Happy 10 years of Arrow Video!
To commemorate our first decade on this planet, we've taken out our little black book and sat down with some of the best and brightest in the world of cult to talk about their personal histories with Arrow Video, and, of course their top picks from the catalogue.
We’re finishing our series with actress, journalist and diehard horror junkie Heather Buckley. With numerous and far-reaching credits including the producer of 2018 award-winning festival darling THE RANGER, the special effects supervisor on 2015’s WE ARE STILL HERE and the makeup supervisor on 2014’s DEAD STILL, and a frequent contributor to Arrow from discs to podcasts, Heather literally lives and breathes the world of cult. As such, she is the perfect person to end this Top 10 Arrow Video series with a bang.
So sit back, relax and let Heather take you on her journey of Arrow…
A: Do you remember the first Arrow Video release you took notice of?
HB: Arrow first came into my life when Michael Felsher reached out to me to work on your THIEF disc. So I first encountered you as a job, but it became a beautiful relationship. I knew already that anything that came my way through Redshirt Pictures was going to be fabulous – and you were. The actual artifact of what was produced was always gorgeous, so that’s how I began to know more and more about Arrow. I went on to work on the HELLRAISER BOX and the HOUSE series, the latter in particular I always love seeing among the wall of Blu-rays and DVDs in my studio.
A: Would you say it’s that particular artifact approach to releases that makes Arrow Video stand out as a distribution label?
HB: I could speak about this on many levels. Firstly, as a feature film producer within the industry itself, but then secondly and perhaps more importantly as a horror fan and diehard collector of behind the scenes material since I was 13. To me the genre of physical media is what I’ve always been the most drawn to – I look at my Blu-ray collection, my DVD collection, my VHS collection that I never got rid of, as a library. They taught me so much about filmmaking and different worldviews when I was growing up, and the early journalistic phase of my career was all about interviewing practitioners and getting further insight into how they made their movies. Ultimately the release is for the fan and the world, and to enfold it all within a particular release and treating each one like platinum, like Arrow does, is critical to archive film history.
For example when I was working on the SLUGS disc, all that was initially asked of me was to interview the special effects artist but it was like – we can’t stop there! Every release I work on I always need to go the extra mile, and that’s why I love working for Arrow. Going back to the HOUSE boxset for example, the amount of films and documentaries that were included on that release is insane, so the fact that Arrow’s always up for that insanity is a gift. Arrow is a standard for going the distance, and loading up every single disc. And for me Arrow, alongside Vinegar Syndrome, puts out by far the most beautiful covers of all Blu-rays. I’ve worked as a graphic designer, so being very visually-driven I can say that you're unmatched, and you reach the same standard with what's on the disc as well. I remember when I managed to reach Clive Barker for the CANDYMAN release, no matter the cost there was never a question about whether or not we interview him.
A: Because it has to be definitive?
HB: Yes exactly! It literally has to be definitive. Working with you I always feel like I’ve done as much as I could, and you always come back with ‘No – it has to be more definitive!’ And I love that. With every new edition of the film as well you can just keep adding more and more – a steelbook comes out and you can go to the matte artists, the stunt coordinators, everyone you didn’t include on the first Blu-ray release. All those stories are critical to the history of filmmaking.
A: Would you ever buy a movie you’d never heard of purely because we released it?
HB: I love learning about all-knew cult and exploitation films that I may or may not have heard of. With the books in my library as well, there are some I’ve never read but that I just want them there. Knowing when a Blu-ray comes out from Arrow, knowing that it’s classic, it’s curated, I want that on my shelf. I like being surrounded by it, I like being surrounded by the Arrow logo, looking at the spines: every day when I walk into the studio, I’m just instantly reminded of what I love the most, and have loved for most of my life.
A: Do you think that a love for Arrow Video as a brand unites people in the same way a particular movie or director does?
HB: I carry my Arrow Video tote bag around. Those are symbols – I come from a punk rock background, so to have the patches, the badges, it’s all about wearing your narrative. If you’re walking around with an Arrow Video tote, it instantly signifies that you are part of the horror community, this is something that you support, and all that is an easy trigger to like-minded others to start a conversation. I literally put Arrow stickers on everything, I love the logo, and there’s just great engagement. Any boutique company that supports this kind of cult genre filmmaking though, both old and new, they’re all so important and I don’t mind advertising any of them.
A: Why would you say that boutique companies are more important than big studios for supporting genre filmmaking?
HB: You gotta love the little guys. You’re the ones that are restoring the movies you never thought would be restored, you’re putting the care into curating the extras. Horror is such an interesting thing – I love big-budget studio horror, I love horror shot on a camcorder, I just love horror, but when it comes to the boutique brands what’s so important is that it goes beyond the genre. What you’re pushing forward is documenting and archiving film. I remember reading Fangoria articles when I was young and you could only dream to see these movies, they would only exist in an article written by Mike Gingold. All of it was inaccessible, and now you can get everything. And I want everything. Thank you Arrow for making most everything available!
A: Out of the last 10 years since the birth of Arrow Video, what would be your top 10 desert island picks?
- TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2
- THE THING
- BETWEEN NIGHT AND DAWN
- PSYCHO II
- CRIMES OF PASSION
- THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT
- SHOCK TREATMENT
A: What makes these 10 stand out in your view?
- TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986): This is one of my favourite movies of all time, I can quote most of it and I own a 35mm print of it! This was actually the first time I met Michael Felsher because I had the on-set production stills which Michael used on your release. So that was the first time I ever participated in any capacity on an Arrow release.
- THE THING (1982): One of the ones my friend Daniel Griffiths worked on. I just loved the different approach this release took to the existing Shout Factory one, making sure it was actually adding a specific point of view to the world and to the film. Critically speaking it set a standard.
- BETWEEN NIGHT AND DAWN (1971/1972/1973): Putting these Romero films, THERE’S ALWAYS VANILLA, THE CRAZIES, SEASON OF THE WITCH, together is so valuable to talk about the fullness of his career and the breadth of work he’s done. We already celebrate his take on zombies, but with The Crazies in particular, that’s his take on the infected. Having them in this boxset as well means that the more obscure areas of his career can be easily introduced to new generations of horror fans, and again within such a gorgeous presentation.
- PSYCHO II (1983): One of the greatest commentaries on any Arrow release, which is saying something as my first love before Texas Chainsaw Massacre even was the Psycho series.
- NEKROMANTIK (1988): Alongside NEKROMANTIK 2. One of the things I just love about Arrow is that you put out these heavy-duty German cult films alongside the more ‘classic’ horror – but again you don’t just put them out, in here there are lobby cards, there are alternate versions of the film. It’s really with these releases in particular that the care Arrow puts behind them is incredible. It’s a movie with necrophilia that’s gory and gross, but you treat it like this beautiful gilded thing that’s been brought down by angels. That point of view that Arrow takes on Blu-rays is key, especially speaking as a horror fan; when someone takes that bespoken, elevated care for a movie like Nekromantik, it makes me very happy.
- VIDEODROME (1983): It’s another one of the editions I worked on, and I’m so happy that we were able to include an interview with Dennis Etchison on it, the author of the novelisation, before he passed.
- CRIMES OF PASSION (1984): Dovetailing back to my love of the Psycho series and Anthony Perkins means this one’s up there for me. I’m a big fan of Ken Russell as well and the box art is again so gorgeous, so the fact that this exists and I can watch it on my beautiful 4K LED is very cool.
- THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972): This may be the first disc I ever had. I love how proudly Arrow represents these films from the Video Nasty era – these films that you had to sneak into places to watch, that had to be slid across to you over the counter, almost like you’re buying pornography. I think that’s why people especially in the UK really care about these movies, because they were banned in the culture for so long and they were so taboo. It’s a very punk rock feeling that Arrow Video embodies: ‘you say this is vile or exploitative, well we’re not only going to document them but we’re going to put them out in the most beautiful sets as well’.
- SHOCK TREATMENT (1982): I love the soundtrack, all of the supplements on here are incredible, and I’m going to be very controversial and say that I actually prefer this movie to Rocky Horror. I hate that it’s a movie that isn’t talked about as much, so I love that your release brought it back into the conversation. The Mark Kermode interview with Patricia Quinn on here is brilliant as well, and again the packaging – it’s saying something when Arrow Video outdoes itself, and you outdid yourselves on Shock Treatment.
- SLUGS (1988): Out of all the Arrow releases I worked on, this is what I bring up most. With a movie like that, people often ask me whether it needs that many extras or that much care, and the answer is always YES. This is a movie I used to watch on cable channels growing up, and it was amazing as an adult to work on it and give it the extra mile of extras that it deserves. We were literally able to find leftover slugs to put photos in there of! We need to care about every single movie, and I think Arrow cares about every single movie it puts out regardless how obscure. You go the distance. So Slugs man. Slugs.
A: If you had to recommend Arrow to someone who’s never heard of us, what would you say?
HB: Arrow Video is beautiful packaging with unlimited extras that truly have care and love for the genre. Horror fans are rabid, and horror fans also love physical media. I remember when the CANDYMAN release was announced on social, just looking at the comments for it and seeing that outpouring of love for it was amazing.
I try to support the genre in all its instances, and support physical media in all its instances, and Arrow is one of the crown jewels out there that does great work. And the reason why everyone out there should have a multi-region player.
© 2019 by Heather Buckley. All rights reserved.