Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Every great film should seem new every time you see it." - Roger Ebert

The Mike's Favorite DVD/Blu-Ray Releases of 2014
(So Far)
Part 2
No good list has just one part. Heck, I'm pretty sure that's what college was all about. All those syllabuses or syllabi or syllables that professors handed out had tons of different parts to them. And that's what you have to do to get a degree. Therefore, I believe that lists with multiple parts are what make you a scholar. It's science.

My list of my favorite flicks-on-discs so far this year started with my favorite lesser known new flicks, and you can check them out in Part 1 by clicking somewhere in this part where I typed clicking somewhere in this part.  Now, I'm here to talk about some of the most fun older films released on Blu-ray for the first time in 2014.

Note - same disclaimer as last time: there's a lot of horror. A zebra can't change his stripes and a horror blogger can't either.

Let's get to it! 
The Mike's Favorite Older Movies Released on Blu-ray in 2014 (So Far)
Die Monster Die - 1965 - Blu-ray - January 21, 2014 - Scream Factory
It's a goofy H.P. Lovecraft adaptation that surely doesn't do justice to the text of H.P. Lovecraft, but it sure is a fun little spastic '60s horror film. What it lacks in plot is made up for by vibrant colors and strange visuals, not to mention the presence of the icon, Boris Karloff. This is a rather bare bones disc by the folks over at Scream Factory, but the price is adjusted for the lack of special features and the film sure looks cool in HD.

Frankenstein Created Woman - 1967 - Blu-ray - January 28, 2014 - Millennium Entertainment/Hammer Films
It's hard being a Hammer addict in the blu-ray era, as most of their greatest films are currently held by companies like Warner and Universal that have pumped the brakes on production of physical media. Thankfully we still have a few Hammer classics that could get blu release here in the U.S., led by this one last January. It's not my favorite Hammer Frankenstein film, but the special features - including a new documentary on the women of Hammer - and the cool lobby cards included in the package help make this a must own for nerds like me.

Foreign Correspondent - 1940 - Blu-ray & DVD - February 18, 2014 - Criterion Collection
Beautiful restoration of an early Alfred Hitchcock film that comes in a beautiful package. The combo pack offering comes with three discs and a ton of special features that cover one of Hitchcock's first American films, but I think it's most worth watching because it's one of Hitchcock's most atypical, grand scale films. (Plus, there are a lot of beautiful covers for the movies on this list, but this package is the one among them that had me looking for a drool napkin so I didn't mess it up because I was gawking at it so lustfully when I opened it. So it's got that goin' for it, which is nice.)

The Visitor - 1979 - Blu-Ray & DVD - March 4, 2014 - Drafthouse Films
Probably the weirdest movie restored to home video in 2014, this trippy horror film from Italian director Giulio Paradisi (under the pseudonym Michael J. Paradise) features an A-list cast (Glenn Ford is even in it!) and bizarre visuals and a whole lot of stuff that doesn't make any sense. But man, is it fun to watch. I don't know who was looking around at old movies and said "Hey, check out this thing! Let's restore and re-release this!" but I'd definitely like to shake that person's hand. (Author's note - I'm not stoned.)

Sorcerer - 1977 - Blu-ray & DVD - April 22, 2014 - Warner Brothers
I don't want to spoiler the rest of the list, but I'm just gonna say it now - this is the best disc of the year. By far. I'd heard for a long time that this was William Friedkin's third masterpiece of the 1970s, but no complete version of the film seemed to exist on home video. Warner Brothers finally did the right thing for this film, as Friedkin himself supervised this new transfer which is the prettiest thing I've seen this year. And if that's not enough, the film was given a mega cool Blu-ray book package, complete with liner notes from Friedkin and some cool special features. This is the rare disc that proves how relevant home video still can be.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats - 1977 - Blu-ray - June 3, 2014 - Cult Epics
OK, so maybe The Visitor isn't the weirdest film restored to home video in 2014. If you're like me you see the title - Death Bed: The Bed That Eats - and you get an image of a certain kind of film in your head. If you're like me, that image is probably wrong compared to what this movie actually is. It's not just a movie where a bed eats people, it's a movie where a bed eats people and the whole thing seems like a weird Andy Warhol painting and kind of makes you think it's actually legitimate art. Yeah, I know that sounds crazy. But it's a movie called Death Bed: The Bed That Eats and it's on blu-ray and it's 2014 and the world is a beautiful place, man. (I'm really not stoned, I swear.)

The Legend of Billie Jean - 1985 - Blu-ray - July 22, 2014 - Mill Creek Entertainment
Normally I wouldn't put a bare bones blu-ray from bargain bin company Mill Creek on a list like this, especially when the film on the disc doesn't really seem all that high definition. But The Legend of Billie Jean is a curiously fun '80s flick that puts a modern twist on the story of Joan of Arc and it's just pretty cool to see a movie like this finally getting a release that's not on a DVR and is incredibly cheap. I'm sure another company could have done more for this film's disc debut, but it's at least nice to have the movie out there now.

Ginger Snaps - 2000 - Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack - July 22, 2014 - Scream Factory
Most horror movies made in the DVD era have been released and re-released a handful of times already, so it was always curious to me that Ginger Snaps - a fantastic werewolf tale that is a testament to women in horror too - has always been only available in one old pan & scan edition. The folks at Scream Factory are smart enough to know that this film deserved better, and the restored version makes the film look brand new while also featuring a ton of great special features. This is a disc that truly needed to be made, so hugs to the Scream crew one more time. (Note - You guys might want to get a restraining order against me if you don't like hugs. Just sayin'.)

Curtains - 1983 - Blu-ray - July 29, 2014 - Synapse Films
This movie can't look as good as it does on this blu-ray. I just don't believe it. And yet, it does. It's not the best slasher movie of the early '80s, for sure, but I firmly believe every slasher movie deserves to be treated like a classy lady and Synapse has treated Curtains as such. And this thing is worth it for the ice skating scene alone. Trust me.

Leviathan - 1989 - Blu-ray - August 19, 2014 - Scream Factory
Scream Factory is back again - the prices are high (and this one seems to have bumped up since release, sadly), but they are still killing it. Leviathan is a personal favorite that plays like a cheesy deep sea version of Alien. I love the cast (Peter Weller! Ernie Hudson! Amanda Pays! Daniel Stern! Evil Bitch Meg Foster! Hector Elizondo!), I love the bizarre gore, and I LOVE the final moments, even if they're a little un-PC these days. Not enough special features for my liking, but I think I might be the only person that wants to analyze Leviathan forever, so I guess I'll give them a pass here.

Pumpkinhead - 1988 - Blu-ray - September 6, 2014 - Scream Factory
This has never been one of my favorite horror films - good gosh, there's some terrible actors in the supporting cast and the pacing is a little slow at times - but man have I always loved that monster. Stan Winston is one of the greatest things that ever happened to movies, and his lone directorial effort is a testament to what he could do with special effects. Scream Factory might have produced their best disc here, fill of interesting features and offering a beautiful version of the film. Worth the price tag and more.
There are no doubt a lot of other great discs that have come out this year, but unfortunately I can only afford some of them without giving up all of my social life and food to the DVD Gods. I'm sure I'll have a update to the list later in the year - this fall looks pretty stacked for the horror scene and there are plenty of titles I've missed thus far.

If you produced a disc that you wish was on this list, feel free to send it to me for consideration. :)

As always, hit up the comments and tell me what you like/dislike/want to talk about/had for dinner/etc. And buy some movies. It's good for you. I promise.

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