Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
The 2016 Horror Holiday Blu-ray Gift Guide!Home,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
2016 is almost at an end. The holidays are here, and for some horror heads, finding that terrifying treat for the fright fan in their life can be a living nightmare. But fear not, last minute shoppers, as FANGORIA has some wicked words to help you find the perfect scare fare for your stocking stuffers…
Punishing Films for a Punishing Year:
1. HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER
On Blu-ray now from Dark Sky Films, HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER is still as terrifying today as it was 30 years ago. In fact, HENRY might even be more chilling, considering how absolutely unsettling the gore scenes look following a phenomenal 4K transfer. In addition to the stunning HD makeover, the film also sports new special features, including a brand new feature-length documentary and a brand new interview with filmmaker John McNaughton. For those who find modern scare fare to be not up to snuff with the gory oldies, HENRY is the Blu-ray buy for you.
2. THE DRILLER KILLER
A nasty artifact of the sleazy 1970s exploitation film scene, Arrow Video again goes above and beyond for Abel Ferrara’s cult slasher flick. Offering two alternate cuts of the film source from original 16mm material, those looking for pristine picture may be left wanting. However, collectors and fans of THE DRILLER KILLER will be elated by the presentation- which looks better than ever- as well as the extras, which includes a documentary on Ferrara’s NYC shooting locations as well as a new chat with the inimitable Ferrara himself. If you’re in the mood for down-and-dirty horror to cap off your year, don’t miss this Blu-ray.
3. DON’T BREATHE
This year’s most-talked-about horror thriller is now on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and for those with more impressive home theater set-ups, it’s damn worth the purchase. With solid digital video transfer and an incredible 7.1 audio mix, DON’T BREATHE will unleash it’s white-knuckle, claustrophobic action better than ever. And for collectors, this disc is also one of this year’s best studio releases, with a handful of featurettes, 15 minutes of deleted scenes, and a lively commentary guaranteed to please the most jaded horror hound.
4. THE ORPHAN KILLER
For those with truly brutal loved ones, ReelGore Releasing’s new Blu-ray of Matt Farnsworth’s THE OPRHAN KILLER will be the extreme and eerie stocking stuffer to look for. While it may not be as packed of a release as its counterparts, this Blu-ray not only sports this transgressive terror title in gorgeous 1080p, but also has some frightful features, including a behind-the-scenes video diary and more.
While it may be one of his most divisive films to date, there’s no denying that Rob Zombie’s 31 looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Sadly, the solid presentation is one of the few real highlights of the disc, save for the 2+ hour making-of documentary and a commentary track from Zombie himself. Though hardcore Zombie fans may wait for an unrated cut or a more definitive version at a later date, those who want to add 31 to their sordid shelves can do so this holiday season.
Demented Double Features:
1. PHANTASM: REMASTERED / PHANTASM: RAVAGER
A pair of overdue releases finally arriving via Well-Go USA, PHANTASM, with a stunning new remastered 4K transfer from Bad Robot, and the newly-produced PHANTASM: RAVAGER both hit Blu-ray just in time for the horror-days. For fans of the original PHANTASM or the PHANTASM franchise in general, these sets are a no-brainer, as the 1979 horror offering has never looked better than it does on this disc and RAVAGER is a fitting bookend for the property. Yet for those who aren’t as keen on the extended PHANTASM franchise, they may choose to take first film over RAVAGER, or at least hold off until PHANTASM 3 and 4 are available on the format.
2. SLIME CITY / SLIME CITY MASSACRE
Though they may not sport the high-end transfers of a boutique Blu-ray label, fans of these independently produced cult classics will find lots to love about this double feature release. With new commentaries, featurettes, interviews, and more, these splattery cult classics will likely never get a better release than this two-film set. It’s the sleaziest and slimiest home video release of this holiday season, so for those looking for something a bit more chaotic under the tree, look no further.
3. DEAD RINGERS / RABID
For those building up their David Cronenberg collection in HD, Scream Factory’s new releases of DEAD RINGERS and RABID make for the perfect duo for a haunting holiday. Even with the merits of both films on their own, with both films offered in multiple aspect ratios, DEAD RINGERS and RABID are both offered up with an excellent assembly of special features for both films, newly produced and ported over. For collectors and Cronenberg aficionados, these Blu-rays will certainly be the gift that keeps giving for years to come.
4. C.H.U.D. / C.H.U.D. II: BUD THE CHUD
Although they may come from different labels, the former from Arrow Video while the latter from Vestron Video, the timing of these releases make for a fortuitous holiday season if one is enamored with the C.H.U.D. franchise. While C.H.U.D. may be the more worthwhile disc considering the quality of the film itself, let alone the special features and terrific transfer that come alongside it, that doesn’t mean Vestron’s C.H.U.D. II disc should be ignored either, especially considering the solid, if few, extras that come along with the set. If you want to add a pair of monster movies to your holiday plans and have the extra scratch to afford it, you won’t find much better than this C.H.U.D. double feature.
5. BODY MELT / LONG WEEKEND
Umbrella Entertainment is closing their 2016 out with a bang, as the boutique Blu-ray distributor offers up two Ozploitation classics on Blu-ray. For fans of more manic, ‘70s Aussie horror, Umbrella’s LONG WEEKEND Blu will be the genre gem to get, with newly produced featurettes and a solid High-Def transfer. Yet for those who like the weirder, more lighthearted fright fare from down under, BODY MELT will do the trick, with a fantastic 4K video restoration, audio commentaries, and more. For those looking to expand their horror horizons in 2017, Umbrella has a great (and gruesome) place to start.
1. HELLRAISER: THE SCARLET BOX
Arrow Video has raised the bar when it comes to horror box sets by bringing the highly-anticipated “Scarlet Box” stateside. Aside from the beautiful 2K transfers for the first three HELLRAISER films, this set has every extra that a HELLRAISER fan could ever want: the LEVIATHAN documentaries, audio commentaries, the “Surgeon” scene, the Unrated cut of HELLRAISER III, SFX dailies, and much, much more. Plus, the “Scarlet Box” comes with an exclusive fourth disc, featuring Clive Barker’s short films and more in-depth HELLRAISER goodness. It’s neck-and-neck with Arrow’s H.G. Lewis box set for most essential 2016 video release, and for HELLRAISER fanatics, it’s exactly what they should find under the tree this season.
2. BLACK CHRISTMAS
Kudos to Scream Factory for putting out this excellent new edition of Bob Clark’s BLACK CHRISTMAS, especially considering the extent they go to maintain the integrity of the original theatrical presentation. Featuring a slew of new and ported over special features as well as two cuts of the film, including a solid and organic looking 2K transfer, collectors and newcomers alike will be singing “Joy to the World” over this release.
3. CREEPSHOW 2
It may not be up to par with its petrifying predecessor, but Arrow Video version of CREEPSHOW 2 goes miles beyond the original studio Blu release. With top-notch extras, including new interviews that give you a closer look into the production of the film, as well as a drop-dead gorgeous new transfer, this is undoubtedly the definitive HD release of CREEPSHOW 2, especially if you’re willing to dip into your coffers for the limited edition.
4. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PART III
Vestron Video once again impresses with this solid RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PART III Blu-ray, which should make ROTLD collectors jump for joy. With new extras that dig deep into the film’s inception and production, those who have been stocking up on Brian Yuzna’s underrated scare fare on HD won’t want to miss this new, definitive ROTLD 3 disc.
5. CONSTANTINE: THE COMPLETE SERIES
Warner Archive has been upping their game this season, with new Blu-rays for TIME AFTER TIME and WAIT UNTIL DARK coming our way. Yet for those in the rabid cult fanbase for NBC’s CONSTANTINE, this Blu-ray set will give fans the chance to see every episode of the series in gorgeous 1080p. While a bit scant on special features, CONSTANTINE fans will have another chance to celebrate this underrated DC show and add the series to their creepy collection.