Woohoo! Arrow Screw-Up Again!

Dear Almar Haflidason,

You are the head honcho at Arrow, yes? I am assuming, therefore, that you have the ability to check what your company release, BEFORE it gets unleashed into the public’s hands, yes?

So why does this keep happening? You take a great film, you promise a great release, and what happens? You botch it up… Again! For the umpteenth time, in as many months!

The DEMONS Steelbook had the two posters, and the two DEMONS 3 comic books, excluded from it, due to “inadequate space”. Your staff originally told Arrow Forum members that these were going to be included. Then you said they weren’t. Then you said they couldn’t be included. Then you announced that something was being worked on, so that fans who had bought the Steelbook, could get the posters and comics. And yet, there’s been no further news on this. Hmmmm.

THE BEYOND (1981, Lucio Fulci), was initially authored with a low-bitrate, and the opening sequence in black-and-white, rather than the proper and intended Sepia format. This resulted in discs being needed to be sent back, exchanged and replaced. The replacement disc was better, and yet, even now – some 15 months after that title was released – there are still people buying this film, and getting the old, faulty disc inside their copies!

DEEP RED (1977, Dario Argento), had issues with edge-enhancement and picture-quality, as well as a picture-glitch around the 45-minute mark.

TENEBRAE (1982, Dario Argento), had shockingly bad picture quality, to the point, there appeared to be more grain on screen, than actual image.

THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1969, Dario Argento), was released in a new “approved” ratio of 2.1:1 instead of the original, and proper 2.35:1 CinemaScope ratio. This resulted in large amounts of picture information being cropped out, or removed, noticeable from the very first few moments of the Opening Credits.

CALIGULA (1979, Bob Guccione and Tinto Brass), was released on DVD in a lovely 3-disc edition with every edition of the film (hardcore, softcore, and European 90-minute version) and extras. Your Blu-Ray version decided to drop one of the versions, but this isn’t made clear on the boxed artwork, nor on your website. It’s ever-so-slightly deceptive. Some might even go as far as to infer that you were deliberately cheating your customers!

Now, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY (1981, Lucio Fulci), has been released, and this release also has problems! (Good God, no!)

Firstly, some copies of this great Fulci horror classic, may have the wrong second disc in them. If you have a DVD labelled Disc 1 (or it has the movie on it in Standard Definition), then you’ll need to get it returned or replaced. Unfortunately, you may have to register with Arrow’s crappy Cult Labs Forums, in order to find out what to do.

Whilst Arrow did discuss this on their website, and Arrow blame the disc manufacturers for the problem, some of these faulty sets are still being sent out to customers. Either Arrow needs to stop using this manufacturer, or else invest in some major Quality Control checks. Which leads me onto this next complaint…

…Arrow has ballsed-up the subtitling.

The Opening Credits are all in Italian, and there’s no English subtitle translation. Fair-enough, I can live with that minor issue.

However, the ending of the film has a prophetic quote from Henry James, in Italian. All fine-and-dandy, but there’s no English translation for it… Unless, that is, you opt to leave the English subtitling on all the way through the entire goddamn film!

Well done, Arrow! Yet another bad mark, and yet another reason why your releases smack of absolutely NO Quality Control whatsoever!

Does nobody at Arrow check the discs before replication? Did no one actually think to themselves: “Uh, guys? We’re using an Italian-produced HD master, and the film has Opening and Closing Credits all in Italian. Maybe we should, perhaps subtitle the ending of the film, so that our English-language audience can understand it“?! Clearly, not!

There is artifacting, digital noise, and some bad compression artifacts in scenes involving pure black. Even on my 37-inch Panasonic TV, I could see the problems! So god-knows what it’s going to look like on a 50-inch TV or a Projection Screen! It’s not horrific, by any means, but it is there, and it is noticeable. When the picture is great, and the scene involving the murder of the Estate Agent looks truly great, the print is recommendable. However, when it’s bad, it’s awful. For that reason, again, Arrow needs to either start using a different authoring team, who know what the difference is between film grain, digital noise, and digital artifacting! Kentai over at Kentai’s Blog has been mentioning this issue multiple times on your releases, and even though on the Cult Labs Forum, (which is not a true Forum, but a place where praise can be left for Arrow, but dare to post anything remotely critical or question their method of doing things, and you’ll quickly find yourself being told to shut up or banned), you say that Kentai knows nothing and is simply an angry, overtly-critical anti-Arrow fan, you still seem to think that your releases are perfect!

Well, they aren’t! They’re anything but perfect! They’re not even “flawed”. They’re shambolic!

The second disc – providing you get the correct one, of course – is a DVD containing some of the Special Features. One of those extras, is an hour’s worth of Italian film trailers on it. Unfortunately, bar about two of these, many are even worse than some of the low-res trailers you can see on YouTube. It’s as if Arrow just cobbled together 20 trailers, stuck them on a disc, and said “That’ll do“! What should have been a very good hour’s-worth of trailer-watching, is a frankly embarrassing mess of hideous proportions. I know some of the trailer are old and rare. They’re not the ones I’m blaming you for. I’m talking about the trailers which have been released on other discs, or by other companies, and which we know and have seen in far better quality editions, than the ones showcased here. In fact, some of them are so utterly shocking, that not even a no-name, cheap-as-chips label would have stuck them on their discs, so bad are they!

Arrow need to get their head out of their backsides, and start doing some serious Quality Control, as I’m sick of so many of their films having problems, errors or other QC issues! Just how many “botched” releases do Arrow need to do, before someone at Arrow Headquarters decides that Quality Control is important?! One? Two? Five? Ten?!

Initially, I was forgiving of Arrow. I ignored people who said that Arrow weren’t good, and didn’t produce good releases. I thought that people were being overly-sensitive over minor issues in Arrow’s titles. But the more I spend my money on their releases, and the more problems I keep finding, AND the more I keep hearing from them that they DO care about making great UK Blu-Ray and DVD releases, the more I feel like they just don’t give a damn! It appears to be purely about making money. Nothing more, nothing less. If you praise them, they are happy. Make a single negative comment, and they lambast you, ban you from their hideously-patrolled-by-jackbooted-morons forum, or try and placate you with cries of “your comments are unfair criticism“, because “we’re a small label, with little money“!

Well, look, enough’s enough! Start checking things out, before you manufacture them. Start making sure that when you produce an HD-master, that the print doesn’t contain lots of scenes of digital noise or artifacting in scenes featuring large amounts of pure blackness; double and triple-check your prints, so that English subtitles are available for the pertinent parts of your Italian-language films; stop allowing your manufacturer to bodge your releases, resulting in recalls, delays, and problems for your customers. And stop, whinging that customers are ungrateful when we’re the ones keeping you in business in the first fucking place!

No customers buying your products, means no sales.

No sales, means goodbye Arrow, and hello unemployment line at the Jobcentre!

I’m sure I’ll receive numerous comments from other people, saying I’m being overly picky; overly sensitive, or even comments telling me to stop whining or to grow-up. Well, to those of you who are happy spending £10-£15 (or $25+ in the USA, for the poor bastards that import these), on each Arrow release, and finding problems and errors, go ahead and waste your money and time. However, for the rest of us in the real-world, we deserve better!

To be frank, Arrow is a joke! Your off-the-chart ineptness and derisory acknowledgement of problems from customers, suggests to me, that you genuinely don’t care what customers think, because you are more concerned about selling product, no matter how bad that product may actually be.

Well, I’ve had enough! People, cult-film-fans, lovers of extreme cinema, do NOT buy Arrow/Cult Film Labs releases. Do NOT support this label, with your hard-earned money, until they are ready to get their act together!

Give your money to labels that DO care about film as an artistic medium, who DO care about DVD and Blu-Ray releases, and who DO care about their customers.

Signed,


Pooch
(Curator of “Cinema-Extreme” Blog!)
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Woohoo! Arrow Screw-Up Again!

14 thoughts on “Woohoo! Arrow Screw-Up Again!

  1. I have bought many releases, if its dvd its always fine, but the jump to blu has made me double dip and buy the american versions too. My real gripe was my beyond disc, i got one of the 'faulty discs' an apology and replacement address, so i sent it off and it never returned and i was told they never received it, so yeah, screw them, not bought a single release since and if its the only blu of a certain film out it comforts me to read how disappointed people are as hopefully it means down the line they will care about their releases and customers.

    Like

  2. Hi Chris. Thanks for the comments. As I'm sure you'll be only too aware, Arrow genuinely don't care about their customers. There have been too many occasions when incorrect or faulty discs are sent out to paying customers, and you then have to go hunting on the Internet, to find out what to do to get a replacement.

    Do Arrow put this kind of info on their main webpage? No, of course they don't.

    Do they make it easy to find? No.

    Why not? Simply because, they don't want to have you (the customer) bothering them, to get a proper, correctly-created DVD/Blu-Ray disc. Far easier to make it as difficult as possible for customers to get a correct disc, and hope that new customers don't find out about the problems either. Eseentially, it's “We don't give a damn about you, because we've got your money”!

    Well, I hope that articles like this, and reviews on Amazon.co.uk from other aggrieved customers shows Arrow, that this kind of attitude will not win them any favours.

    Like

  3. “Almar Haflidason is not involved with Arrow Films, he is a representative of Cult Labs which Arrow Films/Arrow Video is not involved with any more.

    Information on forums is usually an update on our plans and development of a release. The idea behind Cult Labs was to directly involve the fans as much as possible, choosing artwork and so on and so was an organic process we and the fans greatly enjoyed. Unfortunately such ideas could not always be set in stone and we have to reserve the right to make changes as appropriate (as such plans are not always physically possible despite our best intentions) and we do encourage you to check the specifications on our website as the information we post to retailers, websites and forums can’t always be updated as fast as we would like.

    As regards DEMONS, our intent was always to include everything including the posters and comics in the SteelBook but once this was discussed with the factory we discovered it would not be possible. We have tried many different ideas as to how to make this content available separately but we have not arrived at a suitable solution. We did make posts to our website, social media, forums and through our PR company that the comics and posters would not be included in the SteelBook, we did produce two separate deluxe slipbox editions with all the content however so if you wanted this extra content that was made available.

    THE BEYOND was indeed a mistake which we rectified as soon as we were able to. We are sorry for any errors we make but we always do our best to fix them as quickly and as painlessly for the customer as possible. Our commitment to our customers is unwavering and unlike many studios who, if they offer a replacement at all it is for a very limited time only.

    DEEP RED raises a separate issue which also involves TENEBRAE and THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE: companies like Arrow and similar smaller distributors do not generally ‘make’ HD Masters, since the company will only have distribution rights for one territory (in our case UK only) it is prohibitively expense to create new masters so we will only have access to what is already available from the owner of the film; usually the producer/production company and it is often very difficult to obtain alternate masters, since BIRD has a different owner in Europe than the US we could only access cinematographer Vittorio Storaro’s new re-framed version of the film. With DEEP RED some people appear to see a glitch but in our investigation at the time of release no glitch was found, we recommend you check your firmware as this could cause problems.

    For CALIGULA I apologise for this, the producer of this disc is no longer with the company so I am not familiar with the specifics but we will address this and ensure this is made clearer on future pressings.

    On THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, this was unfortunately a factory error beyond our control, the first we saw of it was when finished copies hit our office by which point they had also been sent to retailers. If we could have stopped this we certainly would. Once again we are doing everything we can to ensure a replacement disc is available to customers as easily and painlessly as possible. The subtitle issues are known to us and we have since changed our procedures to ensure that this does not happen again. All our latest releases have multiple subtitle tracks, for instance our last Italian releases – BLACK SUNDAY and LISA AND THE DEVIL have up to three separate subtitle streams, one subtitle stream for each English version and one for Italian audio on BLACK SUNDAY and one each for LISA’s English and Italian audio.

    Like

  4. “As regards the forum, we have never been involved in directly posting there, or influencing the posts. Any issues you have with the posts would have to be addressed to the users or moderators. If a master has any of the issues that you mention these will show no matter what how the disc is authored, bad encoding (that is, more compressed) will exacerbate these issues, but even the best encode in the world will not eliminate them. Once again, these masters are often all that is commercially available. An expert eye over the Blu-rays of THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY would show that our source and the source used by Blue Underground is the same, the difference is that they have eliminated the grain to hide any issues whereas as we have left the natural grain in. We have cleaned it as best as possible to ensure that it looks as natural as possible, but processes such as edge enhancement cannot be undone so rather than smooth these out we have left them in, a small compromise for a more natural looking transfer.
    We admit there have been issues with our releases, this is part and parcel of dealing with Italian producers, but we are making every effort to ensure that no further mistakes are introduced at our end.”

    Like

  5. Dear William. Thank You for your comments. Unfortunately, whether or not Arrow is directly related or has an control over what goes on over at Cult Labs Forums, is not the issue. The Forums are representing Arrow Films. They are meant to be for fans (or detractors) of your films; to allow comment, praise or criticism, and for there to be an ongoing dialogue between the company and the fans. Unfortunately, the Forum Moderators don't like it when people criticise or question the way they do things, no matter how polite and courteous you make your comments. As such, when people get banned – including myself – for raising fair points in a polite manner, and we aren't told why we've been banned, let alone just given a warning, it makes the Forum look like it is run by a bunch of egotistical nazi's!

    As for the issues with THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, again, Arrow will live or die with the quality of its releases. To say “these masters are often all that is commercially available”, you are essentially dismissing any criticism of the issues at hand, and are saying to the customers who purchase your work, that if there are any problems with the print/disc, then tough luck. Whether Arrow and Blue Underground used the same print or not, is also not the issue. The fact is, there are issues that could (and should) have been fixed – or at least attempted to be fixed – before releasing the film for sale onto the public. The error with the non-translation of the Henry James quote, is simple laziness in my eyes. How hard could it have been to have an English-language subtitle translation come-up onscreen at the end? But what did Arrow do? They just said “Ah, to hell with it”.

    Lastly, you admit there have been issues! I think that's a hell of an understatement. These mistakes aren't just “issues”. These are often massive, great hulking problems that you, or Almar, or Arrow are just point-blank refusing to deal with. These are massively gigantic errors of gargantuan proportions, and the only people that lose out, are us – the customers! One mistake can be forgiven. Two mistakes, customers may accept. But when it gets to mistakes eight, nine, ten and eleven, then something is clearly massively wrong in the Quality Control department. The ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS debacle is a spectacular example of that!

    And it's your/Arrow's continuing assurance that “mistakes will be learnt from” that keeps pissing people off, because you seem to demonstrate little in having learnt from any previous mistakes whatsoever. Which is why people like me keep giving Arrow so much grief. Not because I want too. Not because I enjoy it (I don't). But because you don't seem to care about your customers!

    Like

  6. You obviously did not get the whole message that was posted. Here it is piece by piece.

    “Almar Haflidason is not involved with Arrow Films, he is a representative of Cult Labs which Arrow Films/Arrow Video is not involved with any more.
    Information on forums is usually an update on our plans and development of a release. The idea behind Cult Labs was to directly involve the fans as much as possible, choosing artwork and so on and so was an organic process we and the fans greatly enjoyed. Unfortunately such ideas could not always be set in stone and we have to reserve the right to make changes as appropriate (as such plans are not always physically possible despite our best intentions) and we do encourage you to check the specifications on our website as the information we post to retailers, websites and forums can’t always be updated as fast as we would like.”

    Like

  7. “As regards DEMONS, our intent was always to include everything including the posters and comics in the SteelBook but once this was discussed with the factory we discovered it would not be possible. We have tried many different ideas as to how to make this content available separately but we have not arrived at a suitable solution. We did make posts to our website, social media, forums and through our PR company that the comics and posters would not be included in the SteelBook, we did produce two separate deluxe slipbox editions with all the content however so if you wanted this extra content that was made available.”

    Like

  8. “DEEP RED raises a separate issue which also involves TENEBRAE and THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE: companies like Arrow and similar smaller distributors do not generally ‘make’ HD Masters, since the company will only have distribution rights for one territory (in our case UK only) it is prohibitively expense to create new masters so we will only have access to what is already available from the owner of the film; usually the producer/production company and it is often very difficult to obtain alternate masters, since BIRD has a different owner in Europe than the US we could only access cinematographer Vittorio Storaro’s new re-framed version of the film. With DEEP RED some people appear to see a glitch but in our investigation at the time of release no glitch was found, we recommend you check your firmware as this could cause problems.”

    Like

  9. “For CALIGULA I apologise for this, the producer of this disc is no longer with the company so I am not familiar with the specifics but we will address this and ensure this is made clearer on future pressings.”

    Like

  10. “On THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, this was unfortunately a factory error beyond our control, the first we saw of it was when finished copies hit our office by which point they had also been sent to retailers. If we could have stopped this we certainly would. Once again we are doing everything we can to ensure a replacement disc is available to customers as easily and painlessly as possible. The subtitle issues are known to us and we have since changed our procedures to ensure that this does not happen again. All our latest releases have multiple subtitle tracks, for instance our last Italian releases – BLACK SUNDAY and LISA AND THE DEVIL have up to three separate subtitle streams, one subtitle stream for each English version and one for Italian audio on BLACK SUNDAY and one each for LISA’s English and Italian audio.”

    Like

  11. Dear William. I appreciate you contacting me, by replying to this blog. Unfortunately, the “factory error” could have been rectified, by having the disc being recalled or reprinted. Now, I accept that this would have cost Arrow money, but it wasn't done. In fact, Arrow didn't even acknowledge that there was a problem with the disc at all. The fact Arrow still haven't recalled or repressed the disc (as far as I am aware), suggests that Arrow still don't care.

    Like

  12. Whilst I accept that Arrow doesn't make/create the HD master, and you used what you were given, the fact that purchasers of the DVD and Blu-Ray editions of DEEP RED discovered a glitch in the print and then Arrow didn't do anything, doesn't really engender a good community of helpful customer service. The fact that even now, you still seem to think that the glitch wasn't there, and that “we recommend you check your firmware”, which in my view, appears to be an excuse and way for Arrow to not actually deal with the problem at hand, says lots. I'd rather Arrow just said: “There's glitch. We're really sorry about the glitch. Alas, we won't be repressing the disc.” At least that would have been honest!

    Like

  13. I'm not sure what the relevance of whether the producer of the CALIGULA set is no longer with Arrow actually is, but I appreciate that you will “address this” issue and make it clearer “on future pressings”.

    Like

  14. Except your excuses don't really fly, now, do they? You could have shrink-wrapped the comics and posters to the outside of the box. You could have allowed people to send off to Arrow for them, in exchange for a small amount of postage and packing charges. You could have let fans download the comics as PDF files. You could have let people purchase the comics and posters from you. You could even have asked customers to send in Proof Of Purchase and then sent them the comics and posters for free.

    But did Arrow do any of these?

    No, of course it didn't. Instead, it just said to its customers that if they want those items, then you'll have to simply buy the films again. So much for making the Steelbook a “Collector's Edition”, when you actually give collector's less value, than if we'd all just purchased the regular slipbox editions instead. Again, this demonstrates to me, that Arrow doesn't care about its customers/fans.

    Like

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