• Rock! Shock! Pop's Top DVD And Blu-ray Releases Of 2016!

    2016 was an absolutely awesome year for DVD and especially Blu-ray releases, proving once again that physical media is far from dead. While we’re not able to cover everything here at Rock! Shock! Pop!, we manage to cover a lot – and from that coverage we’re pleased to present our picks for the best DVD and Blu-ray releases from the last twelve months. Truly we live in an age of miracles! So without further ado and presented in no particular order our Top Releases Of 2016…

    The Exorcist III remains an excellent follow up to the original film – it’s smart, it’s scary and it’s remarkably involving, taking the concepts in some unexpected but wholly effective directions. Shout! Factory has done a seriously fantastic job bringing this one to Blu-ray, presenting it in excellent shape, with the highly sought after director’s cut and a host of other extra features. Highly recommended!

    Burial Ground remains an awesome cinematic headscratcher, a mind-meltingly awful and awesome slice of gory Italian zombie horror and if nothing else it deserves credit for introducing the world to the one and only Peter Bark. Severin’s Blu-ray presents the film in great shape and with plenty of fun extras too.

    Essential for fans of Japanese Cinema and aficionados of gritty action flicks, Violent Cop will not appeal to everyone; but for fans of the film, this Blu-ray provides a worthy upgrade.

    Carrie remains a high point not only in De Palma’s filmography but in the filmed works of Stephen King too. It’s a smart, well-made picture with some iconic set pieces, excellent performances and some themes that still pack a punch today, forty years after it was made. Shout! Factory has rolled out the red carpet for this release, carrying over all of the extras from the past MGM discs, adding a nice selection of new featurettes and giving the film a beautiful presentation. This leaves the previous Blu-ray in the dust, and one of those reissues that’s completely worthwhile for anyone with even a passing interest in the film.

    Count Dracula’s Great Love is pretty solid stuff – a nice mix of gothic horror and straight up exploitation that moves at a quick pace and is shot with plenty of style. Naschy’s great in the lead and the supporting cast are all in fine form. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release is a good one, presenting the movie in great shape and with some choice supplements accompanying it.

    Severin’s two disc Blu-ray special edition release of Doctor Butcher M.D. / Zombie Holocaust is pretty much the final word on the film. Not only do we finally get both versions of the film but they’re both presented in transfers much improved over previous releases. On top of that we get a ridiculous amount of supplemental material – and a barf bag! Don’t miss out. Highly recommended.

    Blue Sunshine is a one of a kind cinematic oddity, the kind that could only have been made in the seventies. It’s paranoid, it’s over the top, it’s scary, it’s funny – and it is wickedly entertaining. Filmcentrix, have rolled out the red carpet for this one, presenting the film in a gorgeous transfer with rock solid audio, loads of extras and some great packaging and extra treats tucked away inside. Highly recommended!

    Dolemite? Man, order this disc and give Vinegar Syndrome your cash, 'fore they have be to pullin' these Hush Puppies out your motherfuckin' ass!

    Night Of The Demon is a truly great movie, a classic horror picture in every sense of that the term allows. The performances are great, the story is compelling and interesting, very ahead of its time in some ways, and the direction is remarkably strong. Couple that with the fact that it is an absolutely gorgeous film to look at and it is easy to see why it remains as popular is it is. Anolis’ Blu-ray release is equally strong, presenting the movie in great shape and with a nice selection of extra features as well.

    The old Grindhouse Releasing special edition DVD release of I Drink Your Blood was fantastic but this Blu-ray reissue is leaps and bounds above that standard definition offering. Not only does the movie look and sound better than ever but it’s got some impressive new supplements and it comes packed with two additional feature films, also debuting in HD for the first time. The movie itself holds up incredibly well, a no-holds barred epic of nasty, exploitative horror that is as ridiculously entertaining now as it has ever been.

    John Huston’s filmed take on Moby Dick is classic high adventure! The film’s themes of obsession and insanity are timeless, the characters wonderfully written and acted and the direction quite strong. Great production values and some impressive effects set pieces stand out here as well. Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release would seem to represent the director’s intended look for the film and the presentation is, with that in mind, quite good. Throw in a really interesting commentary and a few other extras and this is a really solid package for a truly great film.

    A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin remains a highpoint in Lucio Fulci’s career and giallo cinema alike. It’s slick, stylish, sexy and compelling – a genuine classic of the genre, and Mondo Macabro have done an excellent job bringing it in its full strength version to Blu-ray. The presentation is excellent, the extras as comprehensive as they are extensive and the overall care and attention to detail given to this release makes it pretty much essential for anyone interested in Italian cult films.

    Return Of The Living Dead Part 3 was long overdue for a proper special edition release and thankfully, this Blu-ray is it. The film looks and sounds great, it is presented in its proper uncut form and it not only carries over the two commentary tracks from the old DVD but it adds a whole bunch of interesting featurettes to the package as well. It took a while to get here, but better late than never. Highly recommended!

    The Pit is creepy. It’s bizarre. It’s unsettling and strange, a story that straddles the line between horror and some unexpected sleaze in its own inimitable style. Fans of offbeat horror pictures will eat this one up, and Kino’s Blu-ray, nicely restored and loaded with extras, is a great way to check it out. Don’t let this one pass you by.

    Garagehouse Picture’s Blu-ray release of The Satanist (with Sisters In Leather) is pretty great stuff. The movie is a blast, sure to appease anyone with a taste for late sixties black and white sleaze, and the extras – highlighted by an interesting commentary track and the second feature film – add a lot of value to the set. The presentation is also top notch. All in all, a great release!
    Symptoms is a bit of a slow burn but it’s really well done. The performances from the two female leads coupled with the gorgeous camerawork and the eerie locations make this twisted thriller one well worth seeking out. Mondo Macabro have given this one a long overdue Blu-ray release (the BFI are handling it in the UK) and it’s a good one – an excellent presentation with some great extras too.

    Cult Epics has gone all out with this set, reissuing the three individual discs with the new Schramm Blu-ray and including some great soundtrack CDs and an impressive insert booklet. The films won’t be to all tastes, of course, and those who already own the earlier single disc releases may not feel the need to double dip, but this is an impressive package of some genuinely challenging cinema that deftly blends arthouse sensibilities with gutter trash exploitation tactics in deliriously confrontational ways.

    Pigs is a weird little low budget seventies oddity that, while hardly any sort of masterpiece, has enough strange atmosphere and weird characters in it to make it worth a watch. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release blows the previous Troma DVD out of the water, presenting the movie in its intended form in great shape and with some impressive supplements rounding out the package. Highly recommended.

    Cult movie fans and trashy horror movie junkies, consider this one the definitive release of Juan Piquer Simón’s crowning achievement in cinematic insanity. The presentation is top notch, the extras as extensive as they are interesting, and the movie itself…. Well, it’s exactly what you think it is.

    What Have They Done To Your Daughters? remains a compelling watch, a tense and surprisingly action-intensive mix of genres that takes us into some decidedly dark territory. Camera Obscura’s Blu-ray release is up to the label’s typically high standards, presenting the film in excellent condition and with some fantastic supplements as well.

    Shout! Factory’s Collector’s Edition two-disc Blu-ray reissue of John Carpenter’s The Thing is excellent. The presentation offers a really big upgrade over the previous Blu-ray from Universal and not only carries over all of the supplements from that disc but adds quite a few new ones to the package too. The film itself remains one of the best horror/sci-fi films of the eighties, a remarkably tense and exciting film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. All in all, this is an excellent package – this is pretty definitive stuff, highly recommended!

    Taboo holds up well, it’s a psychologically compelling adult film that treats its controversial subject matter with maturity, but not at the expense of the requisite titillation! Kay Parker is great in the lead and the rest of the cast do fine work as well, while the technical merits of the production are quite solid. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray debut for the film carries over all of the extras from the previous DVD release and throws in two new – and legitimately engaging – commentary tracks to compliment the 2k re-mastering.

    The Witch may at times play out more like a historical drama than a traditional horror movie but it does an excellent job of building atmosphere and tension until it all basically explodes in the last twenty minutes or so. The film is an impressive debut. It is stylish, beautifully shot and remarkably well acted – all in all, it’s quite effective and a nice alternative to much of what modern horror films have become. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray debut for the movie looks and sounds excellent and it contains some decent extras as well.

    Am I looking at this film through nostalgia-tinted graphics? Who knows? Who cares? Cannon's American Ninja is every bit as exciting and awesome as it was during that first viewing over thirty years ago and Olive's Blu-ray release is excellent

    Macbeth is a masterwork, horror film as high art with one of cinema’s greatest visionaries at the helm. That it isn’t better known is a shame, but at least Olive’s superior Signature Edition release does its part to rectify that. A beautifully dark and moody transfer, a secondary cut of the film, and a witches’ cavern full of extras makes this one of the best Blu-ray releases of the year. Even if you own Olive’s previous edition, you should consider double-dipping; this is one case where it’s absolutely worth it.

    Tenebrae remains one of Dario Argento’s finest films, a tense and bloody thriller shot with loads of style and with a keen eye for startling compositions. On top of that we get a great cast, a fantastic score and some of the most memorable murder set pieces of the director’s entire filmography. Synapse’s Blu-ray release presents the film in excellent shape, with really strong audio and with a great selection of extra features as well. All in all, a pretty fantastic edition of one of the best giallo films of the eighties!

    Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release of Eureka is a good one, presenting this enjoyably eclectic picture in very nice shape and with a lot of supplements. The movie itself is a hyper-stylish and completely bizarre examination of greed and betrayal as only Roeg could deliver. It may be strange, surreal even, but anyone with an interest in the director’s work owes it to themselves to add this to their collection.

    A truly unique and wonderful film, it's impossible not to give JOHNNY GUITAR the highest possible recommendation. Crawford and McCambridge give outstanding performances and Olive's offering is a top flight affair from its superb transfer and audio down to the copious and excellent extras all the way to the spiffy slipcased packaging and booklet with informative liner notes. This is Criterion level stuff folks. Buy with confidence.

    So, having laid all of that before you, there’s one more mention we need to make – and that’s label of the year. 2016 really was a banner year for Arrow Video. Not only did they release a ridiculous amount of really great stuff, but most of it was of excellent quality too. Let’s start out with a look at their single film releases:

    And then there were the boxed sets:

    All in all, an amazing year - and the best news of all? 2017 looks like it could wind up being just as good, if not better.