December 01, 2009

Notes from a DVD Geek

Happy holidays, DVD fans.  I'd like to recommend some gift ideas for the movie geeks you may be buying presents for.  Let's start off with some classics that have really nice editions available.

With James Cameron's latest opus storming theaters this holiday season, I thought the original Cameron masterpiece, "The Abyss," should get some play.  There is a beautiful edition out right now, that has both the theatrical and the extended Director's Cut, along with a ton of extras.  If your secret-Santa buddy is more action-oriented, it's hard to go wrong with Cameron's "Aliens". . . which of course has a beautiful 2 disk collectors edition that has both the theatrical and extended cuts of the movie.  Or, if you just want to go whole hog, there's always the 9 disk "Alien" Quadrology.

Sticking with SF classics, I wanted to point out that Borderlands still has one of the limited edition, 5-disc "Blade Runner" suitcase editions, containing a ridiculous number of cuts of the movie, as well as a bunch of crazy-ass (Origami unicorn?  Flying police car?!?) pieces of "Blade Runner" themed plastic-gack.  This is truly the edition the hard core "Blade Runner" fan in your life has been calling out for.  This suitcase edition comes with the original "workprint" version of the movie that features a DIFFERENT voice-over from the original theatrical edition. So yeah.  Gotta have it.

Moving back to the realm of recent SF, the current "collector's edition" of "Serenity" is a nice gift for the Joss Wheadon fan in your life who is mourning the cancellation of Doll House.  If just one movie won't make up for the loss of a Wheadon tv series, I recommend picking up the "Buffy" complete series package.  All seven seasons in one box.  It takes up a lot less room then all those individual seasons, and has a bunch of bonus features not found in the single-season packs.  So if your Wheadon fan really needs something awesome this Christmas, "Buffy".  Always "Buffy".

For the Harry Potter fans who just can't get enough, there's a series of 4 disk ultimate editions of the first two movies coming out in December. . . . The usual ton of extras plus. . . a copy of the book!  This may seem a bit redundant, but true fans know you can never have enough Potter.

Another awesome gift idea out there is the "Family Guy 'Star Wars'" episodes.  There's a Blue Harvest/Something Something Something Darkside double pack, that collects both of the amazing "Family Guy" spoof episodes in one package.  This is a great fit for any "Star Wars" fan, or "Family Guy" fan, or any combination of the two.

For the hard core Euro-trash horror fan. . . you can not go wrong with The Blind Dead Collection ("Tombs of the Blind Dead"/"The Ghost Galleon"/"Return of the Evil Dead"/"Night of the Seagulls"/ from director Amando De Ossorio). . . all in one coffin-shaped package!  Nothing says "I love you" like "The Blind Dead".

Another classic for the horror movie fan in your life is the 9 movie Val Lewton box set.  Val Lewton was a legendary producer at RKO studios, and the low budget "thrillers" he produced ("Cat People" / "The Curse of the Cat People" / "I Walked with a Zombie" / "The Body Snatcher" / "Isle of the Dead" / "Bedlam" / "The Leopard Man" / "The Ghost Ship" / "The Seventh Victim"), are legendary.  This set also includes a documentary, "Shadows in the Dark," which covers Lewton's career and influence.  This will be appreciated by anyone who loves classic horror movies.

For those who like their horror with a more modern flair, you might consider the Dark Castle Collection box set.  This production company was named after William Castle, and this DVD set includes "The House on Haunted Hill," "Thirteen Ghosts," "Ghost Ship," "Gothika," and "House of Wax".  Several of these were amazingly good, and all of them were far more entertaining then one would have expected. Highlights definitely include "The House on Haunted Hill" and "Gothika".  Even "House of Wax" works if you imagine it as a kind of twisted homage to Dario Argento -- it doesn't have to make sense, it just has to look incredibly weird, and compelling!

For the anime fans on your list, I recommend looking at various complete series sets that exist.  "Ramna 1/2" is available in season sets, and the first couple seasons are hilarious.  "Gunslinger Girls" is an excellent example of the "little girls who kick ass and have existential angst" sub-sub-genre.  Another great example for this sub-genre is "Elfen Lied".  Instead of secret government orphan assassins, we have secret government psychic weapon experts.

Finally, the best Christmas gifts are ALWAYS Studio Ghibli films. From "Totoro," to "Porko Rosso," to "Howl's Moving Castle," to everything in between.  There's a Hayao Miyazaki film for everyone.  Get one, or more, for folks on your Christmas list.  They will definitely thank you.

That's all I've got for now. I'm going to go watch "Pom Poko" again.  (I just love raccoons with giant testicles.) Happy Holidays!

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