We are already a week and a half deep into 2018 which is madness. Time is flying at a rapid pace that is nearly impossible to keep up with. And I know this to be true because I neglected to get my best Blu-rays of 2017 submitted in a timely manner. With that said I put together a really amazing list so I’m going to share it with you now.
People will constantly tell you that physical media is a failing form. Everybody wants you to stream this and download that. And don’t get me wrong, I use Netflix and Amazon Prime as much as the next guy, but streaming doesn’t have everything. Plus streaming will never be able to replicate physical media. It’s just not the same.
Fortunately, physical media is alive and kicking, especially for genre fans. For the last three years, the quality of Blu-ray releases has surpassed the previous year. The releases in 2015 were better than 2014, and 2016 better than 2015. Now 2017 has managed to squeak on by 2016. We are living in golden age for physical media and it’s glorious.
The downside to the current state of physical media is that choosing a best of list is nearly impossible. For the last couple years now I’ve made slight adjustments to how I do my list and I’m doing so again this year. This year I will start things off with my top 5 favorite releases from the UK and Australia. Then I will give my top 10 US releases of 2017 and end things with 15 honorable mention US releases.
And now, the lists.
Top 5 Australia Blu-ray Releases of 2017
5. Attack Force Z — Umbrella Entertainment
Attack Force Z is one of Australia’s greatest achievements so it’s only fitting that it would get an outstanding Blu-ray release courtesy of one of Australia’s greatest distribution labels. As a war film Attack Force Z is fairly standard, but what sets it apart are the early performances from Mel Gibson and Sam Neil.
4. Dark Age — Umbrella Entertainment
I love me some Ozploitation and Dark Age is a great slice of Ozploitation. The film is about a giant crocodile that eats people — think Jaws but with a crocodile. The monster mayhem is a ton of fun, but what really makes this film special is the social commentary on the state of Australia at the time and the treatment of Aboriginals. Great movie. Great release.
3. Orca: The Killer Whale — Umbrella Entertainment
We now transition from a killer croc to a killer whale with Orca! After Jaws there were a number of rip-offs that followed. Most of those movies aren’t great — I still love them — but Orca isn’t most movies. This is one of the few animal attacks movies where you actually root for the animal. If that sounds weird you just need to watch the movie. I had been waiting for an Orca Blu-ray forever and Umbrella delivered.
2. The Fly: Ultimate Collection — Via Vision Entertainment
Before 2017 the only film I had seen in The Fly series was Cronenberg’s classic. That all changed when Via Vision Entertainment released The Fly: Ultimate Collection — a 5-disc set featuring all 5 movies in the series (3 originals, 2 remakes). Via Vision has a history of releasing amazing box sets and this one is no different. All 5 films look great and this is loaded with bonus content. Great release from a great company.
1. Suspiria — Umbrella Entertainment
Dario Argento’s Suspiria had been one of the most anticipated Blu-ray releases for as long as I can remember. 2017 finally brought us that release and we got three — one in the US, one in the UK and one in Australia. So far I’ve only seen the Australian release and it is a thing of beauty. This 4K restoration comes courtesy of Germany’s TLEFilms FRPS and it is stunning. This is one of the best looking Blu-rays I have ever seen and the way Argento is meant to look. And it has hours and hours of special features. Easily one of the year’s best releases.
Top 5 UK Blu-ray Releases of 2017
5. All the Colours of the Dark — Shameless Films
At the start of 2017 I only knew Sergio Martino by name. He was one of those directors I knew I had to get to, but hadn’t done so yet. That changed this past year, largely due to Shameless Films who pumped out a number of Martino releases. All the Colours of the Dark was my favorite of those releases.
4. Absurd — 88 Films
Joe D’Amato’s Absurd was a title 88 Films had announced a while back and once they did I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It’s the story about a priest trying to stop a beast of a man that cannot be killed and it takes place on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s even better than it sounds and 88 Films did not disappoint.
3. Intruder — 88 Films
The 88 Films release of Intruder is nuts. The reason I say that is because somehow it tops the Synapse release from a few years back. Topping Synapse is nearly an impossible task and yet 88 Films did it. It also doesn’t help that Intruder is a highly underrated 80’s slasher.
2. Almost Human — Shameless Films
In 2017 we lost the great Umberto Lenzi. Fortunately , e’s memory will forever live on thanks to his wonderful filmography. One of Lenzi’s absolute best films is Almost Human — a gritty look at Italy’s crime scene of the 70’s. Almost Human is a dark, brutal look at the rise and fall of Giulio Sacchi. Not only is does this Shameless release offer a beautiful presentation but it has a brand-new exclusive interview with Lenzi. This is a most for all Lenzi fans.
1. Aenigma — 88 Films
If there’s a new Lucio Fulci release on Blu-ray you better believe that’s going to be on my best of list every time out. Aenigma was one of the few Fulci films I had not seen until 88 Films put out this Blu-ray but I hadn’t heard promising things. Once I watched the film I was blown away. There are no words in the English language to describe how much I love this movie. It rips off a ton of other films and has the most hilarious idea of what is American, but there is so much damn charm. This release also comes with a documentary on Fulci and that’s what it’s not only my favorite UK release of 2017, but maybe my favorite UK release of all time.
Top 10 US Blu-ray Releases of 2017
10. Blood Beat — Vinegar Syndrome
Blood Beat is wonderfully bizarre. It’s about a brother and sister returning to their home in rural Wisconsin to spend Christmas where their mother and step father. Then a samurai appears. I’m not sure if any of it adds up, but I like it. The release from Vinegar Syndrome has some fun features include the horror remix version of the film.
9. Inquisition — Mondo Macabro
2017 was the year I got familiar with directors and actors that were new to me and Paul Naschy was one of those such individuals. It’s not that I didn’t know who Naschy was, but he was a pretty big genre blind spot for me. Luckily Mondo Macbro put out the wonderful Inquisition and I was able to get a taste of what Naschy brings to the table. And once you get a taste of Naschy you can’t help but go back for more. Inquisition is a brutal tale on the nastiness of witch hunts. As their known to do, Mondo Macbro treated this release with all the love it deserves and it shows.
8. The Paul Naschy Collection I & II — Scream Factory
Let’s keep that Naschy train running with two sets of Naschy films courtesy of Scream Factory. I was a bit surprised when Scream Factory announced their Naschy sets because he seems a bit more obscure than what they normal put out, but I ain’t complaining. All told the two sets containing 10 films starring the Spanish genre legend, all highlighting his incredible range as a talent. I would love to see more box sets like this in the future from Scream Factory.
7. Kill, Baby, Kill! — Kino Lorber
You can’t have a best of list without Mario Bava and Kill, Baby Kill! may very well be his ultimate masterpiece. Bava, more so than maybe any other genre director save for Dario Argento, had a visual eye that was always uniquely his own and that’s all on display here. For years horror fans suffered through poor pan and scan copies of one of Bava’s finest films and I’m thrilled to say we no longer have to do that. Kino Lorber cleaned this up with a new 2K restoration from 35mm elements and it looks gorgeous. You can’t have a collection without this film.
6. Phenomena — Synapse Films
Dario Argento + Metal + Synapse Films = Gold. Phenomena is one of the most fun Argento movies there is and now it has a Blu-ray release worthy of it’s greatness. My favorite thing about this release is that it gives you the option for the US cut (Creepers) or the international cut. Both of which have undergone the Synapse treatment. What’s not to like?
5. Don’t Torture a Duckling — Arrow Video
Hey, look, another film from Lucio Fulci! My rule is clear people — if there is a new Lucio Fulci Blu-ray release, it’s going to make my best of, that’s just the way it is. What makes this release even better is that it’s Don’t Torture a Duckling and Don’t Torture a Duckling is an awesome film. This great film comes with some great bonus content including audio commentary with Stephen Thrower which is always a treat. The feature I really love here though is something called “Lucio Fulci Remembers.” This is audio of Fulci answering questions played over some shots of Fulci memorabilia. I dig it.
4. The Devil’s Rain — Severin Films
Severin had a wonderful year and you really could plug any number of their releases into this top 10. I went with The Devil’s Rain because it’s beyond bonkers. In fact I would have named it Beyond Bonkers. If you haven’t seen this film you won’t get it until you do. So go see it. And see this Blu-ray because it’s the best.
3. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage — Arrow Video
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a great movie. And it’s not just a great giallo either, but rather a great murder mystery. The ending sneaks up on me every time. This is the type of film that feels like it’s been crafted by a seasoned pro with decades worth of experience behind the camera but it wasn’t. This was Dario Argento’s first film, making the film’s success all the more remarkable. In typical Arrow fashion this great film now has a great release.
2. Rawhead Rex — Kino Lorber
Rawhead Rex is one of those movies that I assumed would never make it to Blu-ray. It was just going to be lost the VHS days and year after year less and less horror fans would remember it. Thankfully that’s not the case. Kino Lorber swooped in, gave this a 4K restoration and the results are stunning. The image quality is so bright and vivid, plus it retains that film quality that we all love. This is an absolute dream release.
1. Beyond the 7th Door — InterVision
Ok so my number one Blu-ray of the year is actually a DVD. Is that a bit of a cheat? Maybe, but I don’t care because Beyond the 7th Door is incredible. If you read my review, follow me on Twitter or know me in real life than you know how much I love this movie. When I watched this movie I had no idea what it was and it blew me away. Easily my favorite movie that I watched in 2017. It has so much heart and so much passion that it’s impossible not to have a great time with it. And when you watch the special features with the film’s star and director you’re going to love it anymore. Best release of 2017, easy. You. Must. Own. THIS!
US Honorable Mention Blu-ray Releases of 2017
Jess Franco’s Forgotten Films Volume 1: The Silence of the Tomb & The Sinister Eyes of Doctor Orloff — Dorado Films
Wild Beasts — Severin Films
Suddenly in the Dark — Mondo Macabro
No Retreat, No Surrender — Kino Lorber
The Gate — Vestron Collector’s Series
The Skull — Kino Lorber
House: Two Stories — Arrow Video
Cathy’s Curse — Severin Films
Teen Wolf & Teen Wolf II — Scream Factory
Re-Animator — Arrow Video
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly — Kino Lorber
The Slayer — Arrow Video
Amsterdamned — Blue Underground
The Devil’s Honey — Severin Films
Popcorn — Synapse Films
Between Night and Dawn — Arrow Video
The Violent Years — AGFA
Trailer Trauma 4 — Garagehouse Pictures
Silent Night Deadly Night — Scream Factory
D.O.A.: A Right of Passage — MVD Rewind Collection
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