Mark this down for a surprising piece of news: The 1978 Toei Star Wars-exploitation film Message From Space is coming to US home video on April 16 courtesy of the increasingly-genre-friendly forces at Shout Factory. The feature is a space opera version of Kyokutei Bakin’s 1800’s epic novel series Nanso Satomi Hakkenden, from director Kinji Fukasaku (Green Slime, Battle Royale, Battles without Honor and Humanity) with author Shotaro Ishinomori (AKA “the King of Manga”), and stars Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi, Eisei Amamoto, and Vic Morrow. Patrick Macias and August Ragone are working on special features for the DVD, so we know we’re in good hands.
The reason why I’m a little taken aback by the news is that the movie just got a DVD release back in 2010 from what appears to be a Hong Kong branch of Eastern Star. The logo on the box is the same as on the American Eastern Star DVDs from Discotek, but it’s not in the Discotek catalog, plus it’s All Region-coded and features Chinese subtitles, so it’s fair to say that it’s not quite the same company. Nonetheless, this DVD was widely distributed through official channels in the US (I got mine from amazon), so I would expect the market to be tapped out or confused by multiple editions. I personally plan on getting the new version, to support Shout Factory’s efforts and check out the special features. Can’t wait to see what Shout throws at us next (maybe the Message from Space: Galactic Wars TV series?).