Editor, U.S. ; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)

Let's take a look at four of Arrow Video USA's latest Blu-ray releases.

First up is the US Blu-ray debut of Gilles Penso's Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan, next up we have sci-fi spoof Return of the Killer Tomatoes, then Jack Hill's The Swinging Cheerleaders, and finally my pick of the litter, long overlooked '93 American indie thriller Suture.

A little inside baseball from the ScreenAnarchy staff camp:

When someone of significance passes away, a general call usually goes out to the team behind the scenes to determine who will write up a goodbye on our behalf. Sometimes it's a matter of who is available at a given moment to make something appear in a reasonable time, but other times, we will engage in friendly competition for the privilege to remember our heroes publicly. One of the latter instances was the case of the 2013 passing of cinema legend, Ray Harryhausen. I took the call that time, and what a privilege it was. Harryhausen meant and continues to mean a lot to be, and I wanted to say thank you the best that I could.

It's with that same sense of reverence that I approached the brand new Arrow Video Blu-ray of Gilles Penso's documentary, Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan. Penso's film takes the viewer of a tour through the life and career of Harryhausen, oen that is as fascinating as the films themselves. He interviews dozens of collaborators and admirers from all sectors of the movie business in an attempt to paint a picture of the immense influence that Ray Harryhausen had on an art form that he loved. The result is a beautiful eulogy to a talent that is unlikely to be seen again for a long time.

The list of contributors to this documentary is staggering, with some of Hollywood's biggest names appearing in extended interview pieces to pay tribute to their hero. People like Guillermo Del Toro, Rick Baker, James Cameron, Nick Park, Peter Jackson, and even Steven Spielberg get in on the love fest. Lest you think the subjects are overstating the debt they owe, each of their interviews are coupled with footage from their films that is directly attributable to the work of Harryhausen. It's really astounding to see how closely these modern blockbuster films hew to Harryhausen's work even in an age where CG has replaced the practical effects that Harryhausen pioneered.

If there is any significant fault to the documentary it is that it descends into hagiographic territory for pretty much the entire run time, but then again, why shouldn't it? For fans of Ray Harryhausen there isn't a whole lot of new material or many surprises to be had, but this fan couldn't wipe the smile off his face for the entire length of the film. Ray Harryhausen was a legend that will never be replaced and a master of a quickly dying art, but the fact that it continues to inspire even today is testament to the universal nature of his work.

The Disc

Arrow Video previously released this film on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK and this disc is a direct port of the previous incarnation. The video quality varies wildly from one interview to the next, as many of the subjects are only featured in archival footage. The film itself was completed back in 2011, but much of the footage is significantly older than that. All things being accounted for, though, it looks fine and I have no complaints.

Arrow Video have rounded up a decent number of extras for what is considered to be one of their budget releases. We get an audio commentary from the director, a dozen extended and new interviews from people like Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg that were not in the original feature as well as extended bits from people who are in the film, there is also Q&A footage, a trailer, and much more to enjoy.

I love the work of Ray Harryhausen, it's gotten me through some rough spots in my life, and to see him celebrated in this film is a happy thing. Definitely recommended.

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