Summer is now over and December, even Christmas is on our minds, well Arrow Video mind is one Santa’s sleigh. December films include a stylish giallo and slasher homage from a stunning new talent, Kim Basinger in an 80s comedy that’s out of this world, another volume of German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder classics, and an unparalleled stocking filler.
First in December, The Last Matinee, a stylish neo-giallo love letter to classic slashers that will send your popcorn flying and have you diving behind your seat! Uruguayan director Maxi Contenti marks himself out as a talent to watch with a film that Rue Morgue calls “Visually stunning… indulgently violent!” It’s a killer time at the movies!
Next up is Rainer Werner Fassbinder Vol. 2, a collection of his key works from the mid-section of the director’s career in high definition digital restorations prepared by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation. Fassbinder, the enfant terrible of the New German Cinema, wrote, directed, produced and starred in over 40 films in his short but prolific life, before passing away of a drugs overdose in 1982 aged just 37. Volume 2 includes one of Fassbinder’s best-loved works, Fear Eats the Soul; his long-gestating adaptation of Theodor Fontane’s classic German novel Effi Briest; Fox and His Friends; Chinese Roulette; and the director’s international breakthrough film, The Marriage of Maria Braun.
Next is the release of Shawscope Volume One, a stunning Limited Edition Blu-ray box set. After an undisputed reign at the peak of Hong Kong’s film industry in the 1960s, Shaw Brothers (the studio founded by real-life brothers Run Run and Runme Shaw) found their dominance challenged by up-and-coming rivals in the early 1970s. They swiftly responded by producing hundreds of the most iconic action films ever made, revolutionising the genre through the backbreaking work of top-shelf talent on both sides of the camera as well as unbeatable widescreen production value, much of it shot at ‘Movietown’, their huge, privately-owned studio on the outskirts of Hong Kong. This inaugural collection by Arrow Video presents twelve jewels from the Shaw crown, all released within the 1970s – from kickass kung fu killers to crazy kaiju knockoffs to culture clash comedies, this carefully curated and gorgeously presented selection of all-time Shaw Brothers classics merely represents the tip of the iceberg of the studio’s rich output, making it both an ideal starting point for newcomers and a treat for hardcore fans alike.
Finally in December, Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters), Kim Basinger (The Nice Guys) and Jon Lovitz (Southland Tales) star in My Stepmother is an Alien, a fish-out-of-water comedy with a sci-fi twist, that questions whether a romance between two star-crossed lovers who are literally worlds apart can ever work. Funny and touching in equal measure, My Stepmother is an Alien is an offbeat and at times surprisingly risqué comedy that confirms the adage that what unites us is far greater than what divides us… even if what divides us happens to be an entire galaxy.
The Last Matinee Limited Edition Blu-ray 6th December
A cold, wet day. A declining cinema. All you want is to get out of the rain and watch a good film. But who else is in there, hiding in the dark? When Ana takes over projection duties from her ailing father, she doesn’t expect anything worse than a broken reel or a burned-out bulb. But there’s a sadistic killer in the auditorium, and soon blood is running in the aisles as he starts picking off the audience members one by one. Can Ana and the few remaining survivors escape the murderous madman, or will they be victims of his matinee massacre?
The Rainer Werner Fassbinder Collection Vol. 2 Limited Edition Blu-ray 6th December
Among Fassbinder’s best-loved works, Fear Eats the Soul sees the director paying homage to the classic melodramas of Douglas Sirk in its poignant portrayal of a relationship between a widowed cleaning lady in her sixties and a Moroccan immigrant in his thirties that causes an outrage with her family, friends and neighbours. Fassbinder’s long-gestating adaptation of Theodor Fontane’s classic German novel Effi Briest, his most expensive production to date as well as one of his most ambitious, tells the tale of a seventeen-year-old girl who is married off by her parents to a wealthy Baron more than twice her age. Fassbinder himself plays the protagonist of Fox and His Friends, a sweet working class soul whose relationship with wealthy industrialist Eugen, he discovers, is based almost wholly on his unexpected lottery win. Chinese Roulette is a tense psychodrama set in an isolated house during a weekend break in which infidelities are revealed and families break down. Fassbinder’s international breakthrough film, The Marriage of Maria Braun charts the rise to prosperity of its tenacious and pragmatic central character across the post-war years as she holds out hope for the return of the young soldier she was married to for less than 24-hours before he was dispatched to the Russian front and later reported dead.
Shawscope Volume One On Limited Edition Blu-ray 13th December
The collection includes with Korean director Chung Chang-wha’s King Boxer, the film that established kung fu cinema as an international box office powerhouse when it hit Stateside cinemas under the title Five Fingers of Death. From there we see Chang Cheh (arguably Shaw’s most prolific director) helm the blood-soaked brutality of The Boxer from Shantung and two self-produced films in his ‘Shaolin Cycle’ series, Five Shaolin Masters and its prequel Shaolin Temple, before taking a detour into Ho Meng-hua’s King Kong-inspired Mighty Peking Man, one of the most unmissably insane giant monster films ever made. Chang’s action choreographer Lau Kar-leung then becomes a director in his own right, propelling his adoptive brother Gordon Liu to stardom in Challenge of the Masters and Executioners from Shaolin. Not to be outdone, Chang introduces some of Shaw’s most famous faces to the screen, including Alexander Fu Sheng fighting on the streets of San Francisco in Chinatown Kid and, of course, the mighty Venom Mob in The Five Venoms and Crippled Avengers. Finally, Lau and Liu successfully meld high kicks with humour in two of their masterworks, Heroes of the East and Dirty Ho, also featuring such fan favourites as Wong Yue, Hsiao Hao and Kara Hui.
My Stepmother is an Alien On Blu-ray 13th December
When widowed astronomer Steve Mills (Dan Aykroyd) inadvertently causes a gravitational disruption in deep space, a race of hyper-advanced alien lifeforms sends one of their own to investigate, disguised in the alluring human form of Celeste (Kim Basinger). Tasked with seducing the lovelorn Steve in a bid to gain access to his scientific research, Celeste finds herself falling for the man she’s been sent to swindle. But they’ve not counted on Steve’s young daughter Jessie (Alyson Hannigan, TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who’s none too thrilled by the prospect of a new mother – especially not one from another planet.