Quantcast

Double Your Fun With Brandon’s Top 10 + 10 Blu-rays Of 2014!

Brandon Top 20 ThumbIt’s that time of year again where I list my favorite Blu-ray releases of the year.  When I sit down and jot down ones off the top of my head, then look to my collection for reminders and then realize I have WAYYYYY too many on my list.  I then sit and debate and painfully scratch ones I’d like to mention and talk about off my list.  Like the other guys before me, if I don’t own it and also haven’t popped it in to watch it, its not making the list.  Our goal is to narrow it to a Top 10 list, which is very hard considering the amount of releases in the calendar year, but its doable.  But, this year, having reviewed (at the time of writing this piece) 183 Blu-rays and counting this year, I’m going save myself the mental trouble (or take the easy way out) and just get this to a nice 20.  And really, there are a lot of titles worthy of making the lists.   I rather enjoy seeing ones I may not have held as high up on mine or just missing the cut, show up on other writer’s Top 10s.

Reading my reviews and editorial pieces, you know what types of releases I’m super into.  You’ll know I dig a lot of the cult classics, vintage horror stuff and catalog titles important to film history.  And I also like to see how much of a comprehensive look the bonus materials are and how impressive they are for vintage titles.  A lot of it is the ones that “don’t deserve to look and sound this good” and get incredibly rich bonus material treatment.  If I were to describe the year 2014 for Blu-ray, it’d be something along the lines of things that were long thought to NEVER happen, actually HAPPENED.  Movies and TV shows that I, as an “expert” always told the wishers to stop wishing.  No cause, is ever really lost and I suppose I learned to never say never again…unless its to the question of watching the 007 film with that same title.

Anyway, on to my 20 favorite Blu-rays of 2014!

.

.

Death Spa Top 2020. Death Spa (Gorgon Video/MPI Media Group) – When Brian asked me if I wanted this for review, I reverted back to my youth being at Ma and Pa VHS store and told him yes based on the cover art.  Little did I know that I would end up loving this silly little ultra 80s horror/effects film.  The supplemental package doesn’t look long on paper, but it sure is a lot of fun and very introspective on this sleezy exploitation film.  A side note, this film was also the first time I noticed Blu-ray.com either giving me a either friendly wink with their own review or the middle finger because they can screengrab better than I can (It happened on more than one occasion in 2014).

.

.

.

Curtains Top 2019. Curtains (Synapse Films) – Seeing this movie for the first time as intended and in high definition was quite the revelation.  When it comes to video transfers, Synapse Films doesn’t mess around and is likely the kings of the independent distributors when it comes to it.  I highly suggest Liking them on Facebook, as they post images showing their progress in the restoration process (Suspiria is going to knock our socks off and its not even color corrected yet!).  For Curtains they really put together a nice little set of bonus materials to accompany this underseen slasher, which happens to be one of the best of them.

.

.

.

.

Gravity Top 2018. Gravity (Warner Bros) – My favorite film of 2014 not only looked and sounded absolutely incredible on Blu-ray, I think it actually held up and was still very effective in my eyes (I worried that those who didn’t get the full IMAX experience might not “get” what we were raving about).  Interestingly enough, this one came right out of the gates with a fantastic array of extras with it.  With Warner Bros being Warner Bros, you may have thought they were holding out for a rerelease down the road (And they have already very well still may be another at some point), but it was refreshing to see it get the treatment right away.

.

.

.

Sleepaway Camp Top 2017. Sleepaway Camp: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory) – One of my most anticipated titles on Blu-ray for 2014 and it did not disappoint.  Unfortunately it was Justin Beahm’s swan song for working on bonus content, but he went out with plenty of fanfare.  This release not only feature spectacular supplemental interviews and commentaries, but also fan-centric stuff like a short fan film and a music video from one of the film’s stars.  And I know it sounds weird, but this is one I’m thankful for the trailer being included, because its one of my favorites of the 80s slasher era.

.

.

.

Foreign Correspondent Top 2016. Foreign Correspondent (Criterion Collection) – I always look forward to Alfred Hitchock films coming to Blu-ray every year.  Even though there was a massive box set a few years back, there are still A LOT of his films yet to be upgraded.  Criterion’s previous efforts for Hitchcock had been public domain films, but here they produced one that was sublicensed.  And of course it was great.  The one thing that surprised me was the packaging.  It wasn’t the tradition Criterion Case but something that looked like a boxed set.  Criterion did this with many other releases this year, too, but this was the first I had noticed/seen it.

.

.

.

Night Of The Demons Top 2015. Night Of The Demons: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory) – What a blast I had going back to this and Witchboard when they came out last February.  While this one makes the list (EASILY), I do recommend you check out Witchboard as the bonus material sort of compliments each other.  Not only did Night Of The Demons look and sound great, but the bonus material here was a joy to go through.  There’s a great history of the production documented and director Kevin Tenney has really opened up his vault of all his stuff he had from making this movie.  I thought for sure this would be a Top 10 by the year’s end, but we still had 2 months to go!

.

.

.

A Hard Day's Night Top 2014. A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection) – As a Beatles lover, yes, it seems easy to include this here.  However, Criterion’s transfer and audio on this one are pretty eye-opening.  The supplemental material provided, including a nice thick booklet, really chronicle The Beatles through to this era quite extensively and well.  But, what they don’t seem to forget is filmmaker Richard Lester.  There are a nice couple videos and the like here that help paint a picture of who he was as an artist as well.

.

.

.

.

Hannibal Season Two Top 2013. Hannibal: Season Two (Lionsgate) – There are no ifs ands or buts about it, Hannibal is the best thing airing on network television these days.  How in the world they get away with what they get away with is astounding.  Its one of the most well thought out, cautiously thought over, and expertly executed shows on television in general too.  Season Two winds up topping the superb first season by continuing to push these boundaries and then also playing with the characters and formulas from the Thomas Harris novels.  And surprisingly, not in any sort of distasteful ways.  This Blu-ray offers some terrific introspective on the show from disc to disc, providing at least one commentary for each episode.  I cannot wait for Season Three to begin!

.

.

Pee-Wee's Playhouse Top 2012. Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory) – This one came in a nice hard case to stuff its two Blu-ray cases in, a very nice change from studios who use paper thin cardboard boxes.  Shout!’s presentation of this timeless show is something of a marvel.  The bonus material that covers this throughout the discs is an incredible insightful look back at the production of the show and stands as possibly one of the best looks back at any show in general.  The one bummer is the lack of Paul Reubens in the interviews, but its still pretty great in his absence.

.

.

.

House On Sorority Row Top 2011. The House On Sorority Row (Scorpion Releasing) – Another favorite 80s slasher brought to greatness by Blu-ray.  I wasn’t too familiar with Scorpion Releasing until this past year until they released this title (Fun fact: Kino Lorber has been releasing a lot of their titles this year, like The First Power, for them as well).  Well, they scored quite a homerun with me on this one and I started paying the closest of attention to them.  Not only does the film look and sound better than it has any right doing, Scorpion released it as a 2 disc set absolutely loaded with interviews.  And c’mon, who couldn’t wait to see this line in full 1080p glory?

.

.

.

.

Okay, now, get up, stretch your legs, grab a drink of water and then scroll down for the Top 10 portion of my list!

Prom Night Top 20

Prom Night: Special Edition (Synapse Films) – Honestly, I was never a big Prom Night fan.  Its always been my least fave of Jamie Lee Curtis’ Scream Queen efforts.  The film has always been highly regarded and considered a classic.  Whenever I had seen it, I’d get a little bored and the movie was always so damn dark you couldn’t see a thing.  When Synapse announced it, I knew I’d be getting it because I collect slasher films of that era.  I must give it to them though, HOLY CRAP what a great job they did with this.  When I watched this, it was the most enjoyable Prom Night had ever been!  I could freakin’ SEE everything and the film looked really cool.  The killer had his intended sparkle look to the mask even.  This release also has a sort of energy to it, starting with the blaring disco dancing main menu, through to the great interviews and retrospective pieces included.  I never imagined the disco slasher film would make a top 10 list of my anything, but here it is, and I gotta hand it to Synapse Films on a job WELL WELL DONE!

Pumpkinhead Top 20

Pumpkinhead: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory) – Scream Factory keeps popping up on my list and I don’t hide the fact that I love their product at all.  Benefiting them as well, it just so happened that Scream Factory wound up doing a boatload of some of my favorite old 80s horror movies this year.  Toss in that they do great transfers and mindblowing work with bonus material and its easy to see how they dominate.  Pumpkinhead’s release not only gave this underrated monster movie (One of the last truly practical ones) its due, bringing back Lance Henriksen and many involved, but it also gave us a 50 minute tribute to the life and career of Stan Winston.

Mr Smith Top 20

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington: 75th Anniversary Edition (Sony) – Gosh, this one looks like an odd duck among this top 10, but it deserves to be here completely.  I just reviewed it recently, but am still in awe of what they put together here.  Not only does the film look and sound the best it ever has, but the bonus materials not only paint this production’s portrait so well, it also gives us a complete look at the life of its creator as well as a good feel for its place in 1930s cinema and the effect that era had.

Phantom Of The Paradise Top 20

Phantom Of The Paradise: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory) – This is a crazy little movie that I think more people need to go back and revisit.  Its early DePalma and a crazy rock-horror musical.  Scream has made this look and sound fantastic on Blu-ray.  In what appears to be a first, the bonus features were so overloaded that they had to flood many of them over to the DVD disc that came with this edition just to fit it all in one release.  So for the first time Scream Factory fans…you had to pop in that DVD that normally just serves as a placeholder in these releases.  I have no experience with the foreign release of this film, but I have read in multiple places that Scream Factory’s transfer is more satisfactory for the fans of the film.

Eraserhead Top 20

Eraserhead (Criterion Collection) – David Lynch’s feature film debut looks incredible on Blu-ray, it even comes with a calibration feature to get your TV set to the director’s liking.  Not only do you get a great booklet and some great interviews about Eraserhead (Lynch himself included), but there are a set of Lynch’s early short films that have been included here.  Some of them aren’t much, but having these in your Lynch collection is somewhat of a necessity.  This is a nice thick release and suits the film well.  Best of all, to this day, nobody is quite certain what this film is about, and Lynch says he’s read a lot of great interpretations, but none he’s found have matched his or his intention.  Check out this Blu-ray and find your own!

Ginger Snaps Top 20

Ginger Snaps: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory) – A title from my first wishlist, I was ecstatic that it not only came to Blu-ray, but it was Scream Factory at the helm.  And, wow, did this turn out to be one of their best titles they ever put out.  Short of a new Katharine Isabelle retrospective interview, this thing has EVERY and anything thing ever even thought about for my favorite werewolf movie ever made.   Its a job damn well done by the masters of catalog horror and Ginger Snaps was one of their absolute best efforts.  Now if only we could get Ginger Snaps 2 to have a US release (There is a Region Free Taiwan disc available bare bones).

Nightbreed Top 20

Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut LIMITED EDITION (Scream Factory) – Not only do we get the definitive cut of this cult classic Clive Barker movie, but it was made for this release.  There’s a ton of bonus material on here too, giving the full scope of the film.  There are really candid moments, like dailies and stuff that really peaked my interest watching.  It comes complete with a nice thick color book with essays and a hard case just like Pee-Wee came in.  They announced this film last year at SDCC and it took awhile for Scream Factory to get it out, but they wanted to be patient and get it done right.  Surprising us all was this version of it that came with the Theatrical Cut, which means Warner Bros signed off on it.  It was a job WELL done as they knocked this one completely out of the park.

Twin Peaks Top 20

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery (Paramount) – Maybe a controversial choice because of some reported sync issues, and I’m not here to tell you they aren’t present because I noticed a couple situations.  They were brief and really didn’t entirely distract me from viewing (And I don’t think the common buyer is going to notice them until its already lined up and corrected itself).  Also, when it comes to things like sync issues, they usually come when the disc is pressed and really isn’t to behest of the studio (In testing, it could very well have been fine).  What you can’t deny is how massive and incredible this box set is.  The packaging for it is outstanding, and it comes with every little nip and bit of Twin Peaks you could soak up.  It also contains an hour and a half of deleted and extended scenes from Fire Walk With Me.  The episodes have incredible video quality and a 7.1 mix to accompany them.  Everything about this box set SCREAMS that they were all in and for the fans on this.  Anyone who really thinks this is a poor set is probably never going to be happy with anything.

Halloween Top 20

Halloween: The Complete Collection LIMITED DELUXE EDITION (Anchor Bay/Scream Factory) – For as long as I can remember, when my friends all tell me they are hoping for a Halloween box set, I tell them fat chance and “never gonna happen”.  This year I’ve been happily proven a liar and full of shit as this extremely outstanding achievement in licensing rights and such came to fruition.  Here we are with pretty much the definitive collection here.  They could have just whipped it together and called it a day, but no, this set went above and beyond.  We were given Collector’s Editions of Halloween: H20 and Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers which is something those two titles had been lacking even though they had the possibility of rich production stories to share.  The biggie though, was that the Producer’s Cut of Curse was finally unleashed and no longer in a crummy VHS bootleg after bootleg quality.  They didn’t stop there though, Scream Factory went back and retroactively Scream Factory’d Halloween 4 & 5 with terrific retrospective documentaries.  The packaging is great too as I love the black cases with the theatrical posters for each movie.  They TRULY know and appreciate collectors by doing this.  Yes, I know the Creed fans are upset the “What’s This Life For?” music video surprisingly didn’t make it, and suddenly now people love Rob Zombie’s films since they’re peeved the Theatrical Cuts of those weren’t included.  Like Twin Peaks, this comprehensive and definitive complete box set is proof that you’ll never really make everybody happy.  Personally, my hat is off and I’m ecstatic and extremely satisfied.  But, sadly, now I have no idea aside from a Paul Rudd retrospective interview what it is I have to look forward to from Halloween rereleases from here out?  We kind of have everything now.

Batman Top 20

Batman: The Complete Series LIMITED EDITION (Warner Bros) – In another instance of “never going to happen” somehow Warner Bros came to an agreement with Fox to put this out.  This is the Holy Grail of every home video collector.  Back in the day, it was one of the shows I had every episode of taped off of reruns (Other shows I did this with back in the day were Get Smart and Seinfeld).  When DVD came, we all wanted it so badly, but neigh.  Then we learned the rights issue of Fox owning the series but Warner owning everything Batman.  Then last year there was word that SOMETHING was going to happen.  And then this set go announced and HOLY #1 RELEASE OF THE YEAR BATMAN!  The moment this was announced I knew it’d be #1, the moment I opened the package on release day I knew it would be #1, the second I saw the video transfer and went through the episodes I confirmed it was INDEED #1.  Like I was quoted in Gerard’s Top 10, these look almost as good of quality as Mad Men episodes.  Sure, the sound is mono Dolby Digital, but it actually sounds pretty damn good.  And that measure was taken to keep the amount of discs in the set down.  The set itself is great as its got a magnetic open/close as well as a button on the side to push that plays the theme song (And I wish my son wouldn’t have discovered it).  Inside there’s a replica car, an Adam West scrapbook, a really nice episode guide and really nicely crafted cases featuring 60’s esque photographs of promotional shots (And yes, Season 2’s pic of Julie Newmar is my favorite!).  This is a pricey release, but it is worth every single penny you put in on it.  This is the ultimate release and the ultimate holiday gift for this season as well.  Warner Bros, I give you a lot of flack for stuff you’re not releasing and doing multiple rereleases of generic titles, but MAN…its all forgotten when this is in my hands.  FANTASTIC!

Honorable Mentions: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Fox), Sorcerer (WB), Vincent Price Collection Vol II (Scream Factory), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Criterion), Star Trek: The Next Generation Seasons 6 & 7 (Paramount), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Edition 4-Disc (Dark Sky Films), Savage Streets (CodeRed), The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (Kino Lorber)

Thank you everyone for reading this scrub’s Top 20 Blu-rays of 2014.  You can purchase any of these titles by clicking the links below!  What are some of the titles you’re looking forward to in 2015?  Suspiria and Popcorn are at the top of my list so far.

Share

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).

4 Responses to “Double Your Fun With Brandon’s Top 10 + 10 Blu-rays Of 2014!”


  1. Brian White

    I kind of figured I knew you’re number one, but holy hell excited to see Death Spa in here as well as love for Pee Wee’s Playhouse which I just have to revisit one day. Make no doubt about it you are the right man for the job when it comes to Scream Factory. And quite honestly, this is an impressive looking post, especially the way you count down your choices. Very awesome! Kind of surprised TCM didn’t make the final cut 🙂 Damn sync issues with Twin Peaks. Argh. Had the same thing with Horns this week.

  2. Brandon Peters

    What it came down to with TCM was because it was pretty much the same release they’ve had out before (which is identical to their DVD release from many years back), basically with the new transfer being the only feature (which is gorgeous btw). I decided to highlight it in the honorable mentions and let some others have the spotlight. Aaron had it in his, so that made me happy.

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Great list!

    TCM – I dunno, 2 brand new commentary tracks, a few new featurettes, and yeah the brand new transfer and 7.1 soundtrack – Seems pretty new and amazing to me.

  4. Dan

    While the transfer looks amazing, “Curtains” is a terrible movie. For years, I’ve heard about it and how it was a lost gem from the glory days of slasher films. So when Synapse announced it, I decided to do a blind buy. Sadly, the film lacks a cohesive story and any characters that you could sympathize with. There are huge gaps in logic, elements that have no meaning (that doll in the road for instance), and an ending that made no sense at all. The only part of the release I liked was the documentary about the troubled production of the film. “Curtains” is proof that it is possible to polish a turd.