• Rock! Shock! Pop!'s Best Of 2017

    The last few years have seen a resurgence in the popularity of cult titles on DVD and especially Blu-ray and for fans, well, 2017 was an embarrassment of riches. We hear at R!S!P! have been privileged enough to have the opportunity to review a lot of the best and most interesting to come out this year, and with 2018 just a few short hours away, why not look back on the last twelve months?

    So without further ado, here are our favorite titles that we were able to write up this year, ranked in no particular order and based on the ever important mix of entertainment value and quality of the release itself.

    Rock! Shock! Pop’s Top 20 Domestic Releases Of 2017:

    Blue Underground really rolled out the red carpet for their release of Deathdream, carrying over all of the extras from their previous DVD edition, adding a bunch of new supplements to the mix and presenting the film in excellent shape. As to the movie itself? Deathdream is an excellent film, a genuinely chilling horror picture that is really well made on all fronts.

    Bat Pussy is terrible by anyone’s standards, but that doesn’t make it any less fascinating. Cinematic masochists, pay attention! The Blu-ray release still looks like a ragged print, but that’s because that’s all there is to use! We do get a seriously nice upgrade over the previous DVD-R release, however, not just in terms of quality but in terms of the extras as well. BAT PUSSY IS ON BLU-RAY. Let that sink in...

    A fun, and slightly goofy, supernatural drive-in movie, The Devil’s Rain isn’t the scariest of horror movies but it’s definitely an entertaining and enjoyable way to kill an hour and a half – and what a cast! Severin’s transfer is fantastic and the wealth of new extras included on this release should absolutely please the film’s fan base. Highly recommended!

    Arrow’s Blu-ray release of Don’t Torture A Duckling offers up the film in very nice shape, with fine audio and with a nice selection of extra features that cover not only the history of the film but many of the people involved in its making as well. The movie itself holds up really well, a dark thriller that takes some unexpected twists and turns and that remains a high point in the late Lucio Fulci’s career.

    The Fox With A Velvet Tail eschews some of the sleazier elements often associated with gialli and instead opts for a slick, sophisticated slow burn style – but it works, and it works well. Benefiting from a strong cast and some absolutely gorgeous visuals, this one definitely entertains and Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray release is a true thing of beauty presenting the film in great shape and with some nice extra features as well.

    The Apple might have come out in 1980 but it’s such a product of coke-fueled seventies excess that it almost seems out of place. Regardless, the movie is nuts. It’s completely over the top, it’s gleefully insane and while it’s not good in the way that some movies are good, it’s a ridiculously creative and bizarre film unlike any other. The Blu-ray release from Kino/Scorpion gives the film a really nice high definition presentation with some solid extras too. All in all, a really fun release.

    The Bird With The Crystal Plumage remains one of the most influential of the Italian giallos, a very well-paced and effective chiller that holds up very well to repeat viewings. Arrow's completely uncut high definition transfer is a true thing of beauty and the superlative audio and video quality along with a wealth of interesting and informative extra features make this release difficult to pass up. Highly recommended.

    Vinegar Syndrome's Blu-ray release of China Girl is a good one, presenting the film in very nice shape and highlighted by an interesting audio interview with the picture's leading lady. The movie itself is pretty entertaining and it serves as a great showcase for Annette Haven.

    Babyface is top notch smut. A product of its time to be sure, and not in the least bit concerned with political correctness, it is nevertheless very well acted, beautifully shot and skillfully directed. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray is a thing of beauty – you can basically toss any older editions you’ve had of this in the trash – and it rightly presents the film completely uncut.

    A wonderfully crafted and exceptionally tense thriller, Misery holds up well as one of the best cinematic adaptations of King's work. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release offers up a very strong presentation with great sound and picture quality. There aren’t a million new extras here but the two new interviews are a welcome addition to the release and everything from the old Blu-ray/DVD editions has, thankfully, been ported over to this reissue.

    Liquid Sky remains a wild blend of arthouse filmmaking and exploitation tropes, blending garish eighties visuals with a genuinely strange plot and showcasing some great performances. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray debut for the feature is outstanding, presenting the film in immaculate shape and loaded floor to ceiling with interesting extra features. Highly recommended!

    One of Hill’s finest and criminally underrated films, The Long Riders gets the deluxe treatment from Kino Lorber’s Studio Classics line. This two disc set offers up a very nice upgraded presentation and loads of new extras. Highly recommended!

    The Lair Of The White Worm won’t likely ever be regarded as one of Russell’s masterpieces but it is a damn fine horror-comedy with some great performances and some unforgettable imagery. This new Blu-ray release from Vestron Video presents the movie with a good transfer, strong audio and a really nice selection of supplements. All in all, a solid release for a really entertaining picture.

    Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release of Seeds/Seeds Of Sin/Vapors is impressive. Not only does it reconstruct the original director’s cut of Seeds but it also includes the alternate (and more widely seen) sexploitation variant and the director’s first picture, all in impressive high definition presentations. Add to that some fascinating extra features and this release shapes up very nicely indeed.

    One of the most enjoyable holiday themed slasher films of all time, Silent Night, Deadly Night finally gets the proper special edition release that it deserves. Compared to past editions, this is a big upgrade not just in terms of the extras but – just as importantly – in terms of the presentation as well. Highly recommended!

    One Dark Night takes a bit of time to really hit its stride but once it does, it’s a whole lot of fun. That ending? It’s nuts! On top of that we get some solid effects work, an interesting cast and some great location work. Code Red has really rolled out the red carpet for this Blu-ray release, presenting the film in nice shape and with a mammoth selection of extra features. All in all, this is a rock solid release for a really entertaining movie.

    The Stone Killer is seriously solid vintage Bronson, a taut thriller with some great action scenes, a fine performance from its weathered tough guy leading man, a fine supporting cast, a great score and some strong direction from Winner. Twilight Time presents this unjustly maligned entry in the Bronson/Winner cannon on Blu-ray in excellent shape the an excellent audio commentary as its chief supplement.

    AGFA’s release of The Violent Years is a good one, presenting the Ed Wood penned tale of good girls gone bad in nice shape and with a solid selection of extra features including a high definition version of the equally entertaining Anatomy Of A Psycho. Here's hoping we get more Wood on Blu-ray in 2018 and that it is treated as well as it is here.

    As a fan of The Wanderers, I could not be happier with Kino's top-notch presentation of this classic film. Both cuts of the film, a wealth of extras including two commentaries...what more could you ask for? An amazing film gets the above-and-beyond treatment.

    The transfers could have been better but Shout! Factory did the best they could with what they had to work with and even if these are less than perfect, the presentations due trump the DVD editions. The new commentary tracks from the Naschy Cast crew are really well done and quite interesting and as to the five movies contained herein themselves? Each one is really well made and very entertaining – lots of fun to be had with this set, The Paul Naschy Collection works as a great representation of Naschy’s talents as well as his versatility.

    Rock! Shock! Pop’s Top 10 Imports Of 2017:

    Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story Of Cannon Films / Machete Maidens Unleashed! offers up two excellent feature length documentaries covering two very different aspects of cult film history in very nice presentations and loaded with fantastic supplemental material. Consider this one essential.

    The Autopsy Of Jane Doe is a refreshingly original horror picture, something genuinely different in the genre. It’s well acted, quite tense and at times, genuinely eerie. Umbrella Entertainment’s Region B Blu-ray trumps the U.S. release by replicating the excellent audio and video quality of the domestic disc while adding a substantial amount of extra features. Don’t let this one pass you by, it’s an impressive picture.

    Fright Night was, is and probably always shall be a whole lot of fun and Eureka are to be commended for really putting together an amazing package with this release. The audio and video presentation is top notch and the inclusion of the feature length documentary makes this release the one to beat.

    Castle Of The Creeping Flesh is an unlikely candidate for a special edition Blu-ray release, but here we are – it exists! Subkultur has rolled out the red carpet for the film, presenting it in fantastic shape and with a seriously impressive array of supplements too. The movie itself is a kick, a trashy German gothic horror film chock full of sex, sleaze and strangeness!

    Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter remains a lot of fun, a great mix of horror and adventure made with a great cast by a talented director. The Blu-ray release from Anolis Entertainment presents the film in excellent shape and with a nice array of (mostly) English friendly supplements.

    Camera Obscura gives Fango Bollente an excellent Blu-ray debut, presenting the film completely uncut, in great shape and with some excellent supplements to accompany the genuinely compelling feature attraction.

    The Mighty Peking Man is a whole lot of good goofy fun, a monster movie with plenty of heart and plenty of the requisite chaos and destruction you need to make a picture like this work. 88 Films has done a nice job bringing this one to Blu-ray with a good transfers, fine audio, a great commentary and some slick packaging.

    Dark Age is a really solid slice of Australian adventure/horror. It makes good use of a great cast, features some pretty memorable set pieces and tells an interesting story. Umbrella’s Blu-ray release isn’t quite a reference quality release, but it’s damn good considering the film’s rocky history and it’s pretty much loaded with extras too. Fans of Ozploitation pictures or animal attack films should definitely appreciate this one – recommended!

    Deadly Games takes a little bit of time to get going but once you get past that first half hour, this is really entertaining stuff –tense, weird and occasionally darkly comedic, it’s quite worthwhile thanks to some quirky and clever direction, strong performances, great set design and a few memorable set pieces. Camera Obscura has rolled out the red carpet for this release, presenting it in excellent shape in a three disc combo pack that is loaded with extras. A very strong release for a wickedly entertaining horror picture.

    Oily Maniac is a comic-book style mashup of superheroic deeds and juvenile rape fantasies, one that mostly works, though the violent sexual elements may make some viewers uncomfortable. The film’s image is resplendent and the audio is solid, making this a superior effort from 88 Films.

    Rock! Shock! Pop’s Disc Of The Year For 2017:

    It had to be, right? Suspiria remains a high point in horror cinema, a feverish nightmare perfectly captured on film and this new Blu-ray release from Synapse Films is undeniably the absolute best way to experience it on home video to date. The extras are solid, to be sure, and the packaging is beautiful, but it’s the presentation of the feature itself that really impresses. Seeing the film this way really is like seeing it again for the first time. Highest possible recommendation!