Friday, March 7, 2008

dyna-cool, frank

Back in the 80s it was business in the front and party in the back - all the time! No film distributor exemplified this wisdom more than Peregrine Films, who released a slate of Japanese anime films just in time to miss out on the anime video explosion. Their marketing strategy was explained in a garishly airbrushed glossy booklet.


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Peregrine took nine fairly recent anime films, either used the 'international' versions already extant or found somebody to dub them, and released them to home video. Some of these films were odd men out even in Japan, like SPACE WARRIORS

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A Toei compilation film of the Ashi television series BALDIOS, this show was mostly known for the usage of a minor character in an internet meme twenty years later. Other titles like TECHNO POLICE had similar weird also-ran or never-were pedigrees.

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But other Peregrine titles were, shall we say, less forgettable. Like, say, Captain Harlock's feature film MY YOUTH IN ARCADIA.

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Only now the film is called VENGEANCE OF THE SPACE PIRATE and it's got a lackluster dub that features weird audio problems, and the box art uses scenes that don't actually appear in the film. Another troubled production was their version of MACROSS:

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Retitled CLASH OF THE BIONOIDS - a title that guarantees no viewers over the age of 10 - this version of the 1984 MACROSS feature is the 'international' dub that was packaged as a extra on the Japanese laserdisc release. If you've ever watched a bad kung-fu film from the late 70s you will recognize all the voice 'talent'. To date this is the only legitimate version of the MACROSS movie to ever get a United States video release. Where's the justice here? Who will save us? Look up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Locke The Superman!

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Oh wait, we can't call him "Locke The Superman", because DC Comics will sue us, even though they didn't invent the word "Superman" and the two characters are nothing alike. Let's change it to "Superpower". That'll work. This is another stiff, weirdly accented dub ("esper" is pronounced "esp-aar") of the 1984 Locke film based on the popular SF manga by Yuki Hijiri.

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Different Locke anime videos have been released in America on three separate occasions, and yet the plucky little green-haired dude can't ever seem to catch a break, even with his "lightning sword". Another hard-luck story is producer Haruki Kadokawa, who spent the 80s producing slick high profile films until he got busted for cocaine. (He's out now.) One of Kadokawa's slickest productions was the awesome Rin Taro film DAGGER OF KAMUI:

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A stylish and colorful historical fantasy, KAMUI is about a half-Ainu boy raised as a ninja who finds a treasure and goes to America and meets Mark Twain and falls in love with an Indian princess who's actually French nobility and defeats an evil ninja Buddhist priest against the backdrop of, what was that, the Meiji Restoration? There are hallucinogenic ninja fights and a Siberian husky sidekick and lots of flashing blood everywhere. Of course like most of these film releases, KAMUI would be heavily edited, dubbed badly, and retitled REVENGE OF THE NINJA WARRIOR, which is about as generic a martial arts title as you can find.

Other Peregrine films included versions of PHOENIX 2772 and CYBORG 009 - LEGEND OF THE SUPER GALAXY. In fact most of these films would get trimmed by about half an hour and released on home video by the "Just For Kids" label. A few years later uncut versions would be released again by "Best Film & Video", some with their original titles. But the real irony is that if this had all happened four or five years later - once a market had been established for direct-to-video releases of uncut, subtitled anime without dumb kiddy titles or crazy dubbing - think of how (to use 80s terminology) AWESOME that would have been!!

11 comments:

Daryl Surat said...

Hmm, am I reading this right? Were there "Peregrine Films" releases of all this movies (as suggested by the Harlock box), followed by the edited Celebrity Just For Kids versions, and on top of that the Best Film and Video ones? Thus making THREE sets of releases for this lineup? I was under the impression that Peregrine or whoever did the distribution for them under edited Just For Kids releases i.e. Clash of the Bionoids and unedited Best Film/Video ones i.e. Macross.

And somewhere amidst all of this lies the "uncut" versions of the Haim Saban magnum opus Macron 1. And a porno film distributor. Was that Peregrine Films or Celebrity Home Entertainment? How do they tie into each other? Did Peregrine sell this catalog to Celebrity or is it all the same people?

I for one am hoping that there's porno movies out there that open with the company owner's own son Noel Bloom Junior explaining how to adjust the tracking on your VCR. "Enjoy the show!"

d. merrill said...

Peregrine was just the distributor, they sold 'em to Just For Kids or Best Film or whoever.

I don't know if they're the same Peregrine that was involved with THE SHINING and BARRY LYNDON, however.

This post isn't really that informative, I just wanted to post that cheesy cover art and the promo Locke artwork.

Steve Harrison said...

Dave beat me to it. Peregrine might have had a hope of running the movies in theaters, but the main goal was to provide a package of films to that large UHF TV station market I've talked about.

So My Youth in Arcadia might have been a Sat. Afternoon 'creature feature' broadcast.

Of course, there were problems. Many of the films were just too damn long for the slot usually available. Stations liked those 88 minute or so films that they could throw into a 2 hour slot and bank with tons of commercials.

Plus by the time Peregrine came on the scene the UHF station 'buying boom' was over and infomercials were eating up all the programming time not taken by barter syndication bought sitcoms.

The 'uncut' Macron 1 exists in the hands of Enoki Films. Some Assembly Required.

But dude, what is the DEAL with that horrible 'traced over Gundam' picture?! I mean, yikes!

d. merrill said...

WVUE (or was it WVEU?) in Atlanta ran several of the Peregrine releases in weird 2:00am timeslots. Nothing like turning on the TV in the middle of the night to see LEGEND OF THE SUPER GALAXY. They also ran MIGHTY JACK, which probably helped some insomniacs get much needed rest.

Chris Sobieniak said...

It would've been awesome! At least we had subtitled releases for two of those films in the package through a respective company.

Daryl Surat said...
I for one am hoping that there's porno movies out there that open with the company owner's own son Noel Bloom Junior explaining how to adjust the tracking on your VCR. "Enjoy the show!"


God that would really put some people off a bit! :-)

d. merrill said...
I don't know if they're the same Peregrine that was involved with THE SHINING and BARRY LYNDON, however.


I noticed a similar Peregrine mentioned for the MST3K episode "Monster A Go-Go" as their name shows up at the end of that film. I get the impression they distributed really bad movies none the less (much like the Sandy Frank films King Features Entertainment had).

WVUE (or was it WVEU?) in Atlanta ran several of the Peregrine releases in weird 2:00am timeslots. Nothing like turning on the TV in the middle of the night to see LEGEND OF THE SUPER GALAXY. They also ran MIGHTY JACK, which probably helped some insomniacs get much needed rest.

Heh, too bad I didn't see any of this in my area. Thinking about desperate TV stations that would buy anything cheap to show in the late 80's, it would've been amusing if KTMA in Minneapolis had this package and the guys who created MST3K used them anyway if there was something to make out of the action! Oh well, it was a random thought in my mind!

roast-beefy said...

I think everyone's missing the bigger picture, that being the fact that it's long past 2001 and robots still haven't replaced .44 magnums.

I find it amusing how little information I can find on Peregrine. There's the production company involved with The Shining, and then there's these guys, who, the more I search, the more terrible movies they seem to be attached to. They've got old romance films and even "Battle for Moon Station Dallos." Not sure if they included that one in the Dynamagic booklet, but it looks to match their established standard of quality.

Now I feel compelled to watch MST3K's take on Monster A Go-Go

Chris Sobieniak said...

I find it amusing how little information I can find on Peregrine. There's the production company involved with The Shining, and then there's these guys, who, the more I search, the more terrible movies they seem to be attached to. They've got old romance films and even "Battle for Moon Station Dallos." Not sure if they included that one in the Dynamagic booklet, but it looks to match their established standard of quality.

Funny noticing that (especially for anything Oshii did early on that could be looked upon as B-quality)!

Now I feel compelled to watch MST3K's take on Monster A Go-Go

You should. It's not as painfully nerve-wrecking.

Anonymous said...

Wow! These are the vids that got me through the dark times of the late 80's & early 90's where the anime landscape was vastly different now.They were heavilly edited and badly dubbed but to a kid who badly needed a anime fix these flicks are gold. I still own all of them (except for Locke or Phoenix 2772) both or either subbed or dubbed. I was (and am) the biggest Robotech fan & when some of my buddies introduced me to Clash of the Bionoids(and later Super Space Fortress Macross aka SDF Macross: Do You Remember Love) I was in anime heaven. I was like they made a "Transformers the Movie" version of Robotech and I thought that this was the Robotech: The Movie that never came out. Though I found out later that RT the movie was way different because it used footage from Megazone 23 & was unrelated to Clash.

MaM said...

Hi...I want to ask you if you know where can I download techno police with eng dub? If you have it could you upload it as a torrent or rapidshare?

d. merrill said...

Hi...I want to ask you if you know where can I download techno police with eng dub? If you have it could you upload it as a torrent or rapidshare?

My advice would be to check out your local mom&pop video stores, flea markets, and thrift stores for used VHS copies of Technopolice. I don't actually have a copy myself, and even Google isn't helping to find a torrent.

Chris Sobieniak said...

d. merrill said...
My advice would be to check out your local mom&pop video stores, flea markets, and thrift stores for used VHS copies of Technopolice.


Just like old times! We all had to make that trip to the out-of-the-way store across town or such obscure items that only appealed to us! God those were fun times!

I don't actually have a copy myself, and even Google isn't helping to find a torrent.

Too bad I don't have the tape either, but if I had to say which one to get, it's best to try to search for the Best Film & TV editions if only for not having as many cuts as the "Just for Kids" ones did. Only a shame these dubs never get used for later DVD releases for historic/sentimental kicks (except for Phoenix 2772 in Australia, at least they preserve that one for the Madman release).