Forthcoming Italian Suspense from Arrow Films  The enterprising types at Arrow Films continue to cherrypick some of the most intriguing of genre cinema, frequently straying away from the well-worn paths bring to our attention material which is not only neglected, but which may even be unknown to all but the most committed cinéastes. What’s more, the razor-sharp quality of the transfers (not to mention the copious and well-curated extras) make for some particularly tempting packages. So tempting, in fact, that the extras may push punters into buying mode, even if they are undecided as to whether or not to stump up for one of the films from the Arrow catalogue. A striking example may be found in the company’s forthcoming titles with Italian thriller The Fifth Cord, one of the many gialli that followed in the wake of the acclaim for Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. The film will be new to many admirers of the giallo genre, but director Luigi Bazzano is noted for his quirky sensibility and astute direction of actors. What’s more, the presence of the cult actor Franco Nero as an alcoholic journalist on the trail of brutal killer will guarantee interest. Admirers of Arrow’s catalogue, will have to be a little patient for this one – it’s due early 2019.

WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS BACK, Fred Walton, director/Second Sight The tense When A Stranger was a particular favourite at the time of its original VHS release, even though the film did not share the gruesomeness of many of its competitors in the thriller stakes of the time. But in fact, the film’s reputation as belonging to the slasher genre is misplaced – this is, if anything, a steady slow-burning police procedural about the tracking of a psychopathic killer by a dogged, unglamorous detective (played by the corpulent but memorable Charles Durning). The film gets its first UK Blu-ray release alongside (on the same disc) its sequel When A Stranger Calls Back. A babysitter is terrorised by a psychopathic killer in Fred Walton’s suspenseful piece (The film opens with the babysitter receiving a chilling phone call from a killer – a scene that has often been copied, and provided the inspiration for the first scene in Wes Craven’s Scream). The disc also features the original, rarely seen, short film that was the genesis of the feature film, The Sitter newly restored, along with brand new interviews demonstrating how time has wrought changes on the actors.

BLOOD, various directors/Acorn Media International  With Adrian Dunbar as impressive as usual in a dark crime drama, Blood is a series that acquired something of following on its Channel 5 showing, but certainly deserves more exposure. A young woman, estranged from her family in rural Ireland, returns home after the sudden apparently accidental death of her mother. This new DVD from Acorn retains the format of the original six-part drama, and is a solidly acted and compelling piece of work.


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