There’s a lot of people who question the whole point of Blu-rays and DVDs in this time of streaming. Isn’t everything on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or Disney Plus? And won’t it be there forever? Or can’t they just record their shows on their DVR and have it there for years? Streaming services have shows come and go. With more streaming services coming on line in 2020, odds are you’re going to have to hunt around to find what service now has them for the time being. But if you already own the complete series on DVD or Blu-ray, you don’t have to care. You don’t have to worry about installing another app and paying more monthly fees. You don’t have to worry that the DVR is going to glitch and wipe out all your recordings. You don’t own streaming. You don’t own recordings on your DVR. Even if you buy a digital recording there’s a clause in the license that states if somehow the recording vanishes, they don’t owe you anything. You’re just out of luck with nothing to click on when you have a hankering to watch the film or TV show.
Even if your streaming service has the film or TV show, there’s a chance your ISP is figuring out a way to charge you for all that data that makes up your high definition entertainment. There’s already reports of people discovering that their internet had a limit and when they streamed too much, they owed extra on the bill. This will probably get worse since these services have to make up the lost profit from when you cut the cord on cable and their home phone service. Your Blu-ray player doesn’t count against your data cap.
Because most of the major studios view physical media as less attractive, they’ve been licensing out major titles for indie labels to release. Most of these companies are run by film fanatics who want to get cool bonus features to give more context to the titles. So in a sense, these are great times for those of us who still embrace physical media. So why not give Blu-rays and DVDs as gifts this holiday season? It’s the perfect way to tell a friend that they better not whine when their favorite film vanishes from their streaming sites. Here’s a list of titles that came out over 2019 that you should buy someone you care about…including yourself when you get gift cards.
Rudy Ray Moore is bigger than ever thanks to Eddie Murphy playing him in My Name Is Dolemite (currently streaming on Netflix). If you want to experience the real deal, Vinegar Syndrome has released all four of his independent cinema masterpieces on Blu-ray/DVD sets including Dolemite, Human Tornado, Petey Wheatstraw and Disco Godfather. Vinegar Syndrome upgraded the films by properly framing them so most of the boom drops in Dolemite are eliminated. Rudy Ray Moore truly created films that gave the audience action, romance and comedy.
Giallo had a fine season for releases. First was the double boxset of Sergio Martino’s All the Colors of Dark and All the Colors of Giallo from Severin. Dark featured genre queen Edwige Fenech dealing with a cult. Colors of Giallo explores the mystery genre that was a major draw in Italian cinema in the early ’70s. Besides a documentary that addresses the major players, there’s nearly 100 trailers for the films that lasts 4 hours. So keep a notepad handy so you can write down the films you’re eager to see beyond a few minutes of teaser. Two directors had their finest efforts upgraded to Blu-ray for fans to appreciate. First was Aldo Lado who had Short Night of the Glass Dolls (Twilight Time) and Who Saw Her Die? given primo releases. Who Saw Her Die? (Arrow Video) stars George Lazenby (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) as an artist in Venice whose daughter gets killed by a stranger. His performance proves that his time as James Bond wasn’t a fluke. Director Luigi Bazzoni’s The Possessed and The Fifth Cord (both Arrow Video) shows a director who was able to bring the art house and the exploitation cinema together. Strip Nude For Your Killer puts Edwige Fenech in the middle of the trouble when a photography studio is stalked by an armed killer wearing a motorcycle helmet. It lives up to the title. All these titles go fine with a fresh pint of gelato.
The Street Fighter Collection (Shout! Factory) are three films that established Sonny Chiba as a mean martial arts master. He’s a bad guy who has to be a little bit good as he takes on mobsters looking to screw him out of his money. You might remember these films from True Romance. If that was enough, you’re wrong because Sister Street Fighter Collection (Arrow Video) also came out. Thrill to the four tales of Etsuko Shihomi kicking butt as an undercover investigator. Sonny Chiba lends a foot and a fist in the first film, but she takes care of business in the rest of the movies.
Hammer Horror got a serious Blu-ray boost this year when Scream Factory released several of their films from the mid-60s. The Blu-rays came with plenty of bonus features to give depth to this small studio that gave audience major chills. The titles included The Plague of Zombie, The Witches, Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, Frankenstein Created Woman, Lust For a Vampire, Quatermass and the Pit, Quatermass II, The Reptile, Horror of Frankenstein, Scars of Dracula, Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb, The Devil Rides Out, Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde and To the Devil…A Daughter. It’s just the joy of Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and other that were part of Hammer’s regular cast.
The Fly Collection (Scream Factory) boxes up the first three films from the ’60s with the two remakes from the ’80s to make you feel a buzz. A scientist in Montreal believes he’s perfected teleportation. But things go wrong the day he decides to put himself to the test. His body merges with a house fly. The original features Vincent Price as the voice of reason and not the mad scientist. Later David Cronenberg revisited the film to make Jeff Goldblum transform into the creature in that creepy Cronenberg way. There’s also The Fly II with Eric Stoltz.
The Omen Collection: Deluxe Edition (Scream Factory) is part of what gets spoofed in Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett’s Good Omens. The boxset includes the first three movies about the rise of the Antichrist from a little boy planted with an unsuspecting American family to landing a sweet ambassador gig. There’s the Fox network TV movie. Finally the “recent” remake that sticks close to the original script but with Julia Stiles and Liev Schreiber taking the place of Gregory Peck and Liev Schreiber.
John Carpenter had more of his films upgraded thanks to Scream Factory. First was Someone’s Watching Me!, a TV movie he made around the time of Halloween. The film about a stalker featured the double power of Adrienne Barbeau and Lauren Hutton. John Carpenter’s Vampires has James Woods (Videodrome) cruising around the Southwest looking for bloodsuckers to kill in the name of the Catholic Church. Most importantly is a major collector’s edition version of Big Trouble In Little China. Kurt Russell is trucker Jack Burton. Winning a game in San Francisco’s Chinatown leads to a supernatural adventure with a 2,000 year old spirit calling the shots. Scream Factory has put out quite a few configurations with various collectable items including a 45 of the theme song done by Carpenter.
Scream Factory also gave us three volumes of the Universal Horror Collection that dug deep into the studios scares that weren’t starring the classic monsters, but cast the same actors. Volume 1 was focused on the movies that featured both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The Black Cat is as frightening as their Frankenstein and Dracula roles. Volume II gives a bit of focus on actor Lionel Atwill and his mad scientist characters. Murders in the Zoo features pre-code elements such as a mouth stitched up and wild animals roaming free on the set. Volume III includes Man-Made Monster, Horror Island, Tower of London and The Black Cat with stars such as Basil Rathbone, Lionel Atwill, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney Jr. All are great gift for your relatives that are glued to Svengoolie on Saturday nights. They also released Bela Lugosi’s Murders In The Rue Morgue as a solo Blu-ray.
Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection upgrades the 28 movies they made for the studio to Blu-ray. The comedy duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are best known for their version of the Who’s On First baseball routine. But there’s so much more to their comic adventures. The collection starts with their first movie where they stole One Night In the Tropics from the real stars. They quickly returned with a series of military focused hijinks covering the army, navy and air force. There’s quite a few bonus features to mark Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. The duo went up against the classic monsters that established Universal as a major studio. They also Meet the Mummy in their final outing for the studio. Even after 80 years, Bud and Lou are masters on the screen.
Space 1999: The Complete Series brings both seasons of the science fiction series onto a Blu-ray boxset. The show came out between Star Trek and Star Wars with Martin Landau (Mission: Impossible) as a commander who is in charge when a large blast causes the Moon to rip apart from the Earth. He must keep the crew of Alpha base from losing it with the help of Barbara Bain (Mission: Impossible). Basically the Moon is their spaceship. The visiting aliens included Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Joan Collins. The show was from Gerry and Sylvia Anderson that had previous produced Thunderbirds and UFO. The effects don’t get exposed by the higher resolution.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Season 12 – The Gauntlet was the second Netflix season where Jonah and the Bots had to marathon 6 straight bad movies in a row. The mad scientists picked true cinematic stinkers to torture the crew of the Satellite of Love. Do you have what it takes to keep pushing play on the Bluray remote? Can you survive a Lee Majors movie about him battling piranhas?
The Brady Bunch: 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection is a must for fans of the blended family. Not only do they include all five seasons of the show, but you get the animated series, the various reunion shows including the Christmas Specials and the theatrical films with Gary Cole as Mr. Brady. You even get The Bradys soap opera-esque series that starred MTV’s Martha Quinn.
Sesame Street: 50 Years and Counting and 50th Anniversary Celebration! (Shout! Factory) are two collections to enjoy the children’s television show that taught generations how to count, read the alphabet and identify Muppets. These DVD sets comes out at a time when Caroll Spinney, who worked both Big Bird and Oscar has passed away. 50th Anniversary Celebration! is the special hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. 50 Years and Counting is a six hour collection of their best lessons and special moments such as the memorial for Mr. Hooper. These are a great way to visit the TV neighborhood where you grew up.
Any movie or TV show on Fox is a must grab this holiday season. Nobody is sure what Disney is going to do to the vault of the studio they just took over. Do you really think the land of Mickey Mouse is going to care much for Mr. Moto, Charlie Chan or their catalog of Film Noir titles? Don’t expect these film to stream on Disney Plus or even Hulu.
Tags: Christmas, Scream Factory, Sesame Street, Space 1999