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Belladonna of Sadness
Studio: Cinelicious Pics
Format: Blu-ray
SRP: $39.99
Catalog #: CP663390001189BD
UPC #: 663390001189

One of the great lost masterpieces of Japanese animation, never before officially released in the U.S., BELLADONNA OF SADNESS is a mad, swirling, psychedelic light-show of medieval tarot-card imagery with horned demons, haunted forests and La Belle Dame Sans Merci, equal parts J.R.R. Tolkien and gorgeous, explicit Gustav Klimt-influenced eroticism. The last film in the adult-themed Animerama trilogy produced by the godfather of Japanese anime & manga, Osamu Tezuka and directed by his long time collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto (“ASTRO BOY” and “KIMBA THE WHITE LION”), BELLADONNA unfolds as a series of spectacular still watercolor paintings that bleed and twist together. An innocent young woman, Jeanne (voiced by Aiko Nagayama) is violently raped by the local lord on her wedding night. To take revenge, she makes a pact with the Devil himself (voiced by Tatsuya Nakadai, from Akira Kurosawa’s RAN) who appears as an erotic sprite and transforms her into a black-robed vision of madness and desire.

Extremely transgressive and not for the easily offended, BELLADONNA is fueled by a mindblowing Japanese psych rock soundtrack by noted avant-garde jazz composer Masahiko Satoh. The film has been newly restored by Cinelicious Pics using the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements – and including over 8 minutes of surreal and explicit footage cut from the negative. On par with Rene Laloux’s FANTASTIC PLANET and Ralph Bakshi’s WIZARDS as an LSD-stoked 1970s head trip, BELLADONNA marks a major rediscovery for animation fans. If Led Zeppelin had a favorite film, this would be it. In other words, Stairway to Hell.

Funeral Parade Of Roses
Studio: Cinelicious Pics
Format: Blu-ray
SRP: $39.99
Catalog #: CP663390002018
UPC #: 663390002018

Long unavailable in the U.S., director Toshio Matsumoto’s shattering, kaleidoscopic masterpiece is one of the most subversive and intoxicating films of the late 1960s: a headlong dive into a dazzling, unseen Tokyo night-world of drag queen bars and fabulous divas, fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art and black mascara. No less than Stanley Kubrick cited the film as a direct influence on his own dystopian classic A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. An unknown club dancer at the time, transgender actor Peter (from Kurosawa’s RAN) gives an astonishing Edie Sedgwick/Warhol superstar-like performance as hot young thing Eddie, hostess at Bar Genet — where she’s ignited a violent love-triangle with reigning drag queen Leda (Osamu Ogasawara) for the attentions of club owner Gonda (played by Kurosawa regular Yoshio Tsuchiya, from SEVEN SAMURAI and YOJIMBO).

 One of Japan’s leading experimental filmmakers, Matsumoto bends and distorts time here like Resnais in LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, freely mixing documentary interviews, Brechtian film-within-a-film asides, Oedipal premonitions of disaster, his own avant-garde shorts, and even on-screen cartoon balloons, into a dizzying whirl of image + sound. Featuring breathtaking black-and-white cinematography by Tatsuo Suzuki that rivals the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, FUNERAL PARADE offers a frank, openly erotic and unapologetic portrait of an underground community of drag queens.

 Whether laughing with drunken businessmen, eating ice cream with her girlfriends, or fighting in the streets with a local girl gang, Peter’s ravishing Eddie is something to behold. “She has bad manners, all she knows is coquetry,” complains her rival Leda – but in fact, Eddie’s bad manners are simply being too gorgeous for this world. Her stunning presence, in bell-bottom pants, black leather jacket and Brian Jones hair-do, is a direct threat to the social order, both in the Bar Genet and in the streets of Tokyo. A key work of the Japanese New Wave and of queer cinema, FUNERAL PARADE has been restored in 4k from the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements for this 2017 re-release.

Giuseppe Makes A Movie
Studio: Cinelicious Pics
Format: Blu-ray
SRP: $29.99
Catalog #: CP00065BD
UPC #: 663390000656

While the rest of America slept, DIY filmmaker/musician Giuseppe Andrews (a one-time teen actor in Independence Day and Detroit Rock City) has made over 30 experimental features with titles like Doily’s Summer of Freak Occurrences, Trailer Town and Utopia Blues. Set in some demented alternate universe (i.e. Ventura, California), they are populated by real-life alcoholics and drug addicts, trash-talking senior citizens and trailer park residents dressed in cow outfits and costume-shop wigs, acting out booze-fueled vignettes of severe psychosis filtered through Giuseppe’s John Waters-meets-Harmony Korine-meets-Werner Herzog sensibility. Director Adam Rifkin (Look, The Dark Backward) creates a wildly surreal, outrageously funny and strangely touching portrait of a truly Outsider Artist inhabiting a world few of us even know exists, as he follows Giuseppe and his seriously impaired troupe on the production of his latest 2-day opus, Garbanzo Gas, starring Vietnam Ron as a Cow given a weekend reprieve from the slaughterhouse at the local motel. Beyond the sun-stroked Theater of the Absurd madness of Giuseppe’s vision, there is a remarkable and endearing sense of family among the director, his amiably bonkers dad Ed, patient girlfriend Mary, Sir Bigfoot George and the rest of his surreal Trailer Park rep company. As skate-punk Spit sagely observes about Giuseppe’s movies: “They’re just like, nothing really makes any sense, and I don’t know, that’s kinda how reality is, and nobody really cares to accept that.”

Private Property
Studio: Cinelicious Pics
Format: DVD/BD Combo
SRP: $34.99
Catalog #: CP6339000131
UPC #: 663390001318

Two homicidal drifters (played to creepy perfection by Warren Oates and Corey Allen) wander off the beach and into the seemingly-perfect Los Angeles home of unhappy housewife Kate Manx, in this long-lost California noir written & directed by THE OUTER LIMITS creator Leslie Stevens. Lensed in stunning B&W by master cameraman Ted McCord (THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE), PRIVATE PROPERTY is both an eerie, Jim Thompson-esque thriller and a savage critique of the hollowness of the Playboy-era American Dream.

Warren Oates delivers his first screen performance here, years before he emerged in THE WILD BUNCH and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP as one of the finest character actors of his generation; his bizarre Lennie-and-George relationship with the underrated Corey Allen (James Dean's hot rod rival in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE) is fueled by a barely-suppressed homoerotic tension. Director Stevens (a protégé of Orson Welles) and lead actress Manx were married at the time, and the film was shot in their home; several years later, Manx tragically committed suicide and her fragile spirit seems to hang over the film.

 


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