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Brandon’s Bodacious TOP 10 Blu-rays Of 2013!

Brandon Top Ten BluIt’s my turn!  No need for a preamble as to what goes into the generalities of crafting these Top 10 lists as the gents before me all did a fine job of explaining.  2012 provided what seemed like all the remaining “Must Have” box sets, leaving 2013 seeming kind of empty handed on the surface.  Now there have been new sets, but many just prove to be repackagings of the older discs and calling them “new” (like the new Star Trek box set, The Exorcist 40th and the Hitchcock Essentials Collection).  Universal would have had #1 on this list at “Hello” had they released a 2nd volume companion to last year’s Classic Monsters Collection (Yes, I’m still whining about that).  2013 was no slouch though, as there were still a set or two to release and plenty of titles that have never been on Blu-ray before finally making the jump.  What I love about this period we are in now is that so much of the big name films from yesteryear seem to be out that others and many cult items are getting their turn at the plate and that makes things even more exciting as these are the ones people watch all the time and have been double dipping format to format on for years.

Let’s get to me and my Blu-ray personal preferences on making a Top 10, since I’m the noob.  Where I may stray from my Why So Blu? colleagues path when culminating my list is that I don’t put as much stock into modern movies and their releases.  I fully expect new movies to look and sound spectacular as well as carry sufficient bonus material.  In that respect, they’re doing what their supposed to.  There will be some that go above and beyond the call of duty for various reasons, but for the most part I really don’t think the work put into them is as noteworthy or going the extra mile.  Most of their bonus material is also recycled EPK material and done while shooting the movie as sort of a part of the process anyway.  I get my jollies off of seeing older catalogue titles wondrously restored to their original vintage theatrical print glory and bonus material revealing old secrets and having people many years removed from a project to go no holds barred in interviews with their praise/displeasure on the process.  And I also dig old school trailers being attached.

So with that out of the way…let’s begin.

DISTRIBUTOR OF THE YEAR

Scream Logo

SCREAM FACTORY

Yeah I know, no big surprise right?  You’re going to see them pop up frequently in the list.  The offshoot of Shout! Factory followed up their debut in fall of 2012 with a phenomenal year that ended with some incredible excitement for 2014.  Through incredibly well run FaceBook and Twitter pages, they engage with fans on a personal level like no one else.  Jeff Nelson, who is in charge of that aspect, is incredibly interactive and responsive with fans.  They even build excitement for titles I’d never heard or cared for before.  Scream Factory also has a very “hands off” great approach to their video quality that gives their movies the cinematic experience of the time they came out in theaters.  Also, they ALWAYS provide the original audio for the film in lossless quality.  Their bonus material is also no slouch.  Their content is always relevant, non-repetitive, engaging, fresh and covering the material fans have been wanting to know.  Having rising talent like Justin Beahm, who is a long time fan, appreciator of genre films and has a full understanding of them conducting interviews only makes the content more personal and more genuine. Everything has a reason and a purpose to be on the disc.  Bravo, Scream Factory, I can’t wait to see what more 2014 brings us from your mastery.

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Now…onto that Top 10 thing.  Please note, all these titles are Region A.  I don’t have an All Region player, so I’m limited to just being able to report Region A and Region Free releases.  Click on the respective photos to order any of these titles and add them to your collection!

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Brandon 10 Wolverine10. The Wolverine 3D Unleashed Extended Edition: Best Buy Exclusive – This was my favorite superhero film of 2013.  I think the extras are light but significant (there’s 55 minute featurette on crafting this thing and a commentary, that’s plenty).  The picture and audio are great to be expected. What wins me over here is the packaging.  You get 4 discs; A 3D theatrical cut, Blu-ray theatrical cut, Blu-ray Extended Edition, DVD theatrical.  However, this Best Buy version was packaged really awesome and my wow factor during my pickup and unboxing is what ultimately won me over.  All this, for one movie that came on in the same calendar year.  Its pretty incredible and very nicely put together with some cool artwork.  It also comes with some cards featuring the art of other characters in the film.  One of the biggest kickers?  This set was only $26.99.  You really can’t beat that.

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Brandon 9 Pacific Rim9. Pacific Rim – From the outset this release looks pretty standard.  However, the bonus materials are full of Guillermo del Toro goodness and will keep you entertained well beyond the movie.  Seriously, I could listen to that man talk about movies and monsters for hours.  The big reason it made this list, and anyone who has popped this in can tell you, the picture quality for this is amazing even for a modern film which should look good regardless.  Warner Bros has really outdone themselves here.  There is not a single detail missed.  With all the water crazy movement in this thing it’d be understandable for some spots to be weak here and there, but no.  It’s pretty damn flawless.

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Brandon 8 Night Of The Comet8. Night Of The Comet (Collector’s Edition) – This movie spread infectious fun throughout the entire disc.  Not only did the film’s transfer turn out great, but there were plenty of great interviews and a bunch of commentary tracks.  This release left me pretty happy after viewing it and wanting to pop it right back in again after I was done.  The film’s swagger and attitude surely carried over to the presentation and bonus materials on the disc.  Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart show us in the film that “girls just wanna have fun” and damnit, so do I!  I had also forgot this movie was set around Christmas, so now I have another reason to pop this in once a year during my non-traditional Christmas movie viewings!

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Brandon 7 Nosferatu7. Nosferatu (Kino Release) – Gerard pimped the UK version, so I’ll spot this one.  When you see a film from the 1920s presented like this, it’s just quite simply amazing.  Add to that, the fact that it was comprised of multiple prints over time and some cards having to be reconstructed.  For a cinephile and collector, there’s really no feeling like it.  The film looks as if you’re watching it for the first time again.  Kino provides 2 video transfers of it.  One for the English version and one the original German one.  The bonus features look light on paper and aren’t as many as the UK one, but they are all significant and worthy of your time.  Kino has done masterful work with its silent films, I’m excited to see what next year brings.

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Brandon 6 Man Who Knew Too Much6. The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) – This is my personal preferred version of the film.  Hitchcock remade it with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day many years later.  I like the tone, look and intensity of this one much better.  Plus, I’m a big Peter Lorre nut, so that definitely wins me over.  For the bonus material, Criterion mashes 2 of my favorite all time filmmakers as Guillermo del Toro discusses this early Hitchcock classic.  If you’ve ever owned some of Hithcock’s British films pre-America, you’ll know how rough of shape they are in.  Criterion has used their mastery as they did on The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes prior, to breathe a whole new life into this one.  I really hope they someday get around to releasing his other 3 British spy movies, although putting out Foreign Correspondent next year is no slouch!

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Brandon 5 Lifeforce5. Lifeforce (Collector’s Edition) – Tobe Hooper’s underrated space vampire opus finally is getting the love and recognition it’s been lacking for many years.  This disc provides fans finally with the original cut of the film, fixing a lot of pacing and story issues many had before.  The transfer on it is outstanding, who thought Mathilda May could look any more ravishing than she already did.  The bonus materials also delve into plenty of key interviews, 2 commentaries and a really good stills gallery.  I just love how much time and effort are put into these, when you know the respective studio that held main licensing rights would have just said “Life-what?”, looked at its box office take in 1985 and bare bones’d it.

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Brandon 4 Phantasm II4. Phantasm II (Collector’s Edition) – The ball is definitely back here.  This film was legendary for it taking forever to get to DVD due to some rights issues.  Oddly, it got to Blu-ray pretty quick and now, in an ironic role reversal, is the only film in this series on the format currently (c’mon Anchor Bay, get in gear).  Cliff MacMillon over at Shout! Factory is on record saying this is one of his favorites, and that love can be totally seen throughout this disc.  Aside from a great presentation, you get a mini doc, deleted scenes, lengthy workprint footage, an effects featurette a commentary and trailers for the whole series (featuring one of my favorite trailer voice artists).  If Anchor Bay is going to just sit on the rest of this classic series, that’s a damn shame.  License it out to someone who wants the fans to have it and have it done well.  This is the type of release every fan wants to have of their favorite movies.  This, among other Shout!/Scream Factory, Criterion, Synapse and other more independent distributors should be the standard for releasing catalogue material that has at least a cult fanbase.

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Brandon 3 Devil's Backbone3. The Devil’s Backbone (Criterion Collection) – As I just said, hello Criterion.  This is the pinnacle release of a classic Guillermo del Toro title.  Their release of Cronos (awesome in its own right) now pales in comparison to Devil’s Backbone.  This is another one of his own versions of Grimm Fairytales.  It’s a ghost story, but that’s just the surface of things.  There’s so much more to it.  As with all GdT titles, he’s overseen the film’s transfer to his perfection.  Accompanying the great performance is a slew of rich bonus content that will leave you full to heart’s content of knowledge and background info regarding the film.  If you’ve never seen this film but like Pan’s Labyrinth, just blind buy it, because this disc is quite incredible and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the film.

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Brandon 2 Friday the 13thBrandon 2 Crystal Lake Memories2. Friday The 13th: The Complete Collection/Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History Of Friday The 13thBrian would have had my head had this not made the Top 10 haha.  The full series on Blu-ray has been my #1 wish for a long time and Warner Bros delievered.  While, yes, there was no additional content, they ported over close to 100% of every bonus item from previous releases.  The transfers, which everyone expected to be half-assed, ended up being pretty gorgeous.  You get all 12 films, together in a set for the first time.  Yes, a few of these discs are the same that have been available prior (but you know you were waiting for something like this anyway).  The packaging also was eye-opening as they put it the book-style packaging in a nice big tin.  I know some aren’t a fan of that style, complaining about glue and scratching and that sort of stuff but I’ve never had that issue and I rather like the appearance of it.  I take good care of my Blu-rays, so maybe that’s why I’ve yet to have a concern about it.  To enhance this release, the ultimate bonus feature arrived in the form of a near 8 hour documentary called Crystal Lake Memories from the folks who did Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy.  This is the movie form of the book of the same name and boy is it a treat for hardcore fans and is the “new” bonus feature for the people complaining that there wasn’t anything new on the box set.  These two tag teamed up to make for one hell of a Friday the 13th celebration in September!

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Now for #1…

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Drum roll…please…

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Brian…I said…”Drum roll, please!!”

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Okay, Brian said no drum roll, so here we go…

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Brandon 10 John Carpenter

1. John Carpenter Gets Some Love FINALLY – Yes, 6 movies in the number 1 spot that aren’t a part of a box set seems like a cop out.  However, the most notable thing to me in the world of Blu-ray in 2013 was that one of my all-time favorite filmmakers (easily top 3) finally not only had some of his deeper catalogue explored, but had some good love and attention given to it as well.  Scream Factory did 4 of those, including the phenomenal releases of The Fog (which if you forced me to pick just 1 of these it would be #1. So if you’re mad about 6 titles being in the 1 slot, just count The Fog) and Prince Of DarknessThe Fog must be noted that it featured an outstanding interview with Jamie Lee Curtis.  Also, who could forget the rediscovery of Body Bags, which hopefully now is getting some of the acclaim and audience it never found before.  Anchor Bay actually acted like they cared about Halloween in its 2nd Blu release for its 35th Anniversary and gave us a complete release with a stellar transfer overseen by Dean Cundey, making this guy love seeing his favorite film like it was brand new.  The weak link with bonus material is In The Mouth Of Madness, but it’s got a good commentary and the video transfer is stunning (when everyone thought it was possibly going to be pedestrian).  Maybe this will inspire someone to finally put out a great release of Escape From New York next year.  So, go ahead and give me crap for 6 movies in the number 1 spot.  There was a lack of box sets this year, so I kind of made my own.  When I look back at 2013, I’m going to remember my world being rocked by 6 incredible John Carpenter releases.

And that’s my Top 10 Blu-rays for this year.  I’m looking forward to what 2014 has in store as there are a lot of niche releases being unsurfaced and getting some special releases.  I find it fun that after I made my wish list that some have already come to fruition (HELL YES, Ginger Snaps!).

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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).

10 Responses to “Brandon’s Bodacious TOP 10 Blu-rays Of 2013!”


  1. Gerard Iribe

    Glad to see the John Carpenter love, Brandon! You even outdid me! 2013 was definitely JC’s year on Blu-ray. Oh, and you and I also forgot to list CHRISTINE! I actually have that one. Ah, hell.

  2. Brandon Peters

    I didn’t forget it. I refuse to support Twilight Time. That’s why its missing 😉

  3. Sean Ferguson

    It’s nice to see The Wolverine and the Criterions on your list. When did Why So Blu become the John Carpenter fan page? 😉

  4. Brian White

    First off…I LOVE the Pearl Jam graphic! I can’t believe Gregg never thought of using that 🙂

    Second…how dare you list 6 top #1’s. That’s blasphemy! Who the hell do you think you are? Drum roll please Brandon…I don’t care! LOL. Good job! I told you to make this list your own and you did. That’s all I care about. Bravo!

    How are those UV copies on that Jason set? 😉 sorry…u know I have to tease you on the for like forever!

    I still need to pick up Devil’s Backbone one day, but I’m happy to see you gave Pacific Rim and the ultimate Wolverine set some love! I agree with everything you said about The Wolverine Best Buy set!

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    This is a cool list.

    Also, I’ve never seen a Phantasm movie…

  6. Mike

    You nailed it with your #1 pick.

  7. Krishna Jaipersad

    a six-way tie 4 1st place!!!! fantastic & well-deserved!!!! gr8 job, looking 4ward 2 the coming years’ treats on blu-ray!!!! gr8 picks which I should add 2 my collection, s

  8. Gregg Senko

    Sadly, not being much of a horror fan, I’m not familiar with several of the titles on the list. Though I will say, I saw Nosferatu via streaming a couple years ago and was amazed at how good that film was. The fact that it’s made two top 10 lists on here is enough for me to revisit it on Blu-ray. I thought that movie absolutely blew the Bela Lugosi one out of the water.

  9. Aaron Neuwirth

    3 Top Ten Lists 😉

  10. Brandon Peters

    Gregg, you should check out the Spanish version of Legosi’s Dracula. Also a better film.