Top 5 Favorite Arrow Video Blu-rays (so far)

I was late to the game when it came to getting a region free blu-ray player. I have two region free dvd players and have had for some time. The reason for not going region free on blu-ray was the cost. The players that I was looking at cost almost $200. But then I found a place (that I can't remember the name of) that had a player for $120 and they guaranteed their work for all time. If the player started to not read disc because of the region modding, then they would fix it or give me a new player. I couldn't say not to this and bought one right away.

Since going region free, I discovered Arrow Video. This was before they came here, and I though that their releases looked amazing. As soon as I put in the order for my region free player, I ordered Foxy Brown and Coffy from Arrow. These were two films that were given barebones releases here in the states, but very nice releases in the U.K.. When they got here I was so impressed by what Arrow had done with these two films. Arrow had done a great job with them and I immediately became a fan.

When Arrow Video came to the States, I was excited. I was eager to see what they would bring out here and even wanted to help fund them through their kickstarter (or gofundme, etc), but could not afford what I wanted at the time. Arrow Video has been doing a lot of good in the blu-ray business and wanted to talk a little about my favorites from them.

5.) The 'Burbs

Now I was late to the party on this one, so I was not able to secure the steelbook that was released first. Everything is the same except for the packaging.

The 'Burbs is a classic that gets overlooked all the time. The film is a twisted comedy with horror aspects thrown in for good measure. It a wonderful cast including Tom Hanks, the late Carrie Fisher, the late Rick Ducommun, Bruce Dern, and Corey Feldman. The was directed by Joe Dante, whose work on Gremlins and The Howling make him perfect for this film.

 So they keep to themselves, can you blame them? They live next door to people who break in their house, AND BURN IT DOWN while they're gone for the day! -Ray Peterson

The 'Burbs is an underrated classic that everyone should give a chance.

The blu-ray from Arrow is amazing. There is a commentary with screenwriter Dana Olsen, which is moderated by the always great Calum Waddel. Olsen paints a beautiful picture of what it was like working on the film and there are plenty of stories to be had.

We also get a feature-length making of doc called There Goes the Neighborhood. Interviews in the doc include Joe Dante, Corey Feldman, Wendy Schaal, and Courtney Gains. A lot of the crew is interviewed as well. Of course we get no interviews with Hanks, Fisher, or Dern. Despite that, this is a great making of and definitely worth a watch.

Also included is the Workprint version of the film, which features a lot of deleted, extended, and different scenes and is sourced from Dante's own VHS copy. There is also a featurette that gets very in depth about the differences between the two versions of the film.

Rounding out the list are the usual suspects: interviews, alternate ending, and the film's theatrical trailer.

This blu-ray is REGION B (locked) and you will need a REGION B or REGION FREE blu-ray player. I say that it will be worth it to get one. This is one of the blu-rays that sold me on it.

4.) Blood Rage

Oh Blood Rage, how do I love thee. In my endless search for slasher films that I haven't seen, Blood Rage popped up on my radar. I had never heard of the film and it never got any type of mention in any of the horror movie books that I have read. In fact, after watching Blood Rage(or Nightmare at Shadow Woods which is how it was released theatrically), I went to the library and found as many books as I could about horror and slasher films. Not once in the twenty-ish books that I read did Blood Rage get even a passing mention. It was like the film didn't even exist. But it did, and I saw it.

Blood Rage
is a weird slasher, but not the weirdest. The film is about twins. One of them is a murderous psycho and the other is a nice guy. While their mother makes out with some guy at the drive-in, the twins get out of the back of the car. The psycho one sees a couple having sex. He doesn't like that, so he picks up an ax and kills the couple. He then takes the ax to his twin and wipes blood all over him. The cops come and arrest the wrong brother.

That's not cranberry sauce... -Todd

Thanksgiving night, years later, the good brother (who was convicted of the murder and sent to the crazy house.) breaks out of said crazy house and goes home. The evil brother finds out about this and goes on a killing spree because he can blame it on his brother.

Arrow did a fantastic job with this blu-ray. We get two three versions of the film: the first is Blood Rage, which is the title used for the video release of the film. This version is unrated and contains all of the footage that the MPAA demanded be cut in order to receive an "R" rating. The next version is the Nightmare at Shadow Woods version. This is the version that received the "R" rating that allowed it to shown in theaters. This version also contains some footage that was cut out of theBlood Rage version. The third and final version of the film is the "Composite Cut". This cut combines Blood Rage and Nightmare at Shadow Woods into one neat and tidy film. The "Composite Cut" is the best version of the film and the one that I recommend going with.

Along with the three versions of the film, we also get some really great extras too. We get interviews with some of the stars of the film as well as the producer of the film. The producer interview is the most important (and informative) because the producer is a woman. There were not many independent woman producers back in the 80's, so her perspective on things is crucial to have.

We also get a commentary track that I did not like at all. The director seems like he doesn't want to be there and the moderator has to keep prodding him for more information. I have read reviews that say the commentary is great and the director is full of information, but I couldn't disagree more. If ever there was a commentary that I would skip, it would be this one.

The packaging is superb as well. We get a slip cover, a double sided cover, and a booklet.

Arrow did right by Blood Rage and this is a blu-ray that horror fans and slasher fans alike need to have in their collections. I am very proud to have it in mine.

3.) The Hills Have Eyes

The Hills Have Eyes is considered a classic among horror fans, but it wasn't until 2016 and the Arrow release of the film, that I finally sat down and watched and boy did I love the film. This is definitely a horror classic and Arrow did a great job bringing it to blu-ray for the second time.

The film had been on blu-ray for a few years from Image Entertainment. This blu-ray, however, was terrible. Sure, it had the special features from the Anchor Bay dvd release, but the transfer was an upscale. This means that they took the standard definition transfer that was used for the dvd and put it on the blu-ray. This was no HD transfer. It was, for all intents and purposes, the dvd on a blu-ray.

Needless to say, fans were not happy with this sleight that Image Entertainment did to the film,as well as the fans. Image didn't care. They did nothing to fix the transfer as there was "nothing wrong" with it.

Do you always try to stop trespassers by hanging yourself? -Big Bob Carter

When Arrow came into the picture, fans were skeptical: Would Arrow be able to find a usable print of the film, and if they did, would it be worthwhile to release on blu-ray. It was and fans were happy again. The film looks great and Arrow should be commended on their work.

Outside of the transfer, we also get a slew of new special features, as well as the old features. We some new interviews and the Alternate Ending to the film, which is available in HD for the first time. We also get all of the special features from the Anchor Bay dvd. These features are really great and give us all different perspectives on the film.

The best special feature, though, is a commentary track with Mikel J. Koven, who barely talks about what is happening on screen, but talks about the themes and ideas that the film presents. It is a scholar commentary track, but it is so informative and easy to listen too that I found myself listening to the track for a second time after finishing my review.

The blu-ray also comes packaged inside of nice, sturdy slip box along with a booklet, postcards, and a double sided poster. I don't think that any other company would have poured more love and attention on The Hills Have Eyes than Arrow.

2.) Phenomena

Here in the states, Synapse gave a very nice, steelbook release of Phenomena. The release contained all three cuts of the film along with loads of special features and the soundtrack to the film. It is a beautiful release, but they are charging $50+ for it and I couldn't see myself paying that kind of money for a film that I have never seen.

Enter Arrow Video. They have the rights to the film in the U.K. and sought out to release the best version on blu-ray that they could. And they did. This set is just a thing of beauty. We get all three cuts of the film, remastered in 4K, and some really nice special features. Not all of the special features were ported over to this edition, but the features that are on here are so good that they make you forget about those other features.

The blu-rays, and the soundtrack, come inside of a chip board box with original artwork by Candice Tripp.

I love this set ever since I got it in the mail. The look of the packaging is so nice that it looks good on the shelf. The 4K restoration by Arrow makes the film pop on screen and there is never a dull moment. The film is fantastic too and I can see why Argento says that this is his favorite of the films that he has directed.

1.) Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box

Any of my readers should have seen this one coming and if you did then good on you. I love this set. The time and effort that Arrow put into this set is amazing and I will say until the end of time that this is one of the best blu-ray box sets of all time.

We get the first three films (the ones that most people say are the only ones that count and that is stretching it for Hellraiser III.) loving remastered (and yes, the transfer for three is a bit off) with soundtrack that would scare the pants off of the most hardened person. I have never seen the films look this good and heard the soundtrack sound this aggressive.

The special features are amazing as well. We get a tighter version of the Leviathan doc that was released previously to this set (the doc was originally nine hours long. Yes, NINE HOURS for two films. That is insane). We also get brand new interviews with various cast and crew. The commentary tracks from the Anchor Bay dvd releases have been carried over as well.

Explorers... in the further regions of experience. Demons to some, angels to others -Pinhead

There is also a fourth disc that contains an overlook at the books that Clive Barker has written, which I found to be very informative. There are some other featurettes about the films and their impact. To close the disc up we get three short films: the first two are ones that Barker made when he was in college. They are arty and kind of pompous, but they have their fans. The final short is a fan film that was shot as a kind of pilot episode for a series in the U.K. that never happened. This short is abysmal as is the commentary track that accompanies it.

The packaging is really nice with each disc getting its own digi-packaging. The set also comes with postcards, reproductions of some of Barker's art for the film, and a 200 hundred page, leather-bound book that examines the three films as well as gives us the press kits for each film.

The set is mammoth and is worth the time going through. Outside of the short films on the fourth disc, there is not a wasted special feature here and any Barker fan should have this in their collections already.

So those are my favorite Arrow Video blu-rays. They have been kicking ass for years and I am excited to see what they have in store for 2017.  

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