It’s already time again for the annual video gift guide round-up—by the way, where the hell did 2010 go?!?—and this holiday season promises a plethora of cool releases. A lot of the hot ticket items are on Blu-ray, but there are also a fair number of DVD goodies to stock up on. And with thousands of home video titles flooding the market this year, I cherry-picked the coolest. Let’s dive in. And remember, compare prices between DeepDiscount.com and Amazon. You’ll win out one way or the other.
GENRE FILM GEMS
ALIEN ANTHOLOGY — The fearsome franchise gets the Blu-ray treatment with the four main movies (each with an additional director’s cut) and 50 hours of bonus features. Which basically means, if you’re fanatic of this sci-fi series, you won’t leave your house for an entire week. Now that’s bang for your buck. Next time they repackage this set, we figure taking it to the next level means it will come with an acid blood pack.
DELICATESSEN — From the delightfully twisted mind of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (City Of Lost Children, Alien Resurrection, Micmacs) springs this post-apocalyptic tale of an urban housing complex, its unusual residents and their meat consumption. Nearly 20 years after its release (now on Blu-ray), this surreal tale still takes you on a wild ride.
THE EXORCIST — Want to have the crap scared out of you in high-definition? Here’s your chance. And it comes beautifully packaged with a full-color book and all-new extras that delve deep into the making of this horror classic. HD vomit, hooray!
HOUSE — This Japanese horror film from 1977 is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. Criterion suggests it is a “psychedelic ghost story,” among other things. Combining teen comedy and J-horror into a cinematic acid trip with a blood-drenched finale, House often plays like Mario Bava meets The Monkees. It’s not very scary yet weirdly disturbing and quite original.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: 35th Anniversary Limited Edition — It’s hard to believe this crazy cult flick is 35 years old. Harder still that it ever got released on home video considering its amazing draw as a midnight movie in cinemas around the country. So enjoy this Blu-ray version on your big HD TV! Of course, you’ll have to supply the rice, toast, expletives and costumes. Virgin!
ROGER CORMAN’S CULT CLASSICS — All year long Shout! Factory has been reissuing remastered editions of Corman’s entire movie catalog as producer and director, from Death Race 2000 and the Traci Lords sci-fi flick Not Of This Earth to the original Piranha and the Slumber Party Massacre Collection. (I was dying to get my hands on that last one). It’s a nice cornucopia of cult movies sure to please the genre film fan in your life.
BEING HUMAN — Syfy may be remaking this British series, but why not just watch the first two seasons of the BBC original? A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost are roommates who bond and seek to retain their humanity. Surprisingly not hokey, this is great drama with nice comedic touches.
BORIS KARLOFF’S THRILLER — This long-lost ‘60s series, hosted by Karloff himself, was shown over a decade ago on Syfy back when it was Sci-Fi. Now this stellar, spooky black-and-white anthology has been collected in a large box set from Image Entertainment. Guest stars include William Shatner, Elizabeth Montgomery, Leslie Nielsen, John Carradine and Karloff himself. It’s totally worth the splurge.
FUTURAMA: Vol. 5 — After four feature-length movies helped bring the series back from rerun hypersleep, Futurama returned to episodic TV on Comedy Central this year. If you missed out on any or all of the 13 new shows, which are just as funny as their predecessors, then grab this set now! Or bite Bender’s shiny metal…
PRIME SUSPECT: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION — If you enjoyed watching Helen Mirren as an assassin in Red, then you’ll enjoy seeing her on the other side of the law as a tough-as-nails inspector in this long-standing, Emmy-winning BBC detective show. She’s always a class act.
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN — At long last, the entire Lee Major cyborg series (and movie sequels) is now available in a ginormous 40-disc box set exclusively from Time Life with oodles of extras, including a bionic sound chip and a special 3D lenticular design of Steve Austin. The $240 price tag may make your jaw drop, but evidently it’s possible to pay it off in installments.
SPACE: 1999 — The legendary Seventies sci-fi series may be a little dated, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch. With the first season now out on Blu-ray, you’ll be able to appreciate the special effects, many of which still pop, in greater detail.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE — Seasons one and two, along with a fan favorites collection, are now available on Blu-ray with loads of new audio commentaries. The long-lost pilot is also included with season one. Given how strongly the scenarios that host/creator Rod Serling dreamed up resonate with us today, whenever we get into the Zone, we wonder, “What would Rod do?”
FEED YOUR INNER CHILD
CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG — You can relive the fun, songs and flying car shenanigans of this classic Dick Van Dyke family movie on Blu-ray. Your inner Scrooge will revel at the appearances of the evil Child Catcher, while your inner child will cringe at his disturbing visage. How come they don’t make villains like him anymore?
THE GOONIES — Are The Goonies good enough for a souped up box set (both on Blu-ray and DVD) featuring a new board game, collectible storyboard prints, a 1985 souvenir magazine and a 2009 article with updates from the cast and crew? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Relive the adventure, and the ‘80s, all over again.
THE ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS CLASSICS — Frosty, Rudolph and Santa are now collected and available on Blu-ray. Because we know they’ll be that much cooler in hi-def.
PEE WEE’S PLAYHOUSE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION — Now that he’s back in action on Broadway (the audience went nuts the night I saw him live), the entire series and Christmas special have been packaged together for a modest $40. Remember to scream out loud when Pee Wee or one his buds say the secret word!
THE BIG 4: LIVE FROM SOFIA BULGARIA — This double DVD set captures the historic thrash titan tour from 2010 featuring Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. Fans are debating the quality of each performance, but this is one rare concert collection that is reasonably priced. And it’s a good place for young thrash newbies to start learning from the masters.
HEAVEN & HELL: NEON NIGHTS — This live DVD/CD set, recorded at Germany’s legendary Wacken Open Air Festival on July 30, 2009, is the final recording by the Black Sabbath line-up of Tony Iommi, Geezer, Vinnie Appice and the late Ronnie James Dio. Fans of Dio will also be pleased by the recent Blu-ray release of Holy Diver Live, recorded in London in 2005. Respect.
Check out Bryan Reesman’s blog, Attention Deficit Delirium, at bryanreesman.com/blog.