Thursday, March 06, 2008

Best. DVD. Company. Ever.

It's pretty close. I've shown much love for Tartan films here on this site. They've got their specialty distribution which deals with Asia Extreme. Then there's Blue Underground, whose glorious tag line includes, "For some strange and wonderful reason, you are compelled to see movies about psychopaths, cops, robbers, zombies, cannibals, madmen, strange women and more, with an audience often comprised of the same." You can be sure that Blue Underground fulfills all those needs and more (now featuring Blu-Ray!).

But the recent winner has to be Anchor Bay. They've just begun releasing a series of DVDs known as their Cult Fiction section. You can check out the full release of ten titles this week at Harry Knowles' site.

The common complaint with this new series is that they've all been released in the past in some form or fashion, either Criterion editions or in bare-bones standard formats. And that's fine. Some of the cover designs alone would prompt me to buy this release over previous copies. Conceptually, they're not the most inventive, but there's something wildly cool about the saturated, washed out images pulled from the film and placed onto the worn-out covers. The films have a classic feel to them. Anchor Bay could certainly be blamed for riding the 'neo wave' of cult film frenzy unleashed by Tarantino and Rodriguez- and as much as I dislike these two filmmakers and some of their films, there's something to be said for the lip homage they shed on long lost films- but this series still directed my attention towards films like "Class of 1984", "The Quiet Earth" and "Road Games" which embellished my Netflix queue once again. The purpose of DVD production companies like the three mentioned above is to sell movies, allow people to watch movies, and bring attention to unheralded gems that will make people do both.

Just seeing some of the cover designs for this series brings back a flood of childhood memories when I'd walk through my local video store (you know the ones... huge selection of VHS with a curtained room that dad would always descend behind sometime during the trip) and venture into the horror film section. I knew I couldn't actually rent one of these titles yet, but the covers were like a magnet, giving me nightmares for several days and allowing my imagination to run wild as to what exactly those horrible creatures on the covers would do to people. Honestly, can you not look at this new cover for "CHUD" and not remember seeing that image burned into your memory as a child? Hell yes I'm buying this Anchor Bay edition, lack of special features or not. It's the nostalgia that binds.

Beyond the cozy memories, there are new titles that, honestly, I had never heard of before. There's an early 70's Mario Bava film called "Kidnapped" (or known as "Rabid Dogs" or 11 other titles I'm sure) that, upon research, is named by fans as an intense, gritty exploitation crime film. I'm so there. Then there's an early 80's film called "Road Games" starring Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis as people terrorized by an omniscient vehicle. And still yet, a film called "The Quiet Earth" that explodes with favorable comments on Netflix from viewers calling it an eerie and overlooked sci-fi independent classic. Then you've got comedies such as "Return of the Killer Tomatos" and "Night of the Living Dorks". Yes, my friends, not even the original Killer Tomatos movie but the sequel. How's that for rifling through the vaults? And therein lies the joy of being a movie lover. Just when you feel like you might have a reasonably firm grasp on your hobby, a company like Anchor Bay comes along and knocks you flat on your ass. Thank God for companies like Anchor Bay.


Adam Ross said...

I had the same thoughts after reading Harry's column this week, and if this is just the first wave of the series, what else do they have in store for us?

I have a review of "Kidnapped" planned for later this month -- it's easily Bava's most vulgar movie, but it's well made and has a clever twist ending. You should look up the history of it, the movie was shelved for decades.

Joe Baker said...


I read a little about "Kidnapped". Apparently there's already a double disc that features Bava's original as well as a re-edited and re-photographed version completed by his son, Lamberto. I'll start with the original.