It’s that time of year again. While 2011 wasn’t exactly a banner year for horror films it wasn’t terrible either. Even an average year has plenty of merits and we’ve compiled a list of some of the best stuff released on DVD/Blu since the last time the Chopping List rolled around. Occasionally we dip our toes outside of the genre a touch when it comes to extremely violent masked vigilante movies or your last chance in the foreseeable future to pick up the complete adventures of a certain boy wizard (hey, it’s got monsters and sh*t) but we always wade back into the gore eventually. And if you ever wanted a couple of exhaustive looks at Return Of The Living Dead, 2011 is your year.
So, without further ado – here’s the Film/TV portion of our annual Chopping List! Feel free to toss in some of your own ideas into the comment section.
List Price: $39.99
This is an inexpensive and fascinating way to chart the semi-decline of a promising horror franchise. The original Scream still holds up magnificently. Scream 2 has its moments, including more brutal kills than the original, but loses credibility completely once the second killer is revealed. It’s a moment the franchise never recovers from. Scream 3 has some stale goofy charm but there’s not much to love and there’s absolutely no logic to it. While this box set omits Scream 4 due to rights issues it does contain the wonderful feature-length documentary Still Screaming.
List Price: $22.99 (Blu-ray)/$19.99 (DVD)
Easily one of my favorite movies of the year. Joe Cornish combines an airtight script with a surprisingly assured directorial hand and guides his ensemble to some truly funny, horrific and touching heights. It’s like if Critters was a socio-economic aware film directed by a future Academy Award winner (Cornish is going to win one at some point in his career – no question). Three commentary tracks enlivened by exec producer Edgar Wright and the cast as well as a feature length documentary round out the package.
List Price: $29.98 (Blu-ray)/$24.98 (DVD)
Not technically a horror movie, but it has some horrific moments and more gore than several of the films on this list combined. James Gunn’s Super is a very extreme and personal film that takes a much more real-world look at the repercussions of masked vigilantes than Kick-Ass did. Ellen Page gives a particularly strong performance in a film so intense, hilarious and unexpected that it should warm most horror fans’ hearts. James Gunn is an amazingly frank person and his commentary track with Rainn Wilson is not to be missed.
List Price: $14.99 (Blu-ray)
Because what would the holidays be without another edition of The Evil Dead 2 on Blu-ray? In all seriousness though this edition boasts a brand new transfer and a making-of documentary longer than the film itself – something the other versions didn’t have. So even though your recipient may think of it as a gag gift at first, something to add to his/her Evil Dead 2 shelf, there’s actually more here than meets the eye which makes it a worthy (and thrifty) purchase.
List Price: $79.98 (Blu-ray)
Holy sh*t is this set worth it! I’m not even the biggest Jurassic Park fan but these stellar transfers truly took me back in time to when I first saw the original in theaters. But the real story here are the absolutely exhaustive extras. Each of the three films has its own treasure trove of making-of docs, galleries and interviews. It’s especially a thrill to see Spielberg the set of The Lost World, a film he was widely rumored to have overseen remotely. Any fan of Spielber or the films will be wowed by this set. And any fan of film in general has got to appreciate these extras.
List Price: $69.99 (Blu-ray)/$59.98 (DVD)
I’ve only ever seen a few episodes of this show, and while I really dig what I’ve been exposed to thus far, I can’t pretend to be an expert. So this is a basic reminder that if there’s a “Supernatural” fan in your life, they’re likely to be pretty hardcore about it and you can’t go wrong with this (though you may want to sniff around a bit to see if they already have it).
List Price: $29.97 (Blu-ray)/$27.97 (DVD)
Why is this on the list? Didn’t I give it a bad review Yes, yes I did. But if you’ll recall the gist of my piece, a lot of it had to do not only with how truly bad Tim Sullivan’s segment “I Was A Teenage Werebear” is, but how it utterly robbed the remainder of the film of any charm as well. I suspect that the whole thing will play more like a 7/10 on Blu/DVD when you can just skip over Sullivan’s segment. There’s also a commentary track with Adam Green, Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch and Tim Sullivan which promises to be entertaining as well. Green and Lynch can tear up those commentary tracks.
List Price: $139.99 (Blu-ray)/$98.92 (DVD)
Another entry on the list, that despite mage and death, doesn’t really qualify as horror at all. But come on, it’s friggin’ Harry Potter and there’s definitely some overlap in fanbases. Plus, most of these movies are really good! It’s a handy chance to give someone on your life all 8 films in the series on Blu for only around 10 bucks a film (if you go for the Amazon discount). It’s also worth noting that Warner Brothers is pulling a Disney and discontinuing all Potter film sales (Blu/DVD/Digital Downloads) at the end of the year. So unless you want to wait another year or two to pick these up for someone, now’s the time!
List Price: $29.98 (Blu-ray)/$26.98 (DVD)
If you’ve got someone in your family that likely already has most of this year’s more mainstream releases, give them a surprise with Troll Hunter. It’s a great little found footage movie that actually delivers some consistent fun and thrills. Bonus? You’ll look cool for giving them something they’ve probably never heard of that might become a new favorite of theirs.
List Price: $24.99 (Blu-ray)
While this year’s remake wasn’t absolutely horrible, it was fairly unnecessary and could in no way compete with with quality of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 original Straw Dogs. While this Blu-ray edition has virtually none of the extras that bulked up the earlier Criterion DVD, it does have pristine picture and sound. The grain on the transfer of this brilliant study on gender roles and masculinity is absolutely fantastic. If you’ve got someone younger on your holiday list who fancies themselves a connoisseur of brutal horror, hand this over and let the last 20 minutes put them to the test.
List Price: $59.97 (Blu-ray)/$49.97 (DVD)
Never seen it. Haven’t heard great things. But there’s like 5 million fans of this thing so I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that this special edition would totally make the day of someone who does like it. Never say I wasn’t selfless!
List Price: $19.99 (Blu-ray)
Hi-def Freddy Krueger! What is it about the Nightmare and Friday The 13th franchises that they can’t manage to get past issuing their third installments on Blu-ray? I want to see The Final Chapter and The Dream Master in HD! Anyway, this contains the new transfers of subtextually (or just textually) interesting Freddy’s Revenge along with arguably the best sequel in the franchise Dream Warriors. Extras are slight, but for completists you can’t go wrong.
List Price: $24.95 (Blu-ray)
On its own this movie is only so-so. But if you know a fan of either Bruce Campbell or Tom Atkins then this is the perfect way to say, “I know who you are and I love you”. Maniac Cop is a fun, slight romp made all the better by the kind of psychological projection and nostalgia only a true fan of the genre or stars can bring to the table. This also may be the skinniest Bruce Campbell has ever been on film, so if you’re having a lot of egg-nog you should toggle back and forth between this and “Burn Notice” and blow your mind. One day you’ll be middle aged too.
List Price: $64.99 (Blu-ray)/$54.99 (DVD)
How many serial killers can Miami possibly have? I mean there’s Dexter himself, obviously a constant. Then there’s at least one serial killer per season he’s either gotta match up with and take out. Maybe serial killers are literally cold blooded and are attracted to the Miami heat? I actually like this show, though I missed this season and from what I hear it shook up the formula a bit. There’s a lot of fans of Michael C. Hall’s lovable slasher out there, and if you want to keep one occupied for 13 hours or so this is the way to go.
List Price: $39.99 (Blu-ray & DVD Combo)/$29.99 (DVD)
This year marks the very first year you can give the gift of Rare Exports. Not many things combine horror and the holidays better than a plucky young Finnish kid battling an evil evil Santa Claus. This year saw the release of The Thing (2011), but in the battle of films where you don’t want something thawed out – the Santa in this movie is much more menacing (and far more entertaining).
List Price: $19.95 (DVD)
This is actually a late addition to the list, but after I saw More Brains just recently I immediately realized what a perfect addition it is to the collection of any fan of Return Of The Living Dead. At 2 hours, it’s a good sight longer than the movie and that’s even *before* you get to the supplements detailing >Parts 2 and 3. The most touching extra, however, is a 30 minute interview with Dan O’Bannon conducted shortly before his death in which he confesses if he had to do it all over again he would have been much more patient with his cast and crew. Also, if you pre-order at the link below before December 20th, you get a free poster signed by signed by Beverly Randolph (“Tina”), Brian Peck (“Scuz”) and James Karen (“Frank”)!