• Rock! Shock! Pop!'s Best DVD & Blu-ray Releases Of 2018!

    2018 was, by anyone’s standards, a damn fine year for cult film releases on home video – be it DVD, Blu-ray or 4k UHD. We here at Rock! Shock! Pop! have been lucky enough to review a lot of the really great releases that have come out in the last twelve months and hey, since it’s New Year’s Eve, why not take a look back at some of the best?

    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 2018:

    Take It Out In Trade is a mess the way that a lot of Wood’s films were a mess but, like so many of his other efforts, it has that inexplicable charm and that weird passion for filmmaking on display and that keeps it interesting and entertaining despite some pacing issues. The inclusion of the second feature, the massive trove of outtakes and the commentary gives the disc plenty of additional worth for fans of the director, and the presentation is a strong one making this release an essential one for Ed Wood fans.

    The Children is a creepy and effective ‘killer kids’ film with solid atmosphere and some memorable set pieces. It’s also got a decent cast and a strong, if derivative, score working in its favor. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release presents the film in very nice shape and not only carries over all of the extras from the older Troma DVD but throws some nice new ones into the mix as well – don’t miss out! This release is pretty killer.

    Shout! Factory has really gone all out on this two-disc collector’s edition of Candyman, presenting both cuts of the movie in gorgeous shape and with excellent audio. On top of that, the set is absolutely stacked with extra features, really leaving no stone unturned in covering the film’s history and production. The movie itself holds up really well, a dark, twisted horror that pulls from familiar urban legends and Barker’s macabre source material to create something unique and impressive.

    The Blood Island Collection is a lot of goofy, gory fun. Severin Films has done a really nice job bringing these films to Blu-ray, they look quite a bit better than they ever have before and there are loads of extras old and new here to take in as well. The film’s themselves definitely entertain!

    Deadbeat At Dawn is one of the finest micro-budget action films ever made. Van Bebber and his team aim pretty damn high with this and more often than not, they hit their mark. The film is fast paced, gritty and at times quite brutal, but it should easily please fans of action and revenge pictures. Arrow’s Blu-ray release doesn’t quite carry over all of the existing extras from past additions but it’s still a stacked disc and it offers a substantial improvement in the audio and video departments.

    Everyone needs to see Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, if only to better where the black cinema movement of the 1970's began. It's a rough, crude and violent film but so too is it a picture with a lot of character and even more energy, filled a with raw enthusiasm all too rare in modern films. Vinegar Syndrome has rolled out the red carpet for the film, presenting it in a great presentation and loaded with extras.

    The Exorcist II: The Heretic has its share of obvious flaws but you’ve got to admire the audacity and ambition of the picture. If it isn’t always good, it is a genuinely fascinating film worth revisiting just for the sheer craziness of it all. Shout! Factory has done a very nice job bringing this to Blu-ray, presenting two unique cuts of the film and providing a nice array of extras that document its bizarre history in a lot of interesting detail.

    American Psycho holds up really well almost two decades since it hit theaters. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s horrifying and it’s still a potent slice of filmmaking featuring some genuinely great performances. Lionsgate’s 4K UHD release is a good one, offering a presentation vastly improved over what we’ve seen before and with a new director’s commentary as well.

    The Changeling holds up incredibly well, one of the best ‘ghost story’ films of its day and a crowning achievement in genre cinema. The film is perfectly paced and George C. Scott has never been better. Severin Films has rightly brought this picture to Blu-ray in an impressive package, giving the movie an excellent presentation and loading the disc with interesting and entertaining extra features.

    Blue Underground’s previous Blu-ray release of Zombie was a good one but this new reissue is the one to beat. It carries over all of the truly awesome and really, really well-made extras features from the last release and throws in a few choice new ones too. The transfer is also vastly improved over what we’ve seen before, presenting the film in immaculate shape. The movie itself remains a milestone in Italian horror cinema, a fiercely entertaining and gore-soaked classic that refuses to stay dead.

    The Devil Incarnate really is one of Paul Naschy’s more unique and interesting films. It’s far from the straight up horror pictures that he’s known for, it’s more of a weird black comedy, but it’s quite well done. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray debut for the film looks and sounds excellent and is loaded with extras. Anyone with an interest in Naschy’s work should consider this essential.

    Basket Case is a great film, a wildly creative mix of horror and black comedy with some fine performances and great FX work. Arrow Video has truly gone above and beyond with this release, stacking the disc with extras and presenting the feature attraction in an absolutely beautiful presentation.

    There’s a lot that cult fans should like about Andy Milligan’s The Weirdo. It’s got the same sort of zany, low budget charm that most of his films feature but on top of that it’s also got some genuinely interesting characters and enough of the director’s trademark twisted set pieces to easily hold our attention. Garagehouse Pictures has gone all out on this release, giving the film a very impressive restoration and jam packing the disc with interesting and informative extra features.

    Maniac stands the test of time remarkably well, it’s an effective, disturbing and ambitious slasher film ripe with tension, suspense and shock value. Of course, Spinell’s performance is what makes this as memorable as it is, he was never better than in this film, but Lustig’s direction and Savini’s effects work also play a huge part in making the film as effective as it is. Blue Underground’s Blu-ray reissue is a thing of morbid beauty, presenting the picture in a gorgeous new transfer, with really strong audio and with a couple of important new extras and all of the archival material from past editions as well.

    Gerard Damiano’s Memories Within Miss Aggie is an unsettling but compelling mix of dark drama and artsy eroticism and it stands as one of the director’s most interesting works. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release is light on extras but it looks and sounds very good, making this one easy to recommend.

    Arrow Video’s special edition Blu-ray release of Wes Craven’s infamous Last House On The Left presents the film in an excellent restored transfer with three different cuts included and an amazing array of extras. The movie still packs a pretty serious punch, it’s a grim and unrelenting slice of low budget horror done right, and it really has been given the deluxe treatment with this release.

    The Great Silence remains one of the finest Spaghetti Westerns ever made, a grim and unflinching picture, one that paints a pretty grim picture of the world but which is masterfully told. Film Movement’s Blu-ray release offers up a good way to see it with some solid extras thrown in for good measure.

    Perversion Story is a slick and stylish thriller performed by a strong cast and featuring some very fine direction from Fulci. A twisting, turning, sexy picture it’s never short on suspense or entertainment value and Mondo Macabro has done an excellent job bringing it to Blu-ray in its most complete form and with some great extra features too.

    Kino Lorber Studio Classics’ Blu-ray release of the complete first season of The Outer Limits is a true thing of beauty! The transfers are uniformly excellent across the board, the audio is problem free and the various commentaries lined up for the set genuinely interesting and nicely delivered. The show itself remains a lot of fun – perfect for late night viewing with the lights off!

    Her Name Was Lisa is an odd mix of effective erotica and grim, downbeat arthouse pretense – the kind of thing that Watkins did well when working in the adult film industry. Ms. Fox and Ms. Del Rio are both fantastic here, and the supporting players all do fine work as well. Vinegar Syndrome’s uncut Blu-ray release is a real treat for fans of this unorthodox golden ager – it looks and sounds great and the interview with Ettinger a genuinely interesting supplement.

    Rock! Shock! Pop’s Top 10 Imports Of 2018:

    The 88 Films Blu-ray release of Eyeball presents a slick, suspenseful and stylish film – a prime Giallo from Lenzi with a decent cast and a fantastic score. 88 Films has really rolled out the red carpet for their Blu-ray release, presenting the film in very nice shape, with fine audio, a strong assortment of extras and some nice ‘physical’ bonus features in the form of the inserts and packaging. A fine release for a really entertaining film!

    Razorback is great entertainment, a tense and uniquely Australian creature run amuck film directed with plenty of style and featuring a strong cast. Umbrella Entertainment has rolled out the red carpet for their region free Blu-ray release, offering up the film in very nice shape on a disc that’s absolutely stacked with extra features.

    Xtro is pretty bonkers, but it’s not without its own screwy charm. The movie doesn’t always make sense but it manages to entertain in spite of itself. The effects set pieces understandably get most of the attention here but there’s some decent acting here and some interesting elements that make the story more engaging than it really had any right to be. Second Sight brings the film to Blu-ray in decent shape and in multiple versions along with a pretty choice selection of extras. If you’re a fan, this is a solid upgrade from past DVD editions.

    Eureka Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of Cure was also a hit. The film is a masterwork, a superb examination of evil that, in the end, allows its audience to come to its own conclusions about what exactly has occurred. Eureka’s Blu-ray release presents the film with a nice amount of detail and in the correct hues, though grain looks a little wonky at times. There are also plenty of solid extras for fans (or film students) to explore.

    Lorna The Exorcist is one of Franco’s more interesting films. Romay’s performance is remarkably charged and while the direction may seem disjointed at times, it adds to the quirky and dreamlike qualities that make the movie as engrossing as it is. Overall, there’s no reason anyone who enjoys Franco’s output won’t want to own this. The Blu-ray debut from Le Chat Qui Fume is a good one. Even if some of the extras are, sadly, not subtitled the presentation is quite strong.

    CMV reissued Devil Story, a film that ranks up there alongside Ogroff The Mad Mutilator as one of the more bizarre horror pictures to come out of France – and it’s a blast from start to finish. Throw logic out the window and appreciate the lunacy that Launois and company are able to capture with this one!

    Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of Death Wish IV: The Crackdown / Death Wish 5: The Face Of Death is a good one, worth picking up for anyone with an affinity for Bronson or the Death Wish series. The transfers are strong, the audio is problem free and the commentary tracks from Talbot add a lot of value. The movies themselves? Not the best of the five-film run, but still very much worth seeing and plenty entertaining.

    Alice, Sweet Alice is an interesting and effective thriller with some decent performances, solid twists and an unusual but intriguing vibe to it. 88 Films’ Blu-ray is taken from elements that are less than perfect but as of right now, this is by far the best edition of the film available.

    Le Journal Intime D’Une Nymphomane (or, if you prefer, Sinner) is an interesting picture, one that sees Franco diving headfirst into his obsessions both thematically and stylistically. It features strong, artistically inclined direction and some bold performances. The Blu-ray release from Le Chat Qui Fume might, sadly, lack English subtitles for the extras but it does present the feature in a very nice high definition presentation.

    Your first viewing of House will require the suspension of more than your disbelief, but if you willingly surrender your expectations before pressing the Play button, you might find yourself entertained, enthralled, and utterly bemused by Nobuhiko Obayashi’s hallucinatory horror show. The film defies conventional categorization and bless its cheery, campy soul for daring to be something different in genre cinema, even if the plot has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. With its stunning video and audio quality and extensive bonus features, Eureka’s Masters of Cinema Region B Blu-ray edition comes highly recommended if you don’t feel like importing the Criterion disc.

    Rock! Shock! Pop’s Disc Of The Year For 2018:

    Combat Shock stands the test of time incredibly well. It’s one of the most depressing film’s you’re ever likely to see but it’s very well made, a gritty, intense look at just how bad things can get sometimes. Severin Films’ limited edition Blu-ray release is pretty much the definitive work on the picture, presenting it in an excellent transfer and loaded with extras. The soundtrack and the book are welcome additions as well – all in all, a fantastic release, essential for fans of Buddy Giovinazzo’s twisted low budget masterpiece.