Nowadays, film distributors work especially hard to please cinephiles and ensure they keep coming back to buy their releases. We are usually fans of directors or actors but now, we also support our favourite labels. If you have visited my website before, there is one fact that is quite obvious : I am a big fan of Arrow Video. It is, by far, my favourite label. Arrow Video is a UK-based film distributor focusing on cult films. Which brings me to this article’s focus : the Arrow Video Companion book.
Released in March 2016, this book is not only a beautiful object to display but is also very informative and a pleasure to read. Let’s go over the content as there is a lot to dig through ! Upon release, the book has been criticized for containing essays that were previously included in blu-ray editions and hence weren’t new material. While the book does contain previously-released essays, the reader’s opinion shouldn’t be limited to that as it also offers much more.
This companion book includes an introduction by Ben Wheatley whose love for cinema transpires through his words and is a pleasure to read for any film enthusiast, especially those who share his passion for cult cinema and non-mainstream films. Then, the content is divided into five main sections, each focusing on a different area : Cult Movies, Cult Directors, Cult Actors, Cult Genres and Cult Distribution.
What I enjoy the most in the Cult Movies section is how the writers use a specific film to explore one aspect of cult cinema, like, for instance, M. McDonagh who writes about Dressed To Kill to explore the american giallo. The other films discussed in this section are The Fall Of The House Of Usher, Deep Red, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Whitnail & I, The Burbs and Battle Royale. The Cult Directors section offers essays about Seijun Suzuki, David Cronenberg, Tinto Brass, Lloyd Kaufman, Wes Craven and George A. Romero. These essays are not simple biographies of those directors and the writers’ investment in giving a genuine portrait really shows. The next section, Cult Actors, is as interesting as the previous one and showcases writings about Boris Karloff, Hervé Villechaize, Vincent Price, Meiko Kaji and Pam Grier.
The next two sections are the ones I enjoyed the most. The first one, Cult Genres (And Sub-Genres) offers a diverse panel of essays about Giallo, Spaghetti Western, Canuxploitation, Pornochanchada, Christmas Horror, Food Horror and Empty City Sci-Fi. Keep in mind, these are essays so the writers cannot go in depth about those subjects. However, after reading each piece, I went online to research those genres a bit further. That’s where I think the Arrow Video Companion succeeds the most : it grabs your interest and increases your thirst for knowledge, enticing you to take one step further and research those genres to find out even more about them.
Arrow Video being a film distributor, the last section is quite appropriate and, in my opinion, the most interesting one (mainly because I am fascinated by the world of film distribution and marketing). You will find writings about the Early Days of Cult Cinema, Super 8, Video Nasties, Horror Festivals and Asian DVD Explosion. The Video Nasty is definitely the one I enjoyed the most and it motivated me to start watching more films from the Section III list.
Finally, let’s take a closer look at the design of the book. The artist who created the cover is no stranger to the world of Arrow Video. Graham Humphreys is responsible for many blu-ray covers and his style is extremely recognizable. The colors are simply fantastic and I really like how the cover is colorful and yet dark. It is very stylish and quite the piece of art ! I was very happy to discover that Arrow Video included a print of Graham Humphreys’ design (it is definitely going on my office wall). Granted, the font is too big and the images are cut by a white line in the middle but it didn’t bother me as it’s the content that interests me (though it is definitely to take into consideration if you wish to buy the book). Click on the images below to enlarge them and take a closer look at this amazing cover.
Cult Cinema : An Arrow Video Companion is, in my opinion, an essential piece for any cult film fan and, obviously, anyone who is a fan of one of the UK’s best film distributor. If you have an extended collection of their titles, you already own some of the content included in this book but personally, I think it’s worth it. This is a limited edition and at the time I am writing those words, Arrow Video announced in their latest newsletter that it is out-of-print. You can still find it online via Amazon for example (I purchased mine on Amazon UK at a very decent price). I highly recommend this gorgeous book, which is not only a very interesting and informative read but also a particularly beautiful item to display.