Tokyo Mighty Guy: this is an interesting, light comedy flip-side to the tragic young-yakuza melodramas that Nikkatsu was making in the 50’s and ’60s. Akira Kobayashi toplines as a budding businessman who returns home to take over the family’s restaurant business. In short order, he finds himself dealing with yakuza turf battles, romantic entanglements and keeping the peace between neighbors. Director Buichi Saito gives it a snappy pace and colorful ‘scope lensing, with the results often feeling like one of the better early ’60s Elvis films (Kobayashi even sings a couple of tunes). It’s included in Arrow’s Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Vol. 2 set: the transfer is excellent and Jasper Sharp supplies some supplements that shed light on this era of Nikkatsu filmmaking.
Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan: a documentary for the monster kid lurking in the heart of every horror fan. It puts the titular special effects legend front and center, allowing him to chronicle his career from his apprenticeship under Willis O’Brien to the many FX spectaculars he produced between the ’50s and the early ’80s. There are plentiful film clips and behind-the-scenes pix to flesh out the oral history as well as appreciations from a gaggle of genre luminaries that include Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Joe Dante, John Landis, etc. Good stuff for newbies and veteran fans alike, giving the viewer a nice sense of Harryhausen’s “humble craftsman” persona and a warm & fuzzy nostalgia for the glory days of handcrafted special effects. Arrow’s new blu-ray/DVD combo is packed to the gills with extras, including everything from Harryhausen trailers to copious bonus interview footage.
Microwave Massacre: this is an infamous title that haunted VHS horror section shelves everywhere during that format’s heyday but it’s more of a braindead distant relation to horror comedies like Little Shop Of Horrors than a video nasty. Comedian Jackie Vernon stars as a construction worker who bumps off his nagging wife when she goes too far with making gourmet meals in her microwave. When he accidentally eats one of her body parts (don’t ask how), he becomes a cannibal who preys on young lovelies and uses wifey’s microwave to dish up his own delights. Made by amateurs, this is basically an assault on your cerebral cortex fueled by painful non-jokes, leering sexism, mannequin-part gore, staggeringly awful fashion and decor and an inability to follow a recognizable plot, structure or sense of what works as entertainment. A good litmus test for your fascination with bad cinema, hypnotic in a way guaranteed to slowly induce a headache. Arrow has given it an unexpectedly lovely blu-ray/DVD set with a nice transfer and extras involving the surviving filmmakers and cast.