Posted Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 10:24 AM PST by Mike Attebery
by Nate Boss
Every year around the holidays, there’s always that one person who’s impossible to shop for. I know, since I’m usually him. He buys everything he wants, leaving family or friends no avenue to find gifts for him, other than the quick and easy gift card route that can feel a bit impersonal.
When shopping for the Blu-ray fanatic in your lives (yes, this article is aimed at the families of Blu-ray owners more than Blu-ray owners themselves), you have a few easy options. You can scan their DVD collections, see what titles they have not upgraded, and provide them with a movie they already own, in some capacity. You can ask them months in advance what titles they want, but really don’t want to pay the current rate for. You can even look into importing a favorite of theirs that they may not know about (region coding providing, of course. I do not advise consumers shop on foreign websites unless they have a guide to region coding handy, or a giftee who happens to be region free). Or you can use this guide, a compendium of random, obscure, or otherwise forgotten USA releases that can easily be found (online through Amazon, or, in some cases, in stores), and sometimes even cheaply acquired.
Sometimes it’s the effort that counts, and when you’re buying for a guy who already has a thousand some odd discs (guilty!), the effort may be more appreciated than the actual gift itself. If your family member or friend is anything like me, and is difficult to shop for, here are some suggestions as to what may be conversation starters at the very, very least. A listing of titles already forgotten by most consumers, and possibly time itself. Please note, due to the fact that music and comedy tastes vary far too much, concert and stand-up comedy Blu-rays are not included in this article. And no, even though they are the kings of obscure, I cannot and will not recommend titles like 'Puppies and Kittens,' 'Pregnancy Massage Therapy,' 'Learn to Count,' or 'Lower Learning.' That's just mean.
The Heavy Hitters:
Skip ahead if you're not willing to spend at least $50 on a single release. 'The Third Man' (Criterion Collection release) - The first Criterion title to go out-of-print on Blu-ray, this Carol Reed directed post-war Vienna noir classic is one of the few titles already released by multiple distributors on this new format, with varying results. It may be cheaper and easier to acquire the StudioCanal Collection edition, but that isn't exactly a gift worthy of a "thank you." A heftier load of extras, and vastly superior presentation qualities make the Criterion release a great gift, especially since it cannot be found in stores these days, and fetches a pretty penny on Amazon's third party system, or on Ebay.
'Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade' - Easily among the top ten hardest-to-find Blu-ray titles on the market, 'Jin-Roh' is one of those titles that rarely pops up on Ebay or Amazon, but can possibly be found in an obscure retailer's stock, particularly if they specialize in used media. In other words: it's highly possible the difficult giftee on your list doesn't own this anime release. If you see it, buy it; you may never find it again in stores. This same strategy applies to the Blu-ray releases of 'Freedom,' 'Yukikaze,' 'Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise,' and 'SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers: The Next.'
'UFC: The Ultimate 100 Greatest Fights' - This six disc set was released in December, 2009, and quickly went out-of-print, though Anchor Bay has rereleased the set again this month at a significantly lowered MSRP, in a standard case that just doesn't feel quite heavy enough to be six single sided discs. With 26 hours worth of fights, as well as five episodes of the ultimate countdown show (a Blu-ray exclusive), this set is a fight fan's dream come true, even if the video quality varies greatly from fight to fight (as it is not presented in chronological order). While many fans prefer entire events, this set is a great introduction to MMA and the history of the greatest promotion the event has ever had!
'Vengeance Trilogy' - Park Chan-Wook's hard hitting varying tales of vengeance are an absolute must own, especially with these fully loaded Blu-rays (which includes the alternate version to the third film in the set), housed in a metal tin case. Debate all you will over which film is best: 'Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,' 'Oldboy,' or 'Lady Vengeance,' but be sure that this set from Korea's answer to Quentin Tarantino finds a way into your friend or family member's collection.
'Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut' - Remember the uproar when Best Buy put out ridiculously low priced shelf tags for this box set, then didn't have any stock across the country? Those who waited it out hoping to get a price match eventually got nothing, while those who jumped on the sub-$30 price point Amazon.com posted lucked out and got the release right before it went out of print and out of stock. This release integrates the cartoon 'Tales of the Black Freighter' into the main film, features different extras, and even includes the Blu-ray release of the motion comic. While WB often puts its larger box sets back into print without any fanfare down the road, those wanting to see the closest adaptation of the comic books will have to plunk down some serious coin for this awesome release.
The Criterion Collection:
With the two yearly 50% off sales at Barnes & Noble, many Blu-ray fans may already have a massive load of these discs from the art house distributor. Still, much like Pokemon, hardcore collectors gotta catch 'em all! Some of the past releases in particular worth gifting include: 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' - Nicholas Roeg's science fiction tale of alienation starring rocker David Bowie is a curiosity and an acquired taste, to be sure, but is also a film that has as many flashes of brilliance as it does failure. Is he truly an alien, or an insane human? Does it matter? Watch it for Bowie's superb performance, and pick it up if you see it, as this release has gone out-of-print, and may be the next Criterion to skyrocket in price.
'The Seventh Seal' - Ingmar Bergman's dark and brooding analysis of life and death is iconic, legendary, and truly awesome. This is a fact, not just an opinion. Europe's brush with the black plague centuries ago doesn't have a better film capturing the time, or those living in a time where dying is the only escape. Perhaps best known for the scenes portraying Max von Sydow challenging Death to a chess game, this classic is an absolute must own, one of Sweden's crown gems.
'Kagemusha' - Akira Kurosawa. Need I say more? This Criterion release marked the first domestic release of the famed director's work on Blu-ray, and it may well be the least known, considering the others are the legendary 'Seven Samurai,' 'Sanjuro'/'Yojimbo,' and the botched release of 'Ran.' Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, 'Kagemusha' represents one of the last samurai films from the late great.
'Bottle Rocket' - Everyone has to start somewhere, and for Wes Anderson and the Wilson brothers (Luke and Owen), that place was 1996's 'Bottle Rocket,' a remake of the 1992 short of the same name. Amateur in effort, and lacking the fun hooks and polish that make his later films memorable, this quirky crime caper holds a special place in the hearts of Anderson's devoted followers. If you see the recent release of'The Darjeeling Limited' in your giftee's collection, and not this (or vice-versa), this Christmas challenge just got simple.
I know, it's a little odd to include an entire studio in this article, but many of the releases from this company have gone under the radar, despite being excellent films, and since they often aren't found at major retail stores, these goodies are cheap and easy alternatives to the new releases flooding stores. The best known release on the format from this company is easily 'Let the Right One In,' which was remade recently as 'Let Me In,' however, the issue concerning the subtitles and the difficulty in finding the fixed discs makes it difficult to recommend here.
'District 13 Collection' - Hardcore Parkour! The extreme sport, which has a great visual flare due to the extreme stunts on display, is the highlight of this film two pack, featuring the original film ('District B13') and the too-similar sequel ('District 13: Ultimatum'). A great price on two fun films for the action junkie in all of us, these popcorn movies are sure to bring applause and awe.
'Bronson' - A look at one of the world's most infamous prisoners, 'Bronson' features future megastar Tom Hardy in a career defining role as the violence-prone psychopath. Accessible to those who don't even know who Michael Peterson is, and to those who follow the Free Bronson cause, this borderline anarchist look at a borderline anarchist is a must see!
'The War Within' - And speaking of must see films, the already forgotten 'The War Within' is sure to push some buttons in viewers, considering the viewpoints portrayed within, as this film follows a would-be suicide bomber after his sleeper cell fails, and he is on the lam, debating whether he should still follow through with his mission. It's not often we get a film this good, on a subject this extreme. Just be sure to not gift this title to anyone who has had a terrorist attack change their life. Just show foresight on this one.
'World's Fastest Indian' - A feel-good story if ever there were one, this biopic starring Anthony Hopkins is an absolute hit. Titled 'Burt Munro' in many countries, after the man who set a landspeed record portrayed in the film, this title is as infectious as Hopkins (as Munro)'s personality is to everyone he meets within. A great pick up for obscure sports fans, or racing fanatics.
'World's Greatest Dad' - A feel-awful story if ever there were one, this film represents the polar opposite reaction of 'World's Fastest Indian.' Robin Williams shines in his dramatic role (where he often does), as a father who forges a diary of his deceased son, who was an absolute disgusting human being, bringing with it unpredictable results. Foul mouthed and borderline offensive, yet strangely hilarious, this one is for the dark comedy fan in your life. Bonus points if they live in Seattle! Emerald City residents should recognize many Greenlake locales throughout the film!
This genre's fans are known for loving the most obscure, random titles possible, due to their originality, and there is an absolute glut of the titles on the format, with more and more coming each year, many of which aren't hitting stores.
'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer' - Before Michael Rooker's career went all 'Mallrats,' it had a few bits of awesome sprinkled in for good measure, the best possibly being this dramatization of Henry Lee Lucas and his crimes. This may be one of the best unknown horror films ever made, seemingly forgotten by time, and left for new generations of fans to stumble upon. If your friend or family member is big on horror, but doesn't have 'Henry,' it's time to change that.
The 'Puppet Master' Films: 'Puppet Master' and 'Puppet Master: Axis of Evil' are the very definition of cult films. These stories of puppets brought to life, who terrorize their victims in odd ways are certainly curiosities, and definitely arrived on Blu-ray with a whimper, due to their delayed release to further push the limited edition box set. 'Axis of Evil' is a real stinker, but horror fanatics usually don't care so much about things like that.
'Ichi the Killer' and 'Versus' - Tokyo Shock didn't earn any fans when they kept delaying and delaying their first releases, which are among the best in their catalog. They also didn't earn any favors with the "mixed" quality of their first two Blu-ray titles. However, these two completely over-the-top horror goodies are superb fun, the first being an exercise in Sado-Massochism, the second one of the weirdest zombie films ever made. Since most fans gave up on these releases ever being released, they may make for a great smile on Christmas morning. Besides, nothing says Christmas quite like buckets of blood!
'Dead Snow' - Speaking of Christmas, this Norwegian horror-comedy only has snow in common with the holiday, as a legion of Nazi soldiers, frozen to death and turned into zombies, stalk and slaughter a group of vacationing students. It's dark, unrelenting, and absolutely disgusting, a great nod to genre fans. To quote the poster, "Ein Zwei Die!"
'Shadow: Dead Riot' - Shlock horror, but horror none-the-less, this horror flick mixes female prison drama (with loads of nudity) with supernatural army tension. The result? A Tony Todd led exploitation film that features low production values, nudity, bad acting, nudity, serial killer spirits, nudity, and nudity. Yep, a guilty pleasure, but one that isn't found in stores, and can be found dirt cheap. A supplementary buy.
I couldn't just pick one Blue Underground title for the horror shopping suggestions, especially since these titles, most of which are classics, are so influential on the genre. I can't run down every title in the catalog, but of particular note: 'Bad Boy Bubby' - Oh, man, oh man. It's hard to put this film in words. An absolutely crazy acid trip of a film, with a break-out performance by Nicholas Hope, disturbing visuals, unsettling scenery, and a look at the world through the eyes of a man who is truly insane. Hope is absolutely amazing in this messed up film that defies convention and logic. Buy two copies: one for your giftee, and one for yourself, and marvel at the transformation into "Pop."
'The Stendhal Syndrome' - No list of obscurities would be complete without mentioning the works of Dario Argento, one of Italy's masters of horror. This film has extreme content, with themes of kidnapping, torture, and rape, but it also is a damn fine giallo film with promising acting, superb locations, and a constant sense of despair. It's not for everyone, but it's possibly the best Argento film on Blu-ray in the states.
'The Crazies' - Before the 2010 film of the same name made me want to never watch a horror remake ever again in my life, this 1973 George Romero flick contrasted visuals we're familiar with, against themes we're not. Groups of men in hazmat suits gathering civilians into camps, eliminating the stragglers, as a chemical outbreak causes the infected to go insane. A film with tons of symbolism, that puts the remake to absolute damn shame. If your giftee (or you) own the remake, and not the original, change that. Immediately.
'The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue' - A different kind of zombie movie. A creepy, odd, yet strangely entertaining horror flick. A hard-to-find Blu-ray title, that is stocked as frequently as '3 Mo' Divas.' With the current trendiness of the undead, digging into the past of the walkers can yield a ton of enjoyment, and this obscure flick is definitely worthy of a blind buy. It may not be the best zombie flick on Blu-ray from Blue Underground, but it is the most unique.
Other suggestions: the entire catalog, including 'Django,' 'City of the Living Dead,' 'The New York Ripper,' 'Uncle Sam,' 'The Toolbox Murders,' 'Vampyres,' 'The Prowler,' 'The Bird with the Crystal Plumage,' and 'Dead & Buried.'
Blu-ray isn't just for television shows and movies. There are some adult-themed titles that also double as films, and numerous more that are nothing more than pornographic content. I cannot recommend buying a family member (eek!) porn, but for the friends with bizarre tastes
'Caligula' - If you haven't heard of 'Caligula,' then chances are it isn't for you. This infamous Penthouse co-production, starring Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole, and Helen Mirren (yes, that Helen Mirren), is scatterbrained, nonsensical, foul, sometimes hilarious, and occasionally erotic. This is definitely not your traditional Christmas gift!
'In the Realm of the Senses' - The most extreme Criterion Collection title available on Blu-ray (though some may argue for the recently released 'Antichrist'), this Japanese drama wasn't even screened uncensored (or allowed to be processed) in its own country of origin! It portrays non-simulated sexual content, and an actual story behind it (heaven forbid!). At the very least, this is a way to give a Criterion fan another spine number in their collection.
'9 Songs' - I reviewed it, and I hated it. That doesn't mean you or your giftee will feel the same, though. '9 Songs' is a journey through a couple and their relationship, emotional and sexual, through the course of a short period of time. It's oddly balanced, with more sex than, you know, talking, and even more concert-going than either. This title is only known due to the way it treats two people like puppets. Fornicating, naked puppets.
'The Story of O' - S&M. Kinky, right? What about domination? 'The Story of O,' based on the French novel Histoire d'O, delves into a level of kink that none of the other films here do, thought it does so with a level of class that none of the others do. This may be the film of this group best viewed with a significant other, and as such, the easiest and most recommended to be gifted this holiday season.
Other suggestions: Not going to happen.
How are these obscure, you ask? Try finding them on the second hand market. Try finding them in stores, even! These historical films are truly representative of the best of cinema, yet they aren't the most well-known releases on the format, despite deserving to be.
'Battleship Potemkin' - Public domain has never been so awesome. Sergei Eisenstein's silent classic from 1925, depicting a mutiny against the regime in 1905, was a huge stepping stone in the history of cinema, particularly for the use of montage. There are few Russian films on Blu-ray, and even fewer good ones. This one? Greatness. A must for any collector with even a hint of classic cinema in their collection.
'Gigi' and 'An American in Paris' - This pair of Best Picture Academy Award winners, released concurrently, have many similarities, but its their differences that make both so enjoyable. These musical tales of love and romance can sweep you off your feet, or set you in a mood of deep sorrow, but most definitely they will stay with you for long after you finish viewing them. Both can be found relatively cheap new, due to their relatively low MSRPs, and there are even rumblings of some golden Academy Award slipcovers on the horizon...after Christmas, sadly.
'It's a Wonderful Life' - Much like 'The Seventh Seal,' this film and its iconic idea have been parodied and homaged to death, and for good reason, as this truly is one of the greats. What's truly bizarre about this release is the fact that, a year after its release, there hasn't been a single real sale on it, or a price drop in the aftermarket. There is no glut of available product (as none of the buyers are turning into sellers), another indication that people are satisfied, both with the film, and the disc. In a few years, this one may see a price drop, but it will never be in the bottom third of the pricing barrel for the entire format.
'Akira' - The revolutionary anime, the one that just so happens to be the first anime most people stateside ever saw, is a revolutionary Blu-ray, the first to feature a 192kHz audio track. The first pressing, with an artbook and slipbox, is among the rarer titles on the format, while the version currently found on shelves is identical in disc content, just without the added goodies. An absolute must own title, regardless of tastes, this is one disc that will elicit a huge thank you from any home theater enthusiast.
Inexpensive Anime and Animation:
While I listed a few Anime titles in the expensive section of this article, there are plenty of Anime and animated titles that deserve attention, yet have faded to obscurity, most likely due to stores not stocking them.
'Tekkon Kinkreet' and 'Paprika' - These two anime releases, distributed by Sony, may have recently seen an MSRP drop (to 24.98, making sale prices even less!), but they never were widespread, treated by most retail stores like the most independent of features. 'Paprika' is a trip if ever there were one, but a satisfying one, while 'Tekkonkinkreet' is a bizarre journey through things we'll never see or understand fully. Great deals, great discs, almost great films. Pretty sound purchases for Anime lovers.
'Escaflowne: The Movie' - I've been to many stores, seeking out Blu-ray titles, and not once, not once have I seen this film on any shelf. 'Escaflowne' is a somewhat classic film, even if it will never be considered a top tier title, that has a nice hook and some very engaging action sequences. The price hasn't dropped beneath a twenty spot in its year of release, and doesn't figure to any time soon. Considering stores are less than likely to stock it with every passing day, this title can be considered hard to find, because good luck finding it. If you can, just buy it.
'G.I. Joe: The Movie' - Go Joe! Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release of the 'Joe' film has gone so far under the radar it may as well be underground at this point. The cartoon classic film, which features former wrassler Sergeant Slaughter, and a changing of the guard, as it were, is both ridiculously fun and stupid, at the same time. Sure, a poisonous snake through (through!) the heart should kill, but so should fighting on the Statue of Liberty. It appears likely we'll never see the entire animated series on Blu-ray, and the live action movie is hardly any compensation, so this may be the closest we ever get!
'Samurai Champloo: The Complete Collection' - Now this one is tough, for two reasons: 1- the Blu-ray got murdered by DNR. 2- Amazon.com lists two editions of the Blu-ray, with a supposedly upcoming released branded with VC. Anime fans will recognize these initials as being Viridian Collection, a term used on discounted anime box set releases. But that's March, and we're talking December, and, for good measure, an incredibly credible source inside FUNimation informed me that this upcoming release is a repackage, not a remaster. 'Samurai Champloo' is a great series, even if it doesn't come close to measuring up to the director's past works, and is beyond entertaining, making it a great gift, for youths or adults alike.
Lloyd Kaufman's company is a fan favorite series of random shlock cinema, and their Blu-ray catalog is currently brief, but full of goodies. These are for fans of extreme films, who aren't easily offended by the perverse or extreme. The titles look and sound quite poor, but they may still be a big step up from their respective DVD releases.
'Poultreygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead' - An indictment of the American fast food franchises as much as it is a parody, this absolutely fowl (get it?) Tromaville instant classic is part-musical, part-romance, and part-zomedy...chicken zomedy, but zomedy nonetheless. One of the best films made by the label, with huge replay value, and tons of laughs and shock value. Definitely a great pick up for comedy or horror fanatics, even if it is a typically awful Troma disc, low on quality, but loaded to the brim with extras.
'Tromeo and Juliet' - Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo + Juliet' may sell a thousand times more copies than this twisted take on the star cross'd lovers, but even for all its originality, it doesn't hold a candle to the Troma take on Shakespeare, which is about as punk as any film based off the bard's works ever will be. Also, it features far more lesbianism than even ol' Bill ever would have written into his works. Well worth a watch, and it makes for a nice gag gift, if nothing else.
'Dark Nature' - This isn't your traditional Troma title. There's no Tromaville in sight. Sadly. Instead, it's a twisted semi-horror tale that doesn't quite take off, rolling the credits before there's any significant or enjoyable sequence. 'Dark Nature' is a cheapie title, and a good add to a real horror collection, but it's for the most hardcore of horror fans only.
'Class of Nuke 'Em High' - Troma's take on American business and their immoral, illegal actions as well as a take on the wild youth culture (a theme perfected in 'Battle Royale'), this horror comedy revolves around the negative effects that nuclear waste exposure has on the students of Tromaville's high school. The results are predictable only in that they're the typical Troma random insanity.
Not all titles are easy to group into a genre. Some films defy genre, completely, though few reinvent the wheel. These titles are from groupings that will appeal to a specific group of people, and possibly few else; however, they deserve some attention for the risks they take, or the messages and themes they portray.
'Hounddog' - Remember when this film hit the news circuit, due to the fact that it features the rape of a child, played by Dakota Fanning? Once it faded from the news channels, it faded into obscurity, dumped on home video, and again onto Blu-ray, virtually unknown to most consumers. This is not a fun film. It's difficult, to say the very least. Not even the constant allusions and references to the works of Elvis can make this one an easy, enjoyable viewing. It's almost guaranteed that your gift recipient doesn't have this title.
Roger Corman Classics - While I'm not a big fan of the price points these titles have been fetching, this collection of Corman produced films ('Forbidden World,' 'Galaxy of Terror,' 'Rock 'N' Roll High School,' 'Death Race 2000,' 'Piranha,' 'Humanoids from the Deep,' and 'StarCrash') is the perfect B-movie fodder that ages gracefully, rather than horribly. These oddball films are high on character, and replay value, and equally high on price. Film fans should light up at the addition of these genre films to their collections.
'Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter' - One of the worst looking and sounding Blu-rays on the market, this MVD release is all kinds of terrible. Yet, at the same time, it's quite hilarious, in a "what the hell did I just see" sort of way. It's incredibly stupid, so poorly made that it makes high school movies look like the work of an auteur. Yet, it's also quite awesome, in a blasphemous way. The power of Christ impales you...err...compels you to buy this Blu-ray. If Jesus is the reason for the season, 'Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter' is....well...it's something else!
'It Might Get Loud' - A new look at a music documentary, featuring Jack White, The Edge, and Jimmy Page, each representing a particular era of the history of the electric guitar. The end result is beyond fascinating, even if there is very little time with the three jamming together. Music fans, regardless of taste, should find something to enjoy here, with the honest look at the participants and their nostalgic looks at their origins.
A flair for the dramatic, have you (or your gift recipient)? Then check out some of these little gems, that were seemingly forgotten the moment they were released.
'A River Runs Through It' - Brad Pitt, back in the days when the ladies would melt at the sight of the hunk, in a role where his shirt finds its way off his back on a few occasions. Yeah, this is one for the ladies, in that regard, but this tale of a family, and their shared love for fishing paralleling their relationship with each other, is an absolutely fabulous character study. A digibook release from Sony that hasn't seen a single price drop, that was never readily found in stores, this one has something for almost everyone.
'The Counterfeiters' - A stunning tale from the concentration camps, this WW2 film about the prisoners who got better treatment than the rest, in return for their work in creating counterfeit bills of the Nazi's enemies is a fascinating, gripping story, though it makes for a difficult watch for some, due to the horrible conditions, even for these pampered prisoners. Ethics in the face of sure death make for wonderful human dramas, and this one has as much a moral question as any other film on the format.
'Go' - Forgotten after it hit theaters and then DVD, this flick is already forgotten again, after its Blu-ray release. With its memorable soundtrack, and a really fresh young cast, this converging storyline flick was a bit ahead of its time. An inexpensive catalog title, 'Go' is a great supplementary gift, a "go with" title, for sure.
'Five Minutes of Heaven' - If you had a chance to take revenge against a man who killed your brother before your very eyes, would you be deterred by the presence of cameras, as they prepare for a face-to-face confrontation? This dramatic thriller, starring Liam Neeson, has it where it counts, and has plenty of it. It's very well made, and thought out, and a wonderful look at the way we change the lives of those around us, as well as ourselves.
If you want to buy, or buy for someone, a title not currently owned, the easiest route may be with the least available titles, and store exclusives are a good definition of such. There are numerous store exclusives, though these may be among the best known, due to the fact that there are no known release dates for other retailers or chains.
'Legendary,' an amateur wrestling themed film, starring WWE's John Cena, can be found at Best Buy stores (as well as numerous WWE events and compilations set for release in February, as well as 'The John Cena Experience'), along with 'The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!,' a foul and uncensored spin-off from the canceled animation program. Wal-Mart stores have a few exclusives of their own, with two classic animation series getting new films, in 'Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes,' and 'Scooby Doo: Camp Scare,' as well as the pilot episode for 'The Jensen Project,' a show that wasn't picked up, making it an odd artifact. Target has sole distribution on Tim Allen's directorial film, 'Crazy on the Outside,' which he also stars in.
Other Random Suggestions:
No matter how many themed lists I include, there will always be titles left out in the cold that deserve some attention here. The best of the rest of the forgotten and obscure.
'Universal Soldier: Regeneration'' - The second coming of the direct-to-video action feature, starring post-'JCVD' Jean-Claude Van Damme and briefly starring Dolph Lundgren, this actioner is beyond good. Given some better production values (budget), and it would have been one of the all time greats. Scary thought, that. I went into the film expecting another junk release, and got blown out of the water. Many will judge this book by its cover, but don't let it stop you.
'Franklyn' - Nihlistic future full of intrigue meets modern tale of mental health. 'Franklyn' is a hard to forget film, with its superb themes and casting, and a (somewhat) predictable twist that gives the film a bit of replay value. A good buy for sci-fi films, due to the dystopia portrayed within, while also a nice dramatic piece.
'Outlander'' - Futuristic hunter gets stuck in Iron Age. Futuristic hunter brings devastating monster along for the ride, unknowingly. Iron Age viking clan screwed. That about sums up 'Outlander,' in as few words as possible, but this actioner is well worth the watch, a mix of past and future that adds a nice twist to a tired genre full of failures ('Pathfinder,' all eyes on you).
'The Order' - Religious drama/horror. 'The Exorcist'' and 'The Omen' made the sub-genre watchable. 'The Order' makes it...convoluted. Still, this Heath Ledger film, about some lesser known Catholic belief (sin eaters), is an interesting, odd, sometimes frustrating feature. This one goes well for fans of either series mentioned above, or Ledger fans, as there is no other reason this film, of all films, got a Blu-ray release this year. And it's dirt cheap right now, too.
'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog' - This internet mini-series, created during the writer's strike, is all kinds of win. Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day bring down the house in this humorous musical blog, the brainchild of Joss Whedon. It's short, sweet, and makes the rumored sequel that much more anticipated. Buy it for the music, the story, or the originality. Just buy it for yourself and anyone else who hasn't seen it.
'War, Inc.'/'The Contract'/'The Proposition'/'Immortal' - This set of First Look Pictures Blu-ray releases has a nice package, great price, and, well, mixed values in terms of films included. 'The Proposition' is a great western, and is worthy of a buy by its lonesome (in the original release or recent combo release), and 'War Inc' is as close to a 'Grosse Point Blank' sequel as we'll ever see. 'The Contract?' Painful, but who knows, maybe your giftee is a masochist. 'Immortal?' Odd, to say the least. It's a great bargain for the set on Amazon, and a rip off at Best Buy. Take that as a hint.
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