• R!S!P!'s Top Blu-ray And DVD Releases Of 2013!

    2012 was a good year for DVD and Blu-ray, 2013 was better. Here's a rundown of the best DVD and Blu-ray releases that we had the pleasure of reviewing this year, presented for your consideration and in no particular order and based entirely on drunken whims, idiosyncratic impulsive behavior and how much fun we had writing about this stuff. It's not like we're doing it to get rich...

    Top 20 Releases of The Year:






    The Big Gundown (Grindhouse Releasing) – The Big Gundown receives a truly definitive Blu-ray release from Grindhouse Releasing. The transfer is excellent, the extras are both comprehensive and informative and both cuts of the movie are included, as is the soundtrack. The movie itself is one of the finest Spaghetti Westerns ever made, and anyone with even a passing interest in the film or the genre owes it to themselves to add this one to their collection.






    Die Marquise Von Sade a.k.a. The 1000 Shades Of Doriana Grey (Ascot Elite) – Rarely has eroticism and bleak horror mixed together in as successful a combination as it is here as Doriana Grey proves to be not only one of Jess Franco’s most poetic films but also one of Lina Romay’s most inspired and passionate performances. It’s one of those rare films where art and explicit sex collide in all the right ways and we wind up with a movie as beautiful to look at as it is simultaneously somber and arousing. The Blu-ray release from Ascot Elite looks good and sounds alright and also offers up a few decent extras. A nice upgrade to the previous DVD offering and a worthy presentation of a truly strange masterpiece.






    Black Devil Doll From Hell / Tales From The Quadead Zone (Massacre Video) – In a perfect world, Chester Novell Turner would have made more movies than the two camcorder epics contained in this collection from Massacre Video. That didn’t happen, but like the father of the hillbilly family in Quadead Zone, we should thank the good Lord above for what we do have, preferably in rhyme if at all possible. These two movies are unlike anything else, they represent not only one man’s attempt to craft some unusual entertainment but also a glimpse into the world that Chester and Shirley inhabited back in the eighties. Massacre’s DVD release really doesn’t look or sound very good but it probably looks and sounds as good as it can. What it lacks in finesse, it makes up for with some pretty great extras and simply by existing in the first place.






    Demons & Demons 2 (Synapse Films) – They were really expensive and the price and limited edition nature of these release, to be blunt, pissed a lot of people off. With that said, God Damn those transfers are nice. And the extras are solid too. Great audio? Yep, you get that too. These releases have pretty much set the standard for the representation of Lamberto Bava’s Demons movies on Blu-ray. The UK and Japan might have got them first, but these versions are better.






    Corruption (Grindhouse Releasing) – Corruption is a solid thriller/horror picture that takes a familiar concept and gives it an interesting spin. Though it is very much a product of its time, those with an interest in the swingin’ side of British cinema will get a kick out of all the period detail but the real reason to want to watch this one is for Cushing’s completely unhinged performance. Grindhouse Releasing offers up both versions of the movie in beautiful shape and with a great selection of extra features as well. A ridiculously strong release overall.






    Barbara Broadcast (Distribpix) – For better or worse, Barbara Broadcast will forever live in the shadow of The Opening Of Misty Beethoven, but that hasn’t stopped Distribpix from going all out with this restored special edition release. The movie itself is a playful, funny and beautifully made film for grownups, a celebration of carnality and earthly delights shot with an artist’s eye for composition and set to an excellent score. Seeing it restored in high definition completely uncut with a load of extra features really helps to put it all into context and if this isn’t the ‘best’ of the five Henry Paris films, it’s damn close and comes highly recommended.






    A Virgin Among The Living Dead (Kino Lorber/Redemption) – Now that it’s been given a proper special edition Blu-ray release, it should seem obvious that the film, particularly in its Christina, Princess Of Eroticism cut, is a far better picture than it’s abysmal reputation would have many fans believe. When viewed properly, it’s sometimes morose and often times bizarre fever dream of a movie, subtly mixing its horror movie quirks within the confines of a hallucinatory tale of sex and surrealism. Redemption’s Blu-ray might suffer from print damage but it offers both cuts of the movie in considerably improved form when compared to the domestic DVD release and with an impressive selection of extras that provide historical and critical context as well.






    The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad (Twilight Time) – Hessler and Harryhausen’s The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad remains a consummate fantasy adventure film. Not only does the film feature an excellent cast all at the top of their game but it showcases some of the most imaginative and impressive effects set pieces of its day. Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release provides a substantial leap up in quality over the past DVD release and anyone even remotely enthralled with Harryhausen’s talents should consider this essential.






    The Hot Nights Of Linda (Severin Films) – Severin have gone above and beyond with their Blu-ray release of The Hot Nights Of Linda. The transfer isn’t perfect but it’s quite a nice improvement over the tape sourced bootlegs that have made the rounds, while the extras add quite a bit of value to the set. The limited edition with the alternate version won’t be around forever, and is well worth getting. All in all, a pretty thorough release for an underrated Franco film, one that offers more than just cheap thrills (though it’s got plenty of those too) and which can hopefully now find a larger audience thanks to this release.






    Mad Foxes (Illusion Unltd.) - It’s a crying shame that the commentary isn’t subtitled but otherwise this is a solid release. The transfer isn’t quite perfect but it is a nice improvement over the DVD release. As to the movie itself? Mad Foxes is an undisputable trash classic, a relentlessly entertaining barrage of sex, violence and sleaze and one of the most insanely entertaining movies to ever unfold before your leering eyes. Amazing stuff, really.






    How To Seduce A Virgin (Mondo Macabro) – How To Seduce A Virgin is pretty great stuff even if a lot of times it feels like an exercise in style over substance. Will it convince those not already indoctrinated into the cult of Franco? No, probably not, but if you’re a fan you’ve figured out before getting to this point in the review that you need this. Mondo Macabro’s DVD presentation is a very nice one, there are some solid extras and the A/V quality is excellent. A must own for Franco-philes.






    Hands Of The Ripper (Synapse Films) – Hands Of The Ripper holds up well, and if it’s a bit more malicious in the throat slashing department than most Hammer films, so be it. There are some fine performances here, lots of atmosphere, great sets and costumes and a solid score – plenty to enjoy for those who enjoy a good period horror film. Synapse Films presents the movie on Blu-ray for the first time in a great transfer with excellent audio and a nice selection of supplements as well. No complaints here, a top notch disc all around.






    Only God Forgives (Anchor Bay Entertainment) – Only God Forgives is as stylish and remarkably violent as it is genuinely moving and thought provoking. This is more than just beautifully photographed exotic bloodshed if you’re willing to look beneath the surface and despite the similarities to Drive it sees both Refn and Gosling going in different directions than they did in that earlier film. Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray is not only beautiful but it sounds fantastic and offers up a good array of supplements as well that both document and explore the history of the movie and its intentions. Watch this one, then watch it again with the commentary on, then watch it again with the commentary off. There’s a lot more to this than it first seems, and peeling back the layers of the picture is a rewarding experience.






    Samurai Cop (Cinema Epoch) – Amazingly inept and ridiculously entertaining, Samurai Cop is one for the books and Cinema Epoch brings it back to DVD for your enjoyment. The transfer is solid and the extras are informative and interesting. The movie itself? A bit of a trash film classic, really. Sure it’s horribly made, but that doesn’t take away from it in the least, in fact, the whole thing just adds up to AWESOME. Maybe someday Robert Z’Dar will accept our friend request on Facebook…






    Top Sensation (Camera Obscura) – Camera Obscura continues to impress in their efforts to breathe new life into European cult film oddities. Probably their most loaded release yet, this two disc offering of Top Sensation is about as comprehensive as it can probably get. The transfer is decent and the extras as interesting as they are informative and entertaining. Once again we see great care taken not only with the presentation of the movie but also the packaging, the liners, the menu design and everything else. This one is on the spendy side but if you’re a fan of the movie or either of its two leading ladies, it’s worth every penny.






    Vanishing Waves (Artsploitation Films) – Vanishing Waves is a slow film but it’s almost hypnotic in the way that it morphs from the cold and the clinical into a big mess of emotion, passion and all too human lust. Artsploitation Films presents the movie in an impressive two-disc set in very nice shape and with some great extra features as well. All in all, a very strong release of a film that mixes arthouse style with some clever science fiction themes and impressive performances.






    Erotic Memoirs Of A Male Chauvinist Pig (Distribpix) – The Erotic Memoirs Of A Male Chauvinist Pig isn’t the most arousing adult film ever made but it definitely is one of the more atypical XXX features of its day. The performances are strong, the concept is legitimately interesting and the movie is quite well made. Distribpix brings this skuzzy little cinematic oddity to DVD in style, providing some welcome extras and presenting the film in the best condition realistically possible






    The Driver (Twilight Time) – Twilight Time’s Blu-ray brings the movie to high definition in wonderful condition and with excellent audio and if it’s not crammed with extras, it’s got a couple of supplements tucked away under its menus. As to the movie itself, it’s an incredibly slick noir influenced thriller. The Driver is one of Walter Hill’s finest moments, an exercise in the power of silence and calm wrapped up in ninety minutes of near flawless cinematic tension.






    Street Trash (Synapse Films) – Street Trash is, was, and always will be a whole lot of nasty gory fun. Synapse brings this legitimate cult classic splatter comedy to Blu-ray in grand style, carrying over almost all of the extras from the previous special edition release and adding a few new ones and on top of that they deliver the film up in amazing condition. This is one that fans of the film should definitely find worthy of the upgrade – an awesome package overall.






    Day Of The Dead (Shout! Factory) – Day Of The Dead is bleak, it’s uncompromising and it’s almost relentlessly grim – these qualities make it the most intense of Romero’s original ‘Dead Trilogy’ and it stands as one of the best zombie movies ever made. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release improves on the past release from Anchor Bay by offering up a better transfer and a great selection of extras. All in all, a very strong release from a movie that is completely deserving of it.


    Studio Of The Year:






    Vinegar Syndrome, by sheer volume, has to at least be in the running here, right?. Throw in the fact that their releases are of excellent quality and their choices consistently bizarre, sexy, thrilling, insane and just generally awesome and there’s no way we couldn’t give them the biggest high five of 2013. Just take a look at their roster…

    Wakefield Poole’s Bible!, Russ Meyer’s HD debut with Fanny Hill and The Phantom Gunslinger, the insane arthouse sleaze of The Blue Hour, superfluous Ted Knight casting in The Candidate/Johnny Gunman, Gameshow Models, the Filipino exploitation double header of Death Force/Vampire Hookers, the Vic Diaz double dose of Blood Thirst/The Thirsty Dead, the Ted V. Mikels Blu-ray debut of The Doll Squad and Mission: Killfast, Anne Heywood’s finest moment in Good Luck Miss Wyckoff. Not enough? They also released the wonderfully terrible Punk Vacation/Nomad Riders double feature, the bizarre pornumentary A Labor Of Love (which actually got us an email from a participants lawyer – a first for R!S!P!), the Dungeon Of Harrow/Death By Invitation double feature, the remarkably bizarre and fantastic and sexy The Telephone Book, the Anatomy Of A Psycho/The Lonely Sex double feature, the amazingly sleazy and rough pairing of The Suckers/The Love Garden, and the recalled (oops!) Savage Water/Death By Invitation double feature.

    awesome XXX action with First Time/Oriental Babysitter, The Virgin Love/Lustful Feelings, The Oral Generation, The Sexualist/Wendy’s Palace, the kinda-sorta Asian hot chick double feature of Vixens Of Kung-Fu/Oriental Blue (which mixes up hot Jewish chicks and hot Asian chicks with healthy doses of Jamie Gillis thrown in) and the completely spank-worthy pairing of Expectations/Confessions. That’s a lot of porn, no matter how you look at it, and we thank you, Vinegar Syndrome, for that porn.

    And if that weren’t enough? Those beautiful bastards put out a special edition Blu-ray release of fucking Night Train To Terror, the break dancing, God vs. Satan, Bull from Night Court titty fest of terror that will melt your mind and scar your soul. But their best disc of 2013? Massage Parlor Murders, a highly anticipated exploitation-slasher-cop film loaded with boobs and blood and shot on location in a fantastically filthy early seventies New York City chock full of shag carpeting, weird title fonts, great sideburns, bad wall paper and hot ladies galore.

    Honorable Mentions:




    A bunch of other discs released this year that are 100% worth your time…

    Fairy In A Cage (Impulse Pictures) – A notorious Nikkatsu classic, Fairy In A Cage gets its long awaited DVD debut from Impulse. The disc is barebones, sadly, but the transfer is great and the movie itself is one that, if you’ve been enjoying the ‘Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection’ releases so far, you should consider a mandatory purchase.

    Alley Cat – (Scorpion Releasing) – Alley Cat isn’t the most original film but it is a lot of good, trashy fun. There’s plenty of action, nudity and chaos and Scorpion’s DVD presents it in very nice shape and with a few cool extra features as well. Recommended!

    House On Straw Hill (Severin Films) – House On Straw Hill remains a pretty engrossing, twisted thriller particularly when viewed in its full strength version as presented on this release. The performances are great and the seedy air of debauchery lends itself well to the storyline. Severin’s Blu-ray release does the best it can with some seriously mangled elements and offers the best home video presentation we’ve seen to date. On top of that it throws in some pretty solid supplements, the highlight being the bonus disc including the feature length two part Ban The Sadist Videos. All in all, a very thorough and welcome release for anyone with an interest in the movie.

    Grapes Of Death (Kino Lorber/Redemption) – Another great addition to Kino’s “The Cinema of Jean Rollin” series, The Grapes of Death is a healthy helping of good old fashioned schlock, ripe for late night viewing. The picture is pleasing, the interview in the extras is great, and the disc is must have for Rollin fans.

    Schalcken The Painter (BFI) – An eerie, slow burn of a picture, Schalcken The Painter deals in sex and death and the correlation that seems to exist between them. It’s a very nicely shot feature, particularly given its made for TV roots, and it features some amazing atmosphere, excellent art direction and strong performances. The BFI’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds very good and rounds out the package quite nicely with some quality extras that both compliment and document the feature attraction.

    Private (Cult Epics) – Private debuts on Blu-ray from Cult Epics who, despite the quick trims to the most graphic scene, offer up the movie in great shape and carry over the main extras from the DVD. The movie itself is solid, not Brass’ best but a worthy entry in his filmography – definitely recommended for fans of his work. Here’s hoping 2014 sees Cult Epics bring more Brass and ass to HD!

    The Police Connection (Code Red DVD) – Code Red continues to be… an enigma. But... YES! The Police Connection is an impressive mix of action and exploitation, a rock solid drive-in movie with a great cast, some memorable set pieces, and enough sex and violence to satisfy in this uncut presentation! Code Red’s DVD release is a welcome one, presenting the film in its full strength uncut version and in its proper widescreen aspect ratio looking good. A ridiculously entertaining release, highly recommended. This would have ranked higher had there been extras on it.

    The Hitch-Hiker (Kino Lorber) – The very toughest and most minimalist of film noirs dealing in particularly rough territory, THE HITCH-HIKER comes highly recommended to those with an eye for the edgiest fare the genre has to offer. Talman's unforgettable bad guy alone makes this a must see and if this disc isn’t loaded with extras, it looks and sounds great.

    Tower Of Evil (Scorpion Releasing) – Tower Of Evil offers up plenty of trashy thrills and some legitimately impressive atmosphere. On top of that it’s got a solid cast and some enjoyable effects work all set to a cool score and placed on some great sets. Scorpion’s DVD release offers it up in nice shape and with a couple of fun extras as well. This is definitely one worth seeking out.

    Eega (Aditya Music) - Eega is long and over reliant on CGI but it makes up for that with some really fun performances and an amazing, inspired sense of creativity. The perfect blend of action, horror and comedy with a touching romantic subplot, it’s just a crazy amount of fun and the nearly three hour long running time breezes by. Good effects, amazing camera work, a great score and some remarkably original ideas and storytelling techniques make this Indian import worth tracking down, and while the Aditya Blu-ray may be a few marks off from perfect, it is at least a decent way to experience the movie in your home theater.
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. Alison Jane's Avatar
      Alison Jane -
      Lots of Franco is always good. I would like to see The Big Gundown and The Driver.
    1. bgart13's Avatar
      bgart13 -
      No "worst" list? C'mon...put those free discs at risk and piss off some companies! Make Kino cry a little bit... please?
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      That list has been ongoing in the DVDs I wouldn't want thread, or whatever it is called. Actually you should make that list yourself. I would be a interesting read I imagine.
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      Franco!! yeah!! Nice to see Barbara Broadcast. Its still probably my favourite blu-ray release of 2013.
    1. bgart13's Avatar
      bgart13 -
      Kino has at least four that would be in my "worst" list. Might be a few Hammers too. Could toss in some technical blunders too, like WB's BISHOP'S WIFE problems.
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bgart13 View Post
      Kino has at least four that would be in my "worst" list. Might be a few Hammers too. Could toss in some technical blunders too, like WB's BISHOP'S WIFE problems.
      Disagree with the Hammer viewpoint buddy. Yes they may be flawed but worst? I don't think so.
    1. bgart13's Avatar
      bgart13 -
      I said "might."
    1. Goldberg's Avatar
      Goldberg -
      Some good pics on here, I even paid cash money for a few myself!