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Holiday Geek Gift Guide 2013: DVD and Blu-ray Edition
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Holiday Blu-ray Gift Guide banner

The gift giving holiday season is almost upon us, with the massive shopping day, Black Friday, just days away. The time has come for us to put on our winter best and trudge through snowfalls and savage crowds of desperate consumers in search of that perfect gift for the one you love. Of course, you could also be smart and instead stay home and do all of your holiday shopping online, and here at Geeks of Doom we are happy to provide you with this year’s Holiday Geek Gift Guide: DVD and Blu-ray Edition as a handy primer for the finest flicks on shiny silver discs for your gift recipients to derive hours of enjoyment from.

A few of us got together for this Gift Guide to compile a list of Films and TV Shows that were released on DVD and Blu-ray this year that caught our eye. There’s plenty of action, sci-fi, drama, and comedy, as well as mega box sets for the year’s hottest TV shows, like Breaking Bad and Doctor Who.

By BAADASSSSS!

Iron Man 3 Blu-rayIron Man 3
Blu-ray | DVD

Marvel Studios’ flagship franchise recovers from a somewhat bland second installment with a terrific sequel that caps the trilogy in grand fashion. Robert Downey Jr. shines brighter than before as heroic but complicated billionaire eccentric Tony Stark. Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce supply the villainy, while director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and co-writer Drew Pearce (no relation to guy) keep the action fast and furious and the laughs plentiful. Disney’s Blu-ray includes a Black/Pearce commentary, deleted scenes, a gag reel, featurettes, and the best Marvel One-Shot short to date, “Agent Carter”.

The Muppet Movie Blu-rayThe Muppet Movie
Blu-ray | DVD

The first big-screen adventure for Jim Henson‘s beloved creations packs in lots of laughs, love, whimsy, and a soundtrack of memorable tunes composed by the one and only Paul Williams (especially “The Rainbow Connection”). If you’re lost when it comes to great entertainment, before you try Hare Krishna join Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, and the rest of the gang for this new-to-Blu release that features newly remastered picture and sound and some interesting bonus features, including original camera tests, sing-a-long songs, a featurette, and trailers.

Repo Man Criterion Collection Blu-rayRepo Man: Criterion Collection
Blu-ray | DVD

Aliens. Stolen cars. Punk rock. Government conspiracies. Plates of shrimp. Was John Wayne really a transvestite? Alex Cox‘s Bizarro World sci-fi comedy has more wit and audacity packed into its 90 minutes than most long-running franchises can muster. Emilio Estevez has never been better and he’s joined by a hilarious Harry Dean Stanton and a real cast of characters – both literal and figurative. Extras on Criterion’s amazing new Blu-ray include a director and cast commentary, deleted scenes, interviews with the inventor of the neutron bomb and Iggy Pop, a retrospective documentary, and a rare alternative version of the movie prepare for television broadcast.

Two-Lane Blacktop Blu-rayTwo-Lane Blacktop: Criterion Collection
Blu-ray | DVD

A landmark film of the 1970’s and one of the finest examples of the road movie genre, Monte Hellman‘s polarizing, existential adventure features terrific performances from the late Warren Oates and musicians James Taylor and Dennis Wilson, plus the eternally lovely Laurie Bird. I’ll take this underrated masterpiece over Easy Rider any day. Extras on Criterion’s Blu-ray include two audio commentaries, interviews with Hellman and Taylor, screen tests, and a conversation between the director and singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson.

Wake In Fright Blu-rayWake in Fright
Blu-ray | DVD

Lost for more than three decades, this dark and intense psychological drama from the land Down Under was given a full restoration and resurrection courtesy of Drafthouse Films. From the director of First Blood and Weekend at Bernie’s, Wake in Fright stars Gary Bond as a schoolteacher trapped in the Australian Outback whose Christmas plans get sidetracked in an extended lost weekend full of beer, brawling, and horrific violence. Championed by none other than Martin Scorsese, this neglected classic finally gets its due on a new Blu-ray that includes a commentary, featurettes, and trailers. Better than that, it looks and sounds amazing.

Batman The Dark Knight Returns Deluxe Edition Blu-rayBatman: The Dark Knight Returns Deluxe Edition
Blu-ray | DVD

Both parts of DC Universe Animation’s adaptation of Frank Miller‘s groundbreaking 1986 miniseries that helped to redefine and expand on the possibilities of comic book storytelling have been united into one rousing and beautiful animated epic adventure. Quite simply, this is not only the best animated Batman feature but one that surpasses most of the live-action exploits of the Caped Crusader. Featuring the voice talents of Peter Weller (RoboCop) as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Michael Emerson (Lost) as the Joker, this two-disc Blu-ray edition features a new filmmakers’ audio commentary, a feature-length documentary about the creation and impact of the original Miller miniseries, assorted archival featurettes, and a few related episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

Skyfall Blu-raySkyfall
Blu-ray | DVD

After an agonizing four-year hiatus from the silver screen that left the franchise in dire straits, iconic secret agent extraordinaire James Bond made a big and blazing return to theaters around the world in this handsome and witty adventure directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition). Daniel Craig continues to prove when he was the best actor cast as 007 since Sean Connery hung up his Walther PPK, with solid support from Dame Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and a creepy Javier Bardem as the villain with a Old Testament vendetta. The exquisite cinematography by the great Roger Deakins and a handful of the series’ best action set-pieces look fantastic on this Blu-ray that also includes a pair of informative filmmakers’ commentaries, an hour’s worth of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more.

Argo Blu-rayArgo
Blu-ray | DVD

Winner of the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, Argo is that rarest of cinematic beasts: an award-blitzed Hollywood feature that is also a highly-addictive and intelligent viewing experience. Ben Affleck directs and stars as a CIA operative who employs the talents of Alan Arkin‘s old school movie producer and John Goodman‘s special effects whiz to help smuggle some American embassy workers out a politically unstable Iran. Based on a true story (despite some dramatic liberties taken with the facts), Argo is by all accounts funny, smart, haunting, and suspenseful and one of 2012’s best films. Extras on Warner Bros.’ Blu-ray include an audio commentary with Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio, various featurettes and documentaries about the film and the true events that inspired it, and a picture-in-picture option that features interviews with many of the real-life participants, among them former President Jimmy Carter.

The Insider Blu-rayThe Insider
Blu-ray | DVD

The Argo of the Nineties, you could say. More than a decade ago Michael Mann took a little break from making cool, epic crime dramas to direct an insightful drama about a tobacco industry whistle blower who faces harassment and a media smear campaign when he decides to go public with some disturbing truths about the addictive nature of cigarettes. Russell Crowe gives the best performance of his career to date as the whistle blower and Al Pacino provides able support in one of his last great acting turns as a determined 60 Minutes producer. Touchstone’s Blu-ray recycles the previous DVD release’s slim supplements, but the remastered picture and sound are fantastic.

Enter the Dragon: 40th Anniversary Edition
Blu-ray | DVD
Enter The Dragon 40th Anniversary Blu-ray

Hard to believe that it’s been four decades since American and Chinese filmmakers came together with a cast headed by the greatest martial arts star the world has ever known and created a perfect storm of jaw-dropping awesomeness. Bruce Lee‘s first and only American film before he died tragically at a very young age is action filmmaking of the highest order. The multiple fight scenes will have even the most seasoned fans of kung fu flicks grinning with childlike glee. Enter the Dragon is a pulp cinema masterwork. The movie has never looked or sounded better on this new Blu-ray. As far as supplements go, skip the informative but dull producer’s audio commentary and go straight to an endless array of documentaries and shorter featurettes that explore the movie and its iconic star in fine detail. You won’t be able to get enough.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie Blu-rayMystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
Blu-ray | DVD

In the not-too-distant future, the crew of the Satellite of Love made the perilous journey to the big screen. The experience left them missing the good ol’ days when they could do whatever they wanted with no network interference as long as they stuck to their modest budget and kept the fans wanting more. MST3K: The Movie may not have been the happiest of memories for its makers, but it’s an above average adventure for Mike Nelson and the Bots – Crow T. Robot (Trace Beaulieu) and Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy) – and the movie’s Blu-ray debut from Shout! Factory comes complete with enough supplements to keep the longtime followers of the show very happy, including new documentaries and a bounty of fabled deleted scenes. “We got movie sign!!!”

The Master Blu-rayThe Master
Blu-ray | DVD

Paul Thomas Anderson, one of the finest filmmakers of this generation and almost every other generation, returns to the screen after a five-year absence with a powerful and provocative drama about organized religion and those who would use its influence to further their own questionable means. Philip Seymour Hoffman is expectedly great as the charismatic leader of a religious cult loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, but it is Joaquin Phoenix who delivers a rich and often terrifying performance as a lost soul who becomes the cult’s latest convert. Deserving of many awards it was not even nominated for, The Master comes to Blu-ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment with a selection of bonus features including an assemblage of deleted scenes and outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage, trailers, and John Huston’s caustic 1946 documentary Let There Be Light, which focuses on the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on soldiers returning home from World War II.

Wreck-It Ralph Blu-rayWreck-It Ralph
Blu-ray | DVD

It may not have been one of the signs of the impending apocalypse, but Disney actually made a better CGI-animated film than Pixar last year. And what a film it is. John C. Reilly voices the title character, a sweet-natured giant forever stuck playing the villain in an arcade game who decides to change his destiny one day and become a hero. Also featuring the voice talents of Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, and Jack McBrayer, Wreck-It Ralph is a goofy and heartfelt love letter to classic video games past and present with eye-popping immersive animation. A guaranteed joy whether you’re in the mood or not. Disney’s Blu-ray features crystal clear picture and sound and extras including deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, mock vintage game commercials, and the Oscar-winning short paperman that played before the movie during its theatrical run.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-rayWho Framed Roger Rabbit: 25th Anniversary Edition
Blu-ray | DVD

Seamlessly blending live-action photography and traditional cel animation with a virtuoso storytelling flair and wit that has yet to be replicated, Robert Zemeckis‘ 1988 comic mystery surpassed all expectations to become a critical favorite and a box office blockbuster. For its silver anniversary the movie makes its Blu-ray debut with a stellar line-up of bonus features including a filmmakers’ commentary, documentaries, featurettes, animated shorts starring Roger Rabbit, and the deleted “Pig Head Sequence”.

Zero Dark Thirty Blu-ray
Zero Dark Thirty
Blu-ray | DVD

Kathryn Bigelow‘s fact-based thriller about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden courted major controversy from the Left to the Right. but that didn’t keep it from being a magnificently tense drama anchored by a star-making performance from Jessica Chastain as the C.I.A. operative obsessively leading the mission. Extras on this Blu-ray include four featurettes that explore various aspects of the film.

Gorgo Blu-rayGorgo
Blu-ray | DVD

From the last years of the monster movie’s golden age comes this British mash-up of Godzilla and King Kong from the director of the classic The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. Big, colorful, and tons of Saturday afternoon matinee fun, Gorgo is delicious cultural junk food for the Starlog-loving kid in us all. VCI’s Blu-ray features an upgraded video and audio presentation and excellent new supplements including a retrospective documentary, motion comics, a restoration demo, photo galleries, an isolated music and effects audio track, and the original theatrical trailer.

Killing Them Softly Blu-rayKilling Them Softly
Blu-ray | DVD

Brad Pitt re-teamed with his Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford director Andrew Dominik for this downbeat, brutal crime drama based on the George V. Higgins novel Cogan’s Trade about a gangland enforcer (Pitt) called in to deal with a situation involving a pair of low-life criminals (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn) and a screw-up mobster (Ray Liotta). The aces supporting cast includes standout performances from Richard Jenkins and the late James Gandolfini. One of the true love-it-or-hate-it films of last year, Killing‘s Blu-ray is worth the price for the movie alone but Anchor Bay has thrown in a few scant extras including a brief behind-the-scenes featurette and deleted scenes.

John Dies At The End Blu-rayJohn Dies at the End
Blu-ray | DVD

From Don Coscarelli – the director of the Phantasm movies, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep – comes this mind-melting, genre-bending flick based on the novel by Jason Pargin (writing as David Wong) about two aimless slackers who use their extrasensory abilities to combat oddball paranormal threats. A midnight cult movie classic in the making, Magnolia Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray includes a director and cast commentary, deleted scenes, making-of featurettes, and an interview with co-star Paul Giamatti conducted by Fangoria.

Naked Lunch: Criterion Collection Blu-rayNaked Lunch: Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Never one to reject a challenge, David Cronenberg achieved the impossible and made an audacious and imaginative motion picture from William S. Burroughs‘ seminal Beat Generation horror-satire-autobiography about a drug-addicted exterminator (Peter Weller) who retreats to the dangerous and unpredictable nation Interzone to find escape and enhance his writing abilities. What he finds there changes his life and alters his mind forever. The supporting cast includes Judy Davis (playing two roles), Ian Holm, Julian Sands, and Roy Scheider. Extras on this new Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection include an audio commentary with Cronenberg and Weller, an hour-long documentary about the making of the film made for British television in the early 90’s, an illustrated essay focusing on the creation of the visual effects, audio selections of Burroughs reading passages from the novel, a stills gallery, a gallery of promotional and marketing materials, and a bonus booklet of essays.

Django Unchained Blu-rayDjango Unchained
Blu-ray | DVD

Quentin Tarantino‘s long-in-the-works epic “Southern” about a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) who teams up with a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of Leonardo DiCaprio‘s evil slave master and his nefarious second-in-command played by Samuel L. Jackson is everything we were promised and then some. Things get pretty ugly because to not do so would be dishonest, but Django is a rousing adventure with some pulverizing violence and terrific performances. The soundtrack is awesome too. Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray includes featurettes about the stunts, production design, and costumes.

Jack Reacher Blu-rayJack Reacher
Blu-ray | DVD

America’s favorite wacky Scientologist Tom Cruise may not have been the first or best choice to the hulking, resourceful military investigator of author Lee Child‘s best-selling novels, but the Cruiser acquits him well with honed physicality and intelligence in Oscar-winning writer and director Christopher McQuarrie‘s (The Usual Suspects) hard-charging adaptation of Child’s book One Shot that proves itself to be superior cinematic pulp fiction in its own right. Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, and Robert Duvall headline the supporting cast, but the real standout is legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog as the film’s creepy old bastard of a villain. Paramount’s Blu-ray features a McQuarrie/Cruise commentary, an isolated music score track with commentary from composer Joe Kraemer, and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Cloud Atlas Blu-rayCloud Atlas
Blu-ray | DVD

Impossible to classify, impossible to ignore, this one-of-a-kind collaboration between Matrix masterminds the Wachowskis and German filmmaker Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) adapts David Mitchell‘s 2004 novel into a challenging and unforgettable motion picture experience of multiple, overlapping plot lines that span entire eras of human history. A great ensemble cast top-lined by Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, and many more playing different characters in six distinctive stories of love, mystery, and rebellion. Whether you love or hate it, you will not regret seeing Cloud Atlas. Warner Bros.’ Blu-ray includes nearly an hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes and first-rate picture and sound quality.

Rolling Thunder Blu-rayRolling Thunder
Blu-ray | DVD

A brisk and violent revenge thriller – one of the genre’s best – and long a favorite of Quentin Tarantino, Rolling Thunder makes its long-awaited debut on Blu-ray after decades of out-of-print VHS and mail order-exclusive DVD releases. William Devane plays an Army officer who has returned home to Texas after spending seven years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. When his wife and son are killed and his hand severed by a gang of vicious intruders, Devane’s character teams up with fellow P.O.W. Tommy Lee Jones to deliver some old-fashioned vengeance to the bastards. A hook hand and a ton of hot lead will be involved. Shout! Factory has spruced up the 36-year-old grindhouse classic for this release and produced a new retrospective documentary featuring new interviews with Devane, Jones, and screenwriters Paul Schrader and Heywood Gould. Absolutely essential viewing for any fan of hardcore 70’s action and suspense.

Wrong Blu-rayWrong
Blu-ray | DVD

On the surface the latest film from director Quentin Dupieux is a simple tale of a lonely, hapless man (Jack Plotnick) searching vainly for his beloved lost dog. But the man who brought us the killer tire oddity Rubber is hardly one to make a simplistic feature. Wrong is a film exploding with visual and verbal non sequiturs and maddening plot turns that demand not only patience but an open mind. Get in the right mood and you’ll have a wild time with this hilarious and poignant little gem. Extras on Drafthouse Films’ Blu-ray include a pair of surreal behind-the-scenes featurettes and an insert booklet featuring an introductory essay written by Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and a few other writings I dare not reveal. Trust me on this one, my friends.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-RayThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition
Blu-ray | DVD

Peter Jackson‘s much-anticipated return to Tolkien’s Middle-Earth was met with more than its share of controversy and disappointments when it was first released almost a year ago. When I first saw it in 3D I was less than impressed, but I think it was because the glasses were giving me a migraine. The first of Jackson’s three-part adaptation of the novel that introduced Bilbo Baggins and many of the same characters and lands plays much better at home than it did on the big screen, where its excess of whimsy and obvious CGI does not threaten to derail the flow of the narrative as much as it almost did theatrically. Those hobbits sure do love to eat though, and for its second home video release of the year Jackson has fattened his movie up by 12 minutes and added two additional Blu-ray discs with the same level of extensive behind-the-scenes documentaries we have come to expect from the director thanks to the sterling work that went into the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition sets.

Oblivion Blu-rayOblivion
Blu-ray | DVD

Hey it’s that overenthusiastic Scientologist who likes to run all the time again! Tom Cruise makes his second appearance on this list in a sleek and occasionally though-provoking futuristic adventure about a maintenance drone repairman helping with the clean duty on an Earth that has been devastated by a war with alien invaders….or so he has come to believe. I will admit that Oblivion, as derivative as it can be, had me hooked with its action sequences, wondrous visual effects, and involving story, all directed with a sure hand by Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy). Extras on this Blu-ray from Universal include a director/star audio commentary, deleted scenes, a five-part behind-the-scenes documentary, and an isolated audio track featuring the ethereal music score composed and performed by M83.

Pain And Gain Special Collectors Edition Blu-rayPain & Gain: Special Collector’s Edition
Blu-ray | DVD

Who would have thought that Michael Bay, one of the most successful and loathed directors in the world, would return from a prolonged trek in the wilderness of overlong giant fighting robot flicks to make the ballsiest major studio comedy of the year? Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie play a bunch of cash-desperate muscleheads whose plot to kidnap a wealthy egomaniac (Tony Shalhoub) and torture him into signing over his vast fortune proves to be successful, but the success goes to their heads and greed gets them in way over their thick skulls. Inspired by a true story, honestly, and so much wrong-headed fun to be had. Extras on this Blu-ray include eight behind-the-scenes featurettes that delve into the production of Pain & Gain and the stranger-than-fiction true events that inspired its making.

Crystal Lake Memories Blu-ray
Crystal Lake Memories
Blu-ray

The makers of 2010’s Never Sleep Again, the four-hour-long documentary about the Nightmare on Elm Street series, have returned with their detailed and interview-packed examination of the creation and cultural impact of the Friday the 13th franchise and its iconic, hockey-masked psycho Jason Voorhees. With ten movies, Freddy Vs. Jason, a TV series, and the 2009 remake/reboot to dissect, Crystal Lake Memories is hosted by Corey Feldman (the young star of 1984’s misleadingly-titled Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) runs somewhere in the neighborhood of seven hours and features brand new interviews with most of the directors, writers, actors, and fans whose lives were changed in unimaginable ways by their involvement with the series. For fans of Jason the world over this documentary is beyond essential. The sole extra on this two-disc Blu-ray is an audio commentary with director Daniel Farrands, editor Luke Rafalowski, and Peter M. Bracke, the author of the book of the same name.

Slacker: Criterion Collection Blu-raySlacker: Criterion Collection
Blu-ray | DVD

Having made its DVD debut in late 2004 courtesy of the Criterion Collection, the company brings Richard Linklater‘s seminal independent film to Blu-ray with upgraded video and audio and most of the DVD bonus features ported over. With over a hundred different characters crossing paths, having fascinating conversations, and taking their lives in wild and imaginative new directions over the course of a single day in Austin, Texas, the movie that gave our language a new expression to be overused and exploited is a smart and magical journey that soars even when it stays with its feet planted firmly on Earth. Extras include three commentaries featuring Linklater and various members of the cast and crew, deleted scenes, selections from the director’s original script, casting tapes, home video footage shot during production, Linklater’s first film (shot on Super 8) It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, and much, much more.

Halloween 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-rayHalloween: 35th Anniversary Edition
Blu-ray | DVD

Wow, there sure were a lot of great films celebrating anniversaries this past year. But then again Anchor Bay Entertainment never really needed an excuse to reissue John Carpenter‘s standard-setting horror classic on home video. This time though they’ve released a Halloween Blu-ray that is truly worth the quadruple dip. For the first time the movie has been given a full high-definition upgrade supervised by original cinematographer Dean Cundey, and the end result is the priceless feeling that you’re watching Halloween like never before. The bonus features are mostly new as well and include a commentary with Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis exclusive to this release, as well as a documentary about Curtis’ first and only trip to a horror convention for a Halloween II cast reunion that was set up to raise money for charity, a shorter featurette that revisits the original filming locations, a collection of scenes filmed during the production of the first sequel for NBC’s initial television broadcast of Halloween, the theatrical trailer, and some TV and radio spots.

The Wizard of Oz: 75th Anniversary Edition
Blu-ray | DVDThe Wizard Of Oz 75th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

Speaking of beloved cinematic classics celebrating an important birthday in 2013, the splashy and joyous MGM production of L. Frank Baum‘s classic children’s novel is a landmark of film history and justifiably one of the greatest and most beloved motion pictures of all time. Filmed in the magic of bold Technicolor, the performances by Judy Garland and a great cast blend superbly with wonderful production design and visual effects and the classic heartfelt songs that have helped Oz stand the test of time. Not much more I can say about a time-honored work of celluloid art that will outlast us all, and thank heavens for that. Extras on this new Blu-ray from Warner Bros. include a new documentary about the making of The Wizard of Oz, an audio commentary, stills gallery, radio broadcasts, an audio jukebox overflowing with alternate takes of the soundtrack, trailers, and a whole lot more.

By Famous Monster

Best of 2013 So Far: Kings of Summer

The Kings of Summer
DVD | Blu-Ray

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, The Kings of Summer stars Nick Robinson as Joe Toy, a high school freshman on the verge of adolescence who finds himself increasingly frustrated by his father Frank’s (Nick Offerman) attempts to manage his life.

Declaring his freedom once and for all, he escapes to a clearing in the woods with his best friend, Patrick (Gabriel Basso), and a strange kid named Biaggio (Moisés Arias). Joe announces that they’re going to build a house there, free from their overbearing parents. Once their makeshift dwelling is finished, the three young men find themselves masters of their own destiny, alone in the woods.

Written by Chris Galletta, Kings of Summer is a clever and endearing mash-up of films like Stand By Me, My Own Private Idaho, and Superbad, with a dash of Napoleon Dynamite. It’s hard to describe the movie without making it sound like every other coming-of-age film you’ve ever seen, but Galletta’s script is injected with authenticity – real emotions and honest motivations – and big laughs.

Hugh Jackman as The Wolverine

The Wolverine – Unleashed Extended Edition
DVD | Blu-Ray

Based on the 1982 comic book series Wolverine by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, James Mangold‘s The Wolverine picks up years after X-Men: The Last Stand with Logan (Hugh Jackman) traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Japan, 1945. Logan – a prisoner of war – saves Yashida from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, exposing his regenerative abilities to the young Japanese soldier. Nearly seventy years later, Yashida wants to reward the Wolverine with what he seeks most: death. The elderly Japanese mogul wants Logan to transfer his mutant powers over to him, so that he can live run his empire in perpetuity, and Logan can finally shed his mortal coil and be reunited with his late love, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen).

When Logan not-so-politely declines, he becomes embroiled in a family drama involving Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) and her father Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), a yakuza crime boss with plans to murder his own daughter and inherit his dying father’s power and wealth. Now the Wolverine must protect Mariko from gangsters, ninjas, samurai, and Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), a venomous mutant who has developed a toxin that suppresses Logan’s healing factor.

The Wolverine is the best superhero movie of 2013, and a fantastic lead-in to Fox’s upcoming apocalyptic mutant mash-up, 2014′s X-Men: Days of Future Past. Nothing is without meaning in Mangold’s straight-faced film, a reminder that everything finds peace, even the tormented soul of the immortal Wolverine.

The Howling Blu-ray banner

The Howling
DVD | Blu-Ray

Directed by Joe Dante (Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, Gremlins), The Howling is 1981 horror film written by John Sayles and Terence H. Winkless and features an original music score composed by Pino Donaggio.

Based on Gary Brandner’s 1977 novel, The Howling is available on DVD and Blu-Ray with a well-stocked selection of commentaries, interviews, featurettes, and deleted scenes. The film stars Dee Wallace (E.T., Critters, Cujo) as Karen White, a Los Angeles television news anchor who visits “The Colony,” a secluded resort in the countryside where he sends patients for treatment.

The Colony is filled with all kinds of strange characters, including a seductive nymphomaniac named Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks), who tries to seduce Karen’s husband, Bill. When he resists her less-than-subtle sexual advances, he is attacked and bitten by a wolf-like creature on the way back to his cabin. He later returns to the forest only to find Marsha waiting for him. The two have sex by the campfire in the moonlight and, mid-coitus, the lovers shapeshift into goddamn werewolves. That’s right, you heard me, GODDAMN WEREWOLVES.

The Howling‘s werewolves (not to mention Dee Wallace and Elisabeth Brooks) look incredible with Scream Factory’s immaculate Blu-ray restoration, which comes with hours of bonus materials detailing the making of the film and Rob Bottin’s amazing special effects.

Lifeforce Blu-Ray

Lifeforce
DVD | Blu-Ray

Directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), 1985′s Lifeforce stars Steve Railsback, Mathilda May, and Patrick Stewart. Based on Colin Wilson‘s 1976 novel, The Space Vampires, Lifeforce is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray and features both the film’s original theatrical version and longer international.

Presented by Scream! Factory, Lifeforce follows the crew of the space shuttle Churchill, who discover a 150-mile long spacecraft hidden in the corona of Halley’s Comet. Inside the craft the crew finds hundreds of dead, desiccated bat-like creatures and three naked humanoid bodies in suspended animation within crystal coffins.

Lifeforce‘s narrative is an amalgam of Bram Stoker’s Dracula mixed with H. P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror mythos, and writer Dan O’Bannon wastes no time in borrowing from his own film (Alien) to introduce a “living” derelict ship that’s carrying deadly cargo. Instead of Facehuggers and Xenomorphs, it’s vampires from outer space who turn their prey into the living dead, leading to an all-out cosmic zombie apocalypse in London.

It’s worth seeing for Scream Factory’s immaculate Blu-Ray restoration, which comes with hours of bonus materials detailing the making of the film. If you’re unfamiliar with Shout Factory’s sub-division of forgotten horror and science-fiction films, Scream Factory is like the Criterion Collection of low-budget slasher flicks and B-movies. These Blu-ray transfers are among the best you’ll find, and if you have even a passing interest in ’70s and ’80s genre pictures, check out Scream Factory’s already impressive catalog of films.

THIS IS THE END

This is the End
DVD | Blu-Ray

Written and directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, This is the End is an apocalyptic meta-comedy where celebrities play exaggerated versions of themselves on the eve of Judgment Day. Jay Baruchel (Goon, Knocked Up) arrives in L.A to visit old friend and fellow Canadian Seth Rogen, who invites Jay to a housewarming party at James Franco‘s new million-dollar mecca.

Jay feels uncomfortable around Seth’s new Hollywood friends — including Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Emma Watson — so Seth agrees to accompany him to a convenience store for cigarettes. While they’re perusing the candy aisle, beams of blue light shoot down from the sky and abduct a handful of the store’s customers. Frightened, Jay and Seth make their way back to Franco’s fortress amid explosions, car crashes, and mass hysteria as people are beamed up into the clouds.

Now James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, and the nefarious Danny McBride must discover the true meaning of friendship and redemption as the world crumbles down around them.

This is the End feels like the demonic offspring of Superbad, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, and Cabin in the Woods – an uproarious masterwork of horror-comedy that manages to be both obscene and heartfelt. Goldberg and Rogen’s directorial debut is one of my favorite films of 2013, and the funniest, most satisfying comedies I’ve seen in years.

Best of 2013 So Far: Stories We Tell

Stories We Tell
DVD

Directed by Sarah Polley (Away From Her, Take This Waltz), Stories We Tell examines the relationship between Polley’s parents, including the revelation that the filmmaker was the product of an extramarital affair.

The film incorporates Super-8 footage re-creations of home movies, in which actress Rebecca Jenkins plays Polley’s mother, Diane. There are extensive, candid interviews with Polley’s siblings and other relatives, and Michael Polley‘s narration of his memoir.

Stories We Tell is an intimate, sometimes painful film – a complex love letter to Polley’s mother and father: retired British actor Michael Polley and Canadian TV personality Diane Polley, who died of cancer when Sarah was 11 years old. Polly plays both filmmaker and detective in this well-crafted documentary that unfolds like a mystery, complete with unreliable narrators and contradictory stories.

Polley’s film is an extremely moving, heartfelt film that explores our nostalgia-tinged memories of the past and the blurred line between fact and fiction. Stories We Tell is one of the best movies of the year – a bittersweet, deeply personal family portrait that will leave you in wonder.

Best of 2013 So Far: Drinking Buddies

Drinking Buddies
DVD | Blu-Ray

Directed by Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs), Drinking Buddies follows the complicated friendship of Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson), who work together at a craft brewery. As friends, they’re way too close – it’s obvious there’s something more there, but Kate is dating Chris (Ron Livingston) and Luke is with all-around good girl Jill (Anna Kendrick).

The two couples go on a weekend getaway together and things get even more problematic when Jill and Chris go on a hike and find themselves romantically entangled. Meanwhile, Kate and Luke flirt while playing cards and get cozy on the beach. Without giving away the intricacies of the narrative, the four characters struggle to balance their romantic relationships and platonic friendships with the opposite sex – some with success, others with disastrous results.

This movie is an honest, sometimes ugly, depiction of relationships and the moments that force us to consider – or accept – who we will spend the rest of our lives with. Drinking Buddies will be Joe Swanberg’s coming-out party, exposing the filmmaker to larger crowds dying to see something authentic on the screen. While Swanberg certainly isn’t a newcomer (he’s directed 18 films since 2005), he’s an indie filmmaker who has managed to stay indie – but if he keeps making movies as good as Drinking Buddies, his days of mainstream obscurity are numbered.

Best of 2013 So Far: Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim
DVD | Blu-Ray

Co-Written and Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth), Pacific Rim is a spirited love letter to Japanese Kaiju films like Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan. The film stars Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) as Raleigh Becket, a washed-up former Jaeger pilot brought out of retirement by the Pan Pacific Defense Corps to fight monsters once more. Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) joins Hunnam as Mako Mori, Becket’s untested co-pilot who lost her family in a Kaiju attack.

Pacific Rim is the kind of movie that, if seen at the right age, could hook a kid on movies for the rest of his or her life. Star Wars was that movie for me, and Pacific Rim embraces the unpretentious spirit of adventure that made George Lucas’ sprawling space saga resonate with an entire generation.

I’ve been pretty disappointed with this year’s crop of big-budget blockbusters, but Guillermo del Toro has delivered a movie that makes no apologies for being FUN. That’s right – FUN. Pacific Rim aspires to bring us old-fashioned heroics with awe-inspiring visuals; dares to be a post-apocalyptic science-fiction film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and wants its audience to ENJOY themselves instead of take home some bigger philosophical meaning about the nature of man.

Pacific Rim appeals to the child within all of us – the uncynical child that can still be astonished – the kid that doesn’t want to be grounded in reality. I don’t know about you but I’m sick of reality. I’d give anything to Drift with Mako Mori and uppercut monsters in my skyscraper-sized robot suit.

Best of 2013 So Far: Mud

Mud
DVD | Blu-Ray

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, Mud stars Matthew McConaughey as the title character, a charismatic desperado on the run from ruthless bounty hunters.

Like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) and Ellis (Tye Sheridan) are two poor boys on a great adventure through the American South. After investigating a small island on the Mississippi River, the two encounter Mud, a drifter with a gun in his waistband and crosses in his heels – nails in the shape of crosses – that protect him from evil spirits.

According to Mud, his true love Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) is awaiting his arrival in the small town of DeWitt, Arkansas, where they plan to make a daring getaway together. Intrigued by the outlaw’s story, the boys agree to help Mud slip past his pursuers and reunite with Juniper. But with each subsequent visit to the island — trips Ellis hides from his parents (Ray McKinnon and Sarah Paulson) and Neckbone from his uncle (Michael Shannon) — they learn things are not what they seem.

McConaughey delivers yet another tremendous performance after a stunning showing last year in Bernie, Magic Mike, and Killer Joe. Sheridan and Lofland are perfectly cast as the kind-hearted; rough around the edges Ellis and the take-no-shit Neckbone. Nichols’ focus on character and the environment that shapes them elevates Mud above just another fugitive on the run story.

Mud is an exquisite piece of storytelling that is as creatively rich as it is emotionally rewarding and one of the best films of the year – and absolute must-own for any fan of American film.

By EMPRESS EVE

Doctor Who: Series 1-7 Limited Edition Blu-ray Giftset

Doctor Who: Series 1-7 Limited Edition Gift Set
Blu-ray

The 28-disc Blu-ray set comes with 7 seasons of the new Doctor Who, featuring the Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston, the Tenth Doctor David Tennant, and the Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, along with their respective companions. The set also contains the David Tennant Specials and Christmas Specials, along with new and previously released bonus features, as well as some very cool goodies – The Doctor Who Universal Remote Control Sonic Screwdriver, three original art cards, and an exclusive Doctor Who comic book.

Breaking Bad The Complete Series Blu-ray Set

Breaking Bad: The Complete Series
Blu-ray

Contains over 55 hours of bonus content from all six seasons of the AMC series, plus an all-new two-hour documentary, 16-page booklet with letter from co-created Vince Gilligan, Commemorative challenge coin designed by Vince Gilligan, and a Los Pollos Hermanos apron all housed in a collectible replica money barrel.

Dexter: The Complete Series blu-ray

Dexter: The Complete Series
Blu-ray

The Blu-ray box set contains all 8 seasons of Dexter over 25 discs, plus over 3 hours of special features, like behind-the-Scenes cast interviews, featurettes, and Promos; The Evolution of Dexter Morgan documentary; The Code documentary; plus a Grafix book featuring artwork and photography from all eight seasons of the show. Also available in DVD.

Fringe: The Complete Series blu-rayFringe: The Complete Series
Blu-ray

This 20-disc Blu-ray box set contains all 5 seasons of the Fox television series, Fringe, which aired from 2008 to January 2013 and starred Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, and John Noble. The set also includes bonus features, like making-of featurettes on select episodes; mini documentaries on the science behind the series and its evolution; interviews with the cast and crew; a look at the visual effects; production diaries; commentaries; gag reel; and several Blu-ray exclusive featurette.

The Complete Series is also available on DVD.

The Walking Dead: Complete Third Season blu-rayThe Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season
Blu-ray

This 5-disc Blu-ray set contains all 16 episodes of the third season of AMC’s The Walking Dead television series, along with audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and never-before-seen featurettes.

There’s also a Limited Edition Blu-ray that comes in a special “zombie head tank” packaging.

The Complete Series is also available on DVD.

True Blood: Complete Fifth Season blu-rayTrue Blood: The Complete Fifth Season
Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy Combo Pack

This Blu-ray combo pack includes all 12 episodes of Season 3 of the HBO series True Blood, which stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Alexander SkarsgÃ¥rd, and comes with bonus features like Audio commentaries by the cast and crew; previews and recaps; enhanced viewing with background information on characters and histories; a featurette on The Authority; ab ehind-the-scenes look at how True Blood is made; a fully interactive “”re-Vamped”” guide; and more. This combo pack also contains all the episodes on DVD and with a digital copy.

The complete Season 3 is also available on DVD, but does not include all of the aforementioned bonus features and there’s no digital copy.

Sons of Anarchy: Season Five blu-raySons of Anarchy: Season Five
Blu-ray

The 3-disc Blu-ray edition has all 13 episodes of Season 5 of the FX series Sons Of Anarchy, which stars Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman, and Jimmy Smits. This Blu-ray set also includes bonus content, such as audio commentary on select episodes; deleted scenes; gag reel; a Fan Appreciation Piece; featurettes with showrunner Kurt Sutter; and more.

The fifth season box set is available as a 4-disc DVD set.

Game of Thrones Seasons 1 & 2 with 3 Amazon Exclusive Funko Pop Vinyls Blu-ray

Game of Thrones Seasons 1 & 2 with 3 Exclusive Funko Pop Vinyls
Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy

Seasons 1 and 2 of the HBO series Game Of Thrones were released a long time ago, but now HBO has created this Blu-ray bundle exclusively for Amazon.com. This limited edition set contains the Blu-ray releases for Season 1 and 2, along with their respective bonus features, on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy, plus 3 Exclusive Funko Pop Vinyl features of the Game Of Thrones characters Khal Drogo, Daenerys Targaryen, and Dany’s dragon Rhaegal.

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection DVD box set

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection
DVD

This 28-disc DVD box set contains all 156 complete episodes of the classic Rod Serling scifi television series that brought viewers each week to another dimension into The Twilight Zone. The episodes have been remastered with high-definition film transfers. Bonus materials include the Serling bio-documentary Submitted for Your Approval, along with interviews with the show’s writers, the unaired the series’ pilot, audio commentaries with Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, Cliff Robertson, and much, more. This box set came out in 2006, but I’m including it here because it will only be available til the end of November 30 (after which, it goes into Moratorium), and then only the Episode-Only DVDs will continue to be sold.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 Blu-ray box art

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Blu-ray

Contains all 26 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, including the two-part episode “Unification” starring Leonard Nimoy as his classic Star Trek character Spock. The episodes contain enhanced visual effects rebuilt from the original elements. Bonus features include audio commentaries, gag reel, and featurettes.

AMAZON SHIPPING INFORMATION

If you’re ordering through Amazon.com in the United States, here’s their ordering deadlines for delivery on or before Christmas Eve (12/24) for items in-stock shipped to physical addresses within the United States and marked “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” or “Fulfilled by Amazon.com.”

Contiguous U.S.
Dec. 17: Free Shipping (non-Prime)
Dec. 18: Standard Shipping
Dec. 21: Two-Day Shipping
Dec. 23: One-Day Shipping
Dec. 24: Local Express Delivery
Dec. 25: Email and printable Amazon Gift Cards can be sent immediately, at any time

For more details about local delivery and delivery to the non-contiguous U.S (Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico), as well as international shipping, see the Christmas Ordering Deadlines For U.S. Shipments page.

Remember, if all else fails, there’s also the Amazon.com Gift Card, you can have emailed to the recipient (arrives immediately) or you can print out the gift card at home and give it to the intended that way. If you order in enough time, you can get the physical gift card sent to you.

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