PDA

View Full Version : Rhett's Top Ten Horror DVDs of 2007


rhett
12-31-2007, 06:18 PM
Rhett's Top Ten Horror DVD Releases of 2007

After last year’s pithy parade of first-time horror DVD releases, this year made quite a bang with some high profile DVD wants finally filled. The Burning finally made it, we got some obscure Craven, Stone and Carpenter with Warner’s Twisted Terror box, and two of Fulci’s missing masterpieces, The Psychic and Perversion Story finally made their way courtesy of Severin Films. There were also a number of big re-releases too, with remasters of Kubrick’s classics, yet another definitive The Evil Dead from the Bay, Prom Night in anamorphic from Echo Bridge, a fixed up A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin from Shriek Show and a bunch of big special editions from MGM/Fox. While sadly many of the quality cult labels were mostly down for the count, with NoShame, Blue Underground, Shriek Show and Synapse having pretty silent years, the bigger studios thankfully picked up the slack. With a number of great horror films still unreleased, like The Stepfather, Phantasm II, Curtains, Night of the Creeps, The Town that Dreaded Sundown, The Keep and of course Ghoulies Go to College, there’s still much ground to cover for 2008. Without further ado though, here’s my top ten horror DVDs of 2007.


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/dooma/dooma_fronts.jpg


10. Doom Asylum (1987) (http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=505) Code Red

It was released the first week of the year, yet Code Red’s final release under the Shriek Show label proved to be quite memorable. The film itself is quite the post-modern little oddity, with crazy gore, a crazier doctor, and some inventive uses of public domain old movie footage. The image and sound transfers were solid, but again it is the low budget but passionate extras that Code Red brings to the table that makes these releases feel so authentic. They are discs done by horror fans and for horror fans, and their passion to resuscitate forgotten American horror films is a noble cause. They’ll be back later this year, and hopefully their quality output continues under new distributor BCI. If you’re a slasher fan, then do as Crazy Ralph says, make sure “You’re All Doomed”.


http://img293.imageshack.us/img293/2300/amicusqs4.jpg


9. The Amicus Collection (1972-73) Dark Sky Films

Dark Sky had another solid year in 2007, one of the few companies to weather the indie DVD storm. While they did a fantastic job on the Eaten Alive double disc, the film itself is a stinker, so praise should go instead to this British triptych from Amicus. Always overlooked compared to their rival, Hammer, Amicus proves with these three stellar films, And Now the Screaming Starts, Asylum and The Beast Must Die, that their films are the ones that have stood the test of time. The transfers have all been meticulously cleaned, and the inclusions of commentaries, interviews and other spare parts really make this the perfect set for anyone looking to get into the Amicus run of films. Couple these with the handsome barebones releases of Tales From the Crypt and From Beyond the Grave, and Amicus had quite the year!


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/phantasmse/phantasmseab_fronts.jpg


8. Phantasm (1979) (http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=509) & Phantasm III (1989) (http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=513) Anchor Bay

For high profile titles, Anchor Bay had an amazingly prolific year, reissuing many with improved transfers and added supplements. While the original Hellraiser, The Evil Dead and Re-Animator discs were hardly worth updating, Phantasm sure was, with its old, non-anamorphic LaserDisc transfer. Anchor Bay proved up to the task, giving the first film the best transfer it’s ever had in any region, as well as combining many of the best features from both the UK Anchor Bay release and the old MGM disc. They also finally gave us a quality Phantasm III as well, again with improved picture over the UK release. Now Phantasm II remains the lone Coscarelli film not on Region 1 DVD, but considering their work on the others, I hope it’s Anchor Bay that’s responsible when it finally does come.


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/ms/ms_fs.jpg


7. The Monster Squad (1987) (http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=636) Lionsgate

Nostalgic fans lobbied and lobbied for this short and sweet little amalgam of The Goonies and the classic Universal Monster Movies. Lionsgate answered with a roar with two discs packed full of nearly every extra you could possibly want about the kiddie classic. The transfer was awesome, the sound was awesome, and the fact that this release was available through all the big chains ensured that this fun movie will not only appeal to all us children of the eighties, but a whole new generation of children looking for their voice in the genre.


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/stendhal/stendhal_fronts.jpg


6. The Stendhal Syndrome (1992) (http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=639) Blue Underground

Blue Underground released virtually nothing on the horror front this year, but at least they made it count with their surprise two-disc of The Stendhal Syndrome. Argento’s masterpiece was only previously available in a crummy full frame Troma disc, and thankfully here it sports a beautiful transfer, DTS sound, and a whole disc full of telling interviews. No doubt the high point of Argento’s post-Opera work, this film breaks away from genre and proves that Argento can craft haunting drama to match his trademark stylistic flourish. Blue Underground still owns the rights to Deep Red and Inferno, so here’s hoping they’ll do as they did with this and give those two classics the restorations they no doubt deserve.


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/cujo/cujo_fronts.jpg


5. Cujo (1983) (http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=661) Lionsgate

The most worthy double dip this year was no doubt Lionsgate’s 25th anniversary of the classic King canine creeper, Cujo (how’s that for alliteration?). The original disc was pan and scan and without extras, and this new one bolsters a beautiful widescreen remaster, and a few great supplements. The three part documentary is really informative, and the director’s commentary is very researched and engaging. The film itself really holds up too – it’s still the ultimate mediation on marital disarray cleverly filtered through the gaze of a child and a rabid dog. Thanks to this fine DVD, 25 years later and the film still has bite!


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/mam/mam_bs.jpg


4. Monsters & Madmen (1958-59) (http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=495) Criterion

Criterion didn’t do much for horror this year, save for this classy four film box set on monsters (Boris Karloff) and madmen (Karloff, again). The two standout films are no doubt the Karloff pictures The Haunted Strangler and Corridors of Blood, but the science fiction B-sides, The Atomic Submarine and First Man into Space both still resonate with cold war fears. The art and packaging are beautiful as is to be expected with Criterion, and so too are the extras – uncut sequences, commentaries and your requisite scholarly dissection. If only Criterion did more of these, there’d be hope that horror would again shift from the margin towards critical acceptance.


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/fbeyond/fbeyond_fronts.jpg


3. From Beyond (1986) (http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=643) MGM

While Stuart Gordon’s Re-animator continues to be his most popular, it’s likely that his sophomore effort, From Beyond is his best. If not his best, then certainly his most challenging, taking the mad scientist picture into the realm of avant-garde sexual politics. Always a requested title, MGM ensured the films maiden voyage onto DVD was a worthy one, with a number of first-rate extras. Even the storyboards are done with a new energy. An extremely satisfying movie, this was no doubt my biggest surprise this year.


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bava/bava_fronts.jpg


2. The Mario Bava Boxset Volumes 1 & 2 (1950s) (http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=512) Anchor Bay

While the majority of the Bava canon has already been released on DVD, most of them have been hard to come by for years, and with high prices and old transfers, they were dying for a new makeover. Anchor Bay delivered with comprehensive and affordable box sets throughout the year totaling thirteen individual classics from Il Maestro. All the video has been drastically improved and almost every film has been given a nice critical commentary. Sure, there’s some filler, like Knives of the Avenger and Four Times That Night, but there’s also some unsung masterpieces, like the previously had to find Rabid Dogs and Kill, Baby…Kill! But in this set of fine company, even the lesser films seem better as just another facet of the mind of one of Italy’s greatest filmmakers. Here’s to more releases in the new year!


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/tpeaks/tpeaks_fronts.jpg


1. Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition (1990) (http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=674) Paramount

I never thought a television show would top any of my lists, but David Lynch’s magnum opus finally coming complete with every single episode, variant and extra one could hope for is certainly cause for celebration. We get the complete first and second season, all the Log lady intros, the various cuts of the pilot and a disc packed full of some of the most eccentric and enjoyable extras you could imagine. The Japanese commercials have to be seen to be believed. The series itself is a landmark, the only time pop culture television and the avant-garde really fell perfectly into alignment to make some groundbreaking, mind-opening philosophical mystery. As Cooper would no doubt say…“Damn fine DVD!”

wago70
01-02-2008, 05:06 AM
Yes, it was a great year. Great choices!

spawningblue
01-07-2008, 06:59 AM
Monster Squad!! Waited too long for this film, and had not seen it since I was a kid. I was not disappointed at all, Goonies with the Universal monsters, how could that be bad?

dwatts
01-07-2008, 07:34 AM
Ouch - so many titles there had already been issued, making this a year high of reissues and re-releases:

The Amicus Collection - this is actually 3 fifths of the ABUK collection
Phantasm (1979) & Phantasm III (1989) - 3 thirds the AB UK version.
The Stendhal Syndrome - already out in a couple excellent versions
Cujo - already out.
Monsters & Madmen - I love this set, but each film was already out there.
The Mario Bava Boxset Volumes 1 & 2 - I think most of these had already seen the light of day.
Twin Peaks - don't remember, wasn't this out already?

Anyway - that makes this top ten list reissue hell (or heaven, depending on your preferance) and points to a year when new material was pretty thin on the ground. Not how I remember it actually - did you see the likes of Sunshine, Rhett? Why no up-to-date films there? No Pan's Labyrynth etc.

For the first time I get to say - nope, pretty much disagree with this list. ;)

geeare
01-07-2008, 08:03 PM
Ouch - so many titles there had already been issued, making this a year high of reissues and re-releases:

The Amicus Collection - this is actually 3 fifths of the ABUK collection
Phantasm (1979) & Phantasm III (1989) - 3 thirds the AB UK version.
The Stendhal Syndrome - already out in a couple excellent versions
Cujo - already out.
Monsters & Madmen - I love this set, but each film was already out there.
The Mario Bava Boxset Volumes 1 & 2 - I think most of these had already seen the light of day.
Twin Peaks - don't remember, wasn't this out already?

Anyway - that makes this top ten list reissue hell (or heaven, depending on your preferance) and points to a year when new material was pretty thin on the ground. Not how I remember it actually - did you see the likes of Sunshine, Rhett? Why no up-to-date films there? No Pan's Labyrynth etc.

For the first time I get to say - nope, pretty much disagree with this list. ;)

he makes a good point here.

Paff
01-07-2008, 10:20 PM
he makes a good point here.

Agreed. It only bolsters the "no good horror films were made after 198x" mantra that goes around, including on this very board.

Of course, the other side of the coin is that most modern releases contain extra features that are usually made at the same time as the movie. Many of the older films have commentaries and documentaries that reflect on influence and impact that comes with time.

Perhaps a second list, of top ten contemporary releases could be viewed side-by-side with library titles.

rhett
01-08-2008, 12:33 AM
Of course, the other side of the coin is that most modern releases contain extra features that are usually made at the same time as the movie. Many of the older films have commentaries and documentaries that reflect on influence and impact that comes with time.
Exactly. I come from a mindset that critical deconstruction of a film by historians and the like is infinitely more interesting than your typical on-set footage or interviews with the crew during production. I have a ton of new releases, and while the extras may be exhaustive, it's pretty rare that they are essential or totally engrossing. More than often with the big studios it's about making a buck, it's not about appreciation for the film itself. What these cult labels benefit from is that the people working on the discs are usually always big fans themselves of the films, which is why I almost always prefer a special edition by Code Red than I would one by Paramount. The one exception - Twin Peaks, and this has a lot to do with the participation of David Lynch and the thoroughness of the entire set.

You're offering perspective from another part of the world, dwatts, so I guess I should state explicitly that this list is from the perspective of a Region 1 consumer. I did a number of R2 vs. R1 comparisons this year, and the reasons why the PHANTASMS make the list is because ultimately they are better looking and sounding in R1. So in each case I think I make an argument as for why each was an important upgrade, regardless of what's been released prior.

It's just a list though, arbitrary in so many ways - I'm sure there are twenty films not on the list worthy of recognition, but at least the 10 on there are ones I loved and thought deserved specific mention. There's always the Reader Reviews section, show us what you thought!

Paff
01-08-2008, 01:56 AM
Another reason to select library titles over current releases as a top 10 (and I see the merit in both schools of thought) is that we EXPECT current films to get released, with a high quality transfer and a fair amount of extras. Was the release of Pan's Labyrinth (great movie, BTW) a SUPRISE? Of course not. It was Academy Award-nominated, a theatrical hit, etc. We knew it was gonna get a good DVD, anamorphic transfer, DTS, etc.

But people have been looking for The Monster Squad and From Beyond for a long time. And great films like Phantasm and The Stendhal Syndrome had lackluster releases (Stendhal especially). So finally getting good versions of these on disc was noteworthy.

That all said, I do think some love should be given to current films, as they'll be the classics of tomorrow...

rhett
01-08-2008, 01:59 AM
Another reason to select library titles over current releases as a top 10 (and I see the merit in both schools of thought) is that we EXPECT current films to get released, with a high quality transfer and a fair amount of extras. Was the release of Pan's Labyrinth (great movie, BTW) a SUPRISE? Of course not. It was Academy Award-nominated, a theatrical hit, etc. We knew it was gonna get a good DVD, anamorphic transfer, DTS, etc.
Yeah, another great point, and one I meant to address too. Putting out a widescreen, uncut and anamorphic DVD of A LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN is far more notable achievement than a perfectly mastered DVD of 2007's THE HITCHER. That, and we've always focused primarily on catalog titles to review, because frankly they need more exposure than the current spate of horror movies that are covered already on tons of Joe blow (literally and figuratively) sites.

That all said, I do think some love should be given to current films, as they'll be the classics of tomorrow...
Once those get re-released in ten year anniversary discs (chips, by that point?) then they'll make the list, for sure. :)

dwatts
01-08-2008, 11:56 AM
You're offering perspective from another part of the world, dwatts, so I guess I should state explicitly that this list is from the perspective of a Region 1 consumer.

Yup, feel sufficiently alienated now. :D

I take a world view, based on what I've seen. I know HorrorDVD's is based in the US, and the vast majority of people here are in the US, but I like to think that it's trying to talk about HorrorDVD's rather than just R1 titles. But fair enough. Film is universal, DVD is a medium is all. ;)

Shannafey
01-10-2008, 03:16 AM
Loved Monster Squad and definitely agree it should be on that list!!