Despite Arrow Video carving out a niche for themselves in the US home video marketplace, their titles were only available in the UK for many years. This was a real drag for many stateside consumers, as the company had access to titles that US companies had not managed to acquire for one reason or another (sometimes due to a presumed lack of buyer interest, or the always sticky issue of music rights). Further frustrating US consumers, Arrow would routinely pack these releases with exclusive special features — the kind that would make any movie fan’s mouth water. To say there was an appetite for their particular brand in the Blu-ray market would be an understatement.
Fast forward to now… or at least the last few years, when Arrow invaded US shores with a thunderous roar. This came much to the chagrin of other home video distributors, as well as a pocket of collectors who felt that Arrow was going to saturate the market, rather than help it.
No matter your stance on this matter, there’s no denying that Arrow’s place in the US market is now firmly established… and that they’re doing quite well for themselves. However, there are still many titles that are, as of this writing, UK Blu-ray exclusives — or contain extras that are missing from their U.S. counterparts.
Here are ten of these titles that US genre movie fans are itching to get their hands on…
David Cronenberg’s first feature-length film, about an apartment complex filled with tenants passing parasites back and forth to each other, managed to get a Steelbook Blu-ray release from Arrow in 2014 (with a new edition to follow). It features a making-of documentary, a vintage Canadian TV show interviewing Cronenberg, and a video essay about the movie.
In the US (where the film was released theatrically as THEY CAME FROM WITHIN), the movie has been sorely out of circulation since the 1998 Image Entertainment DVD went out of print. If SHIVERS isn’t eventually released through Arrow Video, then Scream Factory might pick it up, since they recently tackled some of Cronenberg’s other films on Blu-ray not too long ago — namely RABID and DEAD RINGERS.
THE FURY (1978)
Brian De Palma’s telepathic follow-up to CARRIE received a US Blu-ray release from Twilight Time in 2013. That edition — which featured the movie’s trailer and an isolated score audio track as extras — has long been out of print. Arrow Video’s Blu-ray, still readily available in the UK, features a great transfer, interviews with cinematographer Richard H. Kline and actress Fiona Lewis, vintage interviews with Brian De Palma and Amy Irving, and a short film by familiar character actor (and De Palma favorite) William Finley.
If Twilight Time has allowed their distribution rights to expire on THE FURY, we may see another edition of the film sometime down the road… either through Arrow or Scream Factory.
HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN (1988)
This cult oddity, starring Roddy Piper as an ex-con in a mutated, apocalyptic wasteland, desired by women for his rare fertility, has also yet to make a Blu-ray release stateside. Featuring interviews with Piper himself, actor Brian Frank, creature effects creator Steve Wang, and an extended scene, it’s certainly an upgrade over its bare bones US DVD counterpart (paired with DEF-CON 4).
Much of the New World Pictures catalog is owned by RLJ Entertainment (formerly Image), and is usually available through Arrow Video… so it’s reasonable to expect a Blu release to eventually come from them (if it ever does).
THE GUYVER (1991)
Although it’s much more of a sensation in Japan, spawning sequels and a TV series, THE GUYVER is still a much-appreciated movie here in the US, mainly for its creature effects, designs, and special effects… though it never made it past VHS and DVD in the States.
Arrow recently gave it the deluxe treatment, which includes the director’s cut of the film and a new interview with producer Brian Yuzna. The real shame of it is that the only directorial effort of gonzo special effects artist Screaming Mad George is still absent on the Blu-ray format stateside.
HOUSE IV (1992)
Understandably not as popular as the three movies that preceded it, HOUSE IV was released directly to video in the US, and has yet to even make it to DVD, let alone Blu-ray. Arrow, however, recently released a boxed set of all four movies in the UK, giving HOUSE IV a polish with a new transfer, an audio commentary, a new interview with director Lewis Tabernathy, and a brief documentary on the making of the film, which includes an interview with series producer Sean S. Cunningham.
Sadly, due to rights issues, Arrow could only release the first two HOUSE films in the US… but perhaps someday, somebody will dust off HOUSE IV for another release.
The infamous Ed Gein-inspired movie — featuring special effects by Tom Savini — was released not too long ago on Blu-ray in the U.S. by Kino Lorber. While it does contain the uncut version of the film, it doesn’t have many of the great extras found on the Arrow Video release — which includes an interview and audio commentary with Savini, additional interviews with Scott Spiegel and Laurence R. Harvey, and a making-of featurette.
The Kino Lorber Blu-ray, by comparison, features two audio commentaries — one with director Alan Orsmby, and the other with Richard Harlan Smith — as well as an interview with the film’s producer. While this material is worthwhile, it’s a shame that all of it couldn’t have been combined with the Arrow content into one definitive release.
RABID DOGS (1974)
Even though Mario Bava’s notorious unfinished film has received a couple of DVD releases in the US (including a Kino Lorber Blu-ray of the 1996 “finished” version under the title KIDNAPPED), a definitive edition has only ever been released by Arrow in the UK.
Arrow’s version ports over everything from the original Anchor Bay DVD release — including an audio commentary by Tim Lucas and both versions of the movie. Having all of it on a US release can and should be a reality for Mario Bava fans.
Originally included in a double-feature DVD release with THE PIT, this obscure title has been absent from home video in the US for a long time. By contrast, Arrow put together a very nice Blu-ray package for the movie — which includes an interview with director William H. Levey, an overview of the director’s career with Howard S. Berger, and an interview with PUPPET MASTER writer Kenneth Hall about the movie itself and the VHS horror boom throughout the 1980s.
Levey’s first film BLACKENSTEIN has been getting a lot of press lately due to its Blu-ray release through Severin Films… but HELLGATE is sadly in need of more attention in the States.
Despite The Criterion Collection releasing Brian De Palma’s classic psycho-twin shocker on DVD in the early 2000s, it has yet to make an appearance in high definition in the US. Arrow Video released the film on Blu-ray three years ago, and one would think Criterion will eventually get around to it themselves.
Arrow’s release features a video essay on the movie, an interview with editor Paul Hirsch, and a vintage audio interview with William Finley, among other goodies. Sadly, there’s no participation from De Palma himself… but as it’s a UK-based release, that’s not surprising.
THE ‘BURBS (1989)
One of Joe Dante’s best and most popular films — at least among fans — THE ‘BURBS has not been given its due in the US. Nothing more than a mostly bare-bones Blu-ray release (with sub-par picture quality) is currently available. However, Arrow’s Blu-ray release features a great transfer and a massive amount of extras — including the workprint version, a feature-length documentary on the making of the film, an alternate ending (in HD, no less), and optional Steelbook packaging.
As far as rights are concerned, THE ‘BURBS is more likely to get a stateside release through Shout/Scream Factory, who deal with Universal properties more than other companies… and since Arrow and Shout Factory sometimes share extras with each other, it’s not too far-fetched to think Shout will tackle it themselves one day.