This year you might see some semi-off kilter choices in the DVD/Blu-Ray column. There are the new super special current genre stuff in here, just like in years past, but I've also gone out of my way to include some more obscure older titles in the hopes that you, my fellow movie lovers, might finally have a gift for the movie geek in your circle that has seen everything. Thanks in large part to Warner Archive there are a few titles are older movies, but great cinema. Obscure, but not homework, if you catch my drift. Every single vintage title I've included this year comes with my highest recommendation.
As usual, you gotta get on the Netflix bandwagon if you haven't already if only for their Watch Instantly feature that streams to your gaming console, most newer Blu-Ray players and computer. Thousands of movies available at the click of a button. I've found it's not quite a replacement for my DVD/Blu collection, but a great add on, filling in holes to my collection and also guiding me in experimenting on different movies. So, join us on Netflix!
Let's get down to it!
CHEAP ($24.99 and Under)
Ignore that mediocre cover and just click through and buy this film. Gambit marks Michael Caine's first American film and is quite a brilliant take on a caper comedy. If you don't know anything about the movie keep it that way. About 20 minutes in you'll think you know what you're in for and then a rope-a-dope is pulled and you start to realize how genius this film is. If you need any other reason to blind buy this flick how about the fact that The Coen Bros have been circling a remake for years now. That film may never happen, but when you hear those guys are interested in this story you have to know the film in question is worth a view. $17.99.
Brewster McCloud is another obscure movies for those of you out there that like your comedy dark. Directed by Robert Altman this flick is at once a murder mystery, a love story and a tale of obsession about a young man (Harold & Maude's Bud Cort) who lives in Houston's Astrodome and is building a set of wings for himself to strap on. Altman directed this movie between MASH and McCabe and Mrs. Miller if that gives you an idea of where he was creatively. Shelley Duvall, Sally Kellerman, Margaret Hamilton and Stacey Keach (in old age make-up, by the way) co-star. You'll be your movie circle's MVP if you show up with this flick in tow. $24.95.
Pretty Maids All In A Row is a flat-out bizarre flick that is both a coming of age tale and murder mystery. Telly Savalas investigates the murders of high school girls in the most Telly Savalas way possible, Rock Hudson is a '70stached gym teacher that spends more time fucking cheerleaders than coaching the team and Angie Dickinson is a sexy substitute teacher that becomes an object of lust for the young lead, John David Carson. Barbarella's Roger Vadim directs from a screenplay by Gene Roddenberry. Yes, that Gene Roddenberry. $24.49.
From the director of Battle Royale comes this '60s space schlocker that couldn't be any cheesier if the monster was a giant wedge of brie. The Green Slime has to be seen to be believed. If you have a ridiculous movie night you will be King WTF of Did You Just See That Mountain if you show up with this bad boy. $24.95.
The Outfit is a great '70s crime flick starring Robert Duvall, Robert Ryan, Joe Don Baker and Karen Black. If you're familiar with the Parker series of crime novels by Richard Stark, this is one of 'em. That character was played by Mel Gibson in Payback, Lee Marvin in Point Blank and now Robert Duvall. On the surface it's a good cop vs. the mob story, but like all the best '70s crime movies there's a grit and grimy reality to this flick that is unique to that decade. Super awesome. $19.95.
Michael Winterbottem's The Killer Inside Me is also based on pulp fiction and was one of my favorite flicks from Sundance this year. Casey Affleck is fantastic in the lead, a psychotic small town cop and even Jessica Alba turns in a good performance. It's a brutal flick, crazy enough to cause controversy at the Sundance premiere when an audience member took the director and Sundance programmers to task for playing it at the fest, but once you look past the brutality you'll see an incredibly complex and fascinatingly bleak tale. $19.99 for Blu, $14.99 for Stardard Def.
Now here's a film that's the exact opposite end of the spectrum from the quiet, heavy brutality of The Killer Inside Me. Scott Pilgrim has its detractors and it's die-hard fans. I'm one of the latter, but I'm kinda the target audience for this flick. I grew up on Nintendo and I also beat people until they explode into coins on a regular basis. Super fun, super nuts, super Edgar Wright! $24.99 on Blu and $19.99 for Standard Def.
Toy Story 3 made me cry. I am a giant baby, I'll give you that, but I think I'm in the majority in my opinion that Toy Story 3 was a worthy sequel (and potential series closer) to one of the best runs of family films in film history. If you don't have the previous two films on Blu-Ray yet, you may want to skip down to the "Expensive" section for a nice box set. For just Toy Story 3 and all the bells and whistles it's $24.99 on Blu and $19.49 Standard Def.
Beauty and the Beast marks the first of the second Golden Age of Disney flicks to get the high def treatment. I'm more partial to The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King myself, but that's because I'm a boy. I wanted Ariel to be my girlfriend, not so much Belle. What can I say, I'm in to redheaded fish. But the music in this film is catchy as all hell, the animation is top notch and this set is overflowing with extras. $19.99.
If you're going for Beauty and the Beast you should absolutely include this DVD in your spending-spree. Waking Sleeping Beauty is a documentary focusing on the change of regime in Disney that led to Michael Eisner running the company, the in-fighting between Roy Disney and the board and a rocky environment that somehow produced Disney's strongest run in decades. I saw this at Telluride last year and loved it to death. It's now finally coming to DVD and I can't recommend it enough for Disney fans and those curious about the business side of the entertainment industry. The film hits next Tuesday, but you can pre-order it for $19.99.
Yes, I'm segueing from Disney to The Exorcist. That's how I roll. The film has never looked better than this Blu-Ray release. Add on to that the ability to own both the original cut and the expanded (and slower) director's cut in as pristine a way as you can get outside of a theater and you get an easy recommend. You don't need me to tell you how great this film is, not only one of the best horror films, but one of the best any films of all time. But I went ahead and said it anyway. Sue me. $19.99.
If you were thinking of passing up this Grindhouse set DON'T. This Blu-Ray presents the double feature as it was meant to be seen, fake trailers and all, as one big film-viewing experience. Sure, you can get the extended cut of Death Proof on Blu-Ray and you can get Planet Terror separately... but this is the whole package. Judging by the box office take, it was me and about three friends that saw this film theatrically as it was meant to be seen, so now all you late-comers can join the fun. $22.49.
Speaking of bad box office, let's go to another of my favorite under-performers: Kick-Ass. I don't know if I've had more fun with a theatrical audience in the last 12 month than I did with the BNAT screening of the rough cut of Kick-Ass. The Blu seems to be on sale, so it's not even a decision if like the movie. If you haven't seen the movie yet, you have to watch it if only for Chloe Moretz's iconic Hit-Girl and Nicolas Cage getting to do his best Adam West. $12.99.
I haven't revisited Avatar since the theater, but I bought this set just last week. Sometime over the holidays I'll throw it in and start to devour the huge amount of special features, including an almost entire feature worth of cut scenes. I was lukewarm on the film theatrically, but at this price, with this many features, it wasn't a hard decision to pick it up and give the film another shot. $24.99
There's no great sell to this one. It's a trade-up from the DVD. This Blu-Ray of The Rocky Horror Picture Show comes with a nifty book packaging and a few small BR exclusive extras, but for the most part it's the same amount of extras as the DVDs. The real reason for the upgrade is in picture and sound quality. And because the movie is awesome. And now I can watch it without some jackass behind me screaming at the screen and spilling rice all over himself. $18.49.
I don't have the Blu-Ray of The Maltese Falcon yet, but I wants it! Classic Bogie in one of his best roles as Sam Spade searching for the schtuff dreams are made of. Brilliant film and I'm a sucker for black and white in high def. I think it's one of the biggest advantages of the format, to see a brilliant high contrast transfer of a vintage black and white film. This is an automatic click and buy if you've never seen this movie. Rectify that before you go out in public again, okay? $18.49.
Double Bogie! What I said about The Maltese Falcon stays true for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Both films are brilliant, both feature fantastic "for the history books" performances from one of cinema's most distinct personalities and both are directed by the great John Huston. $18.49.
Not only one of the most iconic horror movies of all time, Psycho stands the test of time thanks a quite subtle and sympathetic performance from Anthony Perkins in the role that would come to define him as an actor, for good or ill. I bought this Blu-Ray and watched it, so I can vouch for how great a transfer it is. I haven't dove into the extras yet, but for the price the picture itself is worth it. Everything else is gravy. $17.99.
The Psycho Legacy is a feature length documentary on Psycho and its sequels, getting new interviews with tons of people involved in all the films. This is not unlike the recent Nightmare on Elm Street doc NEVER SLEEP AGAIN or the still unreleased Jaws doc THE SHARK IS STILL WORKING. In other words, Psycho fans NEED this and movie nerds would love it. $14.99.
On the surface this looks just like a giant hook aimed at Beatles fans wallets... that it may well be, but what makes this set interesting is that you get the four complete Ed Sullivan shows which features the Fab Four, including their famous first US gig. It's not the Beatle's numbers that get me, but seeing them in context with the entire show. For instance, their debut show also included the new cast of Oliver! doing a few numbers from the play, future Riddler, Frank Gorshin, doing a series of impressions including The Rat Pack, Brando and Kirk Douglas. Oh, and you get the commercials, too. Ladies, you gotta hear about this revolutionary liquid laundry detergent that lets you do your womanly duty, washing your man's clothes, with cold water! It's a fantastic moment in time framed around the legendary British Invasion. $16.99.
The Bridge on the River Kwai has been ordered, but hasn't arrived yet. However word from reviewers (both professional and amateur) is this is the best the movie has ever looked outside of a 70mm screen. Technicolor really pops in high def (my import Zulu Blu is a testament to that) and David Lean's film is one of the best examples of the technology. Not only do you get the fantastic movie, but you get goodies like lobby card reprints, a DVD copy if you want to downgrade yourself and a little book with behind the scenes pics from the production. A bargain at $19.99.
The Red Riding Trilogy is the best crime film you didn't see this year. I understand why theater owners are scared of it. People talk funny in it. It's like something's wrong with their American or something. Seriously, this UK produced set of films have been compared to The Godfather. I don't quite agree they're on that level, but the fact that they're close enough to garner that comparison is testament to the quality. You saw him in a supporting role in Fincher's The Social Network, but you can see future Spider-Man Andrew Garfield really shine here. $24.99 for Blu and $19.99 for Standard Def.
If you're a fan of random humor, look no further than Series 1 of this bizarre comedy show starring Peter and James Serafinowicz. Well, starring might be a wrong term. Each episode plays like some lost, and usually completely misinformed, '80s instructional video where we see scientists at work fucking up different experiments. You'll recognize Serafinowicz's chin, that's about it. Look Around You is a great off-kilter choice this holiday season. $19.49.
You're going to see a run of Roger Corman titles starting here with Humanoids From the Deep. I love Roger Corman films, especially from the era I'm featuring here. I snatched up these Blu-Rays as they were released because I dragged my feet on some of the DVDs a few years ago and they quickly went out of print and I kicked myself for missing out. Not this time, damn it! Humanoids From the Deep is schlock, for sure, but perfectly executed schlock. Funner than it should be! $19.99 for Blu and $14.99 for Standard Def.
Directed by Joe Dante, the 1978 Piranha is one of the most fun Jaws rip-offs ever. And it has a lot of Dick Miller, which adds an automatic 4 stars to its rating. I quite enjoyed the ridiculous remake this year, but the original struck a different chord. It's a goofy movie, for sure, but there was something slightly more threatening about it. Whatever it is, it's awesome. Buy it! $20.99 for Blu and $17.99 for Standard Def.
Oh, 1979 PJ Soles, can you be my girlfriend? Goddamn she was smokin' and for my money she's never been more adorable than in Rock N Roll High School. Tons of Corman regulars join The Ramones in this story about an uptight principal trying to kick The Ramones out of the city. Like the best of Corman's films this one is just fun (and slightly anarchist) from beginning to end. $24.99 for Blu and $17.99 for Standard Def.
While Paul WS Anderson's remake was one of the least offensive movies he's made, it's still not a hair on the ass of Death Race 2000. From a crazy young Sly Stallone to a great central performance from the late, great David Carradine to one of the most fucked up satirical premises ever (gaining points by mowing down children, sick and elderly with your death cars) and you get one of the best cult films ever made. A must own. $20.99 for Blu and $14.99 for Standard Def.
Winner of the best cover is this release of 1981's Galaxy of Terror, a particularly disturbing piece of sci-fi horror starring a pre-Freddy Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Edward Albert and everybody's favorite Martian Ray Walston. Oh, and a little known guy by the name of James Cameron did the production design, so you can see little bits of what would later become some of the tonal set pieces for Aliens. Fitting, because this is a big Alien rip-off. Cheap? Absolutely. Entertaining. You betcha. Where else can you watch a giant maggot rip the clothes off a hot blonde with a laser gun? Nowhere, that's where. $20.99 for Blu and $14.99 for Standard Def.
This is an upcoming double bill of Corman's Crazy Mama and Lady In Red. If you just know Cloris Leachman as that dirty old broad in Beerfest and Bad Santa you owe it to yourself to give this crazy flick a spin. An early outing from director Jonathan Demme this women-on-a-crime-spree movie is pretty awesome. The other movie in the package is quite good, too. It's a Dillinger story about the woman inside the red dress that marked the outlaw's demise. You get good, early performances from Louise Fletcher and Christopher Lloyd here with Robert Conrad playing Dillinger and Pamela Sue Martin as Polly Franklin, the woman in the red dress. Released December 7th, you can pick up this double feature for $14.99.
Shutter Island would make a great double feature with Scorsese's Cape Fear remake. I could do without the crazy amount of explain-the-twist exposition, but the other 98% of the movie I love unconditionally. This is a "Don't forget about this movie" addition to the Guide. Beautiful photography, fantastic acting, brilliant pacing and tone... Despite some vocal haters, I think this one will be studied in future film classes. $24.99 for Blu and a low $9.99 for Standard Def.
Speaking of vocal haters for Leonardo DiCaprio movies, here's Inception! I saw the movie twice theatrically and think it's pretty great. (SPOILER) I love that in both viewings the audience was so involved that people were reaching out, waving their arms and trying to influence what happened in that final shot, with a vocal "Aaahhhh!" when the credits start (END SPOILER) Love that. DiCaprio's great, the photography is stunning, the writing is smart, the caper is exciting. What more could you want from Christopher Nolan, one of the best filmmakers working right now? The flick hits Blu December 7th and is $24.99 for the Blu/DVD combo.
Best Worst Movie is a fantastic documentary that, on the surface, is about one of the worst movies ever made: Troll 2. Director Michael Stephenson was the young boy in Troll 2 and started getting wind of a strange cult of fans surrounding the film and decided to make a documentary about it. You get the expected focus on the fans, but the real meat of the doc focuses on a small town dentist who happened to star in this low budget schlocker, Mr. (Sorry, Dr.) George Hardy. He's all smiles and warmth, but you start to see the newly found fame go to his head and he gets frustrated, colder. It's an examination of the fleeting quality of fame, a fun exploration of a horrible movie and a good time. This doc works much like The King of Kong in that at a certain point you forget you're watching a documentary and you get caught up in the drama of what you're seeing. Highly, highly recommended. $14.99.
You can't watch Best Worst Movie without watching Troll 2 before or after. If you watch it before you could be a part of the cult you see documented in the film, but if you don't that's fine... but you'll want to watch it after Best Worst Movie finishes. It truly is a horrible movie. Like God awful. But there's a reason there's a cult surrounding it. The movie's so bad it circles around again to good, just in a completely unintended comedy way. $14.99.
Winnebego Man could be the most entertaining movie on this list and it's another one that not a lot of people know about. Jack Rebney gained notoriety after his foul-mouthed outtakes from a Winnebago sales pitch video hit youtube. Keep in mind this is decades after he recorded it. The documentary is about filmmakers wanting to track him down. When they do they find this f-bomb dropping guy hasn't mellowed in old age. If anything he's gotten more cantankerous, which means a lot of laughing from us. Like most great docs you'll find yourself strangely touched by this old, mean bastard. Great flick, truly an enjoyable watch. This is something a friend or family member will thank you for if gifted. $21.99.
Henson's Place is a short documentary, under an hour long, but a must see if you're a Henson, Muppets or Sesame Street fan at all. In that hour you get an incredibly detailed look at the man and his origins. Recorded before his death, there are many direct on-camera interviews with the man himself and rare early skits recorded for school programs that would later evolve into The Muppets. Warning, this doc is full of light and happiness, but you'll be one depressed mo-fo when you're done with it because you'll be reminded of the giant void left after Henson's early and tragic death. But it's worth it, promise.$11.99.
Yes, this is a UK Blu-Ray of Battle Royale. Yes, it is region free, so it'll play on your US Blu-Ray Player. Yes, it's a monster 3 disc set complete with all the bells and whistles a movie of this caliber deserves. And it is a limited run, so if you dig the movie, hope to ever own it on Blu-Ray, this is your best bet! Going through Amazon.co.uk is cheaper than buying it through a DVD import site. £16.99 (or roughly $27 US) plus shipping.
This isn't a new release, so you longtime Preston Sturges fans probably already have this set. Since this list is also in some small way a reflection of my own personal interests, I had to include this set since this past year I've fallen head over heels in love with Preston Sturges movies. I dabbled over the years, but this year I dove into the deep end loved every minute. There are more laughs in any one of these movies than there were in the top five funniest movies this year combined. This Sturges box set comes with 7 films, including Sullivan's Travels, The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, Hail the Conquering Hero (one of my favorites), The Great McGinty, Christmas in July and The Great Moment. Of those, I've seen all but The Great Moment and highly recommend every one I've seen. If you like to laugh and haven't yet been exposed to Preston Sturges' dark and rapid-fire humor you owe it to yourself to get you some learnin'! Think of Sturges as The Coen Bros' cinematic father and you're on the right track. Brilliant stuff. $45.99.
If you're not awed by the sheer spectacle of these Busby Berkeley musicals then you've either never seen one or a damn dirty liar. If you're not familiar with the man, he was a choreographer that gave us some of the most spectacular numbers in history of dance. The opening to Temple of Doom is an homage to Busby Berkeley if that gives you any idea. Not only are the musical bits in these movies grand, the movies themselves are damn enjoyable. Very funny, very sweet, just a light-hearted good time. If you bought any of the previous Berkeley box sets this one isn't for you, but if you were on the fence you get all 9 movies packaged together. That's 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade, Gold Diggers of 1935, Gold Diggers of 1937, Varsity Show, Gold Diggers in Paris and Hollywood Hotel. That's a lot of old Hollywood happiness for you! $50.99.
Apocalypse Now super duper blu-ray is what the standard should be for all classic films that have been tinkered with over the years by their creators. Francis Ford Coppola would earn the gratitude of the geek nation if he would patiently sit George Lucas down, show him how you can service every single fan at once by including cleaned up, high def transfers of every version of a particular movie in one set and not be a huge dillhill flipping me the bird with one hand and attempting to lift my wallet with the other. The horror. The horror. You get the theatrical Apocalypse Now flick, you get the Redux version, you get the crazy documentary Hearts of Darkness, you get a booklet with rare behind the scenes photos, you get an excerpt of John Millius' script, you get Blu-Ray exclusive extras like Coppola interviewing Martin Sheen and a Coppola interview with Milius plus everything that was in the big SE of the DVD. All in one place, nice and tidy. All the bells and whistles plus a great film. What more can you want? $43.99.
Goonies never say die and also love rich stuff, so naturally the big Blu-Ray release of The Goonies features a bunch of extras, including a full on Goonies board game that comes in the package, storyboard reproductions, a vintage souvenir magazine repro and an Empire Magazine feature article with all the cast reprinted. Then you get one of the defining kid's films of my generation in high def with all the extras of the DVD release. What, no Baby Ruth? Still not a bad deal at $34.99.
There are two franchise compilations new to the high def revolution this holiday season and I'm starting with Back to the Future because... well, it's Back to the Future. It makes me miss non-cartoon Robert Zemeckis. Come back to us, Bobby Z! I know shooting real life actors and building stages is a pain in the ass, but you do it so well! The only thing this set is missing is a working hoverboard and every scrap of Eric Stoltz's work as Marty McFly before he got canned. If you can live without those two things, this is a monster set. And I mean that literally because whoever designed the snap in place Blu-Ray holder is a fucking monster and deserves to be killed with fire. Not really, but almost really. It's worth the struggle to get the discs out, though. Fantastic set! $34.49 for Blu and $23.49 for Standard Def.
I know people don't like having to pay for Alien 3 and Resurrection, but the way I look at it is you get two of the best sci-fi horror films of all time, Alien and Aliens, looking better than anything but a newly struck film print, with a shit-ton of extras for $35 each. That's Criterion pricing, a deal sweetened if you just tell yourself Alien 3 and Resurrection are just bonus features. As much as I hate what Alien 3 did to the series, it's still a fascinating film in its own right. I'd love to see what David Fincher of today would do with an Aliens follow-up. We can dream, right? If you were thinking of picking this set up this holiday season now's the time. I've never seen Aliens look so good (even on 35mm) and Amazon has it discounted to $69.99 until November 27th, then it goes back up.
Being Human is a British series that is currently being redone all Office style for American audiences. I'm flying on recommendations on this one. I recently was sent the first two seasons to check out, but I haven't had the time to dive into them yet, so consider this me passing on others' recommendations... backed up by super high ratings on Amazon and IMDB. It's got the right set-up... a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf share an apartment, but from what I understand this is more of a drama than a comedy. Very curious. I'll definitely be throwing this on during the Holidays. $28.99 for Season 1 Blu and $42.99 for Season 2 Blu.
Of the Animated Disney stuff out this holiday season this set is tops. Fantasia was made for Blu-Ray, with the popping animation and booming classical score. I even quite like a lot of Fantasia 2000 and love having both in one set. The only major drawback (and it is a big one) is that Disney's releasing the censored version of Fantasia, taking out the Black Centaurs. This is getting ridiculous. Some day we'll get the uncensored original film (more than likely with an explanation of the culture of the time) and we'll also get a shiny Blu-Ray Holodisk eyeball implant 3D version of Song of the South, too. Some day... $28.99 for Blu and $22.99 for Standard Def.
You guys just missed out on Barnes & Noble's big 50% off of Criterion titles, I'm sorry to say. If you don't want to wait another year to take advantage of their yearly sales, I highly recommend picking up Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory this holiday season. It feels like this is Kubrick's forgotten masterpiece. It's never talked about like his more culty titles, like A Clockwork Orange, The Shining or 2001, but it's certainly as good Kubrick gets. It's at once a WW1 combat movie and a courtroom drama as the French try the surviving members of a regiment who failed a suicide mission to take a German stronghold. Kubrick reteams with Kirk Douglas for this fantastic drama. $29.99 for Blu and $23.99 for Standard Def.
Hausu is the craziest haunted house movie you've ever seen. Those nutty Japanese... you have to see it to believe just how far out this thing gets. Seriously.$34.99 for Blu and $23.49 for Standard Def.
The only disappointment with Criterion's The Thin Red Line release is that we still don't get the mythic 6 hour cut of Terrence Malick's poetic WW2 masterpiece. What you do get is the Criterion standard of high def transfer, an audio commentary by John Toll, Jack Fisk and Grant Hill, original WW2 newsreels about Guadalcanal, outtakes and the standard usual extras. But it's the picture quality you want this Criterion Blu for. I list the Standard Def price below for non-Blu people, but I honestly see no point in opting for 480p on this particular title. $29.99 for Blu and $23.99 for Standard Def.
If you've been wondering what the hell that Harry Animation in the upper left corner of him tied up, long hair floating in water then look no further. Night of the Hunter is quite a brilliant suspense noir starring Robert Mitchum as one of the creepiest screen villains of all time. Criterion has compiled over 2 hours of outtakes plus commentaries, interviews and vintage publicity for the flick. Great title, not an arty-farty one that'll feel like homework, just a straight up fantastic suspense film with great performances and brilliant black and white photography. $36.49 for Blu and $29.99 for Standard Def.
Here's where it all started, a dramatic vampire film from Guillermo del Toro called Cronos. All of del Toro's trademarks are here... a young girl, a sympathetic monster, a touch of fantasy, a touch of horror, Ron Pearlman... you know, everything that makes a Guillermo del Toro movie a Guillermo del Toro movie. Complete with a Guillermo audio commentary and a feature of Guillermo showing off his crazy awesome geek man cave/office. Fantastic film, great director, great features. If you haven't seen the flick or know a GDT fan who hasn't, this is the item for you. Cronos is released December 7th, but you can pre-order it for $29.49 for Blu and $21.99 for Standard Def.
I'm sorry, but I can't have a holiday guide without some David Cronenberg weirdness somewhere. That weirdness comes in the form of Cronenberg's uber bizarre Videodrome which features a young James Woods, a young Debbie Harry, a pulsating fleshy TV and so much sexual atmosphere that if you breath too deep you'll probably catch herpes. But it's the good kind, so don't be afraid. This one also sees release December 7th and is on pre-order - $29.99 for Blu and $22.49 for Standard Def.
I could be mistaken, but I don't think Seven Samurai Blu has any more extras than the big special edition that Criterion released Standard Def last year, but you know what? I think I paid almost $50 for that and you can get the high def 1080p version for 2/3rds that price right now. So, if you held out good for you! Buy this! If you consider yourself a film fan and don't own this film then you and me are gonna have words. Those words will be like "You'd totally like this movie, dude. Seriously, it's, like, great and stuff. Can I borrow $5?" I'm no pushover. Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai is considered one of the best films ever made for a reason. $35.99.
As a Harry Potter fan, I'm quite enamored with these giant special edition sets. Sure, most of these bonuses should have been on the original DVD releases, but they weren't, so now we get to enjoy them after marinating in the series for a while. Alfonso Cuaron's HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN is a highlight of the series, a turning point in tone and from a sheer filmmaking standpoint the best the series has been. No Cuaron commentary, sadly, and no extended version, but still more packed of a release than ever before. $33.99 for Blu and $27.99 for Standard Def.
And then there's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in it's new super Ultimate Edition. Like Azkaban, tons of nifty packaged goodies and special features. $33.99 for Blu and $29.99 for Standard Def.
Here's another bit of nostalgic goodness from the Warner Archive. I'm sure many of people around my age have very fond memories of The Pirates of Dark Water, a kind of swashbuckler meets Star Wars animated series from Hanna-Barbera that was long unavailable. Now you can get the whole series for a low $29.95.
Complete Metropolis is the film super nerd new release of the season. Thought lost forever, a complete print was unearthed and this restored version is as close as we're likely to get of the full original Fritz Lang silent sci-fi masterpiece. You not only get a high def transfer of the newly complete film, but also a doc on the restoration process. $29.49 for Blu and $20.99 for Standard Def.
Sound of Music Collector's Set is probably the safest bet as a gift, especially to the parents who just got their HD TV and Blu-Ray player. Provided you have a heart and a fairly high sweet tolerance there's nobody that can hate this movie. Except for Christopher Plummer (who called it "The Sound of Mucus" for years), but he's that cranky Captain von Trapp after all. This is a super nice set, very much like last year's Wizard of Oz Collector's Set. $59.99 for the collector's set or $19.99 for just the Blu-Rays.
Rut-Roh! Well, Jeez Scoob, this seems to be every episode of Scooby-Doo packaged in its very own Mystery Machine. I'm not positive, but I'm sure there's some creepy old guy in a mask that's going to try to steal this set away from you and he would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those darn meddling kids! $60.99.
Although it's not quite on the same level as Batman: The Animated Series, I'm quite fond of Batman Beyond and now you can own the entire series in one complete set! 52 episodes, creator commentary and more! $70.99.
The Twilight Zone Season 1 Blu-Ray set is filled quite brilliant transfers and some nice extra features. I've seen Season 1 (not 2) and can vouch for the quality, but if you're wanting to dive into the series and are willing to trade a little image quality for more you should skip down to see the complete definitive set. For those wanting an upgrade and with a little spending cash you pick up season 1 of one of the most influential shows to ever be broken into billions of pieces and flown to your living room on a weekly basis. Season 1 is $71.99 and Season 2 starts at $66.44 new on the Amazon Marketplace.
I'm a cheap man, so I totally get not upgrading to the Blu-Rays when you can get all five seasons in The Complete Definitive Collection of The Twilight Zone for the price of the first two seasons on Blu. The show is just as brilliant in either format and you get more for you money with this set at $144.99.
Yes, another Criterion addition this year. But this is actually really cheap for Criterion. I've seen sets of 4 movies for more at this price. In this box set you get 7 films in high def, all representing the American Culture. Everything from The Last Picture Show to the trippy Monkee's movie, Head, to Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Drive, He Said, The King of Marvin Gardens and A Safe Place. These aren't movie-only releases, either. There are commentaries on all but two of them (Drive, He said and The King of Marvin Gardens miss out). Great titles, fine price, good buy! $87.49.
Elia Kazan Box contains some of the best films ever made. That's not hyperbole. Put aside the real life politics of Kazan and watch his work and you will be blown away. Most people know his big films, like On the Waterfront, East of Eden and A Streetcar Named Desire, but even his not as famous films will devastate you with Kazan's amazing storytelling. My particular favorite is Panic in the Streets, a race against time movie as a public health worker has to track down a murderer (Jack Palance) who also happens to be carrying the plague. He goes contagious in less than two days, so if the cops can't find him New Orleans will be overrun. You get every movie I've mentioned plus Best Picture winner Gentleman's Agreement, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Boomerang!, Pinky, Viva Zapata!, Man on a Tightrope, Baby Doll, A Face In The Crowd, Wild River, Splendor in the Grass, America, America and Scorsese's documentary on Kazan called A Letter Elia. For sheer amount of powerful filmmaking all in one package, this set can't be beat. $137.99.
If you haven't collected the first two Toy Story movies on Blu-Ray and want them, then your best value is buying this Trilogy box set. It's cheaper, you get DVD copies of each film for portable viewing (for the chillins) and a nifty little collector's box. Nothing more, just a good value and a pretty case. $64.99.
The Toy Story 3 Trilogy is a good value, but nothing spectacular, no bells and whistles... however, the Lost Complete Collection box set is both. You get a crazy awesome package, every episode in high def, prop reproductions, a hidden bonus disc, that weird Jacob and The Man In Black game and all sorts of crazy crap. Sure, the series didn't exactly stick the landing, but I love so much of this show that I'll end up owning this some day. If you're more obsessive (or richer) than I am, this is a pretty massive collector's set. $194.99 for Blu and $148.99 for Standard Def. Or if you just want the final season in Blu it'll run you $47.99.
Hands down the best Sit-Com ever aired. Al Bundy is a goddamn folk hero. The Married with Children Complete Series package is a little pricey, but it does contain 11 seasons of the show on 32 discs. That's a lot of Psycho Dad and Biguns! The set is released December 12th and looks to run you $225.99.
To celebrate their 75th Anniversary, Fox has issued this 75 film set that showcases the studio's output from 1935 to today. There are fantastic titles here, but I think it's a bit nuts to put them all together like this. Your target buyer has got to be a film nut with money... that doesn't own any of these titles and wants the vast majority of them. Not sure that fits any of you reading this Guide, but if it does, good on 'ya! Click the price to see a list of all 75 movies... You'll find everything from Shirley Temple to Darth Vader. Oh, and Cavalcade, which can only be obtained on DVD through this massive box set.