The Best UHD/BD/DVD Releases of 2021

Discussion in 'General' started by f.ramses, Jan 2, 2022.

  1. f.ramses

    f.ramses sociopath

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    I probably say this a lot but 2021 seemed like another great year for movie releases, so good that it almost makes one forget about the likely inevitible demise of physical media. Anyway, here are what I consider to be the best releases of the year. What are yours and, if you're so inclined, why?

    La Traque
    (Le Chat Qui Fume, UHD + BD) – The year was off to a strong start when this was the first 2021 release to show up. I've only ever seen this as a bootleg but it was quite memorable so this was an easy choice for me in spite of it's price and not only did the movie look excellent it was also more enjoyable than I remembered. I also like that this was a combo pack rather than them doing separate UHD and BD releases. I'm actually not sure if this is a “2021 release” or a very late 2020 release but my pre-order shipped very early 2021 and it would be a shame for this release to not make one of these lists.

    Queens of Evil
    (Mondo Macabro, BD + DVD) – Really didn't expect much from this one and almost didn't order it but it wound up being pretty fun. The story was OK and the quality was good but what stood out to me was the weird hair and makeup.

    Forgotten Gialli Volume 3
    (Vinegar Syndrome, 3 BDs) – This is a series that I'm glad looks like it will continue for a while and this volume is by far the best of the three so far with one title I've been wanting on BD for a while (Autopsy) and 2 I'm not sure I've ever seen but really enjoyed. The quality is what you'd expect from Vinegar Syndrome too.

    Crimes of the Black Cat
    (Cauldron Films, BD + CD) – The first wave of releases from this label was of no interest to me but the second wave was a huge improvement title-wise and this release wound up being a pretty nice package. I remember hearing that one scene on the DVD I have of this was cut but not really believing it because the scene was fairly graphic but wow, after seeing this I knew the DVD definitely was cut without even going back to compare after 10 or so years. Extra gore aside it's a pretty enjoyable giallo too.

    The Dungeon of Andy Milligan
    (Severin Films, 8 BDs + 1 CD) –If there was a contest for the single best release of the year then today on 4/10 that competition would have ended! Once again the BD format treats Milligan far, far better than DVD and VHS ever did with all these movies looking fantastic and some as versions we never saw before; I really never expected to ever see these versions that I'd read about years ago because I always assumed they were lost forever but what's even more amazing is that this is probably the third time I've said that about a Milligan release on one of these lists. There's also a reel from what is probably my most wanted of all of the lost Andy Milligan films, The Filthy Five. It's in German and it's less than 20 minutes long but it's something and I'll take it. I know Milligan is not for everyone but I still find it hard to not say that this set is a must have release. I love the cover on this too, a nice nod to those old Midnight Video releases.

    A Serbian Film
    (Unearthed Films, BD) – The first time I saw this movie I thought it was kind of 'meh', just a bunch of fucked up scenes that amounted to nothing but upon revisiting this new BD even with fairly low expectations I actually enjoyed the movie quite a lot. While this isn't the first uncut release of this movie in the US I didn't get the other one but I'm glad to have this more widely available one.

    Star of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter
    (Impulse Pictures, BD) – It's another Nikkatsu S&M and rape themed pink film but this one really stands out from most of the others that Impulse has done with it's crazier than usual story, a bit of gore, one fairly standout kill, and much longer than usual running time. Even better is the fact that it's on a nice looking BD rather than the more common DVD release from this label. On that note 2021 seemed to have been a good year for these releases and the BD format as I think they doubled or slightly more than doubled their BD catalog of Nikkatsu titles this year. Originally Zoom Up: Rape Site was on the list but this one easily bumped it off even though that was a great release too.

    Mahakaal
    (Massacre Video, BD) – It's probably because it's the first Indian horror movie I've ever seen but this was probably the most memorable thing I watched all year. Overall it's a Nightmare on Elm Street rip-off but it's still got a lot to offer with it's typical long running time, music numbers, and gags. Normally I find musical numbers in movies to be annoying but with this one I didn't mind most of them and actually enjoyed the rest quite a bit. After watching this both times I felt myself wanting to watch something else like it but unfortunately I really didn't have anything.

    Flesh For Frankenstein
    (Vinegar Syndrome, UHD + 2 BDs) – I really wanted to include Blood For Dracula on the list as it was a great release from Severin but I decided to just go with one of them and while in my opinion Flesh for Frankenstein is not the better movie this is a better package than Blood for Dracula even though the 3D version, which makes this the better package, doesn't exist for Blood for Dracula. Vinegar Syndrome really went above and beyond here giving us the movie on UHD and BD and then providing an additional BD with the 3D version in both anaglyph AND digital 3D and throwing it all in a nice box. It's great to see things done right!

    Ebola Syndrome
    (Vinegar Syndrome, UHD + BD) – It's great that Vinegar Syndrome has put out this title that I've really been wanting on BD for a while now but it's even better that this is a UHD/BD pack and includes the somewhat elusive uncut version of the movie. I've only seen the BD from the set but this is also a very significant upgrade over the DVDs I've seen of this movie but I think that's mainly because the DVDs I've seen have looked just OK. Anyway, lot's of [sick] fun here!

    All the Haunts Be Ours (Severin Films, 12 BDs, 3 CDs) – I haven't finished this yet (got through maybe almost half of the movies) but so far I've been enjoying it. I guess the biggest draws for me are the folk aspect and the fact that the vast majority of the movies are movies I've never heard of, there are even a couple from countries I've never seen movies from before, but regardless this worldly set seems to have been well worth the gamble so far.


    Worthy Mentions:

    Summer Camp Girls
    (Peek-A-Rama, BD) – I don't really buy porn unless it's of the “roughie” variety because of all the random VS porn releases I bought and never watched but I really liked the cover on this one and decided to give it a go. Surprisingly I felt like watching it when it showed up and it was actually pretty entertaining. There's not much story wise, unsurprisingly, but the dialog is amusing and the sex scenes are decent and also don't feel like they go on forever.

    Blood For Dracula
    (Severin Films, UHD + BD + CD) – I guess I can't not mention this one (again...), the movie looked great here, I probably enjoyed this viewing more than any other time I've watched this, and now I've got it on UHD for whenever I go UHD.

    All Censored – Vol I
    (Thunderbean, BD-R) – It's certainly not for everyone and I don't like buying BD-R but I find stuff like this fascinating and found the release to be well worth it. Where else are you going to see these cartoons cleaned up and in HD like this?!

    Toxic Zombies
    (Massacre Video, BD) – Quality-wise this certainly wasn't ideal all the way through but it made me give another chance to this movie I pined for on VHS decades ago (loved the cover and title...) and hated once I finally got, this time around it wasn't so bad.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2022
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  2. russweiss

    russweiss Well-Known Member

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    I don't keep lists like this but will say I'm surprised there wasn't any mention of Arrow. The Shawscope Box, Daimajin trilogy, Yokai Monsters Collection, and all the Argento UHD releases immediately come to mind. Severin also released more Jess Franco on blu which is always a good thing in my opinion. Kudos to 88 Films and Eureka in the UK for their continued output of Asian material. Also, although this isn't for a specific title, a big shout out to Vinegar Syndrome for their consistently fantastic packaging.
     
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  3. CPT HOOK

    CPT HOOK Well-Known Member

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    New Movies:

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    Freaky
    Promising Young Woman
    Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar


    As far as new releases on blu-ray go, these three will have the most replay value for me.
    Honorable mentions to: Synchronic, Impetigore, Malignant, Shiva Baby, Scare Me

    Kino:

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    1. Cool As Ice
    2. Positive I.D.
    3. Scream, Pretty Peggy / The Victim / The Screaming Woman
    4. Buried Alive
    5. The War

    Kino doesn't always have the strongest quality discs, but the sheer volume of titles they release paired with the "I can't believe that's on blu-ray" factor makes them one of my favorite labels. Certainly the best in terms of selection. Runaway Train would have made the list, but I believe the Arrow disc is superior. Also, I got a kick out of seeing Clay Pigeons again, even though it didn't make the cut. Still need to pick up Get Crazy.
    Honorable mentions to: The Wild Life, September 30, 1955, Career Opportunities, Homebodies

    Vinegar Syndrome:

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    1. Shallow Grave
    2. The Fear
    3. Auntie Lee's Meat Pies
    4. All-American Murder
    5. Rush Week

    I haven't even had a chance to watch my Shallow Grave disc yet, but I will confidently say it is the release of the year. This was my most-wanted stuck-on-VHS movie and I never imagined it would ever make it to blu-ray, especially after Code Red said only tape-elements exist. Overjoyed to upgrade this! Ticks would have easily made the top 5 if I didn't already have the Olive blu-ray, but wow I can't believe that is on 4K. Overall, Vinegar Syndrome is easily my favorite label of the year.
    Honorable mentions to: Ticks, Hitcher In The Dark, Cthulhu Mansion, Resurrection, Through The Fire, Nothing Underneath / Too Beautiful To Die
    Also honorable mention to Partner Label Fun City, with gems like Smile, Walking The Edge, and their Primetime Panic boxset.

    Criterion:

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    1. Fast Times At Ridgemont High
    2. Smooth Talk

    Shout Factory:

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    1. Alone In The Dark
    2. Killer Party
    3. Eyes Of A Stranger / He Knows You're Alone
    4. Halloween 4 & 5
    5. A Return To Salem's Lot

    Scream Factory finally filled some of the major gaps in our '80s slasher blu-ray collections this year. Halloween 4 & 5 finally got decent hi-def transfers, and we got never before seen footage from 5. Return To Salem's Lot could have received better treatment, but I think the movie is underrated and I'm happy to finally have it on blu-ray. I also adore Twice Dead, but their disc was underwhelming.
    Honorable mentions to: The Dead Zone, Deadly Friend

    Arrow:

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    Death Screams
    Phantom Of The Mall


    Arrow released one of my most-wanted MIA '80s slashers with House Of Death, doing the best they can with the resources they had. Wonderful disc, their best of the year. Phantom Of The Mall is a bit more slight, but they really went all out. The movie is a fun burst of '80s mall nostalgia and Arrow have really given it the royal treatment here.

    Blue Underground:

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    Dead & Buried

    Synapse:

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    The Kindred

    Severin:
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    1. Midnight
    2. Born For Hell
    3. Siege
    4. Skinned Deep
    5. A Day Of Judgment

    Severin started the year slow, but really came out swinging in the second half of the year. I haven't even had a chance to pick up Night Of The Demon yet, but I'm sure it'd have made the list if I had. I gave Midnight the highest mark for the upgrade in PQ, but Born For Hell and Siege were both first-time watches that I adored. Skinned Deep is one of the craziest movies of the '00s direct-to-video slasher wave.

    Warner Archive:

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    Pump Up The Volume
    One Crazy Summer


    Paramount Presents:

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    Breakdown
    Vanilla Sky


    Other:

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    But I'm A Cheerleader
    Girl, Interrupted
    Buster And Billie
     
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  4. Paff

    Paff Super Moderator

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    I got that at last month's Kino sale. I'd never seen it before, and I actually didn't know it's been nearly impossible to find, just rare and expensive VHS versions. The transfer was perfectly fine (as far as I could tell), didn't look like one of those where they had to source from SD masters or 35mm prints or anything. It's a pretty fun movie overall, I was a little put off by the very slapstick opening, and while that atmosphere is present throughout the whole film, the concert footage (the bulk of the film) is absolutely outstanding. The commentary was a fun listen too, and obviously done with Covid protocols in place as Eli Roth is clearly coming in on Zoom or something. Glad I got it, and it will likely be a yearly viewing from me around New Year's.
     
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  5. fattyjoe37

    fattyjoe37 Well-Known Member

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    I cut back on buying stuff this year (moved twice, had to downsize by putting movies in binders), but my favorites were Kolchak: The Night Stalker Complete Series (Kino), Over the Edge (Arrow UK), Jeremy (Fun City Editions), Ticks UHD (Vinegar Syndrome), Memories of Murder (Criterion), and The Daimajin Trilogy (Arrow).
     
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