Since its launch in 2009, Arrow Video has become respected amongst film fans for its superb DVD/Blu-Ray releases of international cult movie titles. The care and attention given to its restorations, as well as the quality of its bonus features and the extensive collectors’ booklet writings by top cult film scholars have all helped seal Arrow’s reputation as the cult film distributor par excellence. Cult Cinema – An Arrow Video Companion is a fitting showcase for Arrow’s achievements to date: a collection of twenty of the finest written essays to have accompanied Arrow DVD releases so far, complemented by ten new pieces specially commissioned for this volume.
Each of the Companion’s five sections delves into a different facet of cult cinema. The first chapter looks at cult films by title, and offers seven fascinating essays from the likes of Alan Jones (on Deep Red), Tim Lucas (The Fall of the House of Usher), Maitland McDonagh (Dressed to Kill) and Stephen Thrower (Zombie Flesh Eaters). Chapter two focuses on cult directors, with excellent contributions from - amongst others - David Flint (on Tinto Brass), the late Mike Sutton (Wes Craven) and John Kenneth Muir (George A. Romero). In chapter three, cult actors are given the spotlight in exemplary essays by Vic Pratt (on Boris Karloff), Tom Mes (Meiko Kaji), David Hayles (Hervé Villechaize), David Del Valle (Vincent Price) and Cullen Gallagher (Pam Grier). Chapter four examines cult genres and sub-genres, with informative pieces by Michael Mackenzie (Giallo), Paul Corupe (Canuxploitation), Kim Newman (Christmas Horror) and Joel Harley (Food Horror) to name just a few. Finally, various historical aspects of cult cinema distribution are considered in chapter five: in particular, Robin Boughie contributes a fascinating snapshot of 1930s exploitation cinema; Michael Brooke offers a highly cogent account of the 1980s Video Nasty controversy that resulted in the passing of the Video Recordings Act in 1984; and Kevin Gilvear discusses in detail the flood of Asian cult cinema on DVD that took place at the turn of the millennium courtesy of distributors Tartan and Hong Kong Legends.
Editor Anthony Nield does a fine job of bringing together this seemingly disparate collection of writing in one coherent volume, beautifully illustrated throughout by artwork from Graham Humphreys, Gilles Vranckx, Nathanael Marsh, Ian MacEwan, Jeff Zornow, Jack Pemberton, Reinhard Kleist, Jim Rugg, Robin Bougie, Gary Pullin, Rick Melton and the Twins of Evil.
Arrow’s stated aim with Cult Cinema is not to provide a definitive guide to cult film but rather a worthy companion to its prodigious DVD catalogue. In this they have amply succeeded.
CULT CINEMA – AN ARROW VIDEO COMPANION / EDITOR: ANTHONY NIELD / PUBLISHER: ARROW FILMS / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 11TH