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Brandon’s Blu-ray Wishlist ALL-STARS!

It’s been 8 years since I published my first Blu-ray Wishlist article during my first year writing here at Why So Blu.  In 2013, I decided to take something always on my brain and put it to text. From DVD to Blu-ray, late in their life, I have always been curious on just what films haven’t made the jump to the format. Not every theatrical film made it to VHS, BetaMax or CED. Even less made it to Laserdisc. And not every film on VHS made it to DVD. And it only continues to shrink from there. As many a cool release or double dip upgrade comes out on a title we love, so many are still missing. So many fans of those films continually waiting for a picture improvement from whatever format they currently cling to. The purpose for it was to have fun and see what other people would be wanting or bring to my attention that I hadn’t realized was missing. I even had too big of eyes and attempted it as a weekly series in 2014, but quickly realized I’m probably better suited for it as an annual piece. At the end of the day, it created an awareness and sometimes the distributors did indeed take note. Shout! Factory once responded to one of Twitter that they had attempted one of the titles I listed but were not successful.

Some of my wildest, most far fetched ideas have come to fruition too. I still can’t believe I own Deadly Prey on Blu-ray and both Scanner Cop films on freakin’ 4K Ultra-HD. Yet, here we are in 2021 and still no Blu-ray for True Lies (or The Abyss). Sure, there are bootlegs out there, but I want the real deal. The success rate of the Wishlist has been pretty solid, coming in at 62%. In a general sense, 83 of the 133 titles of the 8 years of doing this have found a release on Blu-ray somewhere in the world. And of the original list, 12 of the 14 are on Blu-ray. So, 50 Wishlist titles are still awaiting their day in the Blu-ray spotlight. And if for some reason you are spot checking and think I’m off…there’s are a few titles that I am aware of that are currently in production or on their way down the road and have not been announced or even leaked yet.

For this year’s Wishlist, I’d like to go back tot he previous 8 years and the weekly series from 2014 (In which EVERY one of the Double Feature Month titles are on Blu-ray now) and pluck out the 10 titles from it that are still not on Blu-ray that I’d love to have most. A second plea for some distributor to take a chance or finally get to it in the catalog. The Blu-ray Wishlist All-Stars as I’m calling them! And here they are, in alphabetical order –

Captain Blood (1935)

In the category of “Any Day Now”, Captain Blood has to be at the top of the list. It seems with quite regularity, Warner Archive Collection is putting out Errol Flynn and Michael Curtiz collaborations, but not the one that was the big break out. While Flynn played a non-speaking part in another Curtiz production, Captain Blood was the real launching pad (And his first lead role). It also marked the first of many collaborations as an onscreen duo with co-star Olivia de Havilland for Flynn. In the era of the swashbuckler, Captain Blood stands tall above its contemporaries thanks to Curtiz’s superb direction (Which nabbed him a boatload of Oscar write in votes for Best Director that year) and Flynn’s performance. This one deserves the kind of treatment that The Curse of Frankenstein received last year, but at this point I’m sure we’d settle for just getting the movie on Blu-ray with any archival featurettes that still exist.

Free Enterprise (1998)

Very simply, the premise is “What if Swingers was done with Trekkies?”. But the film rather has its own character and objectives despite trying to following the life of some nerds trying to make it in Los Angeles in the film industry. The film features a hilarious turn by Shatner who has no problem shedding ego and having some fun with his image. Will & Grace‘s Erick McCormack is probably the face you’ll recognize in the film (But if you’re cool you’ll notice Phil LaMarr). A fun factoid on this one is that it was produced by Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers heroin Rachel Corruthers, Ellie Cornell (who also cameos). Free Enterprise‘s last distributor was Starz/Anchor Bay back in 2006, but who knows if they still hold those rights anymore. There’s already good bonus content for the film, so all it really needs is a home and a new transfer for Blu-ray.

Gunga Din (1939)

Another candidate for Warner Archive Collection, coming from the fabled Hollywood year of 1939. Gunga Din has all the selling points to offer a blind buy for a collector that you could ask for and then some. Its got a big name director in George Stevens (Shane, Giant, A Place in the Sun) and some of the biggest stars of all time in Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The film is also one of the biggest commodities in the classic adventure movies you could possibly ask for. Then there’s also that little bit of tie in to the canon of Indiana Jones by way of its mention as having happened in The Temple of Doom. We do need to acknowledge some of the Hollywood practices in play when making this film that surely make it a product of its era, but could be a good point of crafting a new bonus featurette or commentary track around as well.

Hello Mary Lou, Prom Night II (1987)

Prom Night‘s sequel has got to be a white whale for many of the cult horror label distributors. Equally, the film is in quite popular demand from Blu-ray collectors and horror fans alike. Despite boasting Jamie Lee Curtis and a groovy score of disco hit knock offs, Hello Mary Lou is seen as a vastly superior film to its predecessor. The film largely does its own thing while using a more Easter Egg-like continuity to tie it in. While the first film was shadowing Halloween, Mary Lou dips its and in the A Nightmare On Elm Street mold. And it manages to best even that series in many areas. This film really does have everything you’d like in 80s horror, offering up a nightmare aesthetic, practical effects and gore, weird and wacky scenes/exchange, and also some genuinely spooky stuff.  MGM has this film, but their rights can tend to be flimsy and not as easy to deal out as it may seem. I’m aware many distributors have tried and not been. Just know whenever it does happen, whoever did it pulled off a big feat!

Mute Witness (1995)

I’ve preached many of times that while it doesn’t quite stick the landing, Mute Witness is a hell of a ride. Perhaps one of the most suspenseful films of the entire decade. It has a dynamite opening act that draws as a hook to really carry the entire film. It does have the final feature film performance of the great Alec Guiness, even though he never really knew he was in the movie, having just shot a random scene as a favor, I believe the story goes. There’s not much else of anybody in front of or behind the scenes to see getting their launching pad. However, the film is a very underseen thriller and would probably lavish in a nice rediscovery by the horror crowd. Rights for the film last sat over in the Sony/Columbia bin, so who knows if they have any interest. But, they do license out to other distributors so perhaps someone has their eye on it.

Nick of Time (1995)

Here is one of the two relics of my original wishlist. The penultimate (so far) feature film from the great John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, War Games, 1979’s Dracula) is a race against the clock thriller that pits Johnny Depp and against Christopher Walken. Being this is from 1995, it features both performers before one skyrocketed to superstardom playing costumed characters and the other embraced the side of his parody. Its quite interesting to see Depp in just a regular joe/everyman role and he’s quite solid at it. This movie has a terrific hook and is almost Johnny Depp’s own low-key Die Hard. The film resides in the Paramount catalog and would be great to have in the Paramount Presents line with a filmmaker focus having Badham go over it along with any other new featurettes that are around. Heck, it’d even be just fine as a regular film-only discount one they’ve been putting out as well lately.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)

I wonder if Warner Archive Collection’s ears are bleeding yet? Sam Peckinpah, one of the great filmmakers of the Western genre and one of his most notable films of said genre (and in general) that is skirted off in the outliers currently. There’s been a big hope in the collecting circles that this one could be coming at any month’s announcements now, but that’s been going on for a few years. The film warranted a 2-Disc DVD set back 2006, so they have material to port over to Blu-ray. With a good restoration, this could make for a beautiful release. While this one might fall more into the cult film territory for the Peckinpah catalog, the James Coburn/Kris Kristofferson film is definitely in demand for the collectors. Hey, it even has the feature film debut for the one and only Bob Dylan, who also did “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” for the film.

Private Benjamin (1980)

One last time for Warner Archive Collection here. One of Goldie Hawn’s seminal films and an important one for the 1980s. The screenwriting debut of one Nancy Meyers as well. The military comedy beat Stripes to the punch and was a nice piece of progressing women in feature films. Its acclaim and popularity even found it being turned into a television series shortly after that ran for three seasons. The film has never been seen in its proper framing on home video as its DVD was even 4×3 pan and scan. Here’s one I hope gets the nod every month that WAC makes their announcements, as it’d be nice to see in pristine high definition, but alas, its time has not yet come.

Red Eye (2005)

Wes Craven’s commercial flight thriller starring Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy is one of the best of his twilight period and oddly missed the Blu-ray boat somehow. Coming in right at the advent of the format, you’d think it may have made the jump right away but it was left in the dust.  It was a Dreamworks film and released originally when they had their own label. It would appear that the film has since landed its home video distribution rights over at Paramount. It features plenty of bonus materials a fantastic commentary from Wes Craven that is just as fun to listen to as it is to watch the film. This film should really be regarded a lot higher in his esteemed catalog and a rediscovery via a Paramount Presents Blu-ray could do just that.

Series 7

We end this list on one of the 2 remaining titles from the original list. Its possible this was shot with a lot of SD cameras, but upscaling to HD could still improve its appearance and a higher bitrate to play at never hurt anyone. Series 7 is potentially as relevant today as it was when it came out. As much enjoyable as it is a satire, the film has a surface level enjoyment to it as well in terms of watching a “who’s gonna get knocked off next and who will be remaining?” thriller. Which, admittedly, is something the film is trying to comment on. Brooke Smith, whom you’ve probably seen in many things (Silence of the Lambs, Weeds, Bates Motel, Ray Donovan, Grey’s Anatomy) gets a starring vehicle here and absolutely crushes it. You’ll also notice a very young Merritt Wever in one of her earliest roles. The film is written and directed by Daniel Minahan who has since gone to a prolific career in premium television with the likes of Game of Thrones, The L Word, Big Love, Deadwood (including the 2019 movie), True Blood and a lot more. It was put on DVD by USA Films back in 2001, so who knows where those rights currently reside, but it would be nice to have this film make a comeback on Blu-ray whenever that could happen!

And that Wraps us up for 2021 heading into 2022. I have a lot of fun with this list every year. And this year was great getting to go back and see how far this has come since it started back in 2013. It was great to re-visit and re-wish for these 10 titles as well. There are also so many different avenues these could release now and certainly a different mentality from some of the studios, too. When many of these were first written up, Warner and Paramount weren’t sublicensing, and Paramount’s catalog was collecting dust. Now Warner seems to hit a sweet spot more often with WAC and lends things out to Arrow, Criterion and Shout! Factory. Paramount has fully rejuvenated through Paramount Presents as well as their budget friendly catalog releases. Here’s hoping that these are announced and available sooner rather than later. I sincerely believe these all have a market for both collectors and for discovery or re-discovery of the films. What films are you still holding out for? What ones would you like better editions of? Let me know below. As always, I appreciate your time today and over the years reading these on Why So Blu.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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