Now On Home Video: Artsploitation Films Returns With HORSEHEAD, DER SAMURAI, And THE HOUSE WITH 100 EYES
Till Kleinert's Der Samurai reads as one of the most compelling synopses in recent history:
Jakob is a policeman in a village deep in the woods, where little happens until the arrival of a mysterious wolf that is causing havoc. Working the night shift, Jakob is tracking the wolf…only to discover that the lupine lurker is actually a man clad only in lipstick and a ladies’ slip, and toting a samurai sword that he uses to lop off the heads of the townspeople, including Jakob’s tormentors. Jakob and the transvestite samurai seem to share a bond, and as the night gets darker, events get even weirder.
The film itself is a quite odd slow burn of a horror film that forces the viewer to commit to the unexplained weirdness in the hopes that it'll be explained by the end. Frankly, I found it to be a slog in the early going, but once the film ramps up the delirium, I was completely on board. In fact, the final reel of Der Samurai ranks with the finest conclusions to any horror film in recent memory, even though tonally it feels somewhat divorced from the rest of the film.
Our Joshua Chaplinsky reviewed the film out of Tirbeca last year and said of the film's invitation to weirdness:
If you do [go with it], you'll be treated to an inventive film and a bloody good time. Jaws will drop. Heads will roll. There are subtle moments of humor that will make you fall in love. The punching of the plastic swan. The bonfire dance scene. That scene right there, that's when I knew the film had me. I knew I was watching something special. And that final scene, the final shot, the song that plays over the credits. Great stuff.
As far as the disc is concerned, Artsploitation have introduced Blu-ray to their releases with this and Horsehead, and have oddly released those two on BD-R discs, rather than pressed Blu-rays. Now, this does not affect the quality of the presentation at all, both films look and sound amazing, but there still isn't a lot of information about the longevity of BD-R discs yet. Artsploitation has assumed responsibility for this and will put future Blu-ray releases on pressed discs, but it's best that you know what you're getting into ahead of time.
In terms of extras, the film showcases two major features. The first is an engaging and insightful commentary with director Till Kleinert and producer Linus Di Paoli, and the second is a ten minute behind the scenes featurette that is silent and narrated with subtitles. It's a pretty odd little feature that jumps all over the place, largely focusing on the FX work.
One thing that is conspicuous by its absence is a booklet. One of my favorite things about previous Artsploitation Films releases was that they always included a substantial booklet. However, with their revamping the booklet appears to have gone the way of the Dodo. Sad, I hope it comes back.