Holiday Geek Gift Guide 2018: Blu-ray and DVD Edition
By Dr. Zaius
Wednesday, November 21st, 2018 at 11:00 am
This was a tremendous year for horror, no matter what the snobs at Vogue magazine will have you believe. For the horror fan in your life, there is a virtual cornucopia of Blu-rays and special edition sets for both new and classic films as well as TV favorites. But, there were also some great offerings in comedy, drama, and scifi too, as well as animated features. So if you’re celebrating Hanukkah and need eight gifts for eight crazy nights, or just want to stack the gifts under the Christmas tree, here are some Blu-rays and DVDs we recommend this holiday season. Hopefully these are enough to quell the movie lovers in your family. Whether it’s the 4K-Ultras, Blu-rays, collector’s sets, or plain old DVD, these gifts will hit the spot this holiday season.
Check out this year’s Holiday Geek Gift Guide: Blu-ray & DVD Edition“¦
Recommendations by Dr. Zaius.
Maximum Overdrive Vestron Video Collector’s Series Blu-ray
Looking for a cult classic to watch with a group of friends? Check out Vestron Video’s Collector’s Edition of Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive. The Emilio Estevez-led thriller is loaded with all new Vestron-produced interviews and special features.
My pick for the best horror film of 2018 so far is Ari Aster’s terrifying family drama, Hereditary, starring Toni Collette. You can take home the Blu-ray featuring deleted scenes, a behind the scenes documentary, and more for the horror geek in your family.
Ash Vs Evil Dead: The Complete Collection Blu-ray | DVD
For the Evil Dead fan, then Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete Collection is an absolutely must-have. Still suffering from STARZ cancelling the Bruce Campbell-led horror comedy series? Well this is the perfect holiday antidote. This set contains the three seasons with ALL the special features, behind the scenes footage, interviews, and commentaries you’d expect from the AvED gang.
For the fan of the recent classics, three total must-owns are Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the original John Carpenter Halloween, and Evil Dead, all available now in 4K Ultra/Blu-ray combo packs. You get the original classic films in the most pristine condition, with best picture and sound available at home. Plus each set is full of special features including audio commentaries with the filmmakers, stars, and more. The Terminator 2 set is particularly loaded, including multiple documentaries from both 1992 and present day, and also has a limited edition 4K Ultra HD Endoarm Box Set.
A love letter to classic British horror anthologies from Amicus and Hammer Productions, Ghost Stories is an old-fashioned fright film, brilliantly acted and magnificently staged. Kudos to cinematographer Ole Bratt Birkeland (The Little Stranger), composer Haim Frank Ilfman, and production designer Grant Montgomery for creating a genuine sense of dread throughout, a kind of lingering disquiet that stays with you long after the credits have rolled. It’s funny, scary as hell, and features some of the most beautifully macabre sequences you’re likely to see this year.
With a solid script by Michael De Luca (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare), some grotesque, otherworldly special makeup effects by Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, and Howard Berger, and an exceptional lead performance by Neill, John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness is without question one of the best horror movies of the ’90s. Like Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator and From Beyond, it is a spirited slice of Lovecraftian horror, lovingly rendered in horrific detail.
Thank God for Scream Factory, who resurrects hidden gems and forgotten genre films and gives them new life. Without this new high-definition release of George P. Cosmatos’ film, I may have never experienced the joy – dare I say, the jubilation – of watching Buckaroo Bonzai don a miner’s headlamp, cleats, and protective gear while fighting a Schnauzer-sized rat with a homemade morning star. It’s the stuff dreams (and a few nightmares, I suppose) are made of. If you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve got to pick up a copy right now and bear testimony to its brilliance.
Inspired by George Waggner’s The Wolf Man and Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon, Drag Me to Hell is a throwback to classic Universal horror films and ’50s B-movies. It’s a simple, straightforward horror-comedy that is perfectly paced and brilliantly executed with excellent performances. It’s one of the most effective horror movies of the last ten years, jolting viewers into a state of constant unease as Sam Raimi ratchets up the dread – with help from composer Christopher Young’s haunting score, only to cool off the tension with a laugh-out-loud gross-out gag. By the time you reach the end of Raimi’s ride, you’re emotionally exhausted but ready to go again.
Game Of Thrones: The Complete Season 7th Season Blu-ray | DVD
Season 7 was definitely the most revealing and explosive one of the HBO series, and with the final season coming next year, a rewatch (or a catch-up) is in order. This set includes “Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms,” an animated bonus feature that retells of Aegon Targaryen’s attempts to conquer the Seven Kingdoms, along with several other cool bonus features.
This seminal film by Richard Donner that for many still holds up as the one true film version of Superman. Played by the late great Christopher Reeve, the film details the demise of alien planet Krypton as Jor-El, Oscar-winner Marlon Brando, sends his child off to planet Earth. Kal-El (Reeve) grows up to become mild-mannered newspaper reporter Clark Kent of the Daily Planet, who must balance his time between wooing his colleague Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), and saving the world from the plans of corrupt tycoon Lex Luthor, (Gene Hackman). Now you can take the Man of Steel home with you on a brand new 4k Ultra Blu-Ray combo pack. The film keeps all of its wonderful zany, bittersweet nostalgia of all of our childhoods, while reminding us that heroes do win, and CGI is not necessary for a good film. And the music… oh the music. This is a must-have for any collection.
It’s Audrey’s (Mila Kunis) 30th birthday and everybody keeps asking her about her ex Drew (Justin Theroux), which after a myriad of mixed emotions, causes her to set his things on fire, with the help of aggressive nudging from her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon). Drew is very busy of course being almost killed in Lithuania almost 100 times. Enter Sebastian (my #1 boyfriend Sam Heughan), who lures Audrey outside and into a van to tell her about Drew’s secret life as a CIA agent. Everybody is looking for this trophy which needs to get to Austria to “Verne” by tomorrow. Drew shows up, there’s a shootout, and he dies. Off the best friends go on an awesomely funny adventure. The movie manages to be a bit of everything, and McKinnon is a comedy genius in everything. Can she be MY best friend? I had smiles throughout. The movie was that delightful. With tons of even funnier special features, I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t own this.
Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight started the craze in 2008 with teens everywhere taking sides as either Team Edward or Team Jacob. Based on the books by Stephenie Meyer, young Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) was the envy of every girl, to have the heart of sparkly vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and abs-olutely hunky Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). I won’t say anymore, although I know that anyone who buys this are Twihards looking to add to their collection and know the story, but I will say that I actually think I enjoyed the movie more this time around. I actually got teary eyed at the love story. Romance with no sex! Romance with barely any kisses! It’s sort of dreamy. I used to be Team Jacob, but I think I’m Team Edward now. And I’ve always been Team Emmett. There are hours and hours of special features, including music videos, jump to sections, comic-cons, making ofs, and more.
The Thor films have always made a loud thunderous noise in the past, but Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok closes out the trilogy with one Asgardian apocalyptic explosion. By embracing all of the quirky themes from the Thor comic book mythology, the film is easily one of the funniest Marvel Studio films to date. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are a terrific pair, and Tessa Thompson gives us Valykrie, who deserves her own film. Not only that, but Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk shows us that he is more than just a green muscle-bound hero – who beat Thor – he is a green muscle-bound hero with a lot of heart.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe expands with Black Panther, Marvel Studios’ first superhero film with a mostly black cast. Ryan Coogler’s film goes far beyond telling a generic comic book movie of a would-be king with tired tropes by weaving in contemporary themes of race and identity. Not only that, but it redefines the genre with a strong female presence both on screen with Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, and Angela Bassett, and offscreen with cinematographer Rachel Morrison.
Anthony and Joe Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War is a culmination of a decade’s worth of storytelling that started with a billionaire playboy philanthropist. While the fate of the universe is at stake, the latest Avengers film takes an unconventional approach by having it take place from Thanos’ perspective, giving us a sympathetic character even though his goals and motives are dark and sinister. There are far too many things to like about this, from the well-balanced story and terrific performances to the out of his world visuals and thrilling action sequences. This is the crossover event we all have been patiently waiting for, and it was well worth the wait.
It’s hard to follow up a Marvel movie like the fantastic Black Panther and powerful Avengers: Infinity War, but Ant-Man And The Wasp paves its own path to glory with heart and humor. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly create some great laughs, which is something every Marvel fan needed after Infinity War ended on a very somber note. The sequel is pack with strong character-driven stories that explore themes of fatherhood, which shows that Marvel Studios wants to be more than just a superhero studio, it wants to be funny and tell stories everyone can relate to. Just with a superhero angle.
Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is bold, beautiful, and daring. Though it may be one of the most polarizing Star Wars films, it is not afraid to take chances by challenging the franchise mythology. And while people may have their differences on the film, its hard not to recognize Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a Star Wars film through and through, and it is something else entirely at the same time. It’s something that moves with fluidity and strikes with visual excitement.
Pixar’s long-awaited sequel has arrived and it packs quite punch. Brad Bird’s film brings back the golden age of superheroes who are thrust into a world-saving situation that has contemporary themes. While the title sequel is the main attraction, the one thing that will definitely get your attention is Bao, the Pixar short that showed prior the every Incredibles 2 showing. The film is rich with a culturally diverse story that celebrates food and family all at once.
The Merc With The Mouth returns for some more foulmouth gruesome hijinks in Deadpool 2. Ryan Reynolds reprises the role that everyone has been waiting for and helps reset some of the timelines that were screwed up by Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men. Although we won’t really know how that will take, it seems very irresponsible to give a time-traveling device to someone as reckless as Deadpool. Who knows that will happen if he goes back too far.
Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray | DVD
Relive all of the wonderful moments of Disney’s frightfully delightful Hocus Pocus on Blu-ray. Directed by Kenny Ortega, the film starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker endured the harsh criticism and commercial failure to become a cult classic. 25 years since its release, Hocus Pocus is now a part of the Halloween pantheon that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
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 directly to you or to the gift recipient.