Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Ten Home Video Releases of the Decade

I have been a home video enthusiast since DVD started (yeah, I know, old but not that old). I still remember the first edition of Stargate my family owned. It had the movie on two sides of the same disc and as far as I can remember it had no special features. This list is my personal selection for the last 10 years. Lots of ground to cover, so let's get to it. Oh and these are in no particular order.

10. Monster Squad: 2-Disc 20th Anniversary Edition (Lions Gate)
This film has so much sentimental value that it gives me a warm feeling in my heart. If you were a kid in the 80's you most likely saw this awesome film. Besides the first few minutes which are cringe worthy for its vulgarity, this film is one of my favorite kids films. It has action, drama and explosions. Which by the way only two of those things kids require for entertainment and drama isn't usually on their list. The Monster Squad never talks down to kids and never assumes they are stupid like most kids films of the last 20 years and lets face it, that Wolf Man is pretty damn awesome. Frankenstein's Monster looks pretty cool and the Mummy too. Only Dracula leaves something to be desired. Not really charismatic and not really very cool but as a kid you hardly notice.

9. Duck, You Sucker! aka Fist Full of Dynamite: 2-Disc Special Edition (MGM)
Almost 40 years after it was released Duck, you Sucker! makes it onto dvd. 2007's release was one of the finest released from a major studio. Fully restored with many scenes that had never been seen in the US and an awesome commentary to boot. Rod Steiger is masterful in this film. He sells the character perfectly. The transfer is beautiful. The first time I heard of this film was on the internet. I blind bought it and it is now one of my top five films of all time. A shame Leone stopped doing films, I think he could have made so many more great films. This movie shows that he can put drama into anything and not make it melodrama like so many westerns do.

8. Gojira: Deluxe 2-Disc (Classics Media)
Finally, I can throw away my shitty full screen copy of this film and bask in the wonder that is the original 1954 movie. Which I saw for the first time on this release on a projector with amazing surround sound in my previous abode. This disc is a must own for anybody who ever loved Godzilla. I have friends who own only 20 DVDs and this is always among them. Ishiro Honda would have been proud to see this release and to see how much is film is loved the world over. The Raymond Burr version is a great film, but the original is masterful and is one of the greatest film to have ever been made. Oh and it was released on September 5th 2006, my birthday.
7. Breathless (Criterion)
Criterion makes yet another amazing release in a series of amazing releases. Aside from a few mistakes (i.e. Time Bandits) Criterion is knocking them out of the park with almost every release. This release is one of their all time best. The print looks great and the extra features are astounding. So much to pack into one release. It took me the better part of a year to finally buy this film but it was totally worth it. Worth every penny of it's $39.99 price tag (of course I didn't pay that much, I am too cheap).

6. Alan Clarke Collection (Blue Underground)
Alan Clarke is one of the greatest British directors ever. His camera movement is rivaled by none and his ability to piss off those who need pissing off was similar. His work has inspired so many directors and some have no idea. The film The Firm is one of my favorite pieces of film. Blue Underground released this fantastic box set with Elephant, The Firm, Made in Britain and two versions of his film Scum. Made in the UK has Tim Roth, The Firm has Gary Oldman and Scum has Ray Winstone. This collection is a great selection of the directors body of work.

5. Peckinpah Restorations (Criterion, MGM)
This has been the decade of Peckinpah. With the release of Straw Dogs, Major Dundee, Pat Garret and Billy the Kid, The Getaway, and The Wild Bunch, Peckinpah has been on fire. Well except the part where he has been dead since 1984, that part he hasn't done so well with. All of those films have been fully restored or reconstructed but of all of those films I have a personal love for The Ballad of Cable Hogue. A film about a man fighting the rise of technology in the last of the frontier and then his eventual acceptance and destruction by that technology is an amazing film. One of my favorites for sure.

4. White Dog (Criterion)
I had just finished reading about this in Samuel Fuller's autobiography A Third Face when this film got released. It took 20+ years but it has finally seen the light of day (no thanks to the NAACP). Criterion does it again with a beautiful print and a smattering of special features. This film was buried by it's original studio because of pressure from the NAACP, who claimed it would promote racists to make white dogs (Riiiight), dogs trained to kill anyone not white. The film is clearly against racism, but ok, I'll roll with it. Great film, not Fuller's Masterpiece, but a great film nonetheless.

3. Dawn of the Dead: Ultimate Edition (Anchor Bay)
The last of the really great DVDs from Anchor Bay. After a strong start with their releases of classic horror films, their release of the Evil Dead series in versions that can't be topped and this beautiful release, they went downhill with really bad direct to video crap. Oh how the mighty have fallen. This release of George Romero's masterpiece is one of the greatest home video presentations ever. This release has 3 versions of the film and a special features list that is as long as my arm. Any horror fan worth a grain of salt will own this version of the film and I'm not just saying that because I own it, it's because it is true.

2. Sin City: Unrated 2-Disc Special Edition
The film may not be good by some people's critisim but they do agree that the film is presented in a magnificent way. All three threads are shown in their completeness as a single story. Awesome behind the scenes special features. Of course Rodriguez's 10 minute cooking school. A fantastic commentary fills out the extras. And to top it all off, one of the best physical representations ever, including the original graphic novel.

1. Lord of the Rings: Extended Editions
Possibly the greatest DVD set to ever be released. It's extras are so vast that even 10 years later this blogger has yet to finish watching them. Each film is expanded to the extreme. Every deatail is explained and explored. The commentaries are some of the most entertaining put down. This presentation will be hard to top for years to come.

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