Perhaps the most fascinating revelation from Arrow Video, a UK based media distributor, after their decision to venture into Region A territory was to go a little deeper into American film. While we adore Arrow for producing standard setting transfers and restorations, offering alternative covers and booklets as well as a host of extras for each of their releases, it’s not every film that can be an “Arrow film”. With the recent announcement of The American Horror Project, Arrow is breaking new ground for movies that may not have previously had the chance at the Arrow treatment. This is great news for some cult classics from across the pond and even better news for Horror fans who are fans of obscure titles, video nasties and special box set packaging.
Newly remastered from the best surviving elements and contextualised with brand new supplementary material, with American Horror Project we can re-evaluate an alternative history of American horror and film heritage.
The titles in volume 1 could not be any more diverse. Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood, The Witch Who Came From the Sea, The Premonition. Each titles stands alone save for the background coming from 1970’s America. You’ve seen all the “good” movies from that period, right? Last House on the Left? Toolbox Murderers? Texas Chain Saw Massacre? This is how we grow as Horror fans. Let’s let some new films in.
While the set is not yet available for review, we did want to help provide a bit of background for you to understand from where these movies come and what you’ll be getting when the release pops in late February. Keep in mind that Arrow isn’t just a UK company anymore, and thus the previous Region B locked world that cramped so many styles has gradually had the veil lifted to a host of collectors and Horror fans. For some of you Region Free folks, this is simply convenient. For others, those who were not Region Free but suffered under the oppression of Region A lock down, never having experienced the Arrow, this is a chance to get the Horror mainlined.
Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood
Filmed in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania and featuring Hervé Villechaize of Fantasy Island fame, we have a traditional carnival tale that pokes at true terror rather than a night out with the family.This is Christopher Speeth’s only directorial effort. It has a rather juicy tag line: “You’ll Shriek With Horror! … As You Watch His Victims Take a Diabolical Roller-Coaster Ride to Bloody Death”. Make sure to enjoy the full website for the film dedicated to this well-loved Horror cult film, though I believe it is a bit outdated as respects release info. Windmill Films did put out a previous DVD release, upgraded now with a bounty of extras.
Check out a brief scene from this strange tale of cannibal carnival goodness.
Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (Christopher Speeth, 1973) sees a family arrive at a creepy, dilapidated fairground in search of their missing daughter, only to find themselves at the mercy of cannibalistic ghouls lurking beneath the park.
MALATESTA’S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD – SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- Brand new interview with director Christopher Speeth
- Brand new interview with writer Werner Liepolt
- Draft Script (BD/DVD-ROM content)
- Production stills gallery
The Witch Who Came From the Sea
This happens to be a juicy favorite of mine. I first came across The Witch Who Came From the Sea while trying to watch all the Video Nasty releases and found it a bit of a let down. I mean there wasn’t enough blood to be shocking, but there certainly was enough 70’s jungle bush to keep a weed wacker in business. This movie may not have lived up to the nasty of the UK’s “stringent” standards during the 1980’s, but my second viewing made me a fan at Exhumed Film’s ExFest some year back.
Shot in California across several southern locations and released in 1976, this is a truly unique take on kill by number storytelling that would become popular for much of the late 70’s and early 80’s in America. The kills may seem ordinary but the context by which each is set up is off-puting and may take you by surprise. Do not be afraid to have a good time with this one. You can’t take all Horror so seriously. After all, the tag line is: “Molly really knows how to cut men down to size!!” Keep it in your pants, fellas
Subversive Cinema put out the DVD in 2004 and while that release may have preserved the traditional cover art, it provided no extras. And yes… it’s THAT Dean Cundey referenced below.
The Witch Who Came from the Sea (Matt Cimber, 1976), stars Mollie Perkins (The Diary of Anne Frank) as a young woman whose bizarre and violent fantasies start to bleed into reality – literally.
- Audio commentary with director Matt Cimber, actress Millie Perkins and director of photography Dean Cundey
- Brand new interview with director Matt Cimber
- Brand new interview with Dean Cundey
- Brand new interview with actor John Goff
Filmed in Mississippi in the United States and released in 1976, The Premonition features the creepy Horror classic actor Richard Lynch in an early role (just coming off The Happy Hooker). Director Robert Allen Schnitzer wouldn’t make many movies, The Premonition being only his second effort. He did produce short films that are included on this release to help provide a better understanding of his filmmaking abilities.
Kid Horror was big in the 70’s. You’d see movies like Audrey Rose or perhaps even The Exorcist, and they’d really rake you in and then do an emotional number on you backed with some strong performances. A movie like The Premonition that didn’t quite have the same production value or star power go by the way side.
Guilty Pleasures released this to DVD in the States and did not contain any extras. The cover artwork is fairly basic and may not necessary leave you feeling wowed. Just wait till you get a load of the extras for this release with updated artwork that really captures the film.
Get an idea about what this movie is all about as you watch Richard Lynch in the opening to the film.
Every parent’s worst nightmare comes true in The Premonition (Robert Allen Schnitzer, 1976), a tale of psychic terror in which five-year-old Janie is snatched away by a strange woman claiming to be her long-lost mother.
- Audio commentary with director-producer Robert Allen Schnitzer
- Brand new interview with composer Henry Mollicone
- Interview with actor Richard Lynch
- Three Robert Allen Schnitzer short films: ‘Vernal Equinox’, ‘Terminal Point’ and ‘A Rumbling in the Land’
- 4 “Peace Spots”
- Trailers and TV Spots
This set is Region Free which makes it good for both sides of the Atlantic. It will feature original art and new artwork and contains a 60 page book discussing volume I with some esteemed writers in the genre.
- Brand new 2K restorations of the three features
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD presentations
- English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
- American Horror Project Journal Volume I – Limited Edition 60-page booklet featuring new articles on the films from Kim Newman (Nightmare Movies), Kier-La Janisse (House of Psychotic Women) and Brian Albright (Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990)