Arrow Video is easily one of the best movie distributors around, and if you ask certain movie buffs collectors, they’d argue that they’re the best, period. I can’t decide as Arrow Video has been on a mission for the last few years to deliver fans some of the most unique movie titles on blu-ray and DVD, and offer them in deluxe collector’s packages that would make most cineastes hyperventilate out of sheer excitement. Arrow Video has taken it upon themselves to offer fans the two tales of “House,” two films that were big movie rental fodder in their heydays and are now brought together for what is a heavily suggested anthology. Arrow Video combines two of the true “House” movies that are—ironically—about as different from each other as the last two “House” movies.
“Virtual Encounters 2” is from Surrender Cinema, one of Charles Bands’ sub labels that specialized in the type of movie you’d usually find on late night Fridays and Saturdays on Cinemax back in the nineties. It’s always a good sign when you enter in to a new movie and the first thing you see are a woman’s erect nipples. “Virtual Encounters 2” is the okay sequel to the okay original film. The sequel follows a new group of characters, setting down on two dorm mates at Midvale College. Mel has wet dreams about the girl of his dreams and is discovered by his roommate Sam who actually can score with women. Sam convinces Mel to attend an art class with nude models and Mel is shocked to see one of the nudes are the girl of his dreams.
Whether we like it or not, summer is right around the corner, and Mill Creek Entertainment is helping movie lover ring in the season with a marathon of ten great beach and summer movies. Well, great is a broad term, as most of these movies are goofy eighties nonsense and action schlock you can enjoy with some beers and nachos. At fifteen hours, this collection is compiled in to three DVD’s and packs in some new titles along with Mill Creek’s more prominent comedy titles.
Much like a classic mix tape, “Vol. 2” of “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a movie that’s similar in theme to its predecessor but feels fresh and original. Director James Gunn delivered a truly remarkable adaptation in 2014, and now he offers up a sequel that’s just as good, with a hefty narrative that thankfully has so much going on, but never loses sight of its central themes of family, love, and how music is the soundtrack of our lives. With “Guardians” the group of Starlord, Gamorra, Groot, Rocket, and Drax are back committing to a difficult job for a race of aliens called the Sovereign. They’re tasked with killing a vicious monster called the Abilisk and protecting priceless batteries. In exchange, they give Gamorra her sister Nebula back, who has been held prisoner.
Once called “Stake Lander,” the follow up to the fantastic 2011 apocalyptic vampire film may be just a TV movie, but it’s thankfully a pretty excellent follow up to the original vampire thriller. “Stake Land 2” reunites just about everyone from the original film to extend the mythology of the original film and continue the epic journey of the enigmatic Mister and his young sidekick Martin. Except now, Martin is an experienced apocalyptic hunter who has managed to settle in to a life he loves, even in the midst of the end of the world. Despite Mister venturing out on his own, Martin has established a farm as well as married and had a son.
It’s a shame that this is the only movie that patient fans of “Phantasm” will be getting since “Ravager,” the apparent final film in the series, isn’t that much of a horror film. Despite David Hartman’s best efforts, “Ravager” feels more like a fan film for the “Phantasm” movie series than anything else. I went in to the movie expecting pretty awesome and big things and sadly only got the bare minimum. When the movie ended, I literally muttered “That’s it?” to myself. Even Angus Scrimm in his final role appears for a few minutes here and there, and is mostly seen in the prologue through flashbacks.
You have to give it to Synapse films. With the decline of physical media, more studios are open to delivering movie buffs the classics, and the obscure titles. Let’s face it, until now, no other major label would have ever made the “Violent Shit” collection available for mass consumption. At the end of the day, this five movie collection of shot on video horror gore films from Germany are strictly a niche release, but they’re at least there for everyone to view. While the “Violent Shit” movies, in fact, complete shit, they are also important cinematic relics. Back in the eighties, when Germany enacted heavy censorship on all film releases, including horror movies, that were cut for mass consumption, a bunch of indie filmmakers got together and made their own gory, graphic, and obscenely splatterific horror movies.
At this point you know what you’re getting with the “Fast and the Furious” movie series, but they also seem to be thinking of new ways to get ridiculous. While you can’t really expect realism with these movies (seriously, gravity does not exist in this world), “Fate of the Furious” reaches new heights of absurdity that it becomes comical; and not the good kind of comical, either. Where James Bond had “Die Another Day” where he surfed a tsunami on a plane door and parachute, “The Fate of the Furious” has its own “jump the shark” moment. But this one involves a missile chasing a car, and Dwayne Johnson merely leaning out of a high speed car and pushing the missile away with his hand, allowing it to divert in to the car of a bad guy. It’s that point where I realized that it’s about time for the series to come to an end.