2015 was a banner year for reissues of classic cult and horror cinema, with outstanding entries from Arrow Video, Scream Factory, Grindhouse Releasing and Blue Underground among many others. There are so many awesome niche labels re issuing vintage horror in 1080p these days, it' is truly a great time to be a collector, though your wallet may disagree with that statement.
I will keep my list of the best re issues confined to only the releases I have sitting on my shelf at the moment, and not the dozens now on my Amazon wish list, just out of my grasp. The list is not in any particular order, just 20 releases worth your money that I loved and highly recommend to fans of cult, horror and exploitation - here it is - the best of the best in vintage, retro and re issues from this past year, enjoy and let me know what you think of the list.
01. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? (Arrow Video)
I love the Italian whodunits and this release evaded me for years, the Shriek Show DVD has long out of print and expensive. It's great to have it in HD now, Arrow did a bang-up job with a new 2K restoration and some quality extras.
02. EDGAR ALLEN POE'S BLACK CATS: TWO ADAPTATIONS BY SERGIO MARTINO & LUCIO FULCI (Arrow Video)
A very attractive packaging of movies from Sergio Martino and Lucio Fulci from Arrow Video, both films are underrated and look great in 1080p, plus a new wealth of extras for fans of Eurocult cinema.
03. SHE KILLED IN ECSTACY (Severin Films)
She Killed in Ecstasy (1970) is an erotically charged revenge film laced with intoxicating visuals and scene after scene of the lovely Soledad Miranda, who fills nearly every frame of the movie. On top of that you have a swinging psychedelic lounge score that just cannot be beat. This movie was my introduction to the strange and provocative world of Jess Franco over a decade ago, and it remains so to this day, if you're a Franco fan this is the must-own edition of the film.
04. MADMAN (Vinegar Syndrome)
We've been waiting for years from this super-fun second tier slasher to make the jump to 1080p HD and it was worth the wait. Vinegar Syndrome always come through with superlative restorations and Madman has never looked better. while the label is mostly known for porn and sleaze they've come through with some fantastic horror movies, this is one of the best.
05. ANGST (Cult Epics)
A Criterion-worthy presentation of the demented Gerard Kargl movie Angst (1983) from Cult Epics, loaded with extras and fantastic A/V presentation, an unsettling watch and a phenomenal Blu-ray release.
06. THE BEYOND (Grindhouse Releasing)
The Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray of Lucio Fulci's The Beyond is an attractively packaged special edition jam-packed with a stunning array of new extras with a pleasing HD upgrade. A gorgeous package all around, a phenomenal fright film loaded with creepy atmosphere and torrents of dazzling gore, it doesn't get anymore essential than this one right here. The edition from Grindhouse Releasing includes an embossed, glow-in-the-dark slipcase and a CD of the Fabio Frizzi score.
07. CANNIBAL FEROX (Grindhouse Releasing)
Cannibal Ferox (1981) is a truly vile and repulsive cannibal entry, that on a surface level is on par with Cannibal Holocaust, though one I would be cautious to recommend to the average movie fan for fear it might have the more casual horror fan spewing chunks. This is hands-down the definitive version of the infamous cannibal classic for what will be a very long time, I cannot imagine anyone topping this stunning three-disc set which includes a CD of the Buddy Magnlione score and another sweet embossed slipcase. My favorite extra is the feature length documentary EATEN ALIVE! THE RISE AND FALL OF THE ITALIAN CANNIBAL FILM - worth the price alone in my opinion.
08. GHOST STORY (Scream Factory)
Ghost Story is a great old fashioned haunter with some serious atmosphere and a surprising amount of horrific special effects peppered throughout. It stars a cast of Hollywood veterans backed up by a solid turn from the underrated Craig Wassom, plus a haunting performance from Alice Krige. The Blu-ray from Scream Factory is top-notch with a pleasing A/V presentation and with over two-hours of new interviews with cast and crew this is a very highly recommended release.
09. BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (Arrow Video)
Arrow Video have breathed new life into this classic slice of Italian whodunit cinema with a brand-new and gorgeous 2K restoration that is by quite a stretch the best this film has ever looked on home video. No self-respecting horror fan or Mario Bava completest should be without this on their movie shelf, an essential and seminal slice of whodunit.
10. LONG WEEKEND (Synapse Films)
Long Weekend (1978) is an unnerving nature gone wild Ozploitation entry infused with an eeriness not often associated with these sort of movies, this one is quite intense and atmospheric. The Blu-ray transfer from Synapse Films looks fantastic and will hopefully earn this lesser known Australian gem legions of new fans.
11. THE LARRY FESSENDEN COLLECTION (Scream Factory)
This release is massive! All four movies are housed on separate Blu-ray discs inside a single Criterion-sized Blu-ray case with a slipcover, both the Blu-ray sleeve and slipcover feature a painting from The Dude Designs which captures the essence of the release with the characters erupting from the top of Larry Fessenden's head, which is very cool. This is quite a tribute to the wild-haired Larry Fessenden and Glass Eye Pix and what they've accomplished through the years. Here's hoping we have another volume in a few years, Fessenden has only directed one feature post The Last Winter, the fun killer fish movie Beneath (2013) for the Chiller channel, but he's been busy producing (Late Phases) and acting (We Are Still Here), but the world needs more Fessenden!
12. CONTAMINATION (Arrow Video)
Arrow Video's new 2K restoration of Luigi Cozzi's sci-fi splatter classic is top notch and the extras were far beyond my expectations, watching this again for the first time in years I was surprised by just how much my appreciation for the Alien knock-off had grown, this was quite a bit of fun. A high recommend for fans of Italian gore and science-fiction horror, a fantastic Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
13. MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE (Grindhouse Releasing)
Massacre Mafia Style (1978) might just be one of the most cult movies ever made, a wildly entertaining piece of crime cinema dripping with mob violence, revenge and a tiny pinch of b-movie camp. Kudos to Grindhouse Releasing for the dusting off this forgotten gem with a gorgeous restoration and the exhaustive bonus content, a very high recommend for any enthusiast of crime and cult cinema.
14. SOCIETY (Arrow Video)
The wait for a proper North American release of Society has been a long one and the Director-Approved Limited Edition Blu-ray from Arrow Video was definitely worth the wait, a fantastic transfer with loads of awesome extras and some inspired packaging extras. Society is a body-horror classic, this is top-notch and highly recommended.
15. NIGHTMARE CASTLE (Severin Films)
A fantastic release from Severin Films that should those with enthusiasm for Eurocult, Gothic horror or just fans of the erotically charged Barbara Steele, regardless of which this is a terrific package. A high recommend, if not just for the main feature and the excessive amount of quality extras on the disc keep in mind you're getting three HD Italian Barbara Steele movies for the price of one, now that's a bargain.
16. MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (Syanpse Films)
When a Texas fertilizer salesman makes a movie you sort of would have to expect it would be a turd of a movie, right? If you love it cheap and crave drive-in era schlock this release is the b-movie holy grail of awfulness, and Synapse have gone above and beyond to prove you can indeed polish a turd.
17. EUGENIE ... THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION (Blue Underground)
This just might be a top five Franco movie for me, a dizzying blend of arthouse erotica and lurid exploitation, Franco was a master of both and rarely did they come together in such a delirious and woozy way onscreen, this is primo Franco. If you're a Franco-phile this is a serious no brainer, you need to own this. This is a gorgeous three-disc set from Blue Underground includes a CD of the Bruno Nicolai exotic lounge score and a reversible sleeve of artwork.
18. THE SENTNEL (Scream Factory)
The Sentinel is truly one of my favorite slices of supernatural cinema, for those of you who haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and check out this cult-classic now. This is a movie I've been wanting on Blu-ray since the format emerged and Scream Factory have done a nice job with the HD presentation. .
19. BURNT OFFERINGS (Kino Lorber)
Kino Lorber had the good sense to bring this house of horror classic to Blu-ray this year, one of my favorites with a fantastic cast. We have Oliver Reed and Karen Black as a troubled couple falling under the spell of malevolent house, with their son caught in the middle. Add to that we have the always awesome Burgess Meredith and Bette Davis. The Blu-ray looks great and has some fantastic extras including interviews with screenwriter William F. Nolan, actor Lee Montogomery and two audio commentaries.
20. SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION (Code Red)
Tobe Hooper's Spontaneous Combustion is a movie I have long sought to own but being out of print and pricey it just never came into my possession, until Code red announced it was coming to Blu-ray earlier this year it was a first day pre-order for me. More or less a bare-bones Blu-ray, at least the new 2014 HD Master looks good, and I am glad to have this one in my collection.