Arrow Films is a UK distributor of horror, genre and cult films. They started in 1991 but didn’t start releasing films in America until 2014. In that time, they’ve released over 100 titles in America and have proven themselves to be as good or even better than their competition.
Just like my previous Criterion Collection list, heres ten films I think the company should have in their collection.
10. The Big Crimewave
Not to be confused with Sam Raimi’s film Crimewave, The Big Crimewave is about a writer who wants to make “The Greatest color crime movie ever” and can’t figure out the middle of the script. His landlords daughter, excited by what she refers to as a “movie person”, wants to help. She enlists the help of a man called Dr. Jolly and the craziness begins. Some movies are destined to be game changers, some are meant to be block busters and some can only ever be cult films because they’ll appeal to the 5% of the population that watches them but those 5% are die hard fans. It’s a unique film not meant for 95% of the population but maybe you’ll be part of the 5% after watching it.
Roman Coppola’s love letter to 60’s cinema; this film has it all. Crazy caricatures of Hollywood players, an amazingly cheesy sci-fi film within a film that looks like a cross between Barbarella and Danger: Diabolik, a stellar cast of foreign and forgotten actors and an actual realistic portrayal at what it looks like to make a film. This is one of those films (Like the majority of this list) that you’ll either love or loathe But I think if you love the 60’s and you get what he’s doing, you’ll dig it.
8. The Mystery of Rampo
Edogawa Rampo is a writer and is frequently referred to as “the Japanese Edgar Allen Poe” and his latest work has been deemed to controversial by the Japanese government. The story involved a young woman killing her husband by having him suffocate in a wooden box. Coincidently, that story happens in real life and he starts investigating the murder himself and then reality starts to blur. The story is fascinating but it’s really the visuals that will hook you. The film is absolutely gorgeous to look at and it’s score is literally spellbinding. It’s as if the film is trying to conjure a spell on the viewer or hypnotize him in some way. How many films can you think of that not only use moonlight as an aesthetic template but a character itself? Everything is bathed in the glow of the moon and it just gives the film a dreamlike quality. Definitely an underseen gem.
7. Meet the Feebles
Ideally, this would be a boxset of Peter Jackson’s earlier films. I know it would be too much to ask to include Dead Alive but Meet the Feebles, Bad Taste and Forgotten Silver are not on blu ray and that’s a shame. But if i have to pick one I want, it has to be Feebles. An X-rated film about a variety show with an all puppet cast. Imagine Jim Henson saying fuck it and giving The Muppet Show to Dennis Hopper and you wouldn’t be too far off. It’s a wild, imaginative film that you’d think would have a bigger profile now that Jackson is one of the biggest directors in the world but it seems as though his earlier, pre Frightners work has all been forgotten about and that’s insane to me. He’s made some of the craziest independent films of all time and they’re all just sitting in movie limbo. Shame.
6. Fish Story
This could also be part of a boxset because American audiences have no idea who Yoshihiro Nakamura is and it’s high time they get to learnin’. He’s best known for writing the horror film Dark Water but all of his films are wildly entertaining, yet insanely underrated. Case in point, look at the description for his film Chips from IMDB:
What the fuck is that? Even the worst garbage on IMDB at least gives you a plot synopsis. This is like a warning written by a child not to touch his shit. It’s sad that a director who’s so creative and has such a unique voice is literally forgotten about on his own IMDB page but I digress. Fish Story is a film about a punk song saving the world. That’s all the plot I’m giving you but trust me, it’s one of the most enjoyable films you’ll see this year. Or any year. I saw this almost 10 years ago (Christ I’m old) and I still haven’t forgotten a frame. It’s pure cinema.
5. The Dark Backward
Oh boy. This film is bizarre. It’s one of those kitchen sink films, where every idea the director had made its way into the script. It’s dark, dirty, (literally dirty, most of the characters look like Pig pen from the Peanuts) weird, gross, disturbing but also extremely funny. The film is about a terrible stand up comedian played by Judd Nelson, who, well let’s just say, he goes through a transformation. And then he gets some fame because of said transformation and then the film becomes about fame and the cost of fame and the power of fame. It’s a film about a lot of things but I feel like the message will be lost on most because it’s so fucking weird. Embrace the weird. Embrace the Dark Backward.
4. Conspirators of Pleasure
Speaking of weird (nailed that segue to the fucking floor son), Conspirators of Pleasure is Jan Svankmajer’s ode to fetish and fantasy. There’s six characters, all of whom have a fantasy of some sort. One man likes dressing up like a chicken and wants to drop a rock on his neighbors head, a woman wants to turn her neighbor into a puppet to punish through whipping, another woman likes sucking up bread balls with nose. On the surface, the film is about weird people doing or wanting to do weird things but under the surface, it’s a sharp political commentary on the state of Germany and it’s big brother-esque means of control. It’s a smart satire that’s also very funny. I mean look at him, he’s dressed as a chicken. That’s comedy gold.
3. Ruben and Ed
Remember that time Crispin Glover went on the Late Night show with a box of glass eyes and did some karate moves and David Letterman got freaked out and got up and left the stage? Yeah, Glover was still in character from this film. Rubin and Ed is about a failed salesman and an eccentric loner going on an adventure to bury a cat. But it’s banana balls covered in crazy sauce type film. There is no liking this film. Since its so obscure, if you find it, mostly likely, it’ll be your favorite film. There is no middle ground, you’ll either be indifferent to it or want to immediately show everyone you’ve ever met this film. It might be your new barometer of taste when meeting someone. Like a hand shake film.
2. The Day of the Beast
If this film was directed by anyone else, it would be labeled a masterpiece. This would be in the top echelon of horror comedies if Raimi or Jackson’s names were attached but for some reason, the world has not caught up to the brilliance of Alex De La Iglesia. A priest is convinced the end of days is coming and decides the best way to defeat the devil, is to get close to the devil. So he enlists the help of a black metal fan and a Italian occult expert to help him commit as many sins as possible so that the devil will come to him. It’s an amazing set up for a comedy and it delivers the goods. I want to talk about the gags but I don’t want to ruin any part of this film. In my opinion, this is as good as Re-animator or Cabin in the woods. It’s a classic just waiting for its title.
1. 3615 Code Père Noël
If you’re like me, you love discovering hidden treasures of cinema. Those forgotten gems only you know about and then sharing them with the world. This is my holy grail of the forgotten. Picture Home Alone mixed with the Son of Rambow mixed with that Tales from the Crypt episode about the killer Santa and you have 3615 Code Père Noël. It’s a grab bag of amazing but it’s only homaging Rambo specifically because it came out before both Home Alone and that Santa episode. It’s a French film that has a Japanese released dvd for some reason and it definitely needs a proper release because it’s the single greatest hidden gem of all time.