As 2023 begins to draw to a close, we’re shining a spotlight on Signal One Entertainment to celebrate their work through the lens of their recent slate – a wonderful set of releases that serve as a perfect representative of their work on the whole.
Who are Signal One Entertainment?
“Formed in 2015, Signal One Entertainment is a UK-based DVD and Blu-ray label dedicated to releasing exceptional films in high quality editions. Working with major studios, such as MGM and Twentieth-Century Fox, Signal One select a range of classic, cult and often overlooked films from a variety of genres and eras in order to give them the home video treatment they richly deserve.” – Signal One Entertainment
Over the last 8 years, Signal One Entertainment has worked tirelessly to open our eyes to some really interesting films, and invite reappraisal. Gems in their catalogue include early Al Pacino drama The Panic in Needle Park, 90s cult items like Red Rock West and Hudson Hawk, and a smorgasbord of Golden Age classics starring Gregory Peck, Tyrone Power, Marilyn Monroe, and many, many more. To browse their online shop is to walk away having just ordered at least 10 titles (go on, see if you can resist), and that speaks volumes of their acquisitions team – they have a real eye for really interesting titles that may have slipped you by, but are deserving of your time.
This is truly evident in their last handful of titles. A more diverse range of films you’ll struggle to find, and yet they all have one thing in common: star power, yet you’ve probably not heard of them. Again, Signal One has unearthed hidden gems from the filmographies of legends like Peter Cushing, Burt Reynolds, and Yul Brynner in sparkling high definition.
Most recently, Signal One released one of the unique collaborations in cinema – The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. A co-production between British horror titans Hammer and Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers, The A.V. Club accurately said in their contemporary review that “it’s pretty much as ridiculous as it sounds”. While nobody is going to argue this one is some lost, misunderstood masterpiece, it’s a truly fascinating item that anyone with an interest in cinema should experience at least once. Absolutely bonkers, and truly admirable in its concept.
Before Jaws, there was Shark!. This Samuel Fuller-directed action thriller from 1969 stars Burt Reynolds as gunrunner Caine asked by a mysterious beauty to dive into shark-infested waters off the coast for “scientific research”, but he soon finds there is an ulterior motive. Re-released in 1975 under the title Man-Eater to cash in on the success of Spielberg’s classic, the film is perhaps best known for the since-debunked story that a stuntman on the film was violently killed by a shark – an anecdote that became a key part of the film’s notorious marketing. It is quickly self-evident why Jaws is the film that has stood the test of time and Shark! is mostly forgotten, but it’s an enjoyable romp that makes for wonderful company on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Gary Busey has earned something of a reputation in recent years as a bit of a nutter, but people forget he was once a much-loved – and even Oscar-nominated – leading man. Two of his films joined Signal One’s catalogue recently, including his second on-screen performance in 1971’s Angels Hard as They Come, co-written and produced by Jonathan Demme. The cult biker film was hugely successful in its day, released just two years after the iconic Easy Rider. This early performance shows Busey’s raw talent that he refined over the next seven years to his Oscar-nominated performance as Buddy Holly in ‘78. And then another eight years on, he starred in vengeance exploitation action flick Eye of the Tiger – just one year before his appearance in Lethal Weapon. Both films are great reminders of the star Gary Busey was, and are ripe for reappraisal as key films in the biker and 80s action subgenres respectively.
Also released was 1966 Christopher Plummer WWII espionage thriller The Triple Cross, loosely on the real-life story of Eddie Chapman, believed by the Nazis to be their top spy in Great Britain – unbeknownst to them, he was an MI5 double agent known as “Zigzag”. This darkly compelling film from James Bond director Terence Young is a real hidden gem of the war genre, and certainly a flick that deserves more attention.
And if Eye of the Tiger got you in the mood for more schlocky 80s action, look no further than Wanted: Dead or Alive starring Rutger Hauer. This spin-off/remake/reboot/sequel/requel/whatever-it-is of the Steve McQueen-starring TV series of the same name takes the action from the Wild West into 1980s LA for an explosive battle between Hauer and Kiss frontman Gene Simmons that ends with perhaps one of the best cinematic uses of a hand grenade.
This selection of films is just a small taste of what Signal One Entertainment are doing – tracking down truly interesting and underseen films, sourcing their finest available elements, and giving them the Blu-ray releases they deserve. Despite what streaming champions might tell you, we’re living in one of the most rewarding times for physical media collectors – and it’s thanks to distributors like this. Their passion for the format is evident across every release, taking chances on lesser known titles and giving them a new lease of life.
All of these releases and more can be found on Signal One Entertainment’s website