Big boxsets, ex-video nasties, restored giallos, unearthed slashers and gothic horrors. It’s hard to summarise all of the many titles we released last year as we always strive to showcase different aspects of cult cinema and introduce them to new audiences. With it being the the start of a new year we’d like to take the time to look back over 2022 more carefully and reflect on all the releases that came out of the Arrow Video stable. We caught up with some of the Arrow staff and asked them to pick their favourite releases of 2022:
James Flower – Producer
2022 proved to be one of our busiest and most eclectic years yet, and certainly one of the most fulfilling for me professionally. Shawscope Volume Two dominated much of it (as did another kung fu boxset, yet to be announced…) and seeing the positive response so far has been incredibly gratifying. Finally getting to upgrade Robocop to UHD with brand new 4K scans of the unrated gore footage felt like making right a wrong we had to let slide back in 2019, as did finally upgrading An American Werewolf in London to the format. While we may not have the keen eye and excellent taste of both Francesco Simeoni and Ewan Cant – now kicking ass at Radiance Films and Vinegar Syndrome, respectively – working with us anymore, our terrific team has got some amazing treats coming up for you in 2023, including a few of our most requested films being freshly and gloriously restored as you read this. (No, not Hard Boiled or The Keep or The Hitcher… but really good ones, we promise!)
Don’t Go In The House: Video Nasty Edition
It was already a thrill to bring this underrated former ‘video nasty’ uncut on UK Blu-ray, partnering with our lovely friends at Severin to ensure the most complete presentations ever of three (!) versions of the film. Better yet, however, was the unique opportunity to lean into the film’s place on the DPP’s most wanted list with an Arrow store-exclusive bonus disc. A different scan of the film from an uncut UK internegative, preceded by a reproduction of what an 1981 original fleapit cinema intro (co-feature: Phantasm!) might have been like courtesy of editing wizard Jonathan Fisher, followed up by a transfer of the original nasty VHS, with or without BBFC edits… Don’t we spoil you or what?
Phenomena UHD (Creepers edition!)
The Palace Pictures VHS of the Creepers re-edit of Phenomena was the first Dario Argento film I ever saw, so seeing this definitive digital restoration of all three versions of one of the director’s most spectacularly bonkers confections – again, produced in collaboration with our friends at Synapse – was a real treat. I had to make sure I got the limited edition with Graham Humphreys’ beautiful Creepers VHS cover art though!
Arrow have been fans and supporters of filmmaker/national treasure Mike Hodges for a long, long time – not for nothing was Flash Gordon our first UHD! – so to revive one of his most underrated films in 4K feels like a triumphant way to close out the year. But to have Mike sit down for a feature-length career retrospective (filmed by the indefatigable David Cairns and Jonathan Zaurin) looking back on his life’s work (taking up an entire bonus disc in the process) felt pretty major, and fingers crossed it’s an opportunity we’ll have with other veteran filmmakers in the future.
Jasper Sharp – Producer
To Sleep So As To Dream
I was overjoyed to get a chance to produce this beautiful quirky and surreal homage to Japan’s silent cinema dressed up in the form of a film noir. This is the first home video release outside Japan of a film that was pretty big news in 80s when it was released, and I hope it leads to more interest in the other work of Kaizo Hayashi, one of the great unsung heroes of his generation. I think this release was a real discovery for a lot of people.
Fugitive From the Past
No surprise that I’m going to champion all the Japanese releases, of course, but this was another English-language home video premiere, amazingly for a film that was voted at one point by Japanese critics as the one of the best Japanese films of all time. It’s an epic karmic crime drama shot in startling monochrome and featuring some amazing performances, I really think Arrow performed a vital service to the world of cinema picking this up for distribution.
Don’t Go in the House
One of the nastiest of the original video nasties – think Psycho with a flame thrower – this is a really bleak and darkly atmosphere tale. Some great extras here, with lots of work constructing the various alternate versions, and the VHS era packaging was a masterstroke.
Louise Buckler – Head of Marketing
Enter the Void
I’m a huge Gaspar Noé so it was an absolute treat to have a double whammy of Gaspar goodness join the Arrow Video line this Summer. Enter the Void left a lasting impression on my when I first saw it on the big screen so it was a real treat to revisit this neon-soaked psychedelic trip once again. The Limited Edition release also came stacked with extras and the finish on the boxset was really makes it pop on your shelf.
Our release of Lux Æterna of course makes a great companion piece.
Christmas horrors are always a blast and The Leech is no exception. It’s a joy to watch Graham Skipper and Jeremy Gardner go head to head in their leading roles, throwing the season of good cheer out the window as they as they push each other to absolute breaking point. Graham and writer-director Eric Pennycoff were absolute troopers, shaking off the jet lag for an early (Sunday!) morning of filming extras for the disc whilst they were in London for the UK premiere of the film. Make sure to stick this one on your Christmas list.
Ju-on: The Grudge Collection
A Blu-ray debut of one of the essential J-horror series. Ju-on: The Grudge Collection is a must have for Japanese horror films and was a read labour of love for the Arrow team (shout out to the restorations wizards James and James for their impeccable work!) With hours upcoming hours of extras and an expansive booklet, this is a must own for fans of the series and beyond.
Honourable mentions go out to The Sacred Spirit, Girls Nite Out, Croupier, The Righteous, Demonia and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Alan Simmons – ARROW Curation & Editorial Manager
The Beta Test
Jim Cummings takes his cringe comedy and elevated awkwardness stylings to Hollywood for The Beta Test – a tinsel town takedown that is very funny, very sexy and right on the money. Cummings writes, directs and stars alongside PJ McCabe in a saucy and satirical thriller that sees Cummings’ Hollywood agent spiral down a paranoid wormhole after accepting an explicit invitation to an anonymous hotel room hook-up.
(The Beta Test is available to stream on ARROW in the UK and Ireland)
Don’t nap on seeing Michael Venus’ stunning and stylish debut, Sleep. Gro Swantje stars as Mona, a young woman determined to get to the root cause of the mental breakdown that put her mum in the psychiatric ward. The key seems to be in a strange hotel in the heart of Stainbach, a creepy mountain village, but can Mona solve the secrets of Stainbach before losing her own mind? Lynch-y in all the right places but with a flavour all its own, this dreamy psychological fairy tale operates on nightmare logic.
(Sleep is available to stream on ARROW in the UK and Ireland)
Clerks meets Tetsuo: The Iron Man in this cyber slacker comedy directed by David Buchanan. Sinking even further into self-pity after his girlfriend leaves him, Russell (Russell Steinberg) stumbles across Gary (James Markham Hall Jr.) – his mysterious neighbour who is banging away in the basement to all hours working on the next cybernetic evolution of the human race. And if Russell isn’t doing anything, and has nothing to lose, Gary is happy to hook him up with a robotic arm and telekinetic powers in this baggy monochrome psycho-techno-hangout thriller.
(Laguna Ave is available to stream on ARROW)
Ed Sherwood – Account Manager
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Is this film over-blown, over-acted and over-dramatic? Perhaps. But is it a lot of fun? Absolutely! And isn’t that what we want from a film sometimes?
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
“Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!”. If I can only give one reason to watch this movie it would be Alan Rickman, who absolutely devours the screen, clearly having the time of his life!
Enter the Void
Possibly one of my all-time favourite Arrow releases in terms of design, matching the mind-blowing aesthetics of the film. If you’ve ever wondered what an out-of-body experience feels like, watch this film…
Anthony Newcomb – Customer Service Supervisor
An iconic sci-fi that’s been on my ‘to watch’ list for far too long! Also brilliantly re-scored in 2011 by Sheffield’s finest, 65daysofstatic.
The Grudge Collection
After the success of our Ring collection, this was something customers and staff at Arrow were very keen to see; the set has plenty to discover for new and old fans alike.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Dom Walker – E-Commerce Manager
The Sacred Spirit
A UFO cult, a missing girl and the humdrum life of a sunny, small town in south east Spain combine to form the bewitching The Sacred Spirit. Filled with memorable imagery, the story gently reels you in before delivering a staggering punch. To say too much would give something away – best to go in cold and watch it all unfold.
Fassbinder Volume 3
Volume 3 of our Fassbinder collection brings together more of the prolific director’s works including the social comedy Mother Küsters’ Trip to Heaven, heart-breaking drama Fear of Fear and the tense Gods of the Plague. The stand outs for me are The American Soldier with it’s profoundly hypnotic ending and Rio Das Mortes which features one of the funniest sequences in all of Fassbinder’s films where our heroes Mike and Gunther conspire to start a cotton farm in South America with some advice from Mike’s girlfriend’s disapproving uncle and the Peruvian Embassy.
A grim-as-hell portrayal of war in Japan where nurse Nishi is stationed in an army hospital and then sent to the frontline where she falls in love with a morphine addicted doctor with little interest in her. Dealing with a mass of groaning, injured men lining up to have limbs severed off with little anaesthetic one minute then attending to a cholera outbreak the next, Aya Wakao’s subtle and sensitive portrayal is played out with dignity in the face of immense horror. A great entry point into the work of director Yasuzo Masumura.