View Full Version : Top Ten Discs of 2009

01-01-2010, 05:59 AM
Ugh. Can this recession go away? The DVD industry continued to wither away during another ravaging year of pinched pennies and overall disinterest. People bought a shit ton of HDTVs this year, but I guess nobody wanted any movies to play back on them. For horror fans this meant that we saw even less output from once reliable companies, with Shriek Show, BCI and Dark Sky all but closing up shop.

http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/citb/citb_shot6s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/citb/citb_shot6l.jpg)Ugh. Can this recession go away? The DVD industry continued to wither away during another ravaging year of pinched pennies and overall disinterest. People bought a shit ton of HDTVs this year, but I guess nobody wanted any movies to play back on them. For horror fans this meant that we saw even less output from once reliable companies, with Shriek Show, BCI and Dark Sky all but closing up shop. Blue Underground thankfully kicked up output with some nice Blu-ray upgrades, but still offered little in the form of new product. Anchor Bay too was pretty hush, even failing to deliver on HD upgrades to a lot of their top tier titles. Code Red had some missed deadlines and a tough transition after the BCI collapse, and even Synapse seemed stuck in traffic on 42nd St. for most of the year.

Still, there were a few rays of light. Newcomer Scorpion Releasing showed promise, and the small Severin certainly had their best year yet with a top ten finish and an admirable release of the Lucio Fulci masterpiece Door into Silence. Lionsgate had a pretty solid year, topping the list and offering up some fine Blu-ray upgrades in addition to nice catalog unearthing like the Silent Night, Deadly Night series and The Gate. Criterion and Grindhouse continued to prove that their one-horror a year mandate is worth the wait. Shout! Factory hopefully gave us a taste for good things to come with solid releases of The Stepfather, Audition and almost Werewolf: The Series. Warner Brothers opened the world up to a lot of their eclectic back catalog with their “Warner Archives” line, serving up cult favorites like Bad Ronald and Are You Afraid of the Dark?. And in a year where the whole industry seemed to be backwards, it took the two companies that are most often derided for their lack of care toward their horror catalogs to serve up the best releases of all. Sony and Paramount had pretty impressive years. Let’s just say Friday the 13th and 13 Ghosts proved to be anything but unlucky.

Even if nobody seems to be buying DVDs, Blu-ray seems here to stay, and even if the start of the next decade gives us only a few new releases, at least the Blu-ray upgrades should be hot and heavy. Whatever the future holds for our favorite genre on our favorite format(s), at the very least we can say it’s been one hell of a decade. December here marked our 10th year as a website and forum, and 808 reviews and 601,474 forum posts later, we’re still finding new films to review and new things to talk about. Thanks for sticking with us, readers, posters, slashers, stalkers, what have you…let’s hope the next ten years are equally as fruitful for us horror fans. But before we get to 2010 and beyond, here, readers, are my 10 picks for the Top Discs of the Year:


10. The Silent Scream (1980) (http://horrordigital.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=805) Scorpion Releasing

Scorpion Releasing made a stinging debut with their work on 1980 not-really-slasher favorite, (The) Silent Scream. The transfer was well above standard, and there was even a 5.1 mix. The stuff worth screaming about, though, was in the extras, with a total tell-all from the Wheat brothers on all aspects of the film’s crazy two-shoot production. Proving that no topic is off limits, the brothers Wheat also talk about their other productions, from working with Heir Lucas to writing an Elm Street. The late-director and sweetheart star are also involved in this little labor of love. The culmination is definitely of the “they sure don’t make ‘em like they used to!” adage. Here’s to many more from Scorpion in the new year!


9. Stepfather 2 (1990) (http://horrordigital.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=776) Synapse Films

Characteristically known back in the day for special editions that really weren’t all that special (see Scream, Halloween H20, et al.) or non-anamorphic blunders (see Halloween 6), Dimension somehow found all stars in alignment with their special edition of Stepfather 2. To keep the astrology metaphor running, lighting struck twice when Synapse again released the film in the fall just in time for the shitty remake. Synapse preserved everything that was good from the previous release (damn near the entire disc, from supplements to the video) and added in a nice sizeable documentary from the Felsher house of Red Shirt Pictures. Most won’t agree with me, but I’ll continue to affirm that the second film is better than the first, too. At the very least, Jeff Burr’s fervent involvement in the extras of this disc at least prove that there was a lot more passion behind this project than all the condescension found on Joseph Rueben’s involvement on Shout! Factory’s (otherwise commendable) work on The Stepfather DVD.


8. Cat in the Brain (1990) (http://horrordigital.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=740) Grindhouse Releasing

After proving last year that their Pieces was more than worth the wait, Grindhouse shows up again on the top ten this year with their wonderfully packaged Fulcitravaganza Cat in the Brain. This two disc TLC provides a wonderful look into later-career Fulci, featuring ample interviews with the legend. As for the film, it’s one of the most delirious movies ever, and a deceptively clever look into the self (selves?) of Italy’s most expressive horror icons. The transfer is solid, and the presentation, with all the easter eggs, motion menus and the lenticular DVD cover, all add up for a near perfect package. What else have you got in those vaults, Grindhouse?


7. The William Castle Film Collection (1958-63) Sony Pictures

This one sort of slipped under my radar, but Sony delivered one massive collector set for one of the titans of Hollywood horror earlier this fall. The William Castle Film Collection featured eight of the Godfather of Gimmick’s films, all totally restored and remastered, and a few obscurities hitting DVD finally for the first time. Not only has every film, including classics like 13 Ghosts and the Joan Crawford ham-fest Straight-Jacket, been given a total visual and audible facelift, but each comes with an eclectic batch of extras new and old. From vintage featurettes and camera tests to a new, full-fledged documentary, this five disc set has it all. Who knew Sony still had it in them? The best from them, though, is still to come.


6. Repulsion (1966) (http://horrordigital.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=752) Criterion

Criterion doesn’t release a lot of horror fare, but when they do, you can almost always count on it being great. Like The Spirit of the Beehive or last year’s White Dog and Vampyr, their Repulsion disc paints a perfect historical picture for an important film. The Blu-ray transfer is just stunning, and the vintage documentaries with footage from the filming really provides a window into the creeky old apartment of new wave filmmaking. Considering Roman Polanski finally (but not really) had to face his legal demons earlier this year, Criterion couldn’t have picked a better time for a look into just what makes the frenzied Frenchman tick.


5. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) (http://horrordigital.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=745) Paramount

While this may not be the best disc of the year, Paramount’s collective achievement in re-releasing all the Friday the 13th films in packed special editions is no doubt the achievement of the year for horror fans bred on eighties horror. Even if they got off to a rocky start with the framing issues on the first film and hit a bit of a bump with the underwhelming editions of Jason Lives, the rest were certainly smooth sailing. The best was no doubt the fan favorite, The Final Chapter, with tons of extras nobody thought they’d ever actually see unearthed for the first time. We’re talking a ton of gore and even a totally unique alternate ending. A featurette, two commentaries and an extra devoted entirely to Crispin Glover’s dance moves – this disc has more than just the kitchen sink…it’s got the corkscrew, too! Paramount has taken a lot of flak from us fans over the years, but they definitely deserve a big Tommy Jarvis hug for all their work here and on the rest of the Friday discs this year.


4. Hardware (1990) Severin

Severin had a quiet year but still managed to push the limits with perverse genre fare like the dwarfsploitation The Sinful Dwarf and Canuxploitation favorite Screwballs. Their masterwork this year, though, was without question Hardware, Richard Stanley’s post-apocalyptic cornucopia of cyberpunk art porn. The transfer was phenomenal with those rich reds finally finding a home in HD. The Blu-ray and DVDs were packed with extras, too, with a new documentary, a commentary, short films and even the old Super8 version of Hardware. The story is Blade Runner in the desert with half a brain, but who really cares when the visuals are that lush? And it could be worse…it could be Tank Girl. Severin seems to have weathered the multimedia recession best these last few years with a slow and steady stream of releases, so it’s fitting their best work here is all desert storm. Great work.


3. Psychos in Love (1987) (http://horrordigital.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=739) Shriek Show

Shriek Show…remember them? You used to always be able to count on them for a good spattering of seventies and eighties trash each and every year, but this year they’ve probably been remembered more for what they haven’t released (Scream¸anyone?) than what they have. There is one exception, though. Psychos in Love. This quirky and totally lovable (yes, lovable), little slasher rom-com seemed to come out of nowhere earlier this year, but even after a bevy of fine fall releases later, this one still stands out from the pack. A total low budget labor of love from the eighties, this has certainly aged like fine wine (not grapes though, I hate them!). The extras are plentiful and personal, and the transfer is just right. Companies like Shriek Show, Code Red, Scorpion and Severin are ensuring we’re not just trudging through the beaten path each year when it comes to horror, but this might just be the year’s best surprise.


2. Night of the Creeps (1986) (http://horrordigital.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=799) Sony Pictures

I can think of only one other movie that had more horror fan buzz than Night of the Creeps (see below), but amazingly Sony lived up to all expectations and then some with their totally stacked Blu-ray release of Fred Dekker’s sleeper classic. Dekker got the royal treatment last year with his other cult favorite, The Monster Squad (which received an even better Blu-ray again this year!) but it looks small scale to all the love poured into this release. Director’s Cut. DTS. Documentary. Commentaries. A career retrospective of Tom Fucking Atkins. The good news is your dates are here. The bad news is…oh hell, there is no bad news. Pick this sucker up!


1. My Bloody Valentine (1981) (http://horrordigital.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=804) Lionsgate

The craziest rumor began to circulate the internet at around this time last year. A new DVD of the Canadian slasher favorite, My Bloody Valentine, complete with all the much ballyhooed uncut footage. Ha. Yeah right. Paramount would never do that. Oh, well, it’s actually coming out from Lionsgate. Ha. Yeah right. Paramount never leases their stuff out. Well, it wasn’t even remotely close to April 1st, so if you were a fan at all of the genre, you had to at least try and believe it. It turned out to all be true, and after a little petitioning, even a little more. We got the uncut footage re-edited back into the movie. And then, in November, we got the whole thing on Blu-ray. The ghost of Jack Valenti must have been looking down on us all, offering this consolation for all the ravages of the 1980’s MPAA. The Blu-ray more than lived up to the heart attack hype, with a beautiful presentation and a fine collection of extras. Still, all this release needed were those cut scenes, and it’s a bonus that they’ve been preserved so well (take a look at Friday the 13th, Part VII for the flipside). Usually those added bits of unrated gore do little to um, flesh out a film, but this is the rare case where the gore transforms what was before a tense, but tame thriller and turns it into a gory masterwork of slasher cinema. This was the disc horror fans have been asking for ten years since starting our site here in 1999…what a way to close off the decade!

Previous Top Tens:

2008 (http://horrordigital.com/vb3forum/showthread.php?t=38105)
2007 (http://horrordigital.com/vb3forum/showthread.php?t=35673)
2006 (http://horrordigital.com/vb3forum/showthread.php?t=32276)
2005 (http://horrordigital.com/vb3forum/showthread.php?t=28052)

01-01-2010, 08:47 AM
Speaking of MBV, Amazon currently has the blu for $7.99!

Erick H.
01-01-2010, 09:40 AM
Nice selections.MBV was a real treat,a long time coming but worth the wait.

01-01-2010, 09:59 AM
Great list...my own would probably be almost identical!

01-01-2010, 03:29 PM
I only have My Bloody Valentine!! But I plan on buying the Blus of Night of the Creeps and Hardware for sure!

01-01-2010, 03:32 PM
"this disc has more than just the kitchen sink…it’s got the corkscrew, too!"

I see we haven't made a New Year's resolution to work on our humor...

01-01-2010, 04:25 PM
Great list, these lists always dictate what discs I should pick up that I may have missed.

01-01-2010, 06:10 PM
Okay, just ordered the Hardware Blu Ray! Couldn't wait any longer. Especially after getting the disappointing Region 2 DVD!!

01-01-2010, 06:35 PM
I've got 6/10 discs on the list!!!:banana: I havent heard of Hardware and The Castle Collection, I need to try and re-watch Repulsion, and I want to rent Psychos In Love!!!

Midnight Buddha
01-01-2010, 08:00 PM
Speaking of MBV, Amazon currently has the blu for $7.99!

Yeah just ordered both MBV and CUJO. both region free and only cost £15.99 shipped to scotland ! Brilliant !

01-01-2010, 09:57 PM
4 out of 10 i own, just finished watching most of Silent Scream's extras and this is a great release! seems like Scorpion Releasing will be a new force on the cult DVD market to be reckoned with and all that for a great price

Body Boy
01-02-2010, 12:06 AM
Only own 3 of those editions, but Silent Scream is on order. I am kind of surprised Code Red's Messiah of Evil disc and Mya's Four Flies on Grey Velvet did not make the list. But MBV totally deserved to top it off.

Harry Warden
01-02-2010, 12:11 AM
Got 3: MBV, Cat in the Brain and Silent Scream.

01-02-2010, 02:10 AM
My top ten for 2009. I don't know if all of these were released as DVDs in 2009, or if a couple squeaked in in 2008, but I saw them all this year, which is all that matters to me :)

In no particular order:
Gran Torino
The Dark Knight
Eden Lake
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Dead Snow
Let the Right One In

edit: and I'm going to have to add Inglorious Basterds to make it an even eleven :)

01-02-2010, 02:58 AM
My top ten for 2009. I don't know if all of these were released as DVDs in 2009, or if a couple squeaked in in 2008, but I saw them all this year, which is all that matters to me :)

In no particular order:
Gran Torino
The Dark Knight
Eden Lake
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Dead Snow
Let the Right One In

Haven't seen all of those, but some great picks there!!

01-02-2010, 04:51 AM
Haven't seen all of those, but some great picks there!!

Thanks! I recommend them all heartily!

01-02-2010, 11:40 PM
The Castle Collection is indeed a treat. Great list. Adding Psychos in Love on my To-Watch list now.

01-03-2010, 12:24 AM
Great list. There are a couple there to add to the collection. It was nice to see MY BLOODY VALENTINE get a nice polished package.

01-03-2010, 04:45 PM
I have 4 of them:

My Bloody Valentine
Night Of The Creeps
Cat In The Brain With the Lenticular Cover
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Eventually going to buy Silent Scream, Hardware, and maybe Psychos in Love.

01-03-2010, 05:20 PM
FYI Psychos in Love is ~$10 shipped at bestbuy.com right now, seems like a good price.

01-03-2010, 10:26 PM
Great list. 2010 is going to be the year of the big transition to Blu Ray. It's already begun.

01-04-2010, 02:08 AM
Troma also put out a couple of great releases with the Tromasterpiece editions of Fanatic and Combat Shock.

Mutilated Prey
01-05-2010, 01:43 AM
Nice list dood. I can't believe the Blu of MBV is only $7.99 at Amazon!

Body Boy
01-15-2010, 07:28 PM
Very. Looks like there will be plenty to choose from for the top 2010 discs as well. The Goodbye Gemini Scorpion Releasing DVD has a review! :D


Time to upgrade from Twinsanity!

01-16-2010, 06:07 PM
I'm supposed to be getting those Scorpion releases any time now, can't wait...