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Archive for June 5th, 2019

Dearest Allan:

In pondering my submission for the third annual online film festival at Wonders in the Dark, my mind drifted back to some of our classic four-way e mail correspondences.  Jamie Uhler of Chicago and Maurizio Roca of Brooklyn always helped to make said communications lively, opinionated and sometimes rowdy.  Roughly about two years before you departed this earthly realm to accept your current position as celestial authority of all things cinematic you were hot to trot to discuss DVD-blu ray labels and how in your view a then up and coming Region 2 UK company named Arrow had practically eclipsed longtime poll position occupants Criterion as the most exciting label out there with the most passionate and discerning film aficionados.  I’m sure you will fondly recall how we lined up on this matter and how we presented our cases for our champion.  In proclaiming Arrow as the top dog for collectors circa 2014 you cited some persuasive facts that at the time I was hard-pressed to dispute, regardless of where I stood when posting my numerical list.  After all, Arrow gave us sparkling new blu ray transfers of the Roger Corman Poe series, the Mario Bava collection, the lion’s share of Italian giallos, killer box sets on Walerian Borowcyck, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, Rainer Warner Fassbinder, and your all-time hero Yoshida not to mention some world classics like The Bicycle Thief, Ashes and Diamonds, The Night of the Hunter, Sweet Smell of Success, The Apartment, The Human  Condition and The Naked City among others in countering Criterion with even more extensive Region 2 incarnations of these masterpieces.  While we can safely assert that Arrow began as a niche label specializing in horror -and their more recent 4K transfer of John Carpenter’s The Thing, City of the Dead, and Horror Express have sustained that commitment.  Their catalog horror like the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Last House on the Left, The Hellraiser Trilogy, Carrie, The Hills Have Eyes, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Theater of Blood and The Crazies to name just a few continue to sell and remain in print.  Arrow have released superlative editions of Network, Donnie Darko, Children of Men and Gosford Park as you know well matching and surpassing their Region 1 counterparts on whatever label.  Allan, you always evaluated the complete package, and rightly pointed to the fabulous Arrow booklets which continue to surpass Criterion who have now downgraded to leaflets, the art (Jamie as I recall had mixed feelings on that front) and a bevy of desirable extras on nearly every release.  Since you moved on to better places where new students sit before you daily waiting to be enlightened, Arrow has maintained their strong reputation and impressive release schedule, but I suspect we’d be in accord that their product hasn’t been quite as captivating.  Heck, how could it be?  The blu ray business in general isn’t now what it used to be, though few are thinking it is on  an irreversible downswing.  Collectors like you and I are there and in a niche market, buyers like the passionate herds of book lovers who still haven’t warmed to kindle or e book alternatives and repeatedly contend a 500 year old technology still reigns supreme there are die-hards will never trade allegiance.  If Arrow has held the stage among blu ray aficionados, it has now been topped albeit marginally by another Region 2 company who have gone above and beyond in catering to a collectors market who want the best possible quality but also all those extras that fans are hoping for but do not always receive due to financial constraints. (more…)

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