EuroCultAV Gift Guide and Best of 2017
by the staff and friends of EuroCultAV.com
Every year the staff of EuroCultAV, put together a special list, not quite a best of, and not quite a gift guide, but a mix of both. Some of these are our favorite releases of the year, and some of these, we think our readers and their families would like to check out during the impending holiday season. As we do every year we have a giveaway with 2 stacks of Blu-ray’s and DVD’s at the end of the column. Read to the end to find out how to win.
Re-Animator: Limited Edition (Arrow Video)
Why shouldn’t the greatest horror film of the 1980’s (and one of the best ever made, period) receive a Blu-ray release worthy of its iconic stature? Arrow Video really outdid themselves here, as usual, with the definitive home video edition of Stuart Gordon’s comic horror masterpiece. The limited-edition set is the way to go – until it goes out of print of course – with astounding 4K restorations of both the unrated theatrical cut and the longer “Integral” cut, enough new and vintage supplements to fill two Blu-ray discs, a collector’s booklet, bonus comic book adaptation, and lobby card reproductions. -Bobby Morgan
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia: Limited Edition (Arrow Video)
Sam Peckinpah’s deliriously violent, haunting thriller came to Region B Blu-ray from Arrow this year with different extras than were included on Twilight Time’s US edition, but the real draw of this release is the tremendous new 4K restored transfer from the original camera negative that represents the best this diseased masterpiece has ever looked on home video. -Bobby Morgan
Suspicious Death of a Minor (Arrow Video)
Sergio Martino helms this extremely entertaining blend of giallo and poliziotteschi. Two things are for sure: 1) Martino can direct a great film and 2) Arrow Video never disappoints with their presentation. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
Wolf Guy (Arrow Video)
This is almost my favorite film of the year. Wolf Guy is a genre-bending manga adaptation that is a shot of adrenaline for your listless Sunday viewing. I adore this film starring the inimitable Sonny Chiba and can’t wait to watch it again. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
House and House II: The Second Story(Arrow Video)
The 1980s were such a magical time for horror and House is a prime example of an anything-can-happen gem. While I wasn’t thrilled to have to sit through the sequel, I was glad that Arrow took such care in preserving it. This set will keep you busy for a long, long time with all the extras. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
The Dead or Alive Trilogy (Arrow Video)
Few filmmakers confuse me as much as Takashi Miike while still entertaining the dang heck out of me. You’ve never seen anything quite like these three films. I hope you have a strong stomach and a brain that can handle repeatedly exploding. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
The Black Society Trilogy (Arrow Video)
If you need a jumping off point for Takashi Miike’s crime films then you might want to give this set a look. The first film, Shinjuku Triad Society, is the one that put Miike on the map. He was able to break out of the direct-to-video market with this one and it’s easy to see why. The other two films Rainy Dog and Ley Lines are as different from Shinjuku Triad Society as they are from each other. Give this set a go. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
The Slayer (Arrow Video)
When the Slayer was announced, a certain subset of horror fans got extremely excited, including EuroCultAV's Brad Hogue who wrote a glowing review of the Blu-ray. I was not one of them, I had not seen it, or even heard of it. However, upon seeing this moderately paced, but extremely well done slasher I could see what the enthusiasm was all about. Arrow has given the film a very nice film-like transfer, and a nice slate of related extras.
Pulse (Arrow Video)
Few films frighten me more than Pulse. This is one of those titles that gets under my skin and stays there. I would love a Kiyoshi Kurosawa boxset someday from Arrow. This is utterly essential. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
Psychomania (Arrow Video)
I really should give new friends a "Psychomania" test. This is a film that is so subtly odd (and at times plain out strange), that if you can swing with it, we will get along great. I have been a fan of Psychomania since I was a teenager, and got the film on bargain VHS. It is a quirky British black comedy, and I appreciate Arrow for showing it excellent treatment on the Blu-ray format.
The Apartment (Arrow Video)
OK, so I haven't gotten my hands on this yet. But will probably be seeing it by next week. This is Arrow Video doing a 4K restoration of one of Billy Wilder's best films, and packing it with extras. Arrow being one of the best companies for A/V on Blu-ray today, this is sure to be an absolute delight, and is certain to be a required purchase for the classic film buff in your family.
Don't Torture the Duckling (Arrow Video)
This film needed a Blu-ray upgrade for so long, (I'll say that for even the worst Fulci film, but this is one of his best). Arrow Video made the wait worth it. This is a stunner of a transfer, with excellent sound and some wonderful extras.
Brain Damage (Arrow Video)
I'd like to say you could repeat my comments for Duckling for Brain Damage with some minor changes. However, since that would be cheating, here we go. I consider Brain Damage to be Frank Henenlotter's MASTERPIECE. I do not use that word lightly, and have been waiting for a Blu-ray of this since Blu-ray began. Now, we have it, and I could not be more pleased, Arrow not only loaded their LE with extras, but made this film look better than it ever has before.
Donnie Darko (Arrow Video)
Richard Kelly's debut film is one of the finest indies of the aughts. An interesting 80's set time travel affair, that in its theatrical variation does not spell things out entirely for the viewer. Donnie Darko got a Blu-ray release through MGM using an existing master, but that looked less than stellar. Arrow managed to go back to the source material, and make this one shine. Prior editions of Darko had been loaded with extra, so they added a hard back book, and some newly created ones, to create something really fantastic.
The Jacques Rivette Collection (Arrow Video)
I'll admit that I am a Euro-Arthouse junkie as well as a huge fan of Eurohorror, so Arrow's Jacques Rivette Collection really hit my sweet spot. The film contains 3 musical films from Rivette the first 2 were parts of a planned trilogy when the director fell ill from exhaustion during the production of the third. The third and possibly best film in the sequence Merry-Go-Round shares similar themes with the prior 2 and also the director's improvisational Out 1. The films are nicely restored, and have some decent extras to recommend it by.
The Church/The Sect (Shameless)
Shameless moved away from the Blu-ray game for a few years after a pair of early releases, Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Cannibal Holocaust. They came back in 2017 in style with a pair of much needed Michele Soavi films The Sect and the Church. Both could be considered late period Italian horror classics, and are well restored with Soavi interviews.
Almost Human (Shameless)
Out of all the Shameless releases of 2017, this was probably the one I was most excited about. An Umberto Lenzi directed poliziotteschi starring Tomas Milian that is just about as nihilistic and violent as these films get. The film gets a superb transfer, and sounds excellent. The extras are limited to a fact track, and an interview with Milian, but that should not stop anyone from picking up one of Lenzi's finest on Blu-ray.
All the Colours of the Dark/Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (Shameless)
Shameless seemed to have Sergio Martino on the brain with their summer release slate, and we aren't going to complain. They released 3 of his gialli this summer, but with only 2 of them getting before our eyes I have to wholeheartedly recommend their Blu-ray's of All the Colours of the Dark and the Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh. Both star the iconic giallo actress Edwige Fenech, and have deeply involving (lots of weird twists) narratives, sure to please fans of the genre. Both have nice film like transfers, and sound, and are definite upgrades from prior DVD editions.
Deathdream (Blue Underground)
Dreamdream is the 2nd film by Bob Clark following his extremely low budget, but charming debut Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things. The film tells the story of a Vietnam solider who was killed in combat, but through the power of his Mother's love comes back from the dead, but not quite the same. The film is deep with political subtext of the era, and has wonderful performances from the reunited pairing of Faces' John Marley and Lynn Carlin. Blue Underground does wonderful work restoration Deathdream for Blu-ray and includes quite a decent slate of extras.
Death Line (Blue Underground)
Death Line, unfortunately referred to for too long as Raw Meat in the U.S. is quite possibly one of my favorite Blu-ray's of the year. I have watched this multiple times since getting it, and couldn't be more pleased with the result. Gary Sherman's claustrophobic tale of cannibals in the London Underground is as amazing today as it was 40 years ago, and Blue Underground has made this one shine.
The Stendhal Syndrome (Blue Underground)
Blue Underground takes their 2nd pass at what could be considered Argento’s final true classic (unless he has one more in him). The Stendhal Syndrome combines elements of the giallo with rape/revenge and builds upon an excellent dynamic performance from Asia Argento. The Blu-ray looked quite decent out of the gate, but had some issues, which Blue Undeground fixed, and now it looks truly stunning.
The Devil’s Rain (Severin Films)
The sensational Satanic schlock fest from the director of The Abominable Dr. Phibes was of the 1970’s most demented horror flicks and Severin’s Blu-ray release presents The Devil’s Rain is a gorgeously garish new HD transfer with plenty of supplements new and previously available. -Bobby Morgan
Beyond the Darkness (Severin Films)
Joe D'Amato was more known as a director of porno than horror. However, when he committed himself to the horror genre the results were amazing. Beyond the Darkness could be described as a necrophile's love story as a man retains his true love for his deceased lover, and preserves her corpse to prove it. Severin restores the film from 16mm elements, so we have something that looks film like and fantastic. The extras provide an additional reason to give this one another buy on Blu-ray.
Beyond the Seventh Door (Severin Films/Intervision)
A few months ago I called Beyond the Seventh Door a "Canadian miracle" and I still mean it. This is a 30 year old Canucksploitation gem, SOV, and is about a thief doing one last job in a mansion set up with traps. The DVD is restored from the best possible source material and has a few decent extras to recommend it by (aside from the fact that it is a HOOT).
Amicus Collection (Severin Films)
This has actually been pushed back to 12/19, but this is still a must-buy for the cult horror fan in your life this holiday season. This set contains And Now the Screaming Starts, Asylum, and the Beast Must Die all restored by Severin for this release with extras new and old for this release, and for the first time on Blu-ray.
The Devil's Honey (Severin Films)
The Devil's Honey has been on the top of my Fulci want list for close to 20 years, and Severin has brought it out on Blu-ray in style. This psychosexual thriller from Fulci has a solid transfer and a fantastic extras slate.
Psychos in Love (Vinegar Syndrome)
My kind of romantic comedy, Psychos in Love is a delightfully demented horror-comedy that mashes up mayhem with Meet Cutes in its sickly-sweet tale of two remorseless serial killers who hit it off. Needless to say, it’s Annie Hall meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Vinegar Syndrome packs in hours of great supplements alongside a gorgeous 2K transfer from the original 16mm camera negative. -Bobby Morgan
Demon Wind (Vinegar Syndrome)
Demon Wind might be the best Evil Dead knock off of the 80's. It has been trapped in VHS-hell for so long, that I began to wonder if it would EVER come out on DVD, let alone a Blu-ray. Vinegar Syndrome has corrected both of those by putting out an extremely nicely restored Blu-ray/DVD combo pack loaded with extras.
Seeds/Vapors (Vinegar Syndrome)
Any Andy Milligan film on Blu-ray is a reason to be excited. Vinegar Syndrome have put this out just in time for the holidays. What we have here is a double feature of Milligan's early short Vapors with his Seeds (also known as Seeds of Sin). Restored for Blu-ray with extras. Seeds also is set around the holidays, which makes this one a little bit more timely.
WitchTrap (Vinegar Syndrome)
Witchtrap is the third feature by Kevin S. Tenney of Night of the Demons fame, and a spiritual sequel to his Witchboard. It was a surprise to me when it came out earlier in the year, and is really tonally in the same camp as his earlier 2 features. As with all Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray's it looks better than it ever has previously.
The Hearse (Vinegar Syndrome)
I used to hate on The Hearse but now I really enjoy it. While it still feels a little like a TV movie, it delivers the spooky ooky 1970s horror goodness in spades. This transfer looks great but it’s Vinegar Syndrome so you know they bring it. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
Corpse Grinders (Vinegar Syndrome)
This Ted V. Mikels campy horror yarn comes out on Blu-ray with a nice transfer from the original 16mm, and looks more vibrant then ever. It is a fun film about when a cat food company starts to use human remains as its source for its food, and the people that try to investigate the weirdness that happens as a result. Fans of fun 70's exploitation will have a lot of fun with this one.
Joseph Sarno Vol. 2 (All the Sins of Sodom/Vibrations) - Film Movement
Vinegar Syndrome did a prior release of All the Sins of Sodom in 2016, but it was a limited edition. This Blu-ray which is the 2nd part of Film Movement's Joe Sarno Collection puts together 2 of Sarno's early erotic films All the Sins of Sodom and Vibration with quite solid transfers, and nice extras including a commentary by Tim Lucas on Vibrations and another by Peggy Steffans-Sarno on All the Sins of Sodom. If you missed the VS version, or just want Vibrations, definitely give this one a look.
Effects (American Genre Film Archive/MVD Visual)
Barely seen since it was completed in the late 1970’s, Dusty Nelson’s disturbing indie thriller about a slasher film crew unaware than they’re being filmed by their own twisted director for what could become a snuff film is best known for starring Joe Pilato, Tom Savini, and John Harrison – all three best known for collaborating with the late George Romero. On its own, Effects is a fascinating, lo-fi horror film that keeps you on edge from its first scene to long past the point when the end credits stop rolling. The only 35mm theatrical print known to exist was scanned in 4K resolution for this Blu-ray, which also includes the special features from Synapse Films’ excellent 2005 DVD release. -Bobby Morgan
Bat Pussy (American Genre Film Archive/MVD Visual)
OK, so if you are a guy like me, you see a title like Bat Pussy and think how soon can I add this to my collection? Well, it's for sale now as a wonderful Blu-ray collaboration by Something Weird Video and Austin's very own American Genre Film Archive. The film is a hardcore satiric jab at the 1960's Batman TV show, and is an absolute hoot. It comes with additional trailers, a commentary by SWV's Lisa Petrucci and Tim Lewis and a bonus film Robot Love Slaves.
The Violent Years (American Genre Film Archive/MVD Visual)
The Violent Years is a girl gang movie directed by William Morgan and written by Ed Wood. The film is most well known for being on MST3K, but it is a lot of fun in it's own right. AGFA in conjunction with Something Weird have restored the film and added bonus movie Anatomy of a Psycho. The disc is packed with Something Weird trailers, a commentary featuring Frank Henenlotter and more.
Ghost World (Criterion)
Another entry on that Blu-ray wish list I’ve been compiling since 2012 to be checked off. Criterion, as always, didn’t disappoint with their high-definition release of the Terry Zwigoff-directed adaptation of Daniel Clowes’ poignant and devastatingly funny underground comic classic. Clowes and the director are joined by producer Lianne Halfon for a new audio commentary, the start of a stellar supplements package that also includes new interviews with stars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Illeana Douglas, deleted scenes, and the original trailer. -Bobby Morgan
Straw Dogs (Criterion)
This has been a banner year for Blu-ray releases of Sam Peckinpah films (Warner Archive editions of Ride the High Country and The Ballad of Cable Hogue barely missed making the cut for this list). Criterion upgraded their previous essential DVD release of Peckinpah’s pitch black commentary on the savagery unleashed by violence in the name of establishing manhood with a stunning 4K transfer and a combination of new and old special features. -Bobby Morgan
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (Criterion)
Although previously released on Blu-ray as part of the 2014 Twin Peaks box set from Paramount, David Lynch’s disturbing mind-melter of a prequel to his classic television series benefits from an improved new transfer sourced from a 4K scan and restoration supervised by the filmmaker himself that brings out the lurid, inescapable horror of Fire Walk with Me with stunning clarity and depth. As if the brilliant transfer wasn’t enough, Criterion’s Blu-ray also features the 90-minute deleted scenes collection “The Missing Pieces” from the Paramount box set as well as vintage and new interviews with Lynch, stars Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, and Grace Zabriskie, and composer Angelo Badalamenti. -Bobby Morgan
Sid & Nancy (Criterion)
Alex Cox’s grim, grungy, and touching story of punk rock icon Sid Vicious and his troubled relationship with girlfriend Nancy Spungen benefits immensely from the memorable lead performances of Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb and its unflinching portrayal of drug abuse. One of Criterion’s earliest DVD releases finally gets the high-definition upgrade it has long deserved, with the film’s appalling beauty preserved forever in a stunning new 4K transfer and a selection of supplements both created for this edition and carried over from the previous DVD that are highly informative and lay bare the hard-to-behold reality lurking behind the celluloid curtain. -Bobby Morgan
Le Samourai (Criterion)
I can't really declare Le Samourai as Melville's masterpiece as his filmography contains such gems as Army of Shadows and Le Cercle Rouge. However, it is so good I want to declare it as such. Like the aforementioned Brain Damage and Don't Torture the Duckling this is a film I've waited for on Blu-ray since the format's inception and I am happy to say has finally arrived.
Rebecca is one of Hitchcock's many masterpieces. It is also one of his most unique films, as it is the only film in his filmography that could be classified as gothic. It has previously been released to Blu-ray by studio MGM, but has been remastered and and re-released with new extras by Criterion.
This is another of those films, that should have been on Blu-ray a lot sooner, but tragically was not. Antonioni's Blow-Up basically channels the spirit of 1960's swinging London in it's tale of a photographer played by Deep Red's David Hemmings who finds a murder in one of his photographs. The Blu-ray is up to the Criterion standard, and contains a nice selection of extra features.
Rossellini War-Trilogy (Criterion)
Rossellini's Rome: Open City is a certifiable film classic. The other 2 films Paisan and similarly fantastic though Germany: Year Zero has a different tone and feeling than the prior 2 entries. The Blu-ray box makes these 70+ year films shine with film-like clarity and detail.
The Piano Teacher (Criterion)
Michael Haneke is one of my favorite directors. His work which combines the domestic with dread, and feels almost like a genre onto itself. When his films are released to Blu-ray it is a cause for celebration. The Piano Teacher is quite arguably one of my favorites among Haneke's work and in September Criterion released it to Blu-ray, with a director approved transfers and a quite decent selection of extras.
Barton Fink (Kino Lorber)
Joel and Ethan Coen’s quietly unnerving satire of Depression-era Hollywood studio filmmaking, creative pretense, and artistic compromise looks and sounds better than ever before and features new interviews with stars John Turturro and Michael Lerner, deleted scenes, and more. -Bobby Morgan
The Long Riders (Kino Lorber)
Walter Hill’s lush, violent western classic about the last days of the infamous James-Younger Gang hasn’t looked this good since its original theatrical release thanks to a near-immaculate new 4K restoration and enough extra features to fill two Blu-rays, among them new interviews with Hill and his stars and a film historian audio commentary recorded exclusively for this release. -Bobby Morgan
One Dark Night (Code Red/Kino)
Though far from one of the 80’s best horror films, One Dark Night regardless remains a fun and spooky little chiller that looks great on Code Red’s new Blu-ray release. The disc also has tons of worthwhile supplements, including commentaries and interviews with director Tom McLoughlin and various members of the cast and crew and a full-length workprint cut of the feature. -Bobby Morgan
Junior Bonner (Kino Lorber)
No one dies in this Sam Peckinpah joint, a light-hearted affair about a broken family of famous rodeo riders trying to heal old emotional wounds and reconcile themselves with the changing times. Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray features a pleasing HD transfer, film historian commentary, over an hour of interviews with the filmmaker’s friends and collaborators on subjects related to Junior Bonner and Peckinpah’s life and career, and much more. -Bobby Morgan
The Indian Runner (Kino Lorber)
The directorial debut of Sean Penn is a bleak and uncompromising examination of the corrosive effects of violence on the souls and relationship of two brothers – one an upright police officer (David Morse), the other a criminal (Viggo Mortensen) haunted forever by the horrors he witnessed serving in Vietnam. Inspired by the Bruce Springsteen song “Highway Patrolman” (taken from his 1982 album Nebraska, my favorite recording of his), The Indian Runner also features terrific supporting performances from Valeria Golino, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, and Sandy Dennis and Charles Bronson as the brothers’ emotionally broken parents. Penn, Morse, and Mortensen return for new interviews, the major new supplement on this excellent Blu-ray release of an underrated drama that deserves a larger audience. -Bobby Morgan
Death Rides A Horse (Kino Lorber)
Death Rides a Horse is one of the upper tier of spaghetti westerns, and it is finally getting it's due on Region A Blu-ray through distributor Kino Lorber. The image here is quite naturalistic, and film like. Extras are slim, but include a commentary by Repo Man director Alex Cox.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (Kino Lorber)
It is debatable what Sergio Leone's true masterpiece is, but The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is certainly one of them. The new 4k transfer by Kino Lorber is a thing of beauty, and this disc is LOADED with extras.
Seven Beauties/Swept Away (Kino Lorber)
Last September Kino Lorber brought 4 of Lina Wertmueller's classic Italian films to Blu-ray for the first time on American shores. Two of them, which are absolute favorites are Swept Away and Seven Beauties. These get very nice organic film transfers that bring detail previously unseen before. They both have extras limited to liner notes and commentary tracks, but are informative and fitting to the films.
Celine and Julie Go Boating (BFI)
I have been counting down the days until Celine and Julie Go Boating reaches Blu-ray. While other films from Rivette have reached Blu-ray even his enormous improvisational film Out 1, Celine and Julie... had yet to do so. The BFI in November has seen fit to correct that with a new splendid Blu-ray of the film. The Blu-ray has a new HD transfer, and a slew of extras created for this release.
The Lost World (Flicker Alley)
The Lost World is one of the great early silent works of science fiction. The film adapts the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into a delightful fantasy film. The film features the FX work of Willis O'Brien years before he would solidify his legend with King Kong (1933). The Blu-ray looks splendid, and has a nice slate of extras including early short works by O'Brien and a commentary.
Slither (Scream Factory)
James Gunn’s 2006 creature feature hit is like a modern mash up of the 80's cult classics Society and Night of the Creeps. However, regardless of the influence, the film feels very much its own thing, and Scream Factory helps to bring the film to Blu-ray at long last with a solid HD transfer and immense slate of extras.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (Scream Factory)
Just in time for Christmas comes the 2nd Blu-ray of Silent Night, Deadly Night and unlike the last one, this one looks AMAZING. (The last one via Image looked like a DVD). This one has two cuts with excellent transfer and sound and the trademark extras slate that Scream Factory have become known for.
The Pink Panther Collection (Shout! Select)
This has to be one of the absolute classic film must-haves of 2017(you can quote me on the re-release Shout! Factory). This Blu-ray set contains all 6 collaborations between Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards in the "Pink Panther" series of films (OK, yes I'm counting Trail...) in there. The Blu-ray's look and sound excellent and have some nice retrospective material related to the series. I recommend this one so much, I'm getting a copy for my own Mother this year (and she doesn't read this, so I can admit it).
Streets of Fire (Shout! Select)
In the middle of Walter Hill's early golden period, he managed to convince Universal Studios to fund a rock and roll musical action film, and in the process created one of the greatest and most memorable films of the 80's. Sadly, the film has taken until 2017 to get a U.S. Blu-ray release (it has a Region B release through Second Sight in the U.K, and yes I owned it). That has been corrected with Shout Select's phenomenal release. It has excellent picture and sound quality, and a whole slew of extra features.
Land of the Dead: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory)
George Romero’s last great zombie epic - an entertaining thrill ride of action, shocks, and pointed social commentary where the horror filmmaking legend was finally given enough production funds to realize his grandiose ambitions – gets a great Blu-ray release from Scream Factory. Both the theatrical and unrated cuts have been remastered from the best elements available and the two-disc is stocked with new interviews, commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, and plenty more. -Bobby Morgan
Paul Naschy Collection Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (Scream Factory)
Paul Naschy had been known throughout his career as the Spanish Lon Chaney. He is well loved throughout Eurohorror circles, and now Scream Factory have taken some of his best loved films and compiled them into 2 box sets of five films each. The collections have quite decent picture and sound, and are nice upgrades from their DVD counterparts, and have newly created extras that make them both easy to recommend for the horror fans in your life.
One Day at a Time (Shout! Factory)
Shout! Factory have released a good number of Norman Lear sitcoms in complete series sets on DVD over the years from his seminal hits All in the Family and the Jeffersons to Maude, and beyond. They have now gotten to his One Day at a Time, about a divorced Mom who strikes out on her with her 2 daughters. The DVD looks about as good as one can expect, and has a nice slate of extras.
The Resurrected (Scream Factory)
The Resurrected is Dan O'Bannon's often overlooked 2nd film. It is a solid modern (modern as in 1990's) adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward." The film is carefully plotted, creepy, and has really nice splatter FX. The Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent, and is loaded up with extras.
A Trip to Spain (Shout! Factory)
I do wish IFC would bring the full 6 episode versions of the Trip series to the U.S., but since they won't and I am an absolute junkie for these Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon comedies, these will more than certainly do, as the cut down versions are still quite funny and work well in their own right. Shout! Factory has, of course, nabbed the rights to the latest version which takes the duo to Spain to sample cuisine from 6 more restaurants, and try out many more jokes.
Popcorn (Synapse Films)
Popcorn is an early 90's throwback film to 1950' and 1960's horror in the sense at least that it uses conventions of horror of the late 80's and early 90's to pay homage to the horror films of the past. As such, it is quite a fun little treat for horror fans looking for something more light and fun to check out, and the Synapse standard edition Blu-ray (or the Steelbook if you're feeling generous) is loaded up with extras, and a Synapse quality A/V restoration.
Phenomena (Synapse Films)
This is my second favorite horror film of all time and a real crackerjack of a Blu-ray. If you’re tired of movies not having enough bugs or monkeys then look no further. Dario Argento knocks it out of the park, the very weird park. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
Suspiria (Synapse Films)
This comes out the week before Christmas, and as such, I don't have it hand, and have not seen a bit of it in motion. I did not attend any screenings either, unfortunately. Synapse Films over their 20 years of existence have developed brand recognition for being one of the standard bearers for great Audio/Video work in cult film home video, and as such I expect their limited edition Suspiria steelbook to be the final word on Suspiria for the Blu-ray era. I would, highly suggest picking this up for the Eurohorror fan in your life.
Inquisition (Mondo Macabro)
Mondo Macabro is easily one of the best companies out there so you know they’re gonna treat Paul Naschy right. In this non-werewolf film, Naschy plays an Inquisitor for the Catholic Church who teaches Sunday school and is kind to every sinner he meets. Okay, not really. But this is also Naschy’s debut as a director and it’s a great film. -Richard Glenn Schmidt (Mondo Macabro)
Suddenly in the Dark
Suddenly in the Dark surprised me when it came out via Mondo Macabro this year. It is an early 80's Korean horror film that has more in common with Polanski's Repulsion than your run of the mill horror film, and it's simple domestic premise, allows it to setup a very creepy and tense atmosphere. This was one of my big Blu-ray surprises of the year, and I highly recommend it to fans of obscure Asian cinema.
Jess Franco Triple Feature (Mondo Macabro)
This is a 3 film Limited Edition Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro that is apparently running out of copies, but I can't help but recommend. It is a Blu-ray upgrade of Mondo Macabro's prior 2 releases How to Seduce a Virgin and Countess Perverse. It also contains Sexy Nature, an alternate more explicit version of Countess Perverse, a CD soundtrack and 12 pages of liner notes from Mondo Macabro's own Pete Tombs.
The Empire Pictures Collection (Full Moon)
Empire Pictures was Charlie Band's genre film studio before Full Moon, and they released quite a few B-Movie classics in their time. Earlier this year, Full Moon put together a package in conjunction with Scream Factory called the Empire Pictures Collection with a huge selection of Empire Pictures Films from Full Moon and Scream. There is also a DVD of Arena included, and a booklet of liner notes.
Toulon's Trunk (Full Moon)
This is a biggy. Full Moon has given fans the Blu-ray Puppet Master set they've always dreamed of, and instead of just regular box set packaging, they've put them all in a replica of Andre Toulon's famous trunk, added new extras, and a miniature replica of Blade. It is released in a limited run in batches, but if you have a Full Moon fan in your life, it is perfect as a Christmas gift as it contains all 12 films in one place.
Doctor Who - The Complete Tenth Series (BBC Worldwide)
Doctor Who - The Complete Tenth Series, finds the Doctor taking new companion Bill Potts under his wing, while working as a professor at a university, and guarding a vault with an infamous prisoner. The 12 episodes included are a mixed batch, but include some soon to be classics, and have a nice slate of extras. Of course, the final 2 episodes set up Peter Capaldi's final episode airing Christmas day.
Twin Peaks The Return (Paramount/Showtime)
After over a quarter of a century, Twin Peaks finally returns with a Season 3, and it is as weird and conflict ridden as you would expect. I will admit when watching it, I was not sure what to make of it, but that is David Lynch for you. The Blu-ray set is loaded with extras, and will give viewers the ability to analyze this series inside and out for years to come.
Lucifer - The Complete Second Season (Warner Archive)
Lucifer Season 2 picks up where the prior leaves off with Lucifer having to deal with the sudden arrival of his Mother. He's still also helping the police, and dealing with other situations on the side, while also running his club. The Blu-ray from WAC looks highly detailed, and has some decent extras.
Arrow - The Complete Fifth Season (Warner Brothers)
This season of Arrow has been the best in some time. We get the return of some really cool characters, and some pretty nifty story arcs, and some great action. The Blu-ray looks great, and has some nice extra features to recommend it by.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow - The Complete Second Season (Warner Brothers)
The first series of Legends of Tomorrow offered promise, but not much else. This series made good on that promise, and then some. The Blu-ray from Warner looks predictably excellent, and comes with a nice slate of extras.
Mystery Science Theater XXXIX (Shout! Factory)
THIS IS IT FOLKS! According to Shout! Factory, this is quite possibly the very last MST3K volume they will be able to put out. The licenses for other films I guess are difficult or expensive to acquire. Nonetheless, this is a great set, and actually contains the series final episode Mario Bava's classic caper film DANGER: DIABOLIK. It is also loaded with some nice extras including clips from episodes that will probably go unreleased.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Collection 1 (Right Stuf)
Right Stuf has been releasing volumes of Mobile Suit Gundam on Blu-ray for a number of years now, however, they have finally gotten to Gundam Wing. Now, this might not be the "best" of the Gundam series, but it is the one that got many in my generation into the series, and as such is sort of a big deal. I've only had the opportunity to review collection 1 out of the 2 collections released, and it looks quite nice, and is definitely recommended as a holiday pickup for the anime fan in your life.
The Squid Girl (Complete Collection) - Section 23
Squid Girl is a literal fish out of water story that involves a little squid girl who decides to wreak vengeance on mankind for the damage they have done to the world. Things don't go as planned, and she finds herself working at a restaurant to pay off the minimal damage she's done. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fine, and has a small, but decent slate of extras plus 3 OVA episodes.
Haikyu (Complete 1st Season - Section 23)
Haikyu is a mix of a sports anime and a bit of a slice of life anime. It's completely charming, and anyone willing to give a shot will be completely drawn into it. The extras are limited, but the sound and video are excellent.
Flying Witch (Complete Collection, Section 23)
Sort of like a 12 episode slice of life spin on Kiki's Delivery Service, Flying Witch tells the story of a 15 year old witch that is on her own for the first time, trying to train as a professional witch. It is quite simple, but very charming. The Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent, and the series is highly recommended.
Initial D - Awakening (Section 23)
Initial D - Awakening is the first part in a trilogy of films that are meant to be a retelling/reimagining of the early parts of the Initial D story. I will admit I haven't seen the originals or at least not a lot of them, so I had a lot of fun with us, but I can't really compare them to the source. I will say it looked and sounded fantastic, and comes recommended.
Record of Lodoss War Complete Collection (Funimation)
If you want me to name an anime box set of the year, this is it. Record of Lodoss War IS THE CLASSIC FANTASY ANIME, and the Blu-ray editions looks and sounds better then ever before. Also included in the package is a DVD edition of the expanded retelling Chronicles of the Heroic Knight. You need this in your life.
Your Name (Funimation)
Your Name has been said to be the best animated film since Spirited Away. I won't say if it is, or it isn't, but I will say that if I'm going to compare it to a Ghibli film it has more in line with something like Whisper of the Heart than any of Miyazaki's works. That being said it is a wonderful film that tells the story of two teenagers that are looking for something different in their lives, and find it by swapping bodies in a most strange manner, and this is not your typical Freaky Friday story. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, really bringing this to life, and comes with a nice slate of extras.
Akira - Steelbook (Funimation)
This was my first time seeing Akira on Blu and it knocked my dang socks off. Akira is endlessly watchable and a staple for a burgeoning anime fan. This steelbook version ports over the plethora of extras from Funimation’s previous release of the film but I ain’t complainin’. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
Dragonball Z - Seasons 1-9 Blu-ray Collection (Funimation)
Funimation has released all the Dragonball Z seasons in separate editions. However, this year as an Amazon Exclusive they have collected them all in a single box set ready to be gifted as a holiday present to the DBZ fan in your life, or the DBZ fan to be.
Cars 3 (Disney/Pixar)
Pixar's Cars 3 is a true return to form for the franchise after the off-putting spy-caper Cars 2. Cars 3 feels like it's using one of those old Western tropes of a cowboy (in this case a race car) that's not quite ready to give it up yet, and is still trying to give it his all. The Blu-ray from Disney/Pixar looks spectacular and has a number of solid extras.
Despicable Me 3 (Universal)
Despicable Me 3 is another solid Minion filled entry in Illumination's flagship franchise. It doesn't break any new ground, but it doesn't have to, and just loads up on looking shiny, and providing lots of great laughs. This one is great for the kids, and the Blu-ray looks fantastic.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Warner Archive)
The best animated Batman movie, and depending on the day, the best Batman movie bar none. Long desired for a Blu-ray release, Warner Archive came through with flying colors. Mask of the Phantasm has never looked or sounded this good on home video. If only there were more extras than just the original trailer, but the disc is worth it for the movie alone -Bobby Morgan
The Sea Wolf (Warner Archive)
A powerhouse adaptation of Jack London’s classic novel of tyranny and survival on the high seas directed by the legendary Michael Curtiz and starring Edward G. Robinson in a towering performance as a brutal ship captain that was among the celebrated actor’s best. Best of all, Warner Archive’s long-awaited Blu-ray sported a new HD transfer of the full 100-minute original theatrical cut that hasn’t been seen in 70 years. -Bobby Morgan
Night Moves (Warner Archive)
A near-perfect 70’s film noir, complete with flawed hero, morally ambiguous supporting players, and a soul-crushing finale, Arthur Penn’s downbeat thriller features one of Gene Hackman’s finest performances as the low-rent private dick who gets dicked over in the end for trying to do the right thing. The film looks terrific and the Blu-ray also includes a vintage featurette and the trailer. -Bobby Morgan
The Hidden (Warner Archive)
I’ve been wanting this movie on Blu-ray since I bought my first player. So pleased it finally made the leap to high-definition after five years. A lightning-paced collision between a slimy sci-fi horror flick and a funny and violent buddy cop comedy, The Hidden is pure entertainment that would have a difficult time getting made today. -Bobby Morgan
Superman – The Movie: Extended Cut (Warner Archive)
My all-time favorite superhero movie, finally available in its long-sought after 188-minute extended version that aired on ABC and various syndicated markets throughout the 80’s and 90’s. It’s not the definitive cut of the film, but it makes this fan super happy. Best of all, the extended cut was remastered in 2K HD resolution from a complete interpositive recently discovered in the Warner Bros. vaults, and the new transfer looks great considering the age and condition of the film elements. -Bobby Morgan
Night School (Warner Archive)
Warner Archives around Halloween snuck out an excellent little Blu-ray release of the obscure slasher Night School. This one is a surprisingly nasty number for a major studio release, and is sure to find a new audience through this Blu-ray. The extras are limited to a trailer, but everything looks and sounds fantastic.
Green Slime (Warner Archive)
The Green Slime is an early film by Kinji Fukasaku. It a simple, but AMAZINGLY FUN Sci-fi adventure, that I personally am happy to finally see on Blu-ray. The release looks fantastic in motion, and comes very much recommended.
Innocent Blood (Warner Archive)
Innocent Blood was the 2nd horror film by director John Landis, and was a film I ignored for the better part of 20 years. I regret that now, as the film though a tad overlong is a great mash up of vampire story, and mob film. The Blu-ray looks and sounds great.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Lions Gate)
I had an opportunity to see this little gem in theaters and I blew it. So glad I picked up the Blu-ray. The Blackcoat’s Daughter is directed by Osgood Perkins (Anthony Perkins’ son) and is a rather offbeat possession film. It’s somber, sad, and is filled with a beautifully dark mood. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
Alien: Covenant (20th Century Fox)
I must go against the grain on this one. And by “grain” I mean all the people who loathe this film. I loved Prometheus and this is an excellent follow-up full of splatter, stupid humans, and even a bit of Frankenstein thrown in for good measure. -Richard Glenn Schmidt
Float - Howie Noel
The one thing this year that gave me the most joy was a graphic novel by artist Howie Noel entitled Float. I had been introduced to Howie and his other book Tara Normal for our mutual love of the paranormal, so I was excited to see what he was doing next. The autobiographical story about Noel’s struggles with anxiety and depression really hit home for me. He not only personifies his mental illness, but actually makes them characters in the book. Being an artist myself (www.fleurdelou.com), his trouble getting recognition in the business on top of his illness mirrored my own. On top of the book, he has other merchandise including a soundtrack with an appearance by his wife Shelley. This book is not only great for anyone who suffers from anxiety and/or depression, but also loved ones of those individuals. - Brooke Daugherty
We’re Going To Be Friends - Jack White
It could be that The Whites Stripes is one of my all-time favorite bands or possibly because I have a new nephew, but my new favorite book is We’re Going To Be Friends. Jack White’s first book, based on his song about childhood friendship, is illustrated by Elinor Blake. True to style, the hardcover children’s book is decked out in red, black, and white. If you love the Stripes as much as I do, have small kids in your life, or are just obsessed with peppermints, I suggest you pick this up at your local bookstore or Third Man Records. - Brooke Daugherty
A Die Hard Christmas - Doggie Horner and JJ Harrison
Another great “children’s” book is the illustrated “A Die Hard Christmas” by Doogie Horner and JJ Harrison. I use “children’s” loosely as a descriptor as parental discretion is advised. Horner takes the story of John McClane and turns it into the Christmas Story it always was by using meter similar to ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Harrison’s drawings are simple yet effective in portraying the story and characters. It is certainly a great gift for Die Hard lovers, but maybe not the little ones just yet.
What Does This Button Do? - Bruce Dickinson
I read Run to the Hills the autobiography of Iron Maiden when it came out wayyyyyy back in the 90's, which gave an abridged version of Bruce's story. This is the whole deal, and if you are a fan of Bruce Dickinson, Samson, and Iron Maiden this is well worth checking out.
Dark Tales - Shirley Jackson
Penguin early in the fall released the 17 story Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson. This edition contains 17 of Jackson's best loved tales which are sure to attract new readers and bring back in older ones. Her stories tend to be domestic spins on gothic horror tropes, or a and times take a bit of a more psychological approach in their horror, but are also very subtle in their scares and well worth checking out.
The Best of Richard Matheson - Richard Matheson
Richard Matheson may be one of the top 10 most influential writers of science fiction and horror of the late 20th century. This book edited and compiled by Victor LaValle collects some of Matheson's finest short works into one excellent volume.
It Came from the Video Aisle - Dave Jay, William S. Wilson & Torsten Dewi
It has taken over 20 years, but there is finally a book about the history of Full Moon Films. It is quite in depth, and covers each period of the puppet loving studios rich history, from their inception through all their ups, to their many downs, and is well worth checking out for fans of horror and of Full Moon.
Pizza Tree - Chase Poulton, Mark Poulton, Ryan Onorato
I have been saying for years that there is not enough horror related material for young children. Well, Mark Poulson and his son Chase have added another excellent entry into the 'horror for children' category with their "Pizza Tree" graphic novel. It is a charming tale with just the right amount of scares for a young audience.
One Thousand Monsters - Kim Newman
The fifth full length novel of Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series is set in 1899 Japan, and does a unique job blending historical characters with his existing vampire mythology.
Video Dungeon - Kim Newman
Video Dungeon collects Kim Newman's reviews from the pages of Empire Magazine and places them in one easy to read book. Some might wonder what is the point of a review in the 21st century, but I still love these, and had a blast flipping through this one, especially since a lot of these were "new to me", and are now on my watch list. Definitely a worthy read, and belongs on any cult cinephiles reading list.
Strange Weather - Joe Hill
Strange Weather is the latest release by Joe Hill, and is a compendium of 4 novellas by the author. These stories, and twisted, supernatural, and mostly bleak, but a great read, and higly recommended.
Paperbacks from Hell - Grady Hendrix
Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix might be the horror related book of the year, which is oddly unexpected. It is a history of the writers who populated the newstands with paperback horror novels in the 70's and 80's, at the same time it acts as a coffee table book with fantastic imagery of the books of that period (the Crab books were a particular favorite).
The Strokes: The First Ten Years - Edited by Gabriel Kijo
This book is basically a photo essay regarding the first 10 years of the Strokes history as a band. The photos are excellent, and the text and interviews accompanying the book will surely be a treat for fans of the band.
The Art of Horror Movies - Edited by Stephen Jones
The Art of Horror Movies is a hardbound book with over 600 images of original art, and images inspired by and taken from films including original poster artwork. It contains essays broken down by decade about the genre, and is an absolute delight.
LOST GIRLS: THE PHANTASMAGORICAL CINEMA OF JEAN ROLLIN - Edited by Samm Deighan
If there is one director in the Eurohorror/Cult scene that needed a critical eye finally turned in his direction it was Jean Rollin. Finally, this year editor Samm Deighan, and a group of expert writers turned their attention to Rollin's work in their essay collection Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin. This is gorgeous collection, that truly goes in-depth on Rollin's work like no one has before.
Every year EuroCultAV gives away a stack of Blu-ray’s to two lucky winners. This year is no different, but we the drawing is a little bit different this year. We have 2 prize packs. 1 which is what I’ll call the grand prize, and the other which is a runner up.
The contents currently of the Grand Prize pack is
Death Line (Blue Underground)
Deathdream (Blue Underground)
Psychomania (Arrow Video)
The Slayer (Arrow Video)
Popcorn (Synapse Films)
Record of Lodoss War (Funimation)
The Runner up will get
Death Line, Death Dream, and Psychomania.
There also might be some surprised additions from the BFI and Severin Films in the grand prize pack, but that is not guaranteed as of yet.
All the prizes were given to EuroCultAV from the respective labels, and as such we would like to thank them them all for making this contest possible another year.
So how do you win?
Email Scott@eurocultav.com with Holiday Giveaway in the Subject. Include your name, address, and favorite 2017 release. This contest is open to U.S. and Canada residents only.
Contest Ends 12/20/17.