PUBLISHER Arrow EDITOR Anthony Nield AVAILABLE 28 March
Since 2009 the British home entertainment label Arrow have been lovingly restoring and releasing classic B-movies from around the world in superb high-definition with accompanying special features and pretty artwork; exactly the kind of thing that discerning Exquisite Terror readers would want on their shelves. If you are a collector, a brief word of warning: two-thirds of the essays included here are reprints from the releases of Arrow’s various titles. The good news is the standard of writing here is excellent, offering intelligent insight and critique into a variety of strange and wonderful movies, and with a selection of newly commissioned pieces, alongside some superb new artwork from iconic British artist Graham Humphreys, this is a great purchase.
There’s a great introduction from current cult king Ben Wheatley, who reminisces about his teenage years, scouring video stores for Betamax tapes and attending all-nighters at the much missed Scala in London, viewing dodgy prints of many titles that are now in the Arrow catalogue. Wheatley talks about watching the likes of Repo Man and feeling as if he’d had his “head scraped out and reset”. That’s a solid description of the effect most of the movies in this collection will have on the average viewer, but for those who revel in celluloid’s odder side this is gold. Highlights include an in-depth profile of Japanese noir-master Seijun Suzuki, an analysis of DePalma’s Dressed To Kill, and a brilliant overview on Pam Grier. A superb feature on Giallo, an often misunderstood and maligned genre, goes much deeper than the usual praising of Dario Argento.
While some pieces are better than others, by utilising a selection of experienced genre journalists — Kim Newman; Maitland McDonagh; Tim Lucas — there’s plenty of knowledge and insight throughout. A final section focuses on cult distribution, with work on horror fanzines, festivals, and the rise and fall of the ridiculous Video Nasty furore that hit the UK during the early 80s, bringing us neatly back to Wheatley, and rounding off a fine book. The phrase cult is too-often overused, but it more than applies here. And if, perhaps cynically, you might consider this little more than advertising for Arrow, with the quality of their catalogue they can more than be forgiven. Especially if it gets more people to watch Nekromantik…