By this point, it seems like Shout Factory has cov­ered most of the key gems in their dvd/blu-ray tour through Roger Corman’s New World Pictures fil­mog­ra­phy.  Key films like Death Race 2000, Piranha and Battle Beyond The Stars have all been treat­ed to deluxe edi­tions that offer new­ly stel­lar pic­ture qual­i­ty and a host of worth­while sup­ple­ments new and old.

That said, those who real­ly know their New World his­to­ry are savvy enough to under­stand that there’s always a gem wait­ing to be redis­cov­ered.  In the case of Lethal Ladies Collection Vol. 2, it uncov­ers a much-cov­et­ed title in The Arena and gives it an impres­sive treat­ment.  Better yet, it adds a few more lesser-known titles and main­tains the fan-friend­ly prices that Shout Factory’s New World reis­sues are known for.

All three films fea­tured on this set — The Arena, Fly Me and Cover Girl Models — all ben­e­fit from new anamor­phic trans­fers tak­en from gen­uine cel­lu­loid source mate­ri­als.  The Arena is restored to its full Techniscope (2.35:1) glo­ry for the first time on American home video: the source used has a few emul­sion scratch­es and two brief snip­pets that had to be tak­en from a full-frame mas­ter but the major­i­ty of it looks quite impres­sive, boast­ing rich col­ors, nice black lev­els and a solid lev­el of detail.  Mono audio is retained for this and it sounds fine, reflect­ing the above-aver­age dub that was done for this film in Italy.

The ele­ment used for Fly Me is a lit­tle beat-up in spots, par­tic­u­lar­ly around reel changes, but most of it boasts vivid col­ors and an a lev­el of detail that is leagues beyond its past VHS incar­na­tions.  Cover Girl Models looks pret­ty great from start to fin­ish, hav­ing the least amount of ele­ment issues and impres­sive­ly crisp lev­els of detail and col­or through­out.  Like The Arena, the mono audio mix is used for both of the­se titles and each sounds fine.

As is usu­al­ly the case with Shout! Factory’s mul­ti-title pack­ages, a nice effort has been made to provide some bonus mate­ri­al here.  The key ben­e­fi­cia­ry of the extras-mind­ed atten­tion here is The Arena, which boasts a trail­er, a new com­men­tary track and a new fea­turet­te.  The trail­er here comes from what appears to be a lat­ter-day reis­sue under the title Gladiator Women and func­tions as a sort-of high­lights reel, com­plete with a red-band intro.

The com­men­tary pairs direc­tor Steve Carver with mod­er­a­tor Katarina Leigh Waters, who is bet­ter known to cult DVD fans for the recent line of cult/horror DVD’s she has done with Scorpion Releasing.  If you’ve ever heard a com­men­tary with Carver, you know he has a good mem­o­ry and is gen­er­ous with his behind-the-sce­nes sto­ries.  His track for The Arena is no excep­tion to the rule and he talks at length about the chal­lenges of shoot­ing a film on an “under­cov­er” basis in Italy while deal­ing with the dif­fer­ent cus­toms and super­sti­tions unique to an Italian crew.

Along the way, he reveals a ton of fas­ci­nat­ing tid­bits, like how Pam Grier’s glad­i­a­tor getup was mod­elled after Woody Strode’s in Spartacus and a great sto­ry about how Federico Fellini, who was shoot­ing Amarcord near­by, end­ed up vis­it­ing the set and ogling the wom­en.  Waters does a solid job mod­er­at­ing, ask­ing the occa­sion­al ques­tion to keep the track mov­ing but most­ly giv­ing Carver room to share his plen­ti­ful mem­o­ries.  It’s a strong track and a must for any fans of the film.

The fea­turet­te does a nice job of fill­ing in the gaps not cov­ered in the com­men­tary.  Carver appears here and his mem­o­ries are fleshed out by the likes of pro­duc­ers Roger Corman and Mark Damon as well as actor Margaret Markov.  A lot of great mate­ri­al is packed into a tight 12-min­ute run­ning time: Corman reveals he paired Markov with Grier to cap­i­tal­ize on the suc­cess of Black Mama, White Mama, Damon offers some tart rec­ol­lec­tions about Corman’s infa­mous tight­ness with a bud­get and Markov talks about how Carver demand­ed the actress not get involved in dat­ing off the set to ensure he’d get his film in the can.  Markov and Damon end­ed up mar­ry­ing after work­ing on this film and that is addressed dur­ing the end cred­its of this seg­ment.  All in all, it’s a worth­while lit­tle fea­turet­te that will in some gaps for b-movie his­to­ri­ans.

There’s only one extra on the disc with Fly Me and Cover Girl Models: it’s a fun 30-sec­ond t.v. spot for Fly Me that sug­gests the hero­ines “fly out of the screen and onto your lap”(!).  That said, given the gen­eros­i­ty of a two-films/one-disc setup, there isn’t much room to com­plain.

All in all, the Lethal Ladies Collection Vol. 2 is anoth­er strong addi­tion to Shout! Factory’s slate of Corman releas­es and a good val­ue for the cost-con­scious cult movie buff.  If bat­tling babes is your plea­sure, you real­ly can’t go wrong here: The Arena alone makes it worth the mon­ey and the oth­er films fur­ther up the set’s val­ue.

For Schlockmania’s film review of The Arena, click here.

For Schlockmania’s film review of Cover Girl Models, click here.

For Schlockmania’s film review of Fly Me, click here.