2013 was one of the best years for home release that I can remember. We saw everything from cult films to classics get the five-star treatment. As a result, it was hard to go through and really cut this to 10, but I think we ended up with a good group and some nice honorable mentions at the end. Here are the best releases of the year, presented in no particular order.
The first of two films on this list from Grindhouse Releasing, CORRUPTION came in two versions: the US/UK version and the unedited International version. This release shows a dedication to quality and value that we rarely see in the exploitation market.
Shout Factory created a permanent line item in my monthly bills when they grabbed Scream Factory in their quest for total market domination. DAWN OF THE DEAD was my first hit of Romero so that good shit will always be rocking and rolling around my Top 5 films of all-time, but the often maligned (and criminally underrated) third chapter got a fantastic release from Scream Factory which thankfully brought people back for another glance. This film has a more desperate tone than DAWN, humanity is more or less fucked, so what do you do when your back is up against the wall and zombies are clawing for your flesh? Call Lori Cardille and hope she remembers some moves.
Not only is this the benchmark film for all other animes, it’s also a stunning achievement for animation in general. Style and substance running neck and neck to deliver a flick that is tough as nails and smart as hell… maybe even too smart. I still am not clear on what the hell is going on, but it never stops me from tossing this one on. Special Features on this are nearly non-existent but the transfer is the best it has ever looked.
More than 30 years later and this is still one of Walter Hill’s best films. After releasing HARD TIMES earlier in the year, Twilight Time stepped back up to the plate for round 2 of another run at HILL. Both releases were solid and we were close to doing a tie, but this is like HIGHLANDER, there can be only one. In the end, Bruce Dern always wins.
As a die-hard Carpenter fan, I’ve never been too thrilled with the releases of HALLOWEEN through the years. Anchor Bay’s 2007 version was good, but the 35th Anniversary Edition supervised by cinematographer Dean Cundey, is fucking brilliant. You add to that some new special features and a commentary track with Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter talking about old times, and you have the best release this iconic film has ever seen.
This was a great year to drop cash on Criterion. It was hard to not pick more than two, BADLANDS, THE UNINVITED, and a few more almost cracked the Top 10, but in the end, this release is just too damn cool to pass up. Not only did this film finally get a great release, Criterion jammed this with one of the best extras of the year: a 68-page booklet that includes an in-depth essay on the film by Sam McPheeters, an illustrated history of the production by Cox, titled “The Repo Code,” which includes the original comic book concept and the investor plan for the film.
A badass film gets the 5 star treatment. Following the release of AN AMERICAN HIPPIE IN ISREAL and CORRUPTION, Grindhouse Releasing became the Criterion of genre cinema. Each title is produced with care and respect from the packaging to the liner notes and everything in between. The 2K Digital Restoration of the original uncensored English-language version of this film looks amazing. After the release of Blue Underground’s MANIAC COP 2, this may be the best looking release of 2013. THE BIG GUNDOWN was the grand finale of an amazing year for the GR crew.
MC2 has been given an incredible treatment by director Bill Lustig who oversaw a 4K restoration from the original camera negative. A genre film getting a 4K restoration? You’re goddamn right, and if any film deserved that, it’s this bad boy. MANIAC COP 2 is stacked with stunts, explosions, and a police station shootout that trumps TERMINATOR. This is a demo worthy disc for both sight and sound. If you don’t own it yet, there’s still a few hours left in 2013 to fix that.
Scream Factory owned 2014. A new release day rarely passed without another title from Shout Factory’s horror label. While their commitment to Carpenter is impressive (several of which just missed this list), the best of the year belongs to THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION. The Merchant of Menace gets six of his best films, including his iconic collaborations with Roger Corman, on Blu-ray for the first time in the states. This set comes loaded with the outstanding extras Scream Factory has become known for.
Sharpen the blade, and bust out some bills, because this 25 film set is not only the best release of the year, it’s the best release Criterion has ever put out and certainly the best release in the home video history of chambara. Restored from 35mm prints (or in some cases 35mm low-contrast composite prints), these films have never looked so clean and crisp. This is a notably surprising title for Criterion to embrace this way, but by doing so they have created a really special collection for fans of the character and cinema as a whole.
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