beyond the Door. Starring British legend Michael Redgrave and regular Fritz Lang collaborator Joan Bennett, it follows an American heiress and her growing obsession with what lies beyond a door her new husband keeps strictly locked. In a house full of her husband’s strange relatives and his curious hobby of replicating famous murder scenes within its rooms, she descends increasingly into an isolated feeling of paranoia, as the walls themselves start to close in around her.

What could have been a derivative knock-off of its more famous precursors Gaslight and Rebecca – its at times hammy dialogue certainly does it no favours –, the strong central performance from its star, stunning shots from its cinematographer and deft sensibility from its director elevates Secret Beyond the Door to a surreal exploration of psychological dominance and loneliness, and ultimately to that rarest of all creatures: a Hollywood art-movie.

Arrow TV:

Nordic Noir Classics Range: The Killing

TV has often been referred to in recent years as “cinematic”. While an overtly vague term, it’s safe to assume that by that we mean well-directed, well-filmed, and most importantly well-defined. In no show is this more evident than in The Killing, which set a standard for how strong televisual content could be back in 2007, and kickstarted a Nordic Noir obsession that in the past decade has taken the world by storm. Centering on Detective Inspector and knitwear aficionado Sarah Lund, the series is essentially a police procedural that distinguishes itself through its suspenseful and slow-paced storytelling, strong aesthetic, and focus to both understand the mind of the murderer, and follow the impact of it on the loved ones left behind.

Beautifully immortalised in this special Nordic Noir Classics edition, proudly emblazoned with the jumper we know can only mean one thing, The Killing perhaps excels most in its characters, and in a gift that keeps on giving: a heroine to root for, and certainly never forget.

  

Alan Simmons, QC Operator

THE BABY

I feel like this one didn’t get the love and attention it deserved - but it is one of my biggest, and favourite, Arrow discoveries this year: The Baby.

Directed by Ted Post - who also helmed Magnum Force, Hang ‘em High and Beneath the Planet of the Apes - The Baby is barmy. It’s the unsettling and disturbing tale of a grown man trapped in the mind of an infant by force by his domineering mother and abusive sisters. When a social worker gets wind of what is happening, a legal battle ensues over custody of “Baby” that soon turns nasty and bloody.

Anjanette Comer and Ruth Roman are fabulous as the feuding social worker and mother, neither backing down or taking any prisoners when it comes to their opinion on Baby’s welfare; and Marianna Hill and Susanne Zenor are suitably mean and batty as Baby’s siblings that are as likely to climb into his crib to take advantage of him as they are to give him a thrashing if he even tries to walk or talk.

With this kind of content, The Baby is already a tough watch at times but this is really doubled down on by David Manzy as Baby himself. Manzy really goes for it, leaning into his character’s physical and mental shortcomings so hard as to make his character’s fate genuinely upsetting - and not the joke it could have come off as. In an interview on the disc, he reveals that he is now a high school principal and finds it extremely entertaining whenever some of his students become aware of his role in the film.

With swinging 70s party scenes and a mad incredible brutal ending, you will never have seen anything like The Baby before, and will most certainly never ever forget it. This release encapsulates, for me, one of the best things about Arrow: finding the films you’ve never heard of and putting them out in the best version possible to discover and love.

DEADBEAT

Deadbeat at Dawn is one of those Arrow releases that I am sure I am not the only one in wanting to watch because it is an Arrow release. By that I mean that I may not have heard of the film, or be familiar with the filmmaker, but because we/Arrow are putting it out and I trust our brand and tastemakers implicitly I know that as blind as I am to it there must be a very good reason for seeing it and it is probably going to be a gem.

Deadbeat at Dawn isn’t a gem. Deadbeat at Dawn is a dirty brass-knuckled sucker punch in the face. Creator Jim Van Bebber dropped out of film school and used his remaining student loan money to just get out on the streets and make his own movie and what he made is unlike anything else. It has an action movie/computer game plot - avenge your girlfriend’s death by beating up the gang responsible - but the fight scenes are so savage and bloody, and the prosthetic effects are so extremities endangering, that it would not be a stretch to also classify Deadbeat at Dawn as horror.

Van Bebber directs as well as starring and with his scuzzy style and his rock star swagger, his appearance and directorial style remind you of Rob Zombie - if Rob Zombie did karate and all his own stunts. Putting his body (as well as his old college’s borrowed equipment) on the line throughout, JVB made Deadbeat at Dawn with blood, sweat and tears - with the emphasis literally on the blood, hanging out of a speeding car and getting scraped along a brick wall then going back for more. Every day.

As well as the scrolling beat ‘em up of a film full of ninja stars, nunchucks and brutal gang-related fisticuffs, the Arrow release includes many of Van Bebber’s other films that are all as singular and gritty as the man himself. This release not only brought an under-the-radar indie film to a wider audience that can appreciate it now as a lost cult classic - but also introduced us to a little-known filmmaker that we will never regard as a legend. That’s why Deadbeat at Dawn is one of my Arrow releases of the year.

CANDYMAN

One of the best, and definitely the scariest, horror movies of the 90s, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Ca… - nope, I’ll still never do it - is my final Arrow release of the year.

The first time I saw this one was when 12-year-old me rented the VHS and watched it alone at night in a caravan in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm. Obviously, it scared the back out of me. It still impresses and shocks now, thanks to a timeless combination of Clive Barker's peerless source material, Bernard Rose's absolutely immaculate direction, Tony Todd's career-defining sexy and terrifying performance, Virginia Madsen's tough and identifiable portrayal that sticks its fingers up to the trad notion of the “final girl”, and Phillip Glass’ incredible haunting score that elevates the film to another level. Candyman is a film that showcases how just how good horror can be when made and treated with prestige.

The releases extras made me reappraise and reevaluate a film I already loved both in terms of its socio-political subtext (Urban Legend: Unwrapping Candyman) and its creation (Virginia Madsen reveals in her interview that she was hypnotised for real to appear suitably soporific when under Candyman's spell). This plus a feature encode that bangs, a cut of the film you won't have seen unless you have the Japanese laserdisc, and the subtitle of the year: “(Laughs pompously)”, puts Candyman in my top 3 Arrow releases of 2018.

 

Anthony Newcomb, Customer Service Supervisor

City of the Living Dead My first ‘Gates of Hell’ experience and what a way to get stuck in. Despite nice new artwork, I love the use of the original artwork; it’s perfect. Our rigid slip-case limited editions (shout out to Candyman too) are so well presented and this comes with a great booklet and poster, housed in packaging that looks beautiful on the shelf. The film’s story is well told and the shocking violence never becomes gratuitous. The film looks incredible thanks to the restoration from a 4K scan of the OCN. Stacked with extras, this is a great Fulci starting point, I can’t wait to catch up with the rest of the trilogy.

Doom Asylum – Easily my favourite new artwork of the year and probably the most fun title we’ve released in 2018 apart from Killer Klowns from Outer Space! Trashy, kitsch and ever so quotable; this is the kind of film I never would have discovered if it weren’t for Arrow and the extras give great insight into stories behind the camera. Get some friends over and watch it tonight!

Basket Case I never could’ve believed that a low budget, 16mm shot film could look so good! Building on the incredible restoration with a great selection of extras and simple but striking artwork; this is one of the greatest cult classics to come out of the ‘80s. Henenlotter clearly has so much passion for filmmaking and it really comes through on this release. The accompanying Belial pin badges are great too, I hope more Arrow merchandise is on the way in 2019!

 

 

Michael Mackenzie, Senior Producer

This has been an especially prolific year for Arrow, with a dizzying array of titles, both of the classic and ‘cult classic’, variety, seeing the light of day in shiny new feature-packed releases. Of the titles I’ve been responsible for shepherding through the production pipeline, I’m particularly proud to have been able to help deliver new high definition versions of numerous giallo classics, among them Massimo Dallamano’s What Have They Done to Your Daughters? and Sergio Martino’s Torso, and to bring 2016’s excellent restored edition of Dario Argento’s Deep Red to North American shores. Deep Red remains one of my all-time favourite films, and it was a pleasure to be able to work on another firm favourite, 2006’s Children of Men – a film which remains eerily prophetic, and arguably more relevant now than ever.

Elsewhere, I’ve looked on with admiration and no small amount of jealousy at the lavish special editions my fellow producers have been responsible for. There are too many to namecheck all of them, but I’d like to give a tip of the hat to Roger Altman’s Images, the double pack release of Duccio Tessari’s A Pistol for Ringo and The Return of Ringo, the laden collector’s edition of Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left, and of course The Complete Sartana box set.

So here’s to another fantastic year of assorted Arrow delights, and to an equally productive 2019! (If you only knew the things I knew…)

 

We hope you have enjoyed finding out what our favourite releases were. We would also like to know what your favourite picks were, so please feel free to fill out our poll here



 

 

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