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Brandon’s Best Blu-rays Of 2015 Across The Globe!

Brandon Top 25 ThumbThe Why So Blu top Blu-rays of 2015 wheel has spun and landed on me.  Once again, I’m honored to close this out and go last.  2015 was a game-changer year for me with Blu-ray personally.  For years, my colleague Gerard has been nagging at me to get a region-free player.  I would complain about awesome UK releases and such that would be locked and I couldn’t get them.  He would have such sage words of advice like “If you’re complaining and not going region-free, then you’re part of the problem.”  Or “You know a solution to this, its nobody’s fault but your own.”  So, for my birthday (and to start the year, its in January) my amazing wife got me a region-free mod’ed player.  Life has not been the same since.  It unlocked a whole new crazy world of awesome editions and more independent distributors.  My wallet has also shrunk in size too, haha.  If you’re a film fan or collector, I highly recommend doing this.  With this new aspect and more releases coming my way, I’m expanding my list of 20 to 25 this year.  Most of all, thanks to Gerard for getting me to go region-free.  

And now, onto my favorite Blu-rays of 2015!  

Hammer Thumb25. Hammer Horror Classics: Volume I (Warner Archive) – This set contains Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, Taste The Blood of Dracula, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed! and The Mummy.  Each film only has a trailer to accompany it, but its terrific that Warner began to dip into its extensive Hammer Horror catalog that it has largely been sitting on.  The films look good and contain their original theatrical mixed audio lossless too.  This set is packaged pretty nicely too.  Admittedly, it is a little too tight to get the book out of the shell the first few times.

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Madman Thumb24. Madman (Vinegar Syndrome) – Little upstart Vinegar Syndrome put out a terrific release of this little-seen cult classic slasher.  One notable for it is that it stars the female lead from the original Dawn of the Dead, Gaylen Ross, as she only has three acting credits on her resume (The other is a role in the George Romero/Stephen King  collaboration Creepshow).  Vinegar Syndrome always puts forth top of the line transfers (4K a lot of the time) and this one is no exception.  It also has a terrific lineup of extras.  A collector’s item to be snatched up for sure and one of their more pop-friendly releases in their growing catalog so far.

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DOFP Thumb23. X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Cut (20th Century Fox) – Last year’s fall release of Days Of Future Past was skimpy on the extras and missing the Rogue stuff we were promised from Bryan Singer for when it hit Blu-ray.  Well, he came through month’s later, and not only were there two cuts of the film, but plenty of extras that we were expecting the first time out.  Those who held out, proved the smarter.  I prefer the theatrical cut of the movie, but the Rogue infused edition is still pretty good and and interesting look at what would have been.

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Howling II Thumb22. Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf (Scream Factory) – Nope, not a good movie…but boy is it ever a riot of entertainment.  This cult classic didn’t have the “Collector’s Edition” label on it, but it was a modern key art slipcover away from being one.  Scream Factory’s release featured outstanding interviews with key players letting loose and other great extras.  The movie looked and sounded grand and the supplemental package was pretty loaded.  For someone who is a fan, this release delivers in spades.  Here won’t be the first time on this list you see a subpar film get a really outstanding Blu-ray release.

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American Ninja Thumb21. American Ninja 1-4: Limited Collector’s Edition (88 Films) – With this edition you get each film in its own thick UK-style amary case along with an insert slip in a shell that holds all four.  The extras are pretty limited to the first two films, but they all look and sound better than they ever had.  I’m a sucker for a lot of the Cannon Films action trash of the 1980s and this series was one of their crown jewels.  The first film has a good retrospective doc with interviews (Including Michael Dudikoff and Judie Aronson).  If you’re into them, the movies themselves are fun enough to revisit themselves (The second film is quite a riot).

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God Told Me To Thumb20. God Told Me To (Blue Underground) – My friend and I had once tried to sit through this film.  It was on a DVD double feature disc he bought from some random distributor.  It was tough.  Then I got this for review and HOLY CRAP does a 4K restoration change the viewing pleasure of a film.  When I originally saw it, it looked like a snuff film, here it was a much more pristine experience.  In addition to how great this weird little Larry Cohen gem looks and sounds, it comes with the perfect complimentary bunch of supplemental material and interviews done just for this release.

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Manos Thumb19. Manos: The Hands Of Fate (Synapse Films) – Most know the story of this film rising from the ashes due to one of the most classic of classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode.  Out of that stemmed a fanbase for the film alone.  While the film is nowhere near as entertaining as it is with Joel, Crow and Tom Servo, I was stunned at how great this look on Synapse’s release.  They don’t mess around.  If they put something out, you can guarantee this is the best its going to get.  This Blu-ray also comes with great min-docs based on the film and the restoration for it that are just as good as the movie itself.  Yes, its one of the worst movies ever, but its failures are often more entertaining than most comedies.  Synapse Films gave me Torgo fever with their perfect (Well, if it included the MST3K episode as a bonus it’d be just that much better) release of this timeless cult classic.

People Under The Stairs Thumb18. The People Under The Stairs: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory) – What a crazy fun bonkers movie Wes Craven made.  The Blu-ray here gets the illustrious Collector’s Edition treatment with new extras while managing to port over the old ones.  There wasn’t anything additional from Wes, but a commentary track carries over.  Craven was one of the very best at those.  The other interviews give a good sense of his feel and craft and what a great guy he must have been to work with on the set.  Scream Factory continued to do good with his catalog in 2015.

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Inside Out Thumb17. Inside Out (Disney/Buena Vista) – This little deeply emotional journey packs a whallop, but is also funny, charming and colorful.  As always, Disney’s presentation is top of the line.  What rocks here is that they gave this release two disc treatment, giving us a nice complete array of extras.  The film is another example of Pixar firing on all cylinders with an original concept.

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Interstellar Thumb16. Interstellar – Target Exclusive Steelbook (Paramount) – My favorite film of 2014 got a gem of a release when it came home.  This thing is loaded with juicy extras.  It also looks and sound lovely on Blu-ray.  Aside from packaging,  there’s nothing different with this steelbook edition, its just the one I own in my collection.  My favorite aspect of this release was the film cell that was included with it and everyone sharing the piece they found in their package (Mine was the back of Jessica Chastain’s head).  Christopher Nolan’s space epic was a film that really took me when I saw and I can both explain and not explain why at the same time.  Even those detractors must admit, this is a pretty nice technical achievement at the very least.

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Blood Rage Thumb15. Blood Rage (Arrow Video) – Don’t let Eli Roth fool you, there was a Thanksgiving slasher and its Blood Rage.  There is also another called Home Sweet Home, too.  Blood Rage was made, shelved and then cut up terribly and released years later.  Arrow Video not only provides the original cut of the film, they have the edited up version and a composite version feature every scene from both (The home video cut had additional dialogue and scenes to pad time due to censoring).  This release also has interviews with many of the key players and even Ted Raimi who shows up briefly in the film.  Oh yeah, and the film looks beautiful too.  Here is a gem of a slasher film that has been rescued and restored by Arrow.

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Shocker Thumb14. Shocker: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory) – It was incredibly exciting news when this release was announced AND that Scream Factory was putting it out.  I’m a fan of Craven’s failure to launch slasher starter and to see it given royal treatment like this was very pleasing.  Horace Pinker deserved a follow up, but at least we were given his maiden voyage.  The extras know exactly what to focus on here, including a tremendous documentary on the soundtrack for the film.  The Serpent and the Rainbow will be closing out Scream Factory’s Wes Craven output according to them, but they sure made a beautiful mark on what they did get ahold of.

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Coffy Thumb13. Coffy (Arrow Video) – Readers of Why So Blu will know that I have constantly moaned about Blaxploitation’s representation on Blu-ray, especially the 1970s Pam Grier catalog.  Well, 2015 was a HUGE step for the subgenre.  And I was tickled as hell that Arrow Video followed up their great Foxy Brown release with Coffy.  Not only does this pinnacle action movie look as lovely as Pam Grier, but she also has a great interview on the disc.  This one includes a terrific booklet as well.  I loved this release.  Arrow is also following it up with Sheba, Baby and Black Mama White Mama in 2016.

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Mulholland Drive Thumb12. Mulholland Drive (Criterion Collection) – FINALLY!  Criterion had been teasing this release for what seemed like years.  But, it was well worth the wait as it got a 4K restoration and looks flipping fantastic now.  This was a MAJOR upgrade over the previous German Blu-ray for the film.  While the supplements don’t look hefty, they are some really good interviews.  I also love that they have kept this movie still as one cohesive unit and not split it up into chapters.  Criterion and David Lynch (Like some other directors) are a wonderful match.  Maybe we could see them team up for Elephant Man, Lost Highway or Inland Empire in 2016.

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Aladdin Thumb11. Aladdin: Diamond Edition (Disney/Buena Vista) – One of 90s Disney animation’s best got its long awaiting and very welcome Blu-ray debut domestically this year.  The film looked quite amazing in its presentation, revealing stuff like brush strokes and loads of detail.  Pretty much every extra ever got ported over as well as the inclusion of new material.  You’ll spend plenty of time with this disc.  A must have for those who love the film and Disney fans in general.

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..Mad Max Top 10

Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros) – No duh, right?  This is pretty much the consensus best film of the year and the Blu-ray is definitely the best home release of a 2015 movie.  It outstandingly brings the theatrical experience right home with the most demo’ist of demo’ist presentations in both audio and video.  This isn’t a LOADED disc, but the extras are perfectly complimentary and in depth.  They aren’t some repacked EPK BS, its actually educational and insightful.  If you’re a collector or film fan and you don’t own this…I’m not sure you’re a collector or film fan.

Buckaroo Banzai Top 10

The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (Arrow Video) – This insanely fun, unique sci-fi cult classic was already available on Blu-ray in some foreign territories with unimpressive releases.  In steps Arrow and BAM! an all-timer release.  They had a hell of a year and this is another on in a long line of successes.  They got John Lithgow and Peter Weller to come back for new interviews.  The film looked impressive and had a plenty of hours worth of bonus material to sink your teeth into.  Peter Weller is an actor that is sort of having his past rediscovered with Blu-ray releases and this movie is sort of his launch.  Banzai is a fun film, with a groovy soundtrack, that hopefully picked up some new fans with this definitive release.

Third Man Top 10

The Third Man (Vintage Classics/Studio Canal) – Criterion launched their Blu-rays with this title, and that was a pretty definitive release.  I worked on that Blu-ray back in the day and going over it daily for weeks made it less of a “must buy it now” when it came out.  Well, the licensing left Criterion and the release went out of print and I never got a copy and 2nd hand sellers were asking ridiculous amounts.  It got a release from another distributor, but it was largely inferior to Criterion’s not just because it had no extras, but the video was lesser.  This year though, the UK, Germany and France were treated to a stunning 4K remaster with a load of extras.  Needless to say…sorry Criterion, but you got topped and I’m relieved to finally have a pristine version of one of noir and cinema history’s greatest films.

Fright Night Top 10

Fright Night: 30th Special Edition – Limited Edition (Twilight Time) – Back in 2011, many were peeved when they didn’t get a copy of the limited to 3000 Blu-ray debut of Fright Night.  eBay was selling these things for hundreds of dollars.  Overseas saw a bare bones release from Sony with no lossless audio, but Twilight Time managed to renew their license and give the film a release it demanded.  Bonus features were here now and they even tweaked the video transfer to improve the picture quality.  They also offered 5000 copies this time and everyone was ready.  The release didn’t disappoint and FINALLY I was able to have a glorious Blu-ray of one of my favorite horror movies in time for its 30th anniversary!

Moonrise Kingdom Top 10

Moonrise Kingdom (Criterion Collection) – My holdout on this one paid off.  Wes Anderson and Criterion have a glorious marriage.  With all of his films getting a release through them, it was only a matter of time before Anderson’s charming as hell film would come around.  So, I didn’t buy it.  In the meantime, we did get incredible releases of Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Life Aquatic.  Finally, its here and it not only has packaging treats, but your usual Criterion perfection on the disc as well.  How long now til I happily double dip on The Grand Budapest Hotel, Criterion?

Escape From NY Top 10

Escape From New York: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory) – Does it get more definitive for the John Carpenter masterwork?  They loaded up 2 discs with plenty of new extras and ported over ones from the previous DVD edition.  We also were treated to a brand new transfer of the film, which I liked but I suppose nit pickers of course took some issue with.  This is one of my favorite films of all time (My 2nd favorite from Carpenter) and this was THE release for it.  And it came from Scream Factory too.  I made an offhand comment in a review about a year and a half before this came out about them doing one, never thinking they actually would, and here it actually is.  A dream come true I suppose!

Videodrome Top 10

Videodrome: Limited Edition of 3000 (Arrow Video) – David Cronenberg’s masterpiece got righteous treatment from Arrow this year.  Not only did you get Videodrome, but you got 3 early short films from the body horror enthusiast director.  Next year will see a more basic version of this release, but you can knock the terrific packaging and physical “extras” that come with such a device as this.  I was quite enamored with it when it showed up in the mail and loved looking through it all.

Army of Darkness Top 10

Army Of Darkness: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory) – My top 5 here is pretty insane in that pretty much every one of them could make a case for being #1.  This is the release of Army Of Darkness to end all releases of Army of Darkness.  Four cuts of the film, every extra released imaginable and a feature length documentary of the film.  Just wow.  The only thing they could possible do to take it one step further is to officially commission a cut of the film with every piece of footage ever released.  That’s likely not happening any time soon.  Once you pick this up and see for yourself, you’ll have the most satisfying sense of completion with the Evil Dead series that you may ever experience.

Beyond Top 10

The Beyond (Grindhouse Releasing) – From a film I didn’t “get” to a weird and eerie film I’ve come to love and admire, Grindhouse Releasing gave The Beyond an insanely impressive Blu-ray release and North American debut.  There are extras for what seems like days here.  Many interviews both new and old.  The film also comes in a glow in the dark case to boot.  It came out back in February, but this release has been a sort of constant in my player, going over the film and many of the extras multiple times.  I did a big piece on the film for my blog back in October.  Grindhouse will be doing a release of the super crazy and weird slasher film Pieces this February and it looks like it could be on par with this.

And now…

Pinhead 1

Hellraiser Scarlet Box Top 10

Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box – Limited Edition (Arrow Video) – Arrow’s set includes Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth.  This is an insanely well done set that is a true labor of love for the series and it shows all over the damn thing.  I mean, just take a look at all that’s here.

Scarlet Box BOM

The Scarlet Box was sold out weeks before it even hit its street date.  Arrow knew how to please collectors and came the hell through.  This packaging is just big, bulky and awesome.  There is a hardcover book in here!  The films themselves look INCREDIBLE.  These are new transfers from an interpositive.  Detail runs more rampant than ever before and there is a very nice inclusion of grain that akins to the cinematic appearance of it.  These are a massive step up from what’s already released.  Included as bonus material are newly edited versions of the Leviathan documentary, which actually work better in their shorter and tighter form than they do on the full thing.  There are 3 hours alone in just that stuff and Hellraiser III’s making of.  Most stuff that isn’t redundant has been ported over from previous special editions.  There is even a bonus disc with even more good stuff, like early short films from Clive Barker.  They even have gems like this as Easter Eggs –

Yeah, this has everything.  This is how you please the hell out of your customers and fans.  This is passion, excitement and hard work all packed into one box.  I have marveled and drooled over this set since I was able to snag a copy.  Within seeing the layout and specs of this I knew it was going to have a great chance of being my #1.  Once I held it in my hand I was confident it would be.  Popping in the discs were just a confirmation of this.  All year I felt the Blu-ray world in 2015 was missing a definitive and impressive movie series boxed set and boom, here it is.  And, its an all-timer to boot.

That’s it for 2015!  What were some of your favorite releases and what ones are you looking forward to in 2016?  You can order some of the Blu-rays on my list by clicking the Amazon link below.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “Brandon’s Best Blu-rays Of 2015 Across The Globe!”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Awesome!

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Props on that Buckaroo import! I had a feeling I would see it here. haha