So over the past year I’ve been on a quest to pick up more and more interesting films to cover on here. Quite often I’m confronted with the roadblock that is the lack of a UK release. Whilst there’s a number of cult DVD and Blu Ray distributors in the UK, Arrow, Eureka and BFI being amongst the best, they can’t release everything. What’s really baffling is that some of these films aren’t that obscure. For example, the only Godzilla films to be available on DVD in the UK are King Kong vs Godzilla, the 1998 film, the original (only on DVD despite a restoration) and the recent 2014 release. That’s 4 out of 30. Recently this issue has bugged me enough to actually bring back the Weekend Dump. So, here are 5 films I really would like to see get a UK release soon.
Of all the films on my list this should be the most likely to be released here. I actually thought it had. Turns out it was shown at a few select festivals and that was it. No wide release. No DVD or Blu Ray. No digital download. This is a huge budget film directed by a damn fine director (Boon Jong-ho), produced by one of the modern greats (Park Chan-Wook) starring Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer and even Alison Pill gets a cameo. How has this film not been released here?
I have faith that it will see the light of day in the UK some point in the new year, even if it’s straight to DVD. I imagine it’ll become a mainstay at cinemas such as The Prince Charles and The Curzon eventually. But still, after all the mess with its US release. After all the praise. After all the awards. With a cast like that. It is still not here and shows no sign of actually getting to out shores. I reviewed the film just a few days ago and it’s a strong contender for my film of the year. It’s very likely a top 5. We’ll see when I get to that post. The film deserves to be seen. It’s crafted excellently. It has actual themes and characters that go beyond the usual wafer thin approach. I imagine the violence and certain dark content scare distributors off, but really, I think they just don’t know how to market it. Here’s an idea. How’s about making a poster, put a train on it, put a few of the cast’s faces on it and fill it with quotes of all the praise it has received and let it sell itself.
No.2: Clive Barker’s Nightbreed
Here’s an odd one. There is actually one way to watch this in the UK without importing or using VPNs to access overseas markets. And yes, this method is legal. You got to YouTube and pay £2.49 to Warner video on demand UK. Yes, the film is available for rent on YouTube. But there is no DVD release. No Blu-ray. And this isn’t even a recent film. Nightbreed was made in 1990 and has actual cult status. It may have bombed and been panned by the critics but it is a film that some really enjoy. This is likely down to the strange, other-worldly imagery and the touch of Clive Barker that it’s lathered in. There’s always been talk that Clive Barker didn’t like the original cut, so maybe he had blocked release. But then the film has been released in the US a few times and multiple times in Europe, where sometimes it is known as Cabal.
There is a possibility Nightbreed will see a UK release at some point and this is the logic I’m using. Basically Shout Factory have recently released a director’s cut version in the US. Over here in the UK Arrow have a nice habit of releasing Shout Factory’s films for us. Nightbreed is exactly the sort of film Arrow and their fans will eat up. Personally I’d love a nice, well packaged copy. The fact it was only ever available in the UK on VHS, and I believe that was only ever one version, is quite baffling. That means that for the whole 15 or so years DVD was the main format here not one company bother to release the other Clive Barker film not called Hellraiser.
No.3: Sleepaway Camp
Sleepaway Camp is one of them cult classic horrors that really should be readily available. I had intended to cover it this year for Horror Week. The film was given a new release in the US back in May on DVD and Blu Ray. Trouble is, part of me won’t let me just import the DVD version when a Blu Ray is available and the Blu Ray was just too much for me. Plus, it’s likely region locked and I don’t have a region free player. Like Nightbreed there is a way to watch and even own this in the UK but it’s via Amazon’s Instant Video service for £3.99 to rent and £12.99 to buy in HD. If you want a physical copy though, just like with Nightbreed, you’re stuck.
All this exclusivity with on demand services is baffling. Especially when the film is only available in a one off purchase system. Who rents films like that anymore? That’s what we did in the 80s and now Apollo and Blockbuster are gone and no-one cared. Now we have Netflix and multiple movie channels. This film is a memorable and quite influential piece of 80s horror that has one of those twist endings that suddenly layers the film with so many layers of context and depth that it elevates it to a higher status. It’s not perfect but that’s never been a pre-requisite for releases here. I mean, we made Spice World for Christ’s sake!
No.4: Godzilla 1985/The Return of Godzilla
Of all the films I mention this is the one least likely to see release in the near future. Not just here but anywhere. See, years ago Toho thought it would be a super cool and awesome idea that totally wouldn’t backfire in any way to sell the rights to it’s 20-odd Godzilla films on a film by film basis. Maybe they figured that king Kong Vs Godzilla was owned by Universal and 1998 was owned by Sony, so why the hell not let everyone have a go. This led to an uneven release pattern, film image and production quality varying wildly and many films just becoming obscure oddities. You may remember me discussing just how much some of the US DVDs were selling for back when I covered as many of the Godzilla films as I could earlier this year.
Here’s where Godzilla 1985 come sin. The rights to this film were sold to a company that went under. They were purchased by someone else, various film rights were sold off to other companies, and the rights documents for Godzilla 1985 were lost. Toho claims to have no idea who owns the rights and seeing as no-one has ever released the film since this all went down in the pre-DVD days, along with no-one releasing the film this year when you’d think it would have been best to, they have assumed the rights to be fully lost. The trouble is, Toho can’t just go and pass the rights on anew because if anyone was sitting on it they’d be able to sue the hell out of them for breach of contract. Toho just have to wait for the original terms to expire so they can then arrange a new distributor. Hopefully they’ll arrange for the rights to go to a well trusted distributor that will release decent scans of the negatives with a nice raft of extras. For now, the film is incredibly difficult to buy legitimately. There’s currently an old VHS copy selling on Amazon.co.uk for just shy of £150. I saw the film in the 90s. It rocks. Godzilla needs to be released anywhere. Not just the UK.
No.5: Miami Connection
Miami Connection is awesome. Every single aspect of the film is perfect in every way. Like that ugly kid at school that your teachers insisted was perfect despite having, like, 2 teeth and a face like Rocky Dennis. That was possibly harsh and offensive. Luckily, Miami Connection isn’t offensive. It’s harsh though. Especially when that one guy talks about his dad leaving him that time. He finds his dad later. I didn’t want you to think it was a downer.
The film was found by the guys at The Alamo Drafthouse cinema a few years back and since then it has been a mainstay of their schedule. You can purchase the film DRM free from the Miami Connection Website for just a few quid. This comes long with a bunch of bonus downloads and features and it is accessible worldwide. But I still crave a UK Blu Ray release. The US disc copy is region locked, which is a pain on Blu Ray what with many discs being region free. It’s one of those cult masterpieces you can share with your friends confident that they’ll find some element of its majesty to enjoy. This is another release that I’d want to see Arrow Films handle for sure.
Now, that concludes my short list, and I’m sure I left off a bunch of films that people would like to see. Films like Takeshi Miike’s Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney film or the 80s shlocky action film The Challenge. But those 5 are the ones that matter most to me. Feel free to tell me what films should also see a UK release in the comments below. Or maybe what films need a US release even. Coming up soon on Film Dump will be review No.350. I’ll post that in the next few days.