There's no need for me to tell you that this year sucked. But this was a great year for home video product (that is, if you still had enough money to buy any of this stuff).
Thankfully, I'm still working regularly, so, as usual, I spent plenty of money on Blu-rays and DVDs. And I still don't even have a multi-region player....could you imagine how much even more money I'd have spent if I did??
This year, the usual suspects--Criterion, Kino, Shout Factory, etc.--continued to release outstanding product. Shout Factory in particular deserves kudos for their series of Hammer Films releases.
Warner Archive gets two slots on this list for their much-needed restorations of a couple of famed classic horror films, and Arrow Video gets the top slot for putting out one of the greatest home video sets of all time.
1. GAMERA: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION from Arrow Video
An absolutely amazing eight-disc set, which contains every single Gamera film ever made, tons and tons of extras for each film, a book containing info on the series, a reprint of the 1990s Dark Horse Gamera comic books....I wrote a full blog post review of this in September. If a giant fire-breathing flying turtle doesn't deserve his own expensive Blu-ray set, who does???
2. BRUCE LEE: HIS GREATEST HITS from Criterion
Bruce Lee's action-adventure films from the 1970s have been released on home video in various incarnations over the years, but this is THE Bruce Lee collection you should get. Criterion pulled out all the stops in this 7-disc set, with numerous extras, multiple audio commentaries, and a special booklet. All the films look spectacular....the restorations on the Golden Harvest movies in particular are stunning. What puts this set over the top is the addition of ENTER THE DRAGON--there's actually two different versions of that film here.
3. THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM from Warner Archive
One of my 50 favorite movies of all time, and one that sorely needed a complete restoration. Put away the memories of the faded two-color Technicolor print of this film--this Blu-ray is almost a resurrection. Warner Archive also saw fit to include valuable extras, including two excellent audio commentaries. I wrote a full post on this release in May.
4. THEIR FINEST HOUR: 5 BRITISH WWII CLASSICS from Film Movement
A must-needed set for the Region A crowd, with 5 of the greatest British war films on one Blu-ray set. The movies are WENT THE DAY WELL?, THE COLDITZ STORY, THE DAM BUSTERS, ICE COLD IN ALEX, and the 1958 version of DUNKIRK. All of the movies have been digitally restored, they look great, and they are all uncut and in their original aspect ratios. There's plenty of extras on this set too.
5. THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN from Warner Archive
I just wrote a post on this a week ago. The true beginning of Hammer Gothic Horror gets the restoration it deserves, and extras to boot. This release barely beats out Shout Factory's Blu-ray of Hammer's THE BRIDES OF DRACULA.