Monday, January 28, 2019

10 Movies I Need on Blu-ray

by Patrick Bromley
It hurts not to have these on the shelf.

As movie fans, we are often talking about how we are living in a Golden Age of home media, with so many obscure and cult movies getting gorgeous special edition Blu-ray releases courtesy of companies like Arrow, Vinegar Syndrome, Twilight Time, Scream Factory, Classic Flix, Kino Lorber...the list goes on. Several movies I love have recently had Blu-ray releases announced, including Vice Squad (previously near the top of my "needs a Blu-ray" list), NemesisThe Black Cat (1934), and, most importantly, Kuffs. But there are still so many titles that remain unavailable -- many of them even on DVD. What gives?

JB made his own lists last year; you can find those here and here.

While there are obviously many more than 10 movies I want released on Blu-ray, here are just some of the titles I wish I could add to our collection:

1. Extreme Prejudice (1987, dir. Walter Hill)
This is the movie I want on Blu-ray more than any other. My full-frame Artisan DVD looks like it was taken from a VHS source, and though there was a R2 Arrow Blu at some point, I can't find any copies in circulation at this point. A Japanese disc does exist, but I'm really just hoping Shout! Select can get their hands on this one and put out a nice special edition of the best Sam Peckinpah movie Sam Peckinpah never made, with one of the all-time great tough guy casts. Erika and I have been going through Walter Hill's entire filmography lately and it bums me out to have to introduce her to this movie by way of that shitty DVD. If not for Streets of Fire, this would be my favorite Walter Hill movie.

2. Martin (1978, dir. George A. Romero)
One of George A. Romero's best (and most underrated) movies is tied up in the same rights nonsense as Dawn of the Dead, meaning we haven't gotten a Blu-ray or even a second pressing of the long-out-of-print DVD. John Amplas plays a young man who believes himself to be a vampire, with Romero remaining ambiguous throughout as to what's actually happening. A Japanese Blu-ray has recently become available, but it runs over $50 and sells out every time new stock is released. The fact that UK label Second Sight has just announced a Blu of Dawn of the Dead gives me hope that producer Richard Rubenstein is loosening his stranglehold on both it and Martin. Maybe this will be the year.

3. The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982, dir. Albert Pyun)
Albert Pyun is another filmmaker whose work has slowly been eeking out onto Blu-ray courtesy of labels like Scream Factory and MVD, who in the last few months alone have released three of his films. For whatever reason, his first and possibly best feature has been out of print on DVD and still remains unavailable on Blu-ray. Made during a time when a Rated R fantasy film was actually a viable box office proposition, The Sword and the Sorcerer remains his most financially successful film and feels like one of the few times he was actually given the resources to execute his vision, even if the movie was still a low budget effort. It's dark and violent and weird and I love it and for the life of me I don't understand why I don't have a decent version to watch as often as I want.

4. Four of the Apocalypse (1975, dir. Lucio Fulci)
In the last few years, Lucio Fulci fans have been spoiled with both first-time releases and restorations of his work on Blu-ray, including Murderock: Dancing Death, Don't Torture a Duckling, The PsychicPerversion Story, Manhattan Baby, and new 4K scans of both Zombie and City of the Living Dead. His non-horror output hasn't received the same amount of love, though, meaning we still don't have HD releases of stuff like Conquest or Contraband or The Silver Saddle or, most importantly, Four of the Apocalypse, his 1975 western and one of my favorites of his films, horror or otherwise. Violent, mean, and nasty, this one needs an upgrade just so it can find its long-overdue reappraisal and celebration.

5. Wuthering Heights (1939, dir. William Wyler)
I'll be honest: I still haven't seen this movie. But it's one of Erika's favorites since she was a kid, and we've now had it recorded off of TCM on several different DVRs, only to have them die and take Wuthering Heights with them. It's sitting on our current DVR right now, still unwatched, causing me to live in fear every day that its existence there is a curse. Having a Blu-ray on our shelf would really take the pressure off.

6. Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993, dir. Brian Yuzna, Christophe Gans, Shûsuke Kaneko)
This insane anthology based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft (played by Jeffrey Combs in the movie's wraparound story) is one of the more underrated efforts of the 1990s, a decade not known for producing a lot of great horror films. Because it's a Brian Yuzna production (he directed some of it too), it's full of amazing, gooey, borderline surrealist makeup and creature effects courtesy of Screaming Mad George, John Carl Buechler, and others. High def might be slightly less forgiving of those effects, but I couldn't care less -- this is a grotesquely beautiful movie that ought to be enjoyed in the best possible presentation. I'm not sure this ever even made it past VHS. I think there's a Blu-ray release in France, but nothing for the US yet. With so many boutique horror labels doing such great work these days, it would be a shame for none of them to scoop this one up.

7. The Abyss (1989, dir. James Cameron)
This is a no-brainer, and probably among the most requested of all titles for a Blu-ray release. It's incomprehensible that a filmmaker as technically accomplished and demanding as James Cameron would have such massive holes in filmography when it comes to Blu-ray; both this and True Lies have never even made it past the non-anamorphic DVD stage. The movie turns 30 this year, so there's no better time for an HD debut than its 30th anniversary. Also, we are old.

8. Femme Fatale (2002, dir. Brian De Palma)
I'm realizing that a lot of this list is made up of movies from my favorite directors: Walter Hill, Lucio Fulci, George Romero, Albert Pyun. Well, add Brian De Palma to that list. My favorite De Palma film since the heyday of his early '80s thrillers, Femme Fatale is everything anyone could want out of a movie: thrilling, suspenseful, confident, funny, sexy, violent, brilliantly constructed. It's De Palma's victory lap. It's a Warner title, so maybe Warner Archive can step up and make it happen.

9. Trouble in Paradise (1932, dir. Ernst Lubitsch)
To my great shame, I only just saw this Ernst Lubitsch classic for the first time about a month ago. Erika and I have been watching a ton of older films on Blu-ray and recorded off Turner Classic Movies in the hopes of filling in a bunch of gaps, and this one quickly rose to the tops of both of our lists. It's so smart and sophisticated and light and funny. Criterion put this out on DVD back in 2003; where is the Blu-ray already?

10. Dead Presidents (1995, dir. Allan & Albert Hughes)
My non-anamorphic Disney DVD of this Hughes brothers blaxploitation crime film needs to be retired. Though they have subsequently revealed themselves to be great lovers of genre film (with titles like From Hell and The Book of Eli to their credit), Dead Presidents was kind of swerve for the Hughes brothers when it was first released, having broken out and caught attention with their debut film Menace II Society. Like so many young black filmmakers in the '90s, they were pegged as important documentarians of the "urban" experience; instead, they just wanted to make cool action and horror movies. Dead Presidents remains my favorite of all their films, smuggling some '70s-era (era) social commentary into a cool heist movie. It's another one I feel would have a larger audience if it were treated better on home video.


  1. The Abyss, i think they did the same with the dvd back in the days. They kept us waiting for a long while, and finally they released a great Special Edition. Somehow, i don't see it happening this time

    Hurray for Kuffs, can't wait for the release

    1. I know this came out on 12' laserdisc. He had no problem jumping off that cliff...why not blu ray? Especially now that there's 4K.

    2. i blame the Avatar sequels. the man is such a control freak he won't release his movies without his approval

  2. Great article Patrick! I want many of these on blu as well. I don't know if you saw but I'm pretty sure it was just this past weekend that second sight announced a Martin blu. I'm ecstatic!

    1. I saw that too! Now crossing my fingers for the rest... especially WUTHERING HEIGHTS!! (Never even out on DVD - it kills me.) And FEMME FATALE... ;)

    2. I really can't believe Wuthering Heights doesn't have a bluray! It's a classic and I'm really surprised a company like Criterion hasn't put it out. Also, I really want Femme Fatale on Bluray because I want all De Palma movies on blu (and it's an awesome movie!)

  3. Super solid wishlist! I would love to see FEMME FATALE and so many of these on the Blu format.

  4. Great work, I just got a copy of Necronomicon: Book of the Dead on DVD in from France yesterday. I haven't seen the Sword & the Sorcerer either so I ordered a copy off of eBay. Looking forward to watching them both.

  5. Good list

    Martin is also being released on Bluray as a double deal they did with Dawn of the Dead too, brilliant to get both of these, I'm hoping for DOTD with all editions on Blu, they did a great job with other releases, I have faith these will be stellar