DVDBeaver are proud to announce our voting results for Blu-ray and 4K UHD of the Year - 2023 Poll. I would like to give a very appreciative thank you to those 147 individuals who participated. Everyone's votes were counted in the totals and, like every year, we are adding occasional quote comments!

 

The common complaint this year was how hard it was selecting a Top Ten Blu-ray list as many of the best titles offered 4K as well. The important releases this year seemed to be boxsets - of which there are many lauded.

 

This year we were privileged to have notable participants such as my personal favorite Blu-ray/4K UHD commentarist Tim Lucas! (author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, The Book of Renfield: A Gospel of Dracula etc.,) audio commentator, and DVD/Blu-ray extras producer Daniel Kremer, commentarist and interviewer Bill Ackerman (Supporting Characters Podcast), film historian, film critic, essayist, and audio commentator Stuart Galbraith IV (Japanese Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films: A Critical Analysis of 103 Features Released in the United States, 1950-1992), author, writer and commentarist Lee Gambin (Massacred by Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film), BBC film reviewer (40 years!) and writer Ramsey Campbell (author of Six Stooges and Counting), physical media and film reviewer Eric Cotenas (Cineventures Blog), cinema bon-vivant Bill McAlpine, documentary filmmaker and Blu-ray/DVD bonus content producer Elijah Drenner, screenwriter/non-fiction writer, film historian and commentator Gary Gerani (Fantastic Television), award-winning journalist Jeff Heinrich, globetrotting cinephile Geoff Dubois, among others. Selections this year spread to a huge diversity of genres. No one can see every release in the year and how we have 'good' opinions is to have lots of them.

In a very changing world we lost two Blu-ray distributors in 2023; Network and Olive. We thank them for their digital editions over the years - they will both be missed. In positive news we gained, remarkable boutique production company, Radiance Films - who made it into our Top Ten labels this year, Neon Eagle Video is looking interesting, Canadian International Pictures (CIP) is continuing 'up the ladder' and going 4K (East End Hustle) - plus there are a handful of new sub-labels; Cult Classics (Studio Canal,) Vinegar Syndrome Labs (The Cat Creeps, Curucu, Beast of the Amazon, Flesh and Fantasy etc.) and their many partner labels, Kino Cult (Lorna the Exorcist, Alien Outlaw, The Dark Power, Sinner: The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac), Criterion's Janus Contemporaries (EO, No Bears, L'innocent aka The Innocent, Godland, Tori and Lokita, The Eight Mountains) - BFI's Flipside (Full Circle: The Haunting of Julia) going 4K UHD, as well as Severin Kids (Journey to the Center of the Earth) who continue to make offerings for their tiny sub-label... so it remains the absolute best time to maintain a physical digital library.

This Year's Poll is, again, dedicated to... our Patrons - with great thanks. We would not exist without their support! To those that are unfamiliar, Patreon is a secure/verified third-party service where users can agree to a small monthly donation via credit card or PayPal by clicking the button below.

NOTE: Again, this year we didn't publish the vote # totals - it just complicated our already bloated formatting and complex tabulation.

BIG thanks to our DVDBeaver-friends-for-life, accurately labeled, 'Czar of Noir' Gregory Meshman (take a back seat Eddie) who continues to support us with content lists, updates - (Film Noir, and Giallo) and more..., Gurus Colin Zavitz and Eric Cotenas providing further eclectic content. Thunderbirds Are Go!:
 

THE TOP TEN BOXSETSs OF 2023

TOP Blu-rays OF 2023

TOP 4K UHD of 2023

Gary's 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' list

Favorite Commentaries

LABELS

Best Cover Design

'Black' and Blu (Film Noir on 2023 Blu-ray)

'Yellow' and Blu (Giallo on 2023 Blu-ray)

Notable TV on 2023 Blu-ray

Banner Guessing CONTEST

DVD - 'Will Never Die'

Uncensored Rants and Praise


 

THE WINNERS - BOXSETS (boxsets contain multiple films)
1)

First place is Criterion's Small Axe - Five Films By Steve McQueen. With the five films that make up his Small Axe anthology (Mangrove; Lovers Rock; Red, White and Blue; Alex Wheatle; and Education), director Steve McQueen offers a richly evocative panorama of West Indian life in London from the late 1960s through the early '80s - a time defined for the community by the terror of police violence, the empowering awakening of political consciousness, and the ecstatic escape of a vibrant reggae scene. Ranging in tone from tenderly impressionistic to devastatingly clear-eyed, these powerfully performed portraits of Black resistance, joy, creativity, and collective action - all sumptuously shot by Shabier Kirchner - form a revolutionary counterhistory of mid-twentieth-century Britain at a transformational moment.

Steve McQueen's Small Axe title references a proverb - "Small axe fall big tree" or "If you are the big tree, we are the small axe". It was popularized by Bob Marley in his 1973 song "Small Axe".

This Criterion Blu-ray package of this anthology series is outstanding. These masterfully realized five films share common themes but are all distinctly different efforts that do not intersect. This is some of the most brilliant cinema I have seen in a long time. McQueen is best know for 12 Years a Slave (2013), Hunger (2008), and Shame (2011) was born in London to a Grenadian mother and a Trinidadian father. He draws from his experiences in schooling - marginalized being dyslexic and also wearing an eye patch because of a lazy eye. Notable are Mangrove and Lovers Rock (the latter was the top-ranked film in Sight & Sound's best films of 2020) but I also very much enjoyed Red, White and Blue, Alex Wheatle and Education. The inclusion of the three-hour documentary Uprising (2021) adds even more value to this remarkable set. I expect this to be voted on in our year-end poll. Our highest recommendation! 

 

"Not only is Steve McQueen's Small Axe series an incredible set of (mini-)features, but the extras in this release add tremendous value to the entire package. The feature-length documentary Uprising in particular is truly essential viewing." - Dan Hassler-Forest

____________________

"Two years ago, in my year end poll, in my wish list/ rant I had mentioned that the BBC only thought to release these 5 films in a bare bones DVD here in the UK, and my wish was if only Criterion would release this, along with McQueen's documentary UPRISING (which was also later broadcast on BBC that year) as a supplement. How often do wishes come true? Rarely- but this one did. Each of the 5 films is a considered work of art." - Billy Bang

____________________

"More people should watch these gems, incredible work from McQueen that ranks among his finest." - Lewis

____________________

"Five films, including the great Mangrove and Lovers Rock, made for television, but ideally should be shown on the big screen since each one was made differently - different aspect ratios, but also different film stocks and digital cameras. Amazing package which includes a feature documentary." - Peter Rist

____________________

"When Amazon signed an agreement with Criterion, it was my hope that Steve McQueen's five film anthology focused on West Indian life in London would be high on the list. All five films are incredible pieces of cinema, but Lovers Rock and Education are the two highlights for me. The set includes a couple featurettes and a conversation with McQueen, but the real highlight is the inclusion of Uprising, McQueen's three hour documentary that examines much of the same cultural and thematic terrain." - Drew Morton

____________________

"When Uprising is 'only' an extra you know you have a quality set" - Geoff Dubois

____________________

"Criterion is leading the way preserving recent streaming releases to physical media. SMALL AXE is a set I will cherish and I'm sure I will return especially to LOVERS ROCK often." - Jason Overbeck

2)

Second place from Arrow is Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest Limited Edition 4K UHD. The first two starring vehicles for Lee, The Big Boss and Fist of Fury (both directed by Lo Wei), smashed all box office records in Hong Kong and made him the most famous face on the continent. Lee asserted his artistic independence by directing, writing and starring in The Way of the Dragon, arguably his most thrilling and personal film. Tragically, on the cusp of achieving the international stardom he had long strived for, Bruce Lee died suddenly in 1973, aged only 32. Not to be outdone by the tidal wave of 'Bruceploitation' films that followed, Golden Harvest completed two posthumous films using unreleased footage, 1978's Game of Death and its 1981 sequel, as well as two official documentaries, the first of which hit cinemas only three months after Lee's death. Today, five decades since his passing, Bruce Lee continues to be the most beloved and influential martial artist in the world.

This definitive collection, featuring fresh and exclusive 4K restorations by Arrow Video from the best available film materials, hours of brand new bonus features and previously unreleased footage - including the extended Mandarin Cut of The Big Boss, now ten minutes longer than any version ever released on video worldwide, and the never-before-seen 'log fight' from the original Game of Death shoot - is the ultimate tribute to Bruce Lee's enduring legacy and fruitful collaboration with Golden Harvest.

____________________

"The most complete look at the man and the myth with all the lost footage and lavishly empowered with great extras." - Moshe Black

____________________

"A remarkably exhaustive collection of extra material complement a set of hugely entertaining films."- David Brook

____________________

"Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest 4K UHD. Another extraordinary box set from the company that consistently does them best. In comparison to Criterion's Bruce Lee effort from 2020 (which sold well and received great reviews), Arrow took all the films to a whole different level. New scans, great mastering, endless supplements. Both the Blu-ray and 4K UHD box sets sold out. Price is no obstacle, if the object is so desirable." - Kevin Sunde Oppegaard

3)

Third place is Severin's The Sensual World of Black Emanualle Collector's Set. She was the pleasure-seeking photojournalist - forever embodied by the exquisite Indonesian actress Laura Gemser, most frequently in collaboration with writer/director Joe D'Amato - who would uncover an increasingly lurid world of sex cults, snuff films, cannibal jungles, women's prisons, white slavers, depraved convents, and beyond to become the premier feminist icon in genre history. This landmark collection produced by award-winning writer/director Kier-La Janisse now brings together 21 BLACK EMANUELLE films, 2 adjacent titles starring EuroCult heroine Ajita Wilson, and the D'Amato documentary INFERNO ROSSO, most newly scanned, restored, and on Blu-ray for the first time in America. The journey continues with 2 soundtrack CDs curated exclusively for this release encompassing music by Nico Fidenco and more, the lavishly illustrated 356-page THE BLACK EMANUELLE BIBLE designed by Luke Insect and featuring new writings by noted film scholars and historians as well as Laura Gemser's in-depth 1996 Nocturno Magazine interview, and over 40 hours of Special Features that include alternate versions, audio commentaries, video essays, a documentary on Gemser's husband/co-star Gabriele Tinti, the '80s Gemser workout video Looking Good, and much more.
Comments:

"Attains a new height in sheer, irresistible insanity - while at the same time looking deeper into the films and finding there considerable fertile ground for gender-related scholarship." - Tim Lucas

____________________

"After last year's All the Haunts Be Ours folk horror collection, Severin knocks it out of the park again with this lovingly curated 24-movie set documenting the notorious Italian sexploitation phenomenon. While the films are obviously all over the place in terms of quality, style, and even genre, the incredible collection of supplements from film scholars, historians, and creative contributors to the films help make this a truly adventurous odyssey through a deeply fascinating time and place in film history." - Dan Hassler-Forest

____________________

"The best box set of 2023 is undoubtedly Severin's The Sensual World of Black Emanualle. I'm not a big fan of porn, but this was a unique opportunity to watch 24 films from a series I knew nothing about. The films themselves ranged from fun to absolutely dismal, but the set and presentation were fantastic. The 300+ page book was a great read and beautifully presented. The set's many on-camera interviews were very entertaining (despite the fact that I didn't know who any of these people were!). I learned a lot about the Italian film industry from that set and it has inspired me to seek out more Italian non-arthouse films as well as Severin's previous comprehensive box sets." - Bill McAlpine

____________________

"I got the huge 'Around the World' Boxset with all the physical extras, such as boardgame, flight bag, etc. It is nice seeing unreleased Black Emanuelle films become available but also Severin updating their old DVD releases from the aughts. The Black Emanuelle book that is part of the boxset is very informative." - Nicholas Diak

____________________

"A release I admire for it's breadth but, I must confess, I haven't grabbed it yet. I'm not sure these films are my bag, so I want to try to rent a couple of them before I commit to this boxset. If it sells out I will be kicking myself, I'm sure." - Jason Overbeck

 

4)

Fourth place is Criterion's Tod Browning's Sideshow Shockers. The world is a carnival of criminality, corruption, and psychosexual strangeness in the twisted pre-Code shockers of Tod Browning. Early Hollywood's edgiest auteur, Browning drew on his experiences as a circus performer to create subversive pulp entertainments set amid the world of traveling sideshows, which, with their air of the exotic and the disreputable, provided a pungent backdrop for his sordid tales of outcasts, cons, villains, and vagabonds. Bringing together two of his defining works (The Unknown and Freaks) and a long-unavailable rarity (The Mystic), this cabinet of curiosities reveals a master of the morbid whose ability to unsettle is matched only by his daring compassion for society's most downtrodden.

____________________

"All three of Tod Browning's deranged horror adjacent films have been given 2K restorations here, including the seminal Freaks (which also includes the material from the original Warner DVD release like the commentary and archival documentary). Novelist and film buff Megan Abbott provides an insightful reflection on the PCA and Browning's career. That said, the raison d'etre for me was the reconstruction/restoration of The Unknown, an incredible Browning silent with Lon Chaney and a young Joan Crawford that would make a great double with The Phantom of the Opera." - Drew Morton

____________________

"Criterion's editorial content have reduced over the years, but this set feels like the curatorial "film student" boxset that Criterion have been historically known for." - Remy Pignatiello

____________________

"Essential upgrade of the Horror master's films." - Moshe Black

____________________

"Freaks and Browning's less seen works get a fantastic treatment from Criterion in a dream package for horror fans." - Lewis

____________________

"Welcome package which re-releases a much banned and maligned horror classic, Freaks, paired with two little seen silent horror features. Thoughtful extras provide contextual background and intriguing back stories." - David Redfern

____________________

"Nearly 100 years on, these 'freaks' of pre-Code Hollywood still shock and awe. New 2K restorations of three films (The Mystic, The Unknown, and Freaks) on two discs, with a carnivalesque collection of extras." - Jeff Heinrich

____________________

"If this was just a Criterion release of Freaks, it would probably be on the list, but upgrading both THE UNKNOWN and THE MYSTIC in the same package really makes this one of the most essential releases put out by Criterion in some time." - Jason Overbeck

____________________

"Roll up. Roll up. For one of the best releases of the year. And possibly my favourite Criterion release ever. For years I loaned out my battered Freaks VHS to astonish friends and now we finally have this beautiful restoration that captures the horror and compassion of Tod Browning's finest work. Although it now seems very in vogue to release silent classics in boutique Blu-ray packages, I have not really jumped on board. However, I was blown away by the quality of the filmmaking in The Unknown and The Mystic. The first film because of the extraordinary physicality of Lon Chaney's performance, the latter because of the sumptuous depiction of 1920s high society seances. Loved the Dean Hurley score for The Mystic which enhanced the otherworldly atmosphere superbly. Beautifully designed package and a collection of disc extras that included alternate endings, a decent documentary and much more. Pre-code perfection." - Neil Williams

 

5)

Fifth place is Radiance Film's World Noir Vol. 1. Though widely considered an American filmmaking style, film noir was first applied by French critics to the visual and thematic darkness of the flood of American films in the post-War period. Those films, often by European emigre filmmakers, were influenced by European filmmaking modes, notably French poetic realism and Weimar cinema. The American noirs that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s in turn influenced cinema around the world again. This ongoing box set series attempts to capture the trails of the noir influence across the globe, from the pre-War period to the emergence of neo-noir, expanding our understanding and availability of this rich filmmaking tradition.

In this first collection, World Noir Vol. 1 focuses on the 1950s with three films exhibiting noir traits while still evoking their home genre trends and quirks. The set has Koreyoshi Kurahara's I am Waiting (1957), Edouard Molinaro Witness in the City (1959) and Pietro Germi's The Facts of Murder (1959)

____________________

These are three excellent noir-related world cinema films. In order to compete with popular American and French "Dark Cinema" popularity Nikkatsu initiated their own wave of Japanese noir. Koreyoshi Kurahara's (also see Eclipse 28 - The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara) "I Am Waiting" was one of the Studio's early successes and the lauded director's feature debut. One late night we get invited to a Yokohama waterfront bar-cum-diner directly beside the tracks. We meet a mysterious and distraught damsel -suicidal over concerns that she has accidentally killed a man who was trying to rape her. Meeting her one late, lonely night, is an ex-boxer who once killed a man outside the ring in a bar fight, and own the diner. Both need a new start but hurdles keep blocking them... including a self-admission that he is falling in love with her. Filled with Noir conventions, I Am Waiting is a pure dark-drama treat. Witness in the City was based on a novel by the legendary Thomas Narcejac (Diabolique, Vertigo, Eyes Without a Face.) Seeking vengeance on his wife's former lover and assassin, a man, Ancelin (Lino Ventura,) sets in motion a string of killings - first as revenge and then desperately trying to cover his tracks. Almost exclusively shot in late night Paris, Witness in the City has cafe owners, prostitutes and, importantly, cab drivers directly or indirectly involved in the tense noir-level crime drama and its dramatic conclusion. The third and final film, The Facts of Murder is based on Carlo Emilio Gadda's 1957 book That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana. Many, including, Pier Paolo Pasolini, considered the source to be the great modern Italian novel. In a large apartment house in central Rome, two crimes are separately committed - a burglary and, a few days later, a murder. How they are connected initiates an old fashioned police procedural helmed by Ciccio Ingravallo (director / actor Pietro Germi) involving a group of suspicious characters with a variety of personal motives. Germi's The Facts of Murder is a complex and socially revealing crime-drama that fits comfortably in the noir mold. A brilliantly realized film. The Radiance Films Blu-ray package gets our highest marks - magnificent world cinema, with undeniable connections to Noir, and advanced a/v quality over existing digital editions plus excellent supplements from a commentary to an 80-page book. This is will certainly gets many votes in our Year End Poll. Our highest recommendation. Gold standard stuff here, folks. 

____________________

"World Noir Vol. 1 (Radiance) (Late in the year box of surprising and strong international noirs, bring on Vol 2!)" - James Kemp

 

6)

 

6) Sixth place is Criterion's Pasolini 101. One of the most original and controversial thinkers of the twentieth century, Italian polymath Pier Paolo Pasolini embodied a multitude of often seemingly contradictory ideologies and identities - and he expressed them all in his provocative, lyrical, and indelible films. Relentlessly concerned with society's downtrodden and marginalized, he elevated pimps, hustlers, sex workers, and vagabonds to the realm of saints, while depicting actual saints with a radical earthiness. Traversing the sacred and the profane, the ancient and the modern, the mythic and the personal, the nine uncompromising, often scandal-inciting features he made in the 1960s still stand - on this, the 101st anniversary of his birth - as a monument to his daring vision of cinema as a form of resistance.

The films are Accattone (1961,) Mamma Roma (1962,) Love Meetings (1964,) The Gospel According to Matthew (1964,) The Hawks and the Sparrows (1966,) Oedipus Rex (1967,) Teorema (1968,) Porcile (1969) and Medea (1969).
 

____________________

"Criterion - They have always given us great box sets, but nowadays, along with this they concentrate on the design and presentation to give us collectors beautiful objects. The Zatoichi box was one example, as was the Varda, and Bergman boxes. Not everything works of course (the Fellini, and Wong Kar Wai boxes for me were flops) but this year they gave us Pasolini 101. I display it as a work of art. Why not! It gives my eyes such pleasure to see it everyday! If only they could go back and do the Jacques Tati box set again instead of the thin board box that came with the digipacks!" - Billy Bang

7)

Seventh place is Radiance Films' The End of Civilization: Three Films by Piotr Szulkin. Masquerading as both works of science fiction and horror, Piotr Szulkin's satirical, surrealistic apocalypse trilogy is Polish cinema's best-kept secret. These highly imaginative works of fantasy are bound by a preoccupation with the machinations of power and a distinct, visual sensibility.

In a radical reworking of the H.G. Wells classic, The War of the Worlds: Next Century, tells the story of Iron Idem (Roman Wilhelmi), a television host, who finds himself contending with a Martian invasion, whose takeover involves collaborating with the state and manipulating the populace through a media apparatus made up entirely of fake news...

Meanwhile, in O-Bi, O-Ba: The End of Civilization, the survivors of a claustrophobic, subterranean world in ruins are pacified by Soft (Jerzy Stuhr), who engineers a mass collective dream of escape through means of a mythical vessel, The Ark...

Finally, in the darkly comic Ga, Ga: Glory to the Heroes, Scope (Daniel Olbrychski) must be tried and convicted of a heinous crime for him to participate in a bloody, televised gladiator contest...

Frequently butting heads with Polish authorities both before and after the collapse of Communism, writer and director Piotr Szulkin remains a unique visual stylist whose parables of power transcend easy genre pigeonholing.

____________________

"A bit of a cheat as I haven't quite finished the set yet, but I'm two-thirds of the way through and I've fallen in love with the films. The extras add a lot of value too."- David Brook

____________________

"Incredible release, without doubt the highlight of the year for me across all categories. A true delight and I'm glad to see both VS and Radiance put out incredible sets which due to their individual differences make the double dip worthwhile. In another stellar year for Polish film releases, this collection of Szulkin's dark, surrealist scifi masterpieces deserve so much praise." - Lewis

____________________

"For a label's inaugural year, releasing four boxsets worthy of top spot consideration is something I can't ever remember happening - yet by all indications 2024 will be even more productive. With Polish film licensing now wide open, we got similar sets from both Radiance and Vinegar Syndrome, and even though VinSyn included a thematically similar fourth film (that Radiance missed out on as it went to Second Run in the UK) I am giving this one to Radiance, if only to reward the label's work overall... oh yeah and that crazy box art! We also get one of the stranger cross-Atlantic cross-supplement pairings with Michael Brooke recording audio commentaries for both sets (on a different film for each set). Daniel Bird lends his expert touch to both this and Eureka's Zulawski (audio commentaries and written materials). There is also a slightly different color grade in spots where Radiance felt the provided master was lacking." - Chris Browne

8)

 

 

 

Eighth place is Indicator's From Hollywood to Heaven: The Lost and Saved Films of the Ormond Family 1951-1997. For almost half a century, June, Ron and Tim Ormond, a Nashville mother-father-son trio, cranked out a wild bunch of movies, from Lash LaRue westerns to the stripper-gore-musical outrage The Exotic Ones, and plunged into every area of showbiz. What's more, they did it all on a shoestring, totally independently, with no studio to back them.

At the height of their frenzied career, Ron and June experienced a spiritual awakening when their private plane crashed on the way to a premiere. From then on, they turned their back on secular show business to produce a series of shocking, surreal religious pictures, including an unbelievable trio of films for Mississippi Baptist preacher Estus Pirkle - films such as The Burning Hell, which made millions, despite never being shown in an actual movie theatre.

Produced by Powerhouse Films in association with NWR, and released to coincide with FAB Press' publication of forensic biographer Jimmy McDonough's awe-inspiring tome on the extraordinary life and work of the Ormond Family, this strictly limited, individually numbered Blu-ray box set contains thirteen feature films, a host of new and archival extra features - including five new audio commentaries and a collection of rarely seen short films - as well as a set of art cards and a fully illustrated 100-page book, newly written by McDonough."

____________________

"Indicator goes the whole nine yards to salvage as much as possible of a wholly unique filmmaking family business, which started off with exploitation flicks before moving on to religious films that must be seen to be believed." - Dan Hassler-Forest

____________________

"A fantastically obscure set with its own bizarre story behind the films and family. This is the sort of thing I'm grateful for NWR and Indicator for pulling out from the depths of the archives and bringing to the world in such a great set and accompanying book." - Lewis

____________________

"Michael J Murphy round 2, but in this case most of the effort sourcing materials was undertaken by NWR (to Indicator's admitted relief). Another amazing look at a filmmaker (family) in their own niche. Some of the films must be seen to be believed; I didn't know Christianity could get this hardcore - newfound respect for the charred walls of the damned!" - Chris Browne

____________________

"An absolutely fascinating living document about independent filmmaking." - Ryan Callahan

9)

Ninth place is Criterion's 4K UHD of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors: Blue, White, Red. This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss, from Krzysztof Kieslowski, was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s. The films are named for the colors of the French flag and stand for the tenets of the French Revolution - liberty, equality, and fraternity - but that hardly begins to explain their enigmatic beauty and rich humanity. Set in Paris, Warsaw, and Geneva, and ranging from tragedy to comedy, Blue, White, and Red (Kieślowski's final film) examine with artistic clarity a group of ambiguously interconnected people experiencing profound personal disruptions. Marked by intoxicating cinematography and stirring performances by Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irene Jacob, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Kieslowski's Three Colors is a benchmark of contemporary cinema.

____________________________

"Because Kieslowski. Because liberty, equality and fraternity. Because ... perfection, in 4K." - Jeff Heinrich

10) (tied)

Tied for tenth place is Indicator's Mexico Macabre: Four Sinister Tales from the Alameda Films Vault, 1959 - 1963. Fernando Mendez's Black Pit of Dr. M (Misterios de ultratumba) sees a doctor make a pact with his dying colleague in order to learn the secrets of the afterlife. In Chano Urueta's The Witch's Mirror (El espejo de la bruja), a murderer is tormented by the ghost of his dead wife, whilst in Urueta's The Brainiac (El baron del terror), a nobleman executed for necromancy returns in diabolical form to eradicate the lineage of his killers... by sucking out their brains! Finally, in Rafael Baledon's The Curse of the Crying Woman (La maldicion de la Llorona), a young bride visits her aunt's Gothic mansion, where she finds that she is the descendent of one of Mexican folklore's most terrifying figures.

With their star-studded casts, beautiful photography, eerie production design, and bone-chilling atmosphere, these films have terrified audiences for decades, and are now available in this strictly limited, individually numbered Blu-ray box set, which includes an array of new extra features - including four new audio commentaries, and rare English-language dub tracks - as well as a set of art cards and a fully illustrated 100-page book."

____________________________

"I love classic horror (not modern blood & gore) and these movies are a treat and full of atmosphere. Great box set from Indicator as usual. Hope there are more to come." - BGM

____________________________

"After a trip to Italy with Danza Macabra, what could be better than a visit to Mexico Macabre?" - Harvey Clarke

Tied from tenth place is Eureka's Andrzej Zulawski : Three Films; The Third Part of the Night (1971), The Devil (1972) and On the Silver Globe (1988.)

An uncompromising visionary and a true maverick of European cinema, the Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present three films by Andrzej Zulawski, all making their UK debuts on Blu-ray from new 4K restorations.
Rich with multi-layered symbolism and apocalyptic imagery, The Third Part of the Night is Zulawski's highly influential debut feature film. After his whole family is slaughtered during the Nazi-occupation of Poland, Michal (Leszek Teleszyński) decides to join the resistance but descends into madness after encountering a doppelganger of his murdered wife.
The Devil is a violent tale of Satanic seduction during the Prussian invasion of Poland in the 17th century, which proved so controversial upon release that it was banned for 16 years.
And finally, On the Silver Globe, Zulawski's masterpiece about a team of astronauts who land on a desolate planet and start a new society. When filming was 80% complete, the Polish government ordered the production to be shut down and all the negatives be destroyed. Miraculously, the original film reels were preserved and ten years later the film was presented at the Cannes Film Festival to great acclaim.

__________________

 

"The 'overpowering' films at that, beautifully restored and augmented with Daniel Bird's exceptional research." - Tim Lucas

__________________

 

"Dreams do come true. I had only seen the 2016 restoration of On the Silver Globe via the Japanese Blu-ray release as it was made clear and in no uncertain terms that Polish license holders would not budge on price. Without a path to financial feasibility any English friendly release was apparently off the table - allegedly even Criterion failed to secure the rights on a tendered offer! Well the times have changed, and thanks to more realistic expectations since 2022 the Polish floodgates have been opened. As for the content of this particular set, words fail me. It is easier to criticize the odd choices for package art given the iconic nature of the original posters (Radiance did this perfectly with their complimentary Szulkin set), and the mono / not quite mono of the first two films (On the Silver Globe was, I suspect, restored for its recent theatrical revival with surround sound by the intentions of the late director), but just having these masterpieces, jaw-dropping works of extreme art-house cinema, and in such condition! And the weighty (Brooke/Bird) supplements! It didn't matter what else was on offer for 2023, I had waited too long for this cinematic ecstasy to deny its place atop the list." - Chris Browne

__________________

 

"A collection of bold, intensely cinematic films that have been beautifully remastered and complemented by some fine extras, including the wonderful Escape to the Silver Globe and Daniel Bird's superb commentary for On the Silver Globe."- David Brook

__________________

 

"A fantastic release from Eureka that sold out so quickly that it shows there's a still great hunger for overlooked auteur works. So glad this set did well and was presented so comprehensively by Eureka." - Lewis

__________________

 

NOTABLE BOXSETs in 2023

(CLICK Covers for more Information)

The NEXT NINE BOXSETS (#12 - #20 in order)

      

        

     

 

Boxsets also receiving votes (in NO order)

(CLICK Covers for more Information)

 

    

   

   

       

     

   

   

 

   

   

        

      

 

   

       

      

  

         

 

RANDOM COMMENTS:

"GOTHIC FANTASTICO: FOUR ITALIAN TALES OF TERROR (Arrow Video) - All four titles in this set were among my most wished-for releases and to have them delivered in a single drop was sheer delirium. Three of the four were supported with a choice of Italian or English soundtracks, doubling one's pleasure, and the supplementary support was serious and educational. Strong kudos for this one." - Tim Lucas

__________________________

"Directed by Sidney J Furie (Imprint) - Probably my favourite discovery of the year. A collection of great and near-great films, all previously unknown to me, with an exhaustingly comprehensive collection of great supplements." - Tim Leggoe

__________________________

"Directed by... Walter Hill (Imprint) I already owned all these movies in these formats but I could not resist this release. If I had not already own these movies this box set would have blown my mind." - Ryan Callahan

__________________________

"Francois Truffaut Collection (Kino Lorber) - I feel that Truffaut's legacy has begun to slip into neglect, and Kino's measures to change this were noticeable and much appreciated this year. The newly restored titles in this set include THE WILD CHILD, SMALL CHANGE, THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN and (most importantly, I feel) his Henry James adaptation THE GREEN ROOM. Separately, new releases of THE BRIDE WORE BLACK and THE STORY OF ADELE H. were issued and offer sincere argument to the prevailing theory that Truffaut was a director lacking in passion." - Tim Lucas

__________________________

"The Lukas Moodysson Collection (Arrow) - I was not expecting this Moodysson boxset from Arrow, I'm not sure there was a big enough audience to receive it, but I was thrilled to get HD presentations of all seven films in this set." - Jason Overbeck

__________________________

"Directed by Sidney J Furie (1970-78 - Imprint) I devoured this box set in a few days. Not literally. I a human man and need human man food. But this box set, with it's forgotten mainstream studio releases, and it's rambling character studies, nourished my cinematic soul. Just such a great set and I am grateful for all the work and love that went into it." - Ryan Callahan

__________________________

"The Lukas Moodysson Collection (Arrow) (Impeccable box of a filmmakers entire output, complete with unique content, beautifully produced)" - James Kemp

__________________________

"Worlds: Selected Works by Ben Rivers (Second Run, UK) - Bold and provocative collection of 23 short films that delves into the crevice between documentary and fiction filmmaking. This exhaustive collection of experimental delights is wonderfully compiled by Second Run. At the time of writing, I have only watched a handful, but already feel empowered to recommend this box set to anyone interested in vital, vibrant cinema." - Neil Williams

__________________________

"The Ranown Westerns: Five Films Directed by Budd Boetticher (Criterion) These movies look absolutely stunning in 4K. You can see why Randolph Scott had a career in pictures. That man is handsome and he can hold the screen. And Boetticher knew how to use him. The existence of the Ranown set from Indicator a few years back kept this from the top spot. Criterion's release feels like a bit of a cover, less of an original jam." - Ryan Callahan 

__________________________

"Keaton! L'integrale Volume 2 (Buster Keaton); Cineteca di Bologna; Italy; RB - From Cineteca di Bologna, the complete collection of Keaton restorations goes on, in solid box-sets complete with a book and in dual format: in this case 3 blu-rays and 3 dvds. This box-set includes 13 features, including "The Cameraman", "Seven Chances" and "Go West"." - Alfredo Santoro

__________________________

"Magic, Myth and Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy - Another Indicator box set collects the works of an obscure filmmaker who only ever worked on the lowest of budgets, but whose legacy as a filmmakers is an absolutely wild ride to experience chronologically, especially with the lovingly produced set of rich extras that complete this gorgeous release." - Dan Hassler-Forest

__________________________

"Coffret Mike de Leon (Carlotta) : 8 movies from an otherwise little-seen Filipino director, mostly restored in 4K. Perfect for any curious mind wishing to explore cinema." - Remy Pignatiello

__________________________

"...the DANZA MACABRA set offered a quartet of Gothic rarities (two of which made their worldwide Blu-ray debuts)." - Eric Cotenas

__________________________

"The Ranown Westerns: Five Films Directed by Budd Boetticher [4K UHD Blu-ray] [The Tall T/Decision at Sundown/Buchanan Rides Alone/Ride Lonesome/Comanche Station] Criterion - great westerns that don't quite follow a template that I will watch every few years" - Geoff Dubois

__________________________

The Criminal Acts of Tod Slaughter: Eight Blood-and-Thunder Entertainments, 1935-1940 (Indicator) - This delightful brick of Devil's broth collects the essential Slaughter and complements it with what may be the most comprehensive and useful set of supplements I've found this year." - Tim Lucas

__________________________

"Cushing Curiosities Severin Films. As a Peter Cushing fan, I couldn't be more pleased than to have this congenial set of Curiosities." - Harvey Clarke

__________________________

"Radiance Films' COSA NOSTRA set offered an overview of Damiano Damiani's crime filmes as well as three fantastic Franco Nero lead performances." - Eric Cotenas

__________________________

"Directed by... Walter Hill - Imprint - I'm a big Hill fan, which helps, but this takes some existing remasters and adds a lot of wonderful extra features, on top of packaging a collection of wonderful films together."- David Brook

__________________________

"THE LOST PICTURE SHOW (Vinegar Syndrome) - It's an exploitation fan's dream come true: 10 heretofore-thought-lost features, suddenly handed to us in virtually pristine condition! I'm especially grateful for the recovery of Joe Sarno's DEEP INSIDE (1968), which represents the culmination of his 1960s American work and his last film before he made his breakthrough feature INGA in Sweden. The feature-length documentary about film restoration, focusing on VS's Bridgeport, CT factory and vault, suggests that the future for us film lovers is bright indeed." - Tim Lucas

__________________________

"Worlds: Selected Works by Ben Rivers (UK, 2003-2022) [Second Run, UK]: digital transfers of 24 16mm prints. I have waited years to see Rivers' great, 47 min., Slow Action (2010), because when three of his films were shown at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema in Montreal, over 10 years ago, they didn't have a scope lens to show the 16mm anamorphic print of this film. We were tortured into watching it squeezed. Natural, I would much rather see the print projected properly on a big screen, but thanks to Second Run, we are able to see this, and many other works by this important, experimental filmmaker." - Peter Rist

__________________________

"Directed By... Walter Hill (1975 - 2006) - not every film is great but Broken Trail is excellent and several others are enjoyable" - Geoff Dubois

__________________________

"CUSHING CURIOSITIES (Severin Films) - TENDER DRACULA in this set was one of my top revelations of the year, and BLOODSUCKERS is a real diamond in the rough. Still making my way through its treasures, which include a 200-page book by Jonathan Rigby (one of my favorite commentators and historians) - worth separating from the box and shelving it properly." - Tim Lucas

__________________________

"Lars von Trier's Europe Trilogy (Criterion). Revisit the early work of the maverick Danish director with this elaborate boxset of his first three features. One disc per film: The Element of Crime (1984), Epidemic (1987), Europa (1991), with documentaries, student films and more." - Jeff Heinrich

__________________________

"The Lukas Moodysson Collection (Arrow) : most of these movies are fascinating, but the set in itself is also beautifully produced and physically very nice." - Remy Pignatiello

__________________________

"The Criminal Acts of Tod Slaughter: Eight Blood-and-Thunder Entertainments, 1935-1940 (Indicator). This set defines curation: bringing together bits of neglected British film history to put a ghoulish star of yesteryear back in the cinematic spotlight." - Jeff Heinrich

__________________________

"Universal Noir #2 (Indicator). A year after its first illuminating survey of six late '40s/early '50s noirs from Universal Pictures, Indicator returns with volume 2: another six discs, with new commentaries and appreciations, rare vintage shorts, and a 120-page book." - Jeff Heinrich

__________________________

"While not quite as exciting as the two Christopher Lee volumes, CUSHING CURIOSITIES provides an overview of the work of an actor primarily known for his Hammer and Amicus horror appearances - in a more faithful take on the Sherlock Holmes tales than his turn in Hammer's HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and switching from Van Helsing to the Count for a change in TENDER DRACULA" - Eric Cotenas

__________________________

"Bollywood Horror Collection (Mondo Macabro) - Mondo Macabro continues to do god's work. Here's to hoping that this will lead to more films putting out Indian cinema on Blu-ray." - Walker Roberts

__________________________

"Primetime Panic 2 (Fun City Editions) - I was skeptical that FCE would be able to reach the highs of their first Primetime Panic release but this is a worthy follow-up with three films that deserve a watch. Fingers crossed that there's a volume 3." - Walker Roberts

__________________________

"Soundies: The Ultimate Collection (Kino Lorber). Twelve hours of rare jukebox shorts from the 1940s featuring live studio performances by the likes of Dorothy Dandridge, Nat King Cole and Fats Waller. Swing out, brothers and sisters!" - Jeff Heinrich

__________________________

"The Criminal Acts of Tod Slaughter: Eight Blood-and-Thunder Entertainments, 1935-1940 Powerhouse films, Indicator UK - Didn't see this one coming! A delicious surprise package that belatedly gives serious due to the criminally neglected outre legend that is Tod Slaughter. Eight shockers now preserved in near pristine digital restorations. Perhaps Indicator may be tempted to release a follow-up boxset devoted to other idiosyncratic British phenomena. The theatrical and cinematic shenanigans of Arthur Lucan and Kitty McShane in their screen partnership of Old Mother Riley and daughter Kitty for instance. The eight Old Mother Riley British National Films (1939-1945) would be of particular interest. Any takers??" - David Redfern

__________________________

"Laurel & Hardy Year One: The Newly Restored 1927 Silents Flicker Alley - A mammoth project to bring together fifteen silent screen collaborations of a celebrated comic duo: Arthur Stanley Jefferson (1890-1965) and Norvell Hardy (1892-1957). In the guise of Laurel and Hardy they became screen immortals. A must-have for anyone who cares about screen comedy and the legacy of silent film history. Miracles do happen and this disc collection is positive proof." - David Redfern

__________________________

"Francois Truffaut Collection - 1970-78 - Truffaut - KL. The final 4 of Truffaut's major movies finally in Blu-ray: The Wild Child, Small Change, The Man Who Loved Women & especially The Green Room, maybe his most poignant & subtly autobiographical movie." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

__________________________

"Val Lewton Double Bill: Ghost Ship (RKO, 1943) and Bedlam (RKO, 1946) Warner Archive Collection UK The erased moth is now restored and can be seen again fluttering among the pixels in Lewton's atmospheric (if studio bound) Ghost Ship." - David Redfern

__________________________

"Directed by Sidney J Furie (Imprint Films): Hands down #1, no question. As one prominent disc critic recently said, "This is one of the most extras-packed box sets in history, all attractively packaged." Yes, ditto ditto. And beyond that, a dazzling showcase of, and tribute to, a beyond-worthy director. Like buried treasure. And that cover: Que bella!" - Tony Jaffe

__________________________

"Universal Noir #2 (Indicator Blu): I'll acknowledge that it seems that we're starting to get to the bottom of the barrel on these giant Blu box set releases of Noir to the point that we're either getting a lot of releases chocked full of mediocre movies or movies that stretch the genre definition so thinly that the presence of a gun and a cigarette or sexually active female character makes it the same as a Double Indemnity or Touch of Evil. This isn't to blast Indicator per se - a lot of the distributors are doing this (Kit Parker!) - but to generally say we're heading into diminishing returns. Universal Noir #2 is a bit of column A and a bit of column B, but its really the loving care that Indicator always seems to put into their box sets - be it Tod Slaughter, the Ormond Family, or B-Noir - that carries the day here. Each film gets a commentary and there's everything else from war time short films made by the same talent to radio adaptation." - Drew Morton

__________________________

"The Ranown Westerns (Criterion). I love these movies, and this was an easy number one for me. The picture quality on previous editions was never great and assumed it was the source material. This release is certainly an improvement and never expected these to come out on 4K." - BGM

__________________________

"Directed by Sidney J Furie (Imprint) Imprint needs to slow down with the box sets. I haven't finished watching one before 5 more appear & go out of print. That being said this set spotlight the great work of a forgot 70's maverick director. The highlight is 'Little Fauss and Big Halsy', a gloriously quirky character study featuring Bonnie & Clyde's Michael J. Polard & Robert Redford in a rare villain role." - Anton Sardelic

__________________________

"Hitchcock Classic Collection (Universal)- This batch may not be the best Hitchcock movies, but they are still Hitchcock, and this release is still highly recommended. Certainly, an improvement in picture quality." - BGM

__________________________

"Film Noir Dark Side of Cinema XV - only for Jack Arnold's 1957 The Tattered Dress - beautifully framing of CinemaScope wide screen in crisp B/W. An excellent little known courtroom intrigue thriller with an engrossingly intense Jeff Chandler as an egotistic attorney who gets his comeuppance & comes back." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

__________________________

"Jerzy Skolimowski: Walkover, Barrier, Dialogue 20 40 60 + Short Films - Second Run - This didn't get out soon enough for me to view, but the promise of the content alone puts it on the list. Second Run seems to be running up against the review deadline every year, I hate to see worthy sets fall through the cracks." - Chris Browne

__________________________

"Laurel & Hardy Year One: The Newly Restored 1927 Silents (Flicker Alley)- This is like an historical document, and I can't imagine the time and effort that has gone into producing this gem." - BGM

__________________________

"The Complete Story of Film - 2011 & 2021 - Mark Cousins - Music Box. A hypnotically poetic examination of film history, recently updated. There are 'gaps' & selective omissions, but its nearly 19 hours of running time delivers the single most concisely & easily absorbed overview of movies from their inception to present day." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

__________________________

"RAYMOND GRIFFITH: THE SILK HAT COMEDIAN (1920's) Undercrank Terribly under-represented comedian/actor on disk. Nice to have him now." - David T. Steere Jr.

__________________________

"Francois Truffaut Collection (Kino) - No frills packaging. But its what's inside that counts. And what's inside are Blu-ray copies of 'Small Change', 'Wild Child' and two other lesser know gems. Great value." - Anton Sardelic

__________________________

"Through what seems to be a combination of licensing availability but also great imagination on the part of Imprint's producers, their boxed sets have really stood out from the pack. Directed by Sidney J Furie, and the sets on actors Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando have all been intriguingly unpredictable, reexaminations of films that aren't, say, Ipcress File or French Connection or On the Waterfront, but less-seen works, many of which, such as I Never Sang for My Father in the Hackman set, and Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in York in the Furie, have been revelatory. Kudos also to Flicker Alley and Kino for their Laurel & Hardy and Mr. Wong sets, great and not-so-great movies nevertheless sparkling in high-def. Who knew they could look this good?" - Stuart Galbraith IV

__________________________

"The Ranown Westerns (Criterion 4K UHD): I'll start with a disclaimer and that is that Indicator's Blu-ray set and Columbia's DVD release of Budd Boetticher's wonderful B-Westerns with Randolph Scott already provided the blue prints for Criterion's work here. Most of the special features here are archival with the new additions being the booklet essays by Tom Gunning and Glenn Kenny and a new appreciation with Farran Smith Nehme. That said, the AV quality on 4K restorations is jaw dropping. So for both those who never got the Indicator set and those who did - this is an easiest pick up you'll ever make." - Drew Morton

__________________________

"Laurel & Hardy Year One: The Newly Restored 1927 Silents - Flicker Alley - The potential here is stunning, and I don't just mean the fateful comic paring that begins in this collection of shorts but rather how going forward, a year at a time, we now begin to witness the modern works of film history enter into public domain, and that this set, made possible by this long-overdue contingency, becomes a harbinger of what will emerge from the locked treasure box. Flicker Alley has shown us how this sea change can be exploited to its fullest. Even facing the dire possibility of licensing drying up upon further media conglomeration there is hope for the future, and I think in retrospect L&H:Y1 will be viewed as the snowball that started the avalanche." - Chris Browne

__________________________

"Magic, Myth and Mutilation: The Micro-Budget Cinema of Michael J. Murphy - Indicator - In any other year, a shoe-in for top choice. Sam Dunn hadn't pursued a set this monstrous since his Alan Clarke swansong via the BFI, but this one is easily as ambitious, moreso when assessing the condition and sourcing of elements wasn't as simple as a phone call to the archives. Production of this set became so much more involved that delivery estimates slipped until early 2023. But what riches, what ambition, what blood and sweat from all involved! This convincingly demonstrates how the term auteur can be applied to productions attempted on even the smallest of scales. A labor of love understood by anyone who appreciates what a deep passion for cinema truly means. Unlike the BFI, Powerhouse films is not a "registered charity" but going by this renowned label's ultimate effort to date one could hardly tell: Bravo!" - Chris Browne

                                                                

THE WINNERS - BLU-RAY  

 

1)

 

First Place is Radiance Film's Blu-ray of Kosaku Yamashita's Big Time Gambling Boss. Tokyo, 1934. Gang boss Arakawa is too ill and a successor must be named. The choice falls on Nakai, but being an outsider he refuses and suggests senior clansman Matsuda instead. But Matsuda is in jail and the elders won't wait for his release, so they appoint the younger and more malleable Ishido to take the reins. Clan honour and loyalties are severely tested when Matsuda is released, resulting in an increasingly violent internal strife. An atmospheric tale of gangland intrigue written by Kazuo Kasahara (Battles Without Honour and Humanity) and starring Tomisaburo Wakayama, (Lone Wolf and Cub, The Bounty Hunter Trilogy) and genre legend Koji Tsuruta, Big Time Gambling Boss is one of the all-time classics of the yakuza genre. Paul Schrader called it the richest and most complex film of its type, while novelist Yukio Mishima hailed it as a masterpiece. Radiance Films is proud to present this crucial re-discovery for the first time ever on Blu-ray.
"I could easily swap this out with any number of impressive releases from Radiance (The Man on the Roof, A Moment of Romance, O.C. & Stiggs, etc.) but this was the first one I bought and they haven't disappointed me since." - Walker Roberts

__________________________

2)

Second place from Fun City is Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way on Blu-ray. In Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way, Jeff Bridges, John Heard, and Lisa Eichhorn deliver exemplary performances as a trio of '60s casualties embroiled in a murder investigation that goes increasingly off-the-rails and threatens to swallow them all whole.

Unambitious yacht salesman and gigolo Richard Bone (Bridges) skates on his good looks and avoids all responsibility. His best friend Alex Cutter (Heard) returned from Vietnam with his body ruined, but his mind sharpened and attuned to the injustices and politics that led to his predicament. After Bone witnesses a shadowy figure dump a young woman's body in the trash, he fingers local oil magnate J.J. Cord (Stephen Elliott) as the killer. As Bone backs away from this accusation, Cutter charges forward on a crusade to make Cord pay not only for this murder, but for all the other crimes fat cats like him have routinely gotten away with. Cutter's long-suffering wife Mo (Eichhorn), struggles to keep her own head above the surface, while steering the two men toward saner waters.

______________________________

"A wonderful film, given the royal treatment with plenty of extras."- David Brook

______________________________

"Another example of independent US cinema from the late twentieth century finally getting a major disc release, which demonstrates the power and vitality of physical media market. I had not seen this film before but was enraptured by the quality of the visual presentation and of the barnstorming performances of the two male leads, but, also, the quietly resonant notes struck by Lisa Eichhorn, a performer I had not seen before but will be seeking out more of her cinema. Already a fan of Ivan Passer's contribution to Czech cinema, it was fascinating to see his vision of post-Vietnam, Santa Barbara culture. A range of interviews in the Extras add context to this beautiful drama. Great score by Jack Nitzsche too." - Neil Williams

3)

Third Place is Flicker Alley's Blu-ray of Erich von Stroheim's Foolish Wives. Foolish Wives (1922) was Erich von Stroheim's third feature for Universal, serving as both film director and star in a classic silent drama comprised of seduction and extortion. Upon it's release in 1922, the film was advertised as the "first million-dollar movie" and promised a legendary performance by von Stroheim, drawing fixated attention from American news outlets and audiences alike. Flicker Alley is honored to present this newly restored edition of the film, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA), in a deluxe 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD edition. This new 4K restoration of Foolish Wives - reconstructs the original continuity by combining the surviving original film elements, meticulous image restoration, and recreation of the original stunning color effects, to offer audiences the closest look possible at the original version of the film. Foolish Wives features a newly commissioned orchestral score composed and conducted by maestro Timothy Brock and performed by Real Filharmona de Galicia and recorded in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia.

 ____________________

"I saw the new restoration on 35mm at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF) in 2022, and if anything, the Blu-ray disc looks better - at least in its colour palette. The SFSFF do two restorations a year and they always return to the medium of film after finishing digitally. Also Flicker Alley are closely connected to this festival and Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films." - Peter Rist

 ____________________

"Meticulous attempt to restore a silent cause celebre by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and the Museum of Modern Art. Apart from a 4K image, the restoration has splendid contextual background on all aspects of the production's unique extravagance. Excellent work all round." - David Redfern

4)

Fourth Place is David Lynch's Inland Empire on Criterion Blu-ray. "Strange, what love does." The role of a lifetime, a Hollywood mystery, a woman in trouble . . . David Lynch's first digitally shot feature makes visionary use of the medium to weave a vast meditation on the enigmas of time, identity, and cinema itself. Featuring a tour de force performance from Laura Dern as an actor on the edge, this labyrinthine Dream Factory nightmare tumbles down an endless series of unfathomably interconnected rabbit holes as it takes viewers on a hallucinatory odyssey into the deepest realms of the unconscious mind.

The question every artist faces, if they're lucky - or doomed, as the case may be - is: Where do you go after you achieve success with your artistic vision? For my money, the most intriguing film of 2001 was Mulholland Dr. I imagine that David Lynch would have agreed with me; but more to the point, in Mulholland Dr. Lynch combined his usual ingredients into a satisfying, extravagant dreamscape of impressionist and expressionist proportions that seemed to both fulfill his intentions and please his audience.

 ____________________

"The newly remastered version only advances marginally over previous home video releases, as there's only so much one can do with the SD video source material. But the included documentary is amazing, and the film deserves a prominent place in any serious film collection." - Dan Hassler-Forest

____________________

"Always a hard film to convert to hi-def given the source material, Criterion have done a good job of one of Lynch's least loved films." - Lewis

____________________

"Had to select the US Criterion release as the UK version does not include the 'More Things That Happened' Deleted Scenes featurette. Good to see this wildly inventive film given a high quality transfer although the DV source footage and peak Lynch shenanigans did not enrapture me as much as I hoped after a fifteen year wait. Even so, the Extras package is superb with two docs on Lynch, a balletic short film, and a sweet conversation between MacLachlan and Dern. Intense, dense Drama." - Neil Williams

5)

Fifth place is Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz's 1973 horror Messiah of Evil by Radiance Films. After receiving a series of chilling letters from her reclusive father, Arletty (Mariana Hill, High Plains Drifter) drives to the remote seaside town of Pointe Dune to discover the reason for her father's developing madness. Upon her arrival, she encounters a mysterious trio of strangers investigating a local legend known as "The Blood Moon"... a curse that has transformed the inhabitants of the town into a terrifying horde of blood-thirsty maniacs! Also starring Michael Greer (Fortune and Men's Eyes), cult starlets Joy Bang and Anitra Ford, and screen legends Royal Dano and Elisha Cook, Jr., Messiah of Evil is a unique shocker from the minds of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (Oscar-nominated screenwriters of American Graffiti). A visual masterpiece finally brought to home video in its original scope aspect ratio, Messiah of Evil is unlike any horror film you've ever seen. Enter Pointe Dune and prepare to be spellbound...
"This isn't the first time this cult horror film has been released on Blu-ray, but this is a lovingly assembled, gorgeously restored definitive release that includes a rich collection of extras and better A/V quality than any previous home video incarnation." - Dan Hassler-Forest.

___________________________

"Restored in 4K from the only known materials, Radiance Films' Messiah of Evil looks imperfect, but it makes a valiant effort to make the film accessible to newcomers and supplement the long out-of-print Code Red edition with its exclusive extras... " - Eric Cotenas

___________________________

"With the OCN long lost and nothing but the same basic materials to work off, this could never have lived up to fan expectations (still sold out during preorder!), but it does present some significant image stability improvements over the Code Red disc, and the book / on disc supplements are top rate, even if it failed to carry over the director commentary." - Chris Browne

___________________________

"Have held this film on various low-quality releases previously and was totally possessed by this sensational release in the UK by Radiance Films (more, much more, from this label later in this list). The quality of restoration in picture and sound was superb, particularly the deep, dark blacks that shadow the dense atmosphere throughout this film. The disc extras, including an illuminating visual essay by Kat Ellinger, were bolstered by a detailed booklet that finally sheds some light on the weird goings-on and crazed characters that inhabit Point Dume. A resonant release for this mind-bending classic of 70's independent horror." - Neil Williams

6)

Six Place, combining votes for both Criterion and BFI Blu-ray editions, is Peter Bogdanovich's Targets. Peter Bogdanovich's powerful film Targets is an amazing debut especially as it was a 'thrown together' concept which helped established a new, adept, director on the film scene. Roger Corman proposed the idea to a young enthusiastic Peter Bogdanovich with the only stipulation that he had the use of Boris Karloff for only 2 days as well as some older footage of a film he had made with the aged actor ('The Terror'.) Bogdanovich, with his wife Polly Platt, fleshed out an idea for the film utilizing a recent news item of a sniper in Texas who randomly shot people from a tower (see Kurt Russell in The Deadly Tower.) Bogdanovich brought it to a friend and in the space of a couple of hours Samuel Fuller was able to pinpoint the areas of strength and weakness while essentially rewriting the entire script. He urged Bogdanovich not to mention him in the credits for fear it would detract from his friend, who also starred in and directed the feature. Bogdanovich's character's name "Sam Michaels" is his recognition for his friend 'Samuel Michael Fuller' and his important part in the development of "Targets". The film itself is highly regarded by film buffs, which when completed was bought, almost reluctantly, by Paramount (Robert Evans) for $150,000.

___________________________

"Targets", with cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs (Bogdanovich's Paper Moon,) has relatively unexploited violence but is probably more impactful with its cold, sterile, verite. It can be seen as allegorical for American society at the time, I would say this is a significant, and highly unnerving, entry in the history of American cinema. "Targets" is a film that cinema fans have patiently waited for to reach 1080P. So the BFI looks nips ahead with the superior Blu-ray package with more extensive new extras including the Tonguette commentary (as well as the older Bogdanovich one), Guardian interviews, visual essay, video interview and booklet. Either region, the film remains fascinating and essential.

___________________________

"BFI's Blu-ray release was delayed a few times, but the final release was worth the wait. Director Peter Bogdanovich's debut now seems more prescient than ever: a new kind of horror in which the older generation of movie monsters (embodied by a graceful Boris Karloff) are displaced by the modern age's irrational and psychotic mass shooters." - Dan Hassler-Forest  

___________________________

"A long-awaited British release for Bogdanovich's self-reflexive exploration and expansion of cinema tropes. The image quality was excellent and captured the documentary-style rendering of tensions within American culture and an excoriating cry for sense regarding gun control. Great commentary by the director but the overall package is let down by extras that focus on a general appreciation of Karloff with little exploration of the film itself. Hope a Criterion release can rectify this in the future. Bullseye." - Neil Williams

___________________________

"Bogdanovich's best. Chilling and confident and a serious upgrade on the old DVD." - Ryan Callahan

___________________________

"Mr B's most successful & I think most original & enduring movie, a limitation of using old footage as instructed by Corman & forcing Peter to come up with a script inspired by the new events of the 1960's, a story idea that he never equaled in creative inspiration in after years, as loved too much reproducing effects from his love of old movies." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

___________________________

"Competing releases on either side of the Atlantic, speaking of the BFI release it was fantastic, the film looked good and the extras were excellent and thorough" - James Kemp

7)

Seventh Place is Warner's Looney Tunes Collector's Choice Volume 1. Tons of Hare-Raising Fun in One Wild Collection! From deep inside the Warner Bros. vault comes an anthology chock full of animation gold! Restored, remastered and uncut, the shorts in Looney Tunes Collector's Choice Volume 1 have been carefully selected for discerning fans. Enjoy the finest and funniest golden-era cartoons with the brilliance of high-definition audio and video. These treasures feature A-listers like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester the Cat and Porky Pig, just to name a few. Even better, included among these 20 shorts are classics that have never before been released on home video. Whether you grew up with them or you're introducing them to a new generation, these timeless and iconic characters will keep fans of all ages young at heart.
Contains:

* Beanstalk Bunny - Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck & Elmer Fudd (1954, Chuck Jones)
* The Bee-Deviled Bruin - The Three Bears (1949, Chuck Jones)
* Catch as Cats Can - Sylvester (1947, Arthur Davis)
* Cracked Quack -Daffy Duck & Porky Pig (1952, Friz Freleng)
* Daffy Doodles - Daffy Duck & Porky Pig (1946, Robert McKimson)
* Doggone Cats - Sylvester (1947, Arthur Davis)
* The Foxy Duckling - (1947, Arthur Davis)
* A Fractured Leghorn - Foghorn Leghorn (1950, Robert McKimson)
* Greedy for Tweety - Tweety & Sylvester (1957, Friz Freleng)
* Hip-Hip-Hurry! - Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote (1958, Chuck Jones)
* His Bitter Half - Daffy Duck (1950, Friz Freleng)
* Hot Rod and Reel - Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote (1959, Chuck Jones)
* Little Orphan Airedale - Porky Pig and Charlie Dog (1947, Friz Freleng)
* A Mouse Divided - Sylvester (1953, Friz Freleng)
* Plop Goes the Weasel - Foghorn Leghorn (1953, Robert McKimson)
* Stooge for a Mouse - Sylvester (1950, Friz Freleng)
* Tale of Two Mice - Babbit & Catstello (1945, Frank Tashlin)
* Two Gophers From Texas - Goofy Gophers (1947, Arthur Davis)
* Unruly Hare, The - Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd (1945, Frank Tashlin)
* What's Brewin' Bruin? - The Three Bears (1947, Chuck Jones)

___________________________

"Please don't stop at volume 2, Warner Archives! That's all Folks." - Walker Roberts

___________________________

"George Feltenstein's magnum opus" - Andrew Yacavone

8)

In Eighth Place is Gyorgy Feher's "Twilight" Blu-ray from Second Run. A seasoned detective investigates a series of child murders, succumbing to an all-consuming and tragic obsession with the case, finding empty solace in his quest for vengeance. What emerges is not a crime story, but a harrowing venture through the darkness of the human soul.

Twilight unfolds with breathtaking cinematography and haunting sound design, allowing the mystery to emerge in tantalizingly atmospheric and meditative fashion.

Based on writings by Swiss author Friedrich Durrenmatt - also the basis for Sean Penn's impressive 2001 film The Pledge starring Jack Nicholson - Gyorgy Feher's hypnotic, transcendent adaptation is a unique and haunting experience.

___________________________

Second Run closed out 2022 with a fantastic Andrzej Wajda box set but 2023 gave us more winners than we could fit on this list but TWILIGHT introduces us to Bela Tarr associate Gyrgy Feher and an adaptation of the same source novel as the Sean Penn film The Pledge with a radically different approach...." - Eric Cotenas

_________________________________

"I'm glad that releases of previously hard to find films are a theme in this year's list, and Twilight is a fantastic example of an influential slow cinema classic that was only available on VHS for so long. Second Run's persistence with this release has paid off and it's one of the year's highlights for sure." - Lewis

9)

Ninth Place is Criterion's Blu-ray of Allen Baron's Blast of Silence. Swift, brutal, and blackhearted, Allen Baron's New York City noir Blast of Silence is a sensational surprise. This low-budget, carefully crafted portrait of a hit man on assignment in Manhattan during Christmastime follows its stripped-down narrative with mechanical precision, yet also with an eye and ear for the oddball details of urban living and the imposing beauty of the city. At once visually ragged and artfully composed, and featuring rough, poetic narration performed by Lionel Stander and written by Waldo Salt (both uncredited,) Blast of Silence is a stylish triumph.

___________________________

"Quite a gritty movie and not one I have seen before. Obvious comparisons to Le Samourai." - BGM

10)

Tenth Place is Second Run's Blu-ray of Juraj Herz's Morgiana. Often described as the 'last' film of the Czech New Wave, Juraj Herz's delirious tale of terror is a fantastical and surreal phantasmagoria of dark desires and splintered minds.

Morgiana, based on a short story by Aleksandr Grin, (the 'Russian Poe'), is the story of two sisters, Klara and Viktoria who live a life of decadent excess stranded somewhere between the mid-19th and early 20th century. Klara is blonde and beautiful, whilst Viktoria is ugly, sadistic, bursting with hate and jealousy - and hatches a terrible revenge by slowly poisoning her more popular sister. As the poison takes hold, Klara begins to lose grip on her sanity...

Part fairy-tale, part Gothic horror, Morgiana is a full-blown hallucinatory experience from the director of The Cremator.

___________________________

"Juraj Herz's Morgiana, a film he regarded as little more than an experiment but resonates with fans of the Gothic the world over...." - Eric Cotenas

(CLICK Covers for more Information)

The NEXT TEN BLU-RAYS (#11 - #20 in order) 

     

      

   

Blu-rays also receiving votes (in NO order)

 

(CLICK Covers for more Information)

 

        

      

   

    

      

   

    

   

   

   

   

     

   

   

    

   

  

RANDOM COMMENTS:

"ROBOT MONSTER (Bayview Films) - Seeing the film in 3D for the first time was a revelation. Its surprising sensitivity to in-depth composition is probably the best thing about it, and its "stock footage" holocaust (made up of "flat" elements composited side-by-side) is literally eye-crossing; you have to rewind and shut each eye once to see what's even there. The extras are fun, too." - Tim Lucas

______________________________

"La Ceremonie - Minor controversy surrounding the color timing of this eagerly-awaited Criterion release notwithstanding, I thought it looks great and the film is an essential masterpiece of French cinema." - Dan Hassler-Forest

______________________________

"Three Ages (Eureka) - Grateful for Eureka's strong silent output, with this release capping off their string of Buster Keaton's wonderful works that we've been treated to over the past few years. We all knew this release was coming and it exceeded expectations for the most part. Wonderful to see the film which was thought lost for so many years in such a healthy condition with a packed box of extras. A true delight for silent film fans and Damfinos alike." - Lewis

______________________________

"A Woman Kills (Radiance Films, UK) - Another astonishing discovery by Radiance, with this film being released on Blu Ray for the first time anywhere, and, in fact, this is a film that has been barely released at all. I found the low-budget urgency of the filmmaking exhilarating, with a mix of French New Wave stylistics and documentary footage in France during the 1968 riots. An obscure release like this requires plenty of cultural context and this package provides this in spades. A brilliant commentary by Kat Ellinger and Virginie Selavy does this plus a collection of director Jean-Denis Bonan's forgotten short films, including The Sadness of The Anthropophagi, which does everything it can to be banned. It was successful. Fantastic, forgotten, French, faecal filmmaking." - Neil Williams

______________________________

"THE HORRIBLE DR HICHCOCK (Radiance Films) - Full disclosure: I did the commentary for this film, one of my favorites, and I also contributed to a verbal history of the film included in its booklet. But Radiance assembled this entire package with evident love and care, offering all three known versions and a wealth of scholarly support." - Tim Lucas

______________________________

"CURUCU, BEAST OF THE AMAZON (Kino Lorber) - One of those color exploitation items from the 1950s that was most widely shown on TV in black-and-white, this was my first-ever opportunity to see the film as intended, and it looks sumptuous." - Tim Lucas

______________________________

"Jacob's Ladder - Imprint - another gem given a new lease of life with a wealth of archival and new extras."- David Brook

______________________________

"The Velvet Underground - Todd Haynes. 2021 (Criterion). The Blu-ray was released Dec 26th 2022 and by rights it belongs to the 2023 list. Very easily for me an instant inclusion in my top 100. It's taken a long long time for the VU to get the film they deserved and thank god for Todd Haynes. Sadly Lou Reed and Sterling Morrision had passed on, and once again for reasons i cant fathom, the film sidelines Doug Yule. But a fantastic snapshot nevertheless of the milieu the band came from, the extraordinary people around then, and of course, their deathless music." - Billy Bang

______________________________

"The Land of the Pharaohs - 1955 - Howard Hawks - Warners. Stuck with me since i first saw when I was 12 years in 1955, both for its theory of how the pyramids were built & how evil lovely Joan Collins got an unexpectedly terrible comeuppance. Other epics laid claim to being "intelligent" yet this one actually earns an A grade. One of Hawks few commercial failures, but even my 12 year old brain could not miss noticing that he produced & directed & that William Faulkner wrote the script." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

______________________________

"The Man on the Roof (1976 - Radiance) - Knew nothing about it going in. Now I'll never forget it. Engrossing, suspenseful, then a wild escalation that made this my most memorable watch of the year. This disc made me a believer in Radiance." - Ryan Callahan

______________________________

"Hollywood Shuffle (Criterion) (Important release, restoring Townsend's raucous satire to the pantheon of 80's comedies)" - James Kemp

______________________________

"Wichita - 1955 - Jacques Tourneur - Warners. Joel McCrea, always conveying a sense of integrity & self worth. A 'little' Western with a big feeling that grows on you." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

______________________________

"Wild Reeds - Andre Techine 1994 (Altered Innocence). Long one of my faves, the transfer is excellent, the video feature worth it, and the original French film poster reproduced as a fold in insert, with an essay on the back. Techine's masterpiece, continues to be underrated. Besides you've got to love a releasing company that calls itself Anus Films, and has as its logo, a cheeky take (literally) on the Janus/ Criterion logo (two male butt cheeks rather than two male faces)." - Billy Bang

______________________________

"Cross of Iron - Studiocanal - Studiocanal improve on their earlier release by giving the film a new polish and a more extensive collection of extras are included."- David Brook

______________________________

"Vinegar Syndrome announced a 4K UHD release of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock for 2024, but Radiance's 2K-restored 2-disc set will surely hold its own if just on the basis of its overall A/V and extras package. " - Eric Cotenas

______________________________

"The Land of the Pharaoh (Warner Archive) - Just a fun movie, nice to see an updated release. Not too many peplum get the Blu-ray treatment." - Nicholas Diak

______________________________

"Cross of Iron (Studio Canal) - watching the new version of this was a treat after seeing so many murky versions that came before it, it's hard not to appreciate the craft that went in to Peckinpah's final masterpiece more than ever with this great release." - Lewis

______________________________

"Secret of the Incas (Kino Lorber) - It's impossible to pick any one Kino release as they release so many bangers. I'd always heard of this but had never seen it and found it got the home video release it finally deserved." - Walker Roberts

______________________________

"The Desperate Hours - 1955 - William Wyler - Paramount. A ingeniously filmed play giving Bogart his last great tough guy role & Fredric March a human everyman that is identifiably middle class ordinary as any I recall." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

______________________________

"Gloria (Kino) (New York looks great in all its gritty glory, as does Gena Rowlands in Cassavetes's flirtation with the mob)" - James Kemp

______________________________

"Bluebeard's Castle (BFI) - this expressionist opera may not be to everyone's tastes but without doubt a fantastic release and restoration of a masterpiece long unavailable to audiences. With the two versions available plus Powell's stage directions as subtitles, as well as lots of extras, the amount of work that went into this package is staggering." - Lewis

______________________________

"Sorry, Wrong Number, Anatole Litvak, 1948 [Shout! Factory]; one of best films noirs - suspenseful and brilliantly shot; with yet another great performance by Barbara Stanwyck. I had seen this on 35mm in January during the 20th anniversary Noir City festival, and I am not sure either of the BluRay discs fully represent the black and white original. To be sure, we need to see blacker blacks than would be available in prints made for television during the 1950s and beyond, but the image doesn't necessarily need to be darker overall - although we don't seem to be losing any detail in the Shout! Factory version." - Peter Rist

______________________________

"The Last Tycoon (Kino) (Undervalued last film of Kazan restored beautifully, reveals its matured well)" - James Kemp

______________________________

"Black God, White Devil (Radiance/Mawu), a fantastic release of a Brazilian national treasure that deserves more appreciation by Western film fans, and I hope this will help it gain a wider audience." - Lewis

______________________________

"Gina (OCN / Canadian International Pictures) - This list could conceivably contain only OCN Blu-rays considering their sheer number of releases. In my mind, Canadian International Pictures has the highest success rate of the bunch. (Runner-up: CIP's Dirty Money or Kani's Once a Moth)" - Walker Roberts

______________________________

"Imitation of Life, John M. Stahl, 1934 [Criterion]; way superior to Douglas Sirk's remake at Universal, Stahl bravely cast a black actress, Fredi Washington in the role of a mixed- race woman who "passes" for white, before the Hollywood Production Code clamped down on such "mixing" of cultures. Stahl is a vastly underrated director." - Peter Rist

______________________________

"The Spiral Road - 1962 - Robert Mulligan - Imprint. Rock Hudson & Burl Ives with Gena Rowlands wander upriver & thru the jungles of Dutch ruled Indonesia, then ruled by the Dutch as was Suriname where it was photographed, with the ambiance & appearance of the natives fairly accurate according to my personal experience. A rather subtle drama of the battle between the demonic forces of magic & the power of God." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

______________________________

"The Cassandra Cat (Second Run, UK) - This release demonstrates Second Run's ability to present lost gems of European Cinema to a fresh audience. This Blu Ray captures Vojtech Jasny's poetic metaphor of Czech life under Communist rule in all it's eye-popping glory with a unique use of a colour design palette that leaps off the screen. One of many excellent carnival/circus-based releases this year, but this film is unique in its magical realism and enthralling storytelling. Excellent commentary by Mike White and guest from The Projection Booth is complemented by a disc premiere of superb animated short by the writer of The Cassandra Cat and a detailed essay by Cerise Howard in the accompanying booklet. Second Run releases continue to enthral and surprise and look bloody good on a shelf. A delight." - Neil Williams

______________________________

"La Llorona, Ramon Peon (Mexico) 1933 [RB, UK, Indicator] (ed. originally released March 20222- standard Blu-ray edition released March 2023); although the surviving material is not of great quality, this is an important historical rediscovery, and Indicator, as usual have done a great job with their extras, so that we can fully understand the religious legend and its development." - Peter Rist

______________________________

"Kill Butterfly Kill (Neon Eagle Video) - There are no words. (Runner-up: Neon Eagle's Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs)." - Walker Roberts

______________________________

"Goodbye Mr Chips - 1939 - Sam Wood - Warners. Robert Donat's most memorable performance that can be considered sentimental to the core, but so beautifully done that there is no shame in the tears." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

______________________________

"Outrage, Ida Lupino, 1950 [Kino Lorber]; a film I had never seen turns out to be amazingly ahead of its time in showing how devastating it is for a young woman to be raped; and how she struggles to deal with the trauma. Eddie Muller calls Lupino the "most talented woman in movie history," and the other reason for putting this number 1, is that the brilliant voice-over commentary is by Imogen Sara Smith, the greatest of all time, probably (see below); Eddie used to be." - Peter Rist

______________________________

"Uptight - A historically important film from a great director finally gets the right treatment." - Tony Jaffe

______________________________

"La Regle du Jeu (Nouvelle Edition Francaise, Jean Renoir, 1939) BFI - Renoir's seminal dramatic humanist comic-tragedy receives yet another welcome digital iteration. Several interesting archival shorts are included and a Renoir rarity: La Vie est a nous a French Communist Party election film with contributions behind the camera from Jacques Becker and Henri Cartier-Bresson." - David Redfern

______________________________

"Cross of Iron (Imprint Films): Both version of the film, plus all that extra content, in that beautiful hardbox? Imprint, I love thee." - Tony Jaffe

______________________________

"Pandora's Box - 1929 - G W Pabst - Eureka MoC. A time capsule, a view of another world, 95 years ago. A relative handful of people in the world who lived then are still alive. Louise Brooks leaves a not easily forgotten image of early feminine power demanding freedom & willing to die for it as she does. Not the greatest silent movie but one of the most iconic." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

______________________________

"Flesh and Fantasy (Universal, Julien Duvivier, 1943) Vinegar Syndrome Limited Edition An uptick in visual and audio quality in this welcome departure by Vinegar Syndrome into the vintage Hollywood supernatural. More of the same please!" - David Redfern

______________________________

"Notes: I consider this less a "Top 10" list than representative titles emblematic of the incredibly diversity on Blu-ray from a wide range of (mostly) indie labels during 2023, releases that surprised me with their video transfers, restorations, extra features, and/or their very existence on Blu-ray at all. The Warner Archive continues to impress with superlative transfers also including Du Barry Was a Lady and The Last Time I Saw Paris, while the 3-D Archive and Ignite Films positively dazzled with their restorations and extra features for Robot Monster and Invaders from Mars, movies previously available only in old, crummy video transfers. Others like Imprint's The Long Voyage Home, with its influential Gregg Toland black-and-white cinematography, reminds viewers just how film-like home video presentations have become relative to commercial movie theaters. And releases like Uptight and The Hard Part Begins are allowing viewers to reassess long unjustly obscure titles. For Blu-ray, it has been another outstanding year." - Stuart Galbraith IV

______________________________

"Goodbye Mr Chips (M-G-M, Sam Wood, 1939) Warner Archive Collection - One of the legendary Hollywood films of 1939. A huge popular hit in its day, it was reissued successfully several times. Time has not been kind to surviving film elements. Despite the loss of the original camera negative the folks at Warner Archive did due diligence and the improvement in picture and sound are pretty astounding. Now you can clearly see a small faux pas on screen. The camerawork of the legendary Freddie Young shines throughout. He thought this was the one of the best things he ever shot and that includes Lawrence of Arabia!" - David Redfern

______________________________

"Lebendig beraben (The Premature Burial 1962) Wicked Vision Beautiful restored colors, lots of extras, beautiful mediabook cover." - Maggie Breitmeier

______________________________

"Broken Lullaby (Paramount, Ernst Lubitsch, 1932) Powerhouse Films, Indicator UK
Splendid upgrade from the 2021 Kino Lorber Studio Classics iteration. Apart from including the previous Joseph McBride commentary there is an archival audio talk by author Scott Eyman, and a useful video essay comparing the translation of the Maurice Rostand play by Lubitsch and the Francois Ozon's 2016 film. A 36-page booklet with essay, contemporary critical responses, full film credits, and profiles of director, screenwriter and player Lionel Barrymore." - David Redfern

______________________________

"Dance Craze (BFI): A longtime bootleg favorite gets a 70mm transfer with a ton of extra content." - Tony Jaffe

______________________________

"The Kiss Before the Mirror (Universal, James Whale, 1933) Powerhouse Films, Indicator UK - Minor but enthralling melodrama from the versatile James Whale. Again, this version improves on the previous Kino Lorber release of 2021. New commentary by Nora Fiore, a very interesting video essay comparing The Kiss Before the Mirror to the 1938 James Whale remake, Wives Under Suspicion, a wartime short directed by Whale, a gallery of promotional and publicity material, a 40-page booklet. Superb value!" - David Redfern

______________________________

"The Land of the Pharaoh (Hawks 1955) (WAC): Not only the most underrated Hawks, but the most underrated historical epic? A masterpiece of spectacle, composition, set design." - Andrew Yacavone

______________________________

"Unman, Wittering and Zigo (Arrow): A long-underappreciated great film gets a gorgeous roll-out in a package with a heaping helping of extras and a gorgeous cover design." - Tony Jaffe

______________________________

"La Ceremoniee (Criterion Blu): Claude Chabrol's late career masterpiece about class resentment and exploitation gets a 4K restoration and well-rounded release thanks to Criterion. The disc could use a bit more scholarly context, but I appreciated the inclusion of short archival interviews with the stars and the contemporary reflection by Bong Joon Ho, whose Parasite clearly owes a debt to the film." - Drew Morton

______________________________

"A Moment of Romance (1990) Benny Chan - Radiance - My first Radiance Blu was a nice discovery. I wonder where the formidable energy of Hong Kong as seen in this film has gone now..." - Istvan Ribardiere

______________________________

"Bluebeard's Castle - BFI - We had red (Shoes), yellow (Tales of Hoffman), and now at last blue, the most elusive primary in Michael Powell's operatic trinity with art direction by Hein Heckroth - even before the first frame, you know what you are in for. Amazingly comparable restoration considering (unlike the previous two) this was not shot on three-strip Technicolor." - Chris Browne

______________________________

"House on Haunted Hill 3D (1959) | AIPOP Edition. An amazing 3D disc from an enthusiastic, small team. My Blu-ray release of the year." - Harvey Clarke

______________________________

"Millennium Mambo (2001) Hou Hsiao-Hsien - Spectrum Films - A world premiere UHD disc for a film I saw back when it came out and feels totally in synch with our disjointed world. The fact that it is told in retrospect makes it completely of our time : simply a trick of genius !" - Istvan Ribardiere

______________________________

"Red Rock West (1993) (Umbrella) - When people talk about the greatest Nicholas Cage films, they rarely mention this one. Even though it got great reviews at the time, and is a STONE COLD CLASSIC. The gritty indie aesthetic of this film gives off heavy 'Twin Peaks' vibes (obviously a very good thing). Part of this has to do with the presence of Lynchian icons of cool Dennis Hopper & Lara Flyn Boyle, who are present here at their absolute prime. Also I might add that this is arguably the Neo-Noiriest, Neo Noir film of them all. Themes of the doomed anti hero, femme fetal, corrupt cops and local officials are all transported from their origins in the 40's & 50's, to a dusty, decidedly 90's, indie cinema milieu. At the time, director John Dahl seemed to be right up there with Tarantino as a guy re-inventing how crime films looked and felt in the 90's. Now he is rarely mentioned in film circles. After followed this up with the equally thrilling 'The Last Seduction', he soon followed a more conventional Hollywood path, which may account for the diminishment of his reputation over time. Umbrella have reissued this with a generous selection of video extras & great picture quality." - Anton Sardelic.

______________________________

"THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF PUSS 'N' BOOTS (1969, Yabuki Kimio et al) (Discotek)- delightful 1960s anime from Miyazaki and Co.: the kind of release that never gets appreciated, from Discotek, who do great work and never get appreciated." - Andrew Yacavone

______________________________

"Rancho Notorious (1952) (Warner Archive) - There is a certain strata of cool and edgy 50's western films that this belongs to. Movies like 'Johnny Guitar', 'The Lusty Men', 'Forty Guns' and 'The Naked Spur'. A year before dropping his definitive noir film 'The Big Heat', Fritz Lang put out this kind of forunner to 'Johnny Guitar'. Like 'Guitar', 'Rancho Notorious' features a alpha female business owner (played by Marlene Detrich) that the protagonist has to carefully maneuver around, in order to investigate the murder of his wife by bandits. This is essential, iconoclastic 50's stuff. 100% Rotten tomatoes score folks. You don't want to miss this one." - Anton Sardelic

______________________________

"After Dark, My Sweet (Kino Blu): James Foley's adaptation of Jim Thompson's novel about a mentally unstable boxer's role in a kidnapping gone awry has always been an underappreciated Neo-Noir in my opinion. While the disc isn't exactly brimming with extras (a couple short interviews with two of the stars and an engaging commentary with the director), I'm just appreciative to finally have an HD release of it stateside." - Drew Morton

______________________________

"The Long Voyage Home (Imprint) - The huge attraction here is the gorgeous deep focus photography of Gregg 'I shot Citizen Kane' Toland. This nostalgic 'men at sea' film was directed by John Ford, and featured John Wayne, a year after they worked together on 'Stage Coach'. Plot is secondary to the careful depiction of the seafaring way of life, and the colorful character that inhabit that particular world. But really, it is all about the visuals. You could clip out any scene from the film, frame it and display it at the MOMA. A lush feast for lovers of black & white photography." - Anton Sardelic.

______________________________

"Gentleman Jim | Warner Archive Collection. This eminently likeable movie is a personal top ten favourite." - Harvey Clarke

______________________________

"The Watermelon Woman (Criterion Blu): Cheryl Dunye's pivotal American indie/LGBTQ film gets a loving restoration courtesy of UCLA/Outfest and Criterion and finally gets upgraded to HD. The highlight here on the bonus feature front are Dunye's short films, allowing viewers to both track her evolution as a filmmaker and providing a more robust context for the feature itself." - Drew Morton

______________________________

"Dance Craze - BFI - We were also treated to Weekender and 23 Seconds to Eternity, but for my money Dance Craze was the best of the music oriented 2023 BFI releases; sharp packaging complimenting an amazingly energetic concert film. Working wonders, this reference-grade restoration was based off a battered personal 35mm print. Even sonically (Dolby Atmos!) everything is on point. Best looking slipcover of the year." - Chris Browne

______________________________

"MAN ON THE TRAIN (Leconte 2002) (Kino) In a glut of major films and releases, this instantly canonical, early-century masterpiece from Leconte was barely mentioned." - Andrew Yacavone

______________________________

"Hardcore (1979) (Kino) / I feel like Hardcore gets overlooked as a prime George C. Scott performance. 'Patton' & 'The Changeling' seem to suck up all the air in the room. But make no mistake, this is an ESSENTIAL title in his filmography. There is both pathos and a bizarre, sick humor to watching Scott's fundamentalist Christian father slowly become unhinged as he searches for his daughter in the world of the 70's bottom of the barrel porn industry. Fans of DePalma's 'Body Double' will enjoy this. Also its directed by Paul Schrader, who was just coming off of 'Blue Collar', and scripting 'Taxi Driver'. So you might say they got the right man for the job." - Anton Sardelic.

______________________________

"WILD REEDS (Altered Innocence) - Altered Innocence has been a very good partner label, splitting their time between newer releases and old catalog pick ups, their release of WILD REEDS was a very welcome new transfer for a film I wasn't expecting to get such a nice release." - Jason Overbeck

______________________________

"A Moment of Romance (1990 - Radiance) If Man on the Roof made me a believer, this might have turned me into a Radiance zealot. I spent the next week telling all my fellow cineastes at work to check out this film and the label. It shoves anout nine different genres in one movie and somehow makes it work. A sharp video essay show how." - Ryan Callahan

______________________________

THE TALE OF TSAR SALTAN (Deaf Crocodile) - All of Aleksandr Ptushko's films are delightful, but I find this lesser-known title based on Pushkin's poem to be his most sublime. The presentation is breathtaking, and my friend Stephen R. Bissette's audio commentary taught me a great deal about it I didn't know." - Tim Lucas

______________________________

"Chilly Scenes of Winter (Criterion Blu): Joan Michelin Silver is finally getting her day in the HD sun after 2022's loaded restoration of Hester Street and now her bittersweet anti-rom com Chilly Scenes of Winter. The disc features short excerpts from a DGA conversation with Silver and a newly recorded reflection by the film's producers (including co-star and producer Mark Metcalf), but the winner here is a forty minute documentary that chronicles Silver's trailblazing career. My wish for 2024 - can we get Crossing Delancey on Blu?" - Drew Morton

______________________________

"Gina (1975 - Canadian International Pictures) Watched this back-to-back with Dirty Money so I'll place them back to back. Another brilliant recovery of another filthy good movie." - Ryan Callahan

______________________________

"The Sunday Woman (1975) (radiance) / more 70's era Marcelo Mastroianni please! And while we're at it, how about more 70's foreign cinema that isn't a giallo, spaghetti western, or Japanese action film? I love genre cinema as much as the next guy, but how is it that there are barely any non genre Italian 70's flicks available (only 1 Ettore Scola flick on Blu-ray?, that ain't right!). Radiance has started to cater to this supposedly niche interest, and I commend them for it. Pretty sure we got the Italian Giallo area covered guys, lets see more 70's European art house fare released." - Anton Sardelic

______________________________

"Dirty Money (1972 - Canadian International Pictures) - Another gem of a discovery. Although maybe "gem" isn't the right word for this grimy, bitter, rusty knife of a crime movie." - Ryan Callahan

______________________________

"Caged (1950) John Cromwell - Warner Archive - I was not prepared for this one and I was blown away ! A great prison film with the particularity of following a very sensitive central character through an ordeal that would break anyone. At no point does the direction seem exploitative, while being at the same time extremely blunt. Even in a woman's prison, this world remains a men's world..." - Istvan Ribardiere

______________________________

"The Working Class Goes to Heaven - Radiance - Witness the first release of this label: a perfectly realized representation of what it (we!) hopes to bring to the table. A Palme d'Or winning film supported by similarly impressive on-disc supplements and thick booklet. A unique approach to dealing with obligatory BBFC ratings logos (removable obi strip) adds another layer of class: Fran Simeoni, building on his experience and connections within the industry, managed to make his passion project all look easy." - Chris Browne

______________________________

MOONLIGHTING WIVES (Film Movement, Vinegar Syndrome) - This obscure 1965 release is possibly Joe Sarno's best movie, on a level with George A. Romero's best work of his pre-DAWN OF THE DEAD YEARS; it was also his first color movie and (seen the right way) it's absolutely gorgeous. (It was also supposedly cut down from an initial four-hour cut, which I for one would love to see.) Vinegar Syndrome released the original 35mm camera neg, albeit in incomplete form with a supposedly "deleted" scene (in which a parallel story involving an affair that evolves into a married foursome!) consigned to the supplements, while Film Movement had assembled a near-complete print from a number of incomplete donors, which had the supposedly deleted scene intact and in its correct placement. Even though the VS release is pristine, it opts for a natural color palette that looks true-to-life, while the actual surviving prints have a much riper, juicier, unfaded Technicolor processing palette that makes the film jump to life. Consequently, the Film Movement release (which - full disclosure - includes my commentary), while it shows some scratches and projection wear, is a far more accurate representation of how the film should look. It also includes THE NAKED FOG, a lost black-and-white Sarno picture of somewhat lesser importance that features much of the same cast." - Tim Lucas

______________________________

"Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (Imprint) - A truly comprehensive release of one of the greatest Peckinpah films. There's no aspect of this film (and Peckinpah's career) not covered in this package." - Tim Leggoe

______________________________

"Angel Face (1952) Otto Preminger - Warner Archive - A personal favorite in a great makeover. The only weird thing is that you have to watch the older SD encode to listen to the Eddie Muller commentary..." - Istvan Ribardiere

______________________________

"Fatal Femmes - NEIGE/THE BITCH (Fun City Editions) - FCE continues to have incredible curation and this set was exciting because it pushed against the edges of what FCE was doing this year, releasing (and re-releasing) some titles with larger potential customer base.
Hopefully releases like PARTY GIRL and MARRIED TO THE MOB will continue to allow FCE to take big chances like this set." - Jason Overbeck

______________________________

PLAYING WITH FIRE (Cult Epics) - Full disclosure: I did the commentary for this film, which was Alain Robbe-Grillet's most obscure and difficult film from my perspective before I began. By the time I ended, having discovered a great deal about from documents I had to translate first-hand, I realized it was in some ways his most approachable and opulent film. Prior to this release, this film's English exposure was limited by some very bad fan-subs on grey market releases and the new translation helps considerably with its accessibility." - Tim Lucas

______________________________

"The Watermelon Woman (Criterion) - A perfectly timed release following the Sight and Sound Critic's list, this new-to-me film wowed in the way that I would like all films I come to for the first time from that list to do (and they rarely do). The short films included also added so much to this overall release." - Tim Leggoe

______________________________

"ZERO WOMAN: RED HANDCUFFS (Neon Eagle) - Very excited for this new label collaboration between Cauldron Films and Mondo Macabro to release Asian exploitation. This release is a wonderfully nasty bit of pinky violence and hopefully more will make their blu ray debut from this label in the immediate future." - Jason Overbeck

1)

First Place is Arrow's 4K UHD of Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor.  Director of The Spider's Stratagem, The Conformist, and Last Tango in Paris, Bernardo Bertolucci was one of the greats of Italian cinema. In 1987 his acclaimed epic The Last Emperor  -  made with British producer Jeremy Thomas (Naked Lunch, Crash)  -  swept the 60th Academy Awards winning nine Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.

Following the life of Pu Yi, the last of the Emperors of China, from his birth in 1908 through his childhood in the fortress-like Forbidden City and his later misguided collaboration with the Japanese in World War II, The Last Emperor tells the history of China through the eyes of the man brought up to believe he was the country's divine ruler.

Filmed on location in China, Bertolucci and Thomas were the first western filmmakers to be allowed access to previously forbidden locations. Together with a cast including John Lone, Joan Chen and Peter O'Toole, and director of photography Vittorio Storaro's lushly evocative cinematography, they created a classic film of sweeping scope and delicate intimacy that stunned critics and audiences alike. The Last Emperor arrives on UHD in a brand new 4K restoration that will take your breath away.

2)

Second Place is Martin Scorsese's After Hours by Criterion. Desperate to escape his mind-numbing routine, uptown Manhattan office worker Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) ventures downtown for a hookup with a mystery woman (Rosanna Arquette). So begins the wildest night of his life, as bizarre occurrences - involving underground-art punks, a distressed waitress, a crazed Mister Softee truck driver, and a bagel-and-cream-cheese paperweight - pile up with anxiety-inducing relentlessness and thwart his attempts to get home. With this Kafkaesque cult classic, Martin Scorsese - abetted by Michael Ballhaus's kinetic cinematography and scene-stealing supporting turns by Linda Fiorentino, Teri Garr, Catherine O'Hara, and John Heard - directed a darkly comic tale of mistaken identity, turning the desolate night world of 1980s SoHo into a bohemian wonderland of surreal menace.

________________________

Personally I have three go-to Scorsese films: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and After Hours - all masterpieces and now they are all on 4K UHD. We have After Hours in our neo-noir section - also described as a "surrealist black comedy cult-film thriller" although has also been defined in the "yuppie nightmare cycle" which combine the screwball comedy genre and film noir.

______________________

"A fantastic upgrade from the previous DVD release, this shows the true potential of good UHD boutique releases and it's what I hope labels will begin to prioritise over the current slew of big budget copy and paste releases ported over from Blu-ray." - Lewis

______________________

"For a decade or more it seemed an open secret this title was coming. Yes, it's a serious bump from the DVD, but now tell me... Kino... where in the world is that Miracle Mile 4K restoration?!?" - Chris Browne

 ______________________

"This one should be on everybody's list ! It is at once sardonic and farcical, and above all atrociously funny, just like Kafka intended his own stories to be." - Istvan Ribardiere

______________________

"'After Hours' is my favorite film of all time. The whole film is wildly unpredictable, but can be boiled down to being about 'a guy who had a really bad day' that never seemed to end. It's a Kafka-esque nightmare rendered in supremely relatable terms, with a lot of humour, and a mad 'Goodfellas' style nervous energy in its camera work and editing. Delighted to have this in 4K. Hope they do 'King of Comedy' next." - Anton Sardelic.

______________________

"One of Marty's overlooked masterpieces. Time will tell, but I feel this might well be going to accompany Taxi Driver and Good Fellas into the timeless pantheon" - Eric Ubben

3)

Third Place is John Huston's The Maltese Falcon on 4K UHD by Warner. A gallery of high-living lowlifes will stop at nothing to get their sweaty hands on a jewel-encrusted falcon. Detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) wants to find out why--and who'll take the fall for his partner's murder. An all-star cast (including Sydney Greenstreet, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre and Elisha Cook Jr.) joins Bogart in this crackling mystery masterwork written for the screen (from Dashiell Hammett's novel) and directed by John Huston. This nominee for 3 Academy Awards Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Greenstreet) and Screenplay (Huston)--catapulted Bogart to stardom and launched Huston's directorial career. All with a bird and a bang!

________________________

"Still getting to grips with the 4K UHD format but the viewing experience here is quite simply, 'the stuff that dreams are made of'." - David Redfern

______________________________

"My favorite noir that technically might not be a noir, now sporting technical bona fides." - Chris Browne

4)

Fourth Place is BFI's Flipside label's 4K UHD release of Full Circle - The Haunting of Julia. Based on the novel Julia a by Peter Straub, Full Circle is a highly regarded, long-vanished, evocatively eerie cult chiller, newly restored in 4K resolution. Bereaved mother Julia (Mia Farrow, Rosemary's Baby) flees controlling husband Magnus (Keir Dullea, Black Christmas), re-establishing herself in an old house in leafy West London. Yet she finds herself haunted by apparitions of a ghostly blonde-haired child, sending her on a strange journey of self-discovery - with dreadful consequences. Long requested by fans, the BFI is delighted to bring Full Circle to UK audiences as a limited edition 4K UHD and Blu-ray dual format release.

________________________

"Lost film gets a full 4K release, revealing its subtle, spooky atmosphere. Director's commentary is a 'warts and all' tale of the film's many problems." - Moshe Black

________________________

A "lost" film resurrected by the BFI in typical fashion became the first 4K disc in the Flipside series (and a rare dual-format 4K edition from the BFI)" - Chris Browne

5)

Fifth Place is Criterion's 4K UHD of Orson Welles' The Trial. A feverishly inspired take on Franz Kafka's novel, Orson Welles's The Trial casts Anthony Perkins as the bewildered office drone Josef K., whose arrest for an unspecified crime plunges him into a menacing bureaucratic labyrinth of guilt, corruption, and paranoia. Exiled from Hollywood and creatively unchained, Welles poured his ire at the studio system, the blacklist, and all forms of totalitarian oppression into this cinematic statement - a bold, personal film that he himself considered one of his greatest. Dizzying camera angles, expressionistic lighting, increasingly surreal locations - Welles unleashed the full force of his visual brilliance to convey the nightmarish disorientation of a world gone mad.

________________________

Orson Welles' The Trial is based on the 1925 posthumously published novel of the same name by Franz Kafka. I only finally got how the Welles narration at the beginning - art by Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker - of Kafka's parable "Before the Law", was used almost word-for-word in Scorsese's After Hours where Paul converses with the bouncer when he is trying to get into Club Berlin. The Trial has some amazing disorienting set designs for the bureaucrat Josef K. to weave through - frequently sought after by women, played by Jeanne Moreau (as Marika Burstner), Romy Schneider (Leni) and Elsa Martinelli (Hilda.) Welles took 1/2 a year to write the screenplay modernized the story, ex. introducing computer technology. Upon its release Welles stated, "Say what you like, but The Trial is the best film I have ever made." Although he later related that Chimes at Midnight was his 'highest achievement'. The Trial is part dark comedy / part tragedy. The Criterion Blu-ray and simultaneously released 4K UHD packages are cinephile gold.

6)

Sixth Place is Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter in 4K UHD by Kino. Incredibly, the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed - is truly a stand-alone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles), whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters, are uncovered by her terrified young children. Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humor, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic - also featuring the contributions of actress Lillian Gish and writer James Agee - is cinema's most eccentric rendering of the battle between good and evil.

________________________

Kino's 4K UHD release of Charles Laughton's only directorial effort "The Night of the Hunter" has immense value and the film is considered one of the most influential - including by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Robert Altman, and Martin Scorsese - and original films of all time, despite negative reviews upon initial release. The 1953 Davis Grubb novel is based on true story of Harry Powers, who was hanged in 1932 for the murder of two widows and three children in Clarksburg, West Virginia.  In 2008 Cahiers du Cinema selected The Night of the Hunter as the second-best film of all time, behind Citizen Kane. Stanley Cortez cinematography used a variety of lenses and creativity while Hilyard Brown's art direction often has a German expressionist feel. So many scenes are remarkable including the "chapel-like" parents' bedroom murder, Willa's (Winters) dead body and hair flowing in the current in slow motion, the children escaping Harry Powell and their exhaustive river journey, but mostly I love how Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish) sees through the charismatic psychopath Harry Powell and protects the children with a shotgun. Cinema gold. I remain so enamored with this film. Now we have it via Kino's 4K UHD transfer plus a brilliant Tim Lucas commentary, isolated score and effects track and a second disc Blu-ray of supplements.

________________________

"There is a slight improvement in PQ when compared side by side with the Criterion, but the latter wins by a wide margin on the extras' front. Gotta have both !" - Istvan Ribardiere

7)

Seventh Place is Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby in 4K UHD by Paramount. Co-incidentally this is the second Mia Farrow horror on this top 10 list. Chosen regardless of a missing line of dialogue - Paramount are now sending the replacement disc.

Possibly the best horror film ever made, this brilliant adaptation of Ira Levin's best-selling novel is the story of a loving young New York City couple who are expecting their first child. Like most first-time mothers, Rosemary (Mia Farrow) experiences confusion and fear. Her husband (John Cassavetes), an ambitious but unsuccessful actor, makes a pact with the devil that promises to send his career skyward. Director Roman Polanski elicits uniformly extraordinary performance from the all-star cast. Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for her performance as an oversolicitous next-door neighbor in this classic chiller.

________________________

Paramount's 4K UHD release of Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" is greatly anticipated by cinema fans. The film was based on Ira Levin's 1967 novel. Discussed for the role, that eventually went to Mia Farrow, were Tuesday Weld, Jane Fonda, Patty Duke, Goldie Hawn and Polanski's fiancee Sharon Tate. Midway through shooting the film, Frank Sinatra, Farrow's husband, served her with divorce papers (via a lawyer) intentionally in front of the cast and crew. "Rosemary's Baby" remains a key psychological horror with multiple themes like anxiety, paranoia, occultism, Catholicism / Satanism / Witchcraft, and even women's lib. It's easy to notice Charles Grodin (in his debut role) as Dr. Hill but keep your eyes peeled and you may see Tony Curtis, Patricia O'Neal, and Sharon Tate (party guest.) I love clues like "The name is an anagram". This is definitely a film you want in the best possible home theatre presentation and despite the lack of new extras - this 4K UHD is it.

8)

Eighth Place is Masters of Cinema's 4K UHD transfer of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. This is the second Orson Welles film to make this Top 10 listing. Touch of Evil begins with one of the most brilliant sequences in the history of cinema; and ends with one of the most brilliant final scenes ever committed to celluloid. In between unfurls a picture whose moral, sexual, racial, and aesthetic attitudes remain so radical as to cross borders established not only in 1958, but in the present age also.

Charlton Heston portrays Mike Vargas, the Mexican chief of narcotics who sets out to uncover the facts surrounding a car bomb that has killed a wealthy American businessman on the US side of the border. As Vargas investigates, his newly-wed wife Susie (Janet Leigh, two years before Hitchcock's Psycho) is kidnapped by a gang out to exact vengeance for the prosecution of the brother of their leader (Akim Tamiroff). Meanwhile, Vargas' enquiries become progressively more obfuscated by the American cop Hank Quinlan (played by Welles himself, in one of the most imposing and unforgettable screen performances of his career), a besotted incarnation of corruption who alternately conspires with Susie's captors and seeks solace in the brothel of the Gypsy madame (Marlene Dietrich) who comforted him in bygone times.

________________________

Welles' final studio-system picture has at last become secure in its status as one of the greatest films ever made. It remains a testament to the genius of Welles  -  a film of Shakespearean richness, inexhaustible. 

________________________

"This may already have been released by Kino, but this is a comprehensive package with many extras, including a booklet." - BGM

9)

Ninth Place is the 4K UHD transfer of Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (Second Sight)

It has been called "grisly," "sick," and "perverse," as well as "raw," "unshakeable," and "the movie that redefined horror." It was attacked by churches, banned by governments, and acclaimed by only the bravest of critics. It stunned audiences worldwide and set a new standard in movie terror forever. In 1974, writer-producer-director Tobe Hooper unleashed this dark, visionary tale about a group of five young friends who face a nightmare of torment at the hands of a depraved Texas clan. Today it remains unequaled as a landmark of outlaw filmmaking and unparalleled in its impact as perhaps the most frightening motion picture ever made...

________________________

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Second Sight) - The classic horror film had seen a couple of 4K releases before, not to mention a whole pile of earlier home video restorations. But Second Sight's limited edition not only yields the most spectacular video restoration, but also the most complete set of extras and gorgeous custom packaging." - Dan Hassler-Forest

________________________

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) (Second Sight, MPI Media) Both second sight & studio canal put out amazing versions of this iconic horror classic. The Second Sight version came with a booklet in a hard box. MPI Media had maybe the grittier more vivid transfer, & beautiful steelbook. I may double dip, at some point. Either way, it was great news to have this classic receive such premium, red carpet treatment." - Anton Sardelic

________________________

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4K UHD Limited Edition box set Second Sight. Previously released on 4K UHD in Germany in 2016, as one of the very first 4K UHD titles, Second Sight improved the transfer, even beyond the 2023 US MPI Media Group release. An excellent hardbound book and numerous supplements make this the definitive edition." - Kevin Sunde Oppegaard

_________________________

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: (4K UHD and Blu-ray) Limited edition - Great 4k boxset, new 4k master, interesting booklet with essays on the modern relevance of the film." - Moshe Black

10)

Tied for Tenth Place is nostalgic 60's monster film, Gorgo on 4K UHD by Vinegar Syndrome. An international co-production between the United Kingdom, United States, and Ireland, visual effects pioneer Eugene Lourie's (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Giant Behemoth) Gorgo - often referred to as the "British Godzilla" - was one of the first, and arguably one of the best, giant monster films to follow in the wake of Japan's sci-fi landmark. Between its astonishing, special effects-laden climax, which sees Gorgo's mother wreak fiery destruction on the streets of Central London, and its unique and unusual ending, Gorgo quickly solidified its place in the sci-fi canon, spawning numerous comic book adaptations and spin-offs which further expanded the "Gorgoverse". Now, newly restored in 4K from its untouched-for-decades original camera negative by the monster maniacs at Vinegar Syndrome, Gorgo bursts up from the depths in its worldwide UHD debut, loaded with a fittingly gargantuan array of extras, both old and new. 

_____________________

"One of the pillars of my early movie-going experience, Gorgo finally looks as rich and regal as it should. In fact, the film now looks so good that certain unfinished special effects shots now LEAP off the screen!" - Tim Lucas

_____________________

Eugene Lourie's "Gorgo" to 4K UHD is quite a reason for the film's fans to celebrate. Gorgo was originally intended to be set in Japan recognizing the appeal of the original Godzilla but the creature's destruction of easily recognizable landmarks (Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus etc.) for Gorgo to mangle may have tipped the scales to have it set in the British Isles. Gorgo's name is derived from the Gorgons of Greek mythology... with the advertisement that their sight might turn you to stone! Themes of motherly love and our place in the animal kingdom, including cruelty, can give pause for reflection. It's really a wonderful juvenile creature-feature and Gorgo has had plenty of novel and comic book adaptations. Vinegar Syndrome's 4K UHD is a very easy recommendation to nostalgic viewers!

Also tied for Tenth Place is Severin's 4K UHD of Peter Greenaway's Drowning By Numbers. Regarded as one of Greenaway's finest, it showcases his unique brand of cinema with beautiful, teasing imagery while perfectly mirroring a literary riddle of murder, morality and sexual solidarity. The director's following, who enjoy his quirky characters, are in their nirvana with this offering. Many may find it tedious and often disjointed. Reactions often vary from strongly like to strongly dislike. Unfortunately for me, I am in the latter camp, but can plainly see how others can be attracted to this form of cinema 'madness'. Ripe with the crossword style appeal (in searching for the numbers), few can argue about the beautiful cinematography of the countryside and landscapes. Perhaps Greenaway's most abundantly desirable facet in his films are that they are dissimilar to most everything else existing in movies today. Eclectic in the extreme.

_____________________

"Severin's Drowning by Numbers looks spectacular, and one hopes that this is a sign of more to come from the period before Greenaway started mixing film, video, and Paintbox." - Eric Cotenas

4K UHD Releases that received 4 or more votes:

 

(CLICK Covers for more Information)

 

The NEXT NINE 4K UHD Editions (#12 - #20 in order):

     

      

       

 

4K UHD also receiving votes (in NO order)

 

NOTE: Bride of Frankenstein + War of the Worlds still got some votes as individual 4K releases in 2023, ditto for Hitchcock's Frenzy and Rope.

eXistenZ was released as an exclusive by Vinegar Syndrome in December 2023 but will be on Amazon in 2024. It was included.

 Invaders From Mars was originally available in 4K UHD in late 2022 but three people voted for it so we allowed its inclusion.

 

   

   

   

   

       

      

         

    

   

   

     

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

        

      

   

   

Receiving votes - scattered across their releases were most of Indicator's crop of 2023 4K UHDs:

(CLICK COVERS FOR REVIEWS)

 

RANDOM COMMENTS:

 

"JEAN ROLLIN SERIES (Indicator) - It's wonderful how these humbly-made films are consistently upgraded and supplemented on disc in ways that continually enhance their value." - Tim Lucas

_________________________

"Barbarella (1968 - Arrow) When the supplements can educate you the film, the creators, the genre, and the source material, you have a Top 10 disc." - Ryan Callahan

_________________________

"The Shiver of the Vampires (Limited Edition 4K UHD) [Blu-ray] [1971] - Jean Rollin's 3rd film is upgraded to 4k revealing all the director's atmospheric innovations and enhancements to the lighting, colour costumes and shadowy details of the film." - Moshe Black

_________________________

LE MEPRIS (Studio Canal) - I watched this - one of my favorite films of all time - earlier this year on the Criterion Channel and felt the film had lost much of its lustre. Seeing this new 4K restoration (which I've not yet actually seen in 4K), I felt it had been refreshed thoroughly so it must have fallen into worse shape than was generally suspected." - Tim Lucas

_________________________

"Fascination - Indicator's ongoing series of 4K restorations of Jean Rollin's uniquely atmospheric "hot and horny French vampire movies" has been consistently amazing, not only in their superb A/V presentations but also in the rich collections of extras that make one appreciate these low-budget productions even more." - Dan Hassler-Forest

_________________________

KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (Toho - Japan import) - An amazing set containing the newly remastered 4K, the new 4K remaster on Blu-ray (both of which are eye-popping, what entertainment is all about), and numerous extras including a 1990s-era manga adaptation of the story. When you hold this box in your hands, you can feel its value - in a way I haven't often experienced since the demise of LaserDisc." - Tim Lucas

_________________________

"Rapito [Kidnapped: The Abduction of Edgardo Mortara] (Marco Bellocchio, 2023); Eagle Pictures; Italy; All - A very special surprise that one of the best movies of the year in Italy, from the great Marco Bellocchio, got an English friendly 4K release." - Alfredo Santoro

_________________________

"The Italian Job (1969) | Kino Lorber. A best-loved British crime caper. Impossible to resist if you're from my side of the pond." - Harvey Clarke

_________________________

"Blackhat (Arrow) - Really appreciate Arrow holding on this release until they were able to secure two additional versions of the film and make this a complete release. I would love to see other studios take this kind of care to ensure that the releases are as complete as possible." - Jason Overbeck

_________________________

"Blackhat (Michael Mann, 2015); Arrow; UK/US; All - Infamous, maligned box office bomb, "Blackhat" almost stopped Michael Mann's career, and closed his relationship with major studios (by now...) But it's a great film in pure Michael Mann style, and it finally rises with another definitive edition by Arrow with three cuts of the movie: the almost identical US and International cuts and the most wanted Director's Cut (in blu-ray only) at first not included in the package." - Alfredo Santoro

_________________________

"Blackhat (2015 - Arrow) Like every single Michael Mann film it gets better with age. People forget that Heat wasn't exactly setting the world on fire the year it was released. Kudos for Arrow for finding the superior director's cut, including it on the disc, and being transparent about the whole process." - Ryan Callahan

_________________________

"Martin - Second Sight - it was a long time coming but the wait was worth it. As good a transfer as you can get, considering the rough and ready nature of the production, and a mountain of worthwhile extras. 4 excellent commentaries, a wonderful feature length doc and some other goodies, not to mention the incredible soundtrack being included with the limited edition set."- David Brook

_________________________

"To Live and Died in L.A. (1985 - Shout Factory) Speaking of transfers popping off the screen. This disc is a reason to buy a 4K player. I was looking forward to this disc because I love the movie remembered it being really good. My memory was wrong. This movie is freaking great. My love has grown." - Ryan Callahan

_________________________

Barbarella 4K UHD - If ever a film was made for this new medium, it's this one." - Tim Lucas

_________________________

"Carlito's Way (Brian DePalma, 1993); Arrow; UK/US; All - All Arrow limited editions are beautiful, but in this case they crafted the definitive edition of one of the most unforgettable movies of the Nineties. An excellent new artwork cover by Obviously Creative and, once in a while, the 4K and HD version of the movie in the same package." - Alfredo Santoro

_________________________

"The Adventures of Baron Munchasen (1989) - It's like cracking open someone's head and seeing their most vivid dreams spill out right in front of you." - Ryan Callahan

_________________________

"Second Sight finally delivered their restoration of George A. Romero's coming-of-age vampire film MARTIN (with their release of THE GINGER SNAPS TRILOGY at the end of the year a fitting companion piece)." - Eric Cotenas

_________________________

"12 Angry Men (1957) Sidney Lumet - Kino - The proof that it makes sense to release on UHD a B&W film that remains confined in a single room for most of its running time. It blows every other previous release out of the water." - Istvan Ribardiere

_________________________

"The Ark of the Sun God (88 Films) - I have so many old import DVDs of this film of dubious quality. It is one of my all time favourites so it is nice to see it receive a great restoration." - Nicholas Diak

_________________________

"The Wicker Man 4K UHD Limited Edition Box 50th Anniversary StudioCanal. Again, another serious upgrade of a film released on blu-ray by StudioCanal. Classic films, beautifully mastered are the reason collectors collect. These are not available on any streaming platform." - Kevin Sunde Oppegaard

_________________________

"To Live and Died in L.A. (Kino) - Kino, like Shout Factory, is being very shrewd about their 4K release titles and this title will stand in for the many great releases they put out on 4K UHD in 2023. I've been trying to keep up best I could but it's always hard to know when to upgrade and when to stick with the previous blu ray release." - Jason Overbeck

_________________________

"Jean Rollin is also getting a revisit in 4K, revealing layers of detail where it would have been easy to assume that the previous masters were making the best of imperfect materials" - Eric Cotenas

_________________________

"FASCINATION (Indicator) - FASCINATION standing in for the entire six film slate of Jean Rollin films put out by Indicator this year on 4K UHD, which has been a welcomed, belated introduction to a filmmaker I had previously avoided (partially because the previous editions Redemption cover art suggested work that was quite a bit less intriguing). The love and care Indicator has shows to these Rollin films fills me with even more admiration for what they are doing, I really hope they continue to release more in 2024." - Jason Overbeck

_________________________

"The Lighthouse Limited Edition 4K UHD [Blu-ray] - Great 4k box set of the Robert Eggers visionary classic ( arguably his best film). The brand new audio hilarious commentary by authors Guy Adams and Alexandra Benedict is very entertaining." - Moshe Black

_________________________

"12 Angry Men - Sidney Lumet's perennial favorite remains the kind of movie that even people who generally steer clear of black-and-white classics can get into, and Kino Lorber's 4K release finally does justice to the gorgeous nuance in the spectacular cinematography. The underrated remake starring a wonderfully diverse 1990s cast headed by Jack Lemmon is included as a terrific extra alongside many others." - Dan Hassler-Forest

_________________________

"The Dead Zone (Scream Factory) - Or pick any of the lovely new 4K upgrades Scream/Shout Factory has been pumping out this year. It's impressive and a look at the special features assures that this is the ultimate edition of the film and hopefully the last time you will need to purchase the title. I believe this new release of The Dead Zone has six audio commentary tracks and the previous blu ray collector's edition they put out only had one or two." - Jason Overbeck

_________________________

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas [4K UHD] - An incredible 4k upgrade which enhances all the psychedelic colours." - Moshe Black

_________________________

"Days of Heaven (Criterion) - perhaps the most eagerly awaited of Malick's releases given it was long out of print with Criterion on blu ray. It was a shame it wasn't given the same fantastic treatment that The New World and Tree of Life in particular received from the label, but nevertheless it remains a great release and the ideal way to watch this beautiful masterpiece." - Lewis

_________________________

"Martin (Second Sight) - One of my most anticipated releases and it lives up to and exceeds expectations. I'm not sure when DAWN OF THE DEAD and Martin will come out in the United States, but I don't expect these Second Sight releases to be bettered." - Jason Overbeck

_________________________

"To Live and Die in L.A. - Kino - Kino is however doing solid work upgrading catalog titles that have stood the test of time. Hard to pick just one from their releases this year." - Chris Browne

_________________________

"Naked Lunch (Arrow) - glad to see Cronenburg's offbeat adaptation of Burrough's weird classic get a comprehensive release from Arrow. Lots of extras help provide added insight, which I'm sure both newcomers to the film but also those who never fully appreciated it at the time will be grateful for." - Lewis

_________________________

"Trading Places (1983) / Yes 'Trading Places' deserves to be this high on the list. I'm telling you it took a tremendous act of self restraint on my part to not place it ahead of 'Days of Heaven'. Here's the thing. This is a 5 star comedy. It certifiably Eddie Murphy's greatest film (even if its not his most popular). It got stellar supporting performances from Don Ameche, Ralph Belamy, Jamie Lee Curtis (Oscar winner!). It's the rare Dan Akroyd role where he's not a cardboard cartoon character, and he has some dimensions to his character, like he does here. Also, like vintage screwball films of the past like 'Sullivan's Travels' and 'My Man Godfrey', it has A LOT to say about class issues and how society treats its less fortunate. For its social commentary, and it its bigger than life Eddie Murphy star turn, this has to rank with the year's best 4K's. Also you can pick it up for less than 30 bucks, which is very appreciated in this era of over-priced reissues. The bargain of the year." - Anton Sardelic

_________________________

"The Warriors - Arrow - Embarrassment of riches: Arrow was a machine in 2023, turning out consistent 4K after 4K. For me this is tops, but nearly every release could have made the list." - Chris Browne

_________________________

"The Shiver of the Vampires - Indicator - Indicator jumps into 4K and French language releases with this disc, first out of the gate in a massive multi-year project undertaking the restoration of Jean Rollin's filmography. They had considered doing his films as a boxset (or series of) but that proved impossible financially and too constraining time-wise. Instead we have an interesting compromise meant to conserve shelf space, with the slim cases going into small rigid cases along with a booklet. Consider the printed material alone will come in at over 1500 pages when these releases are completed. I am in awe." - Chris Browne

_________________________

"EXistenZ (1999) (Vinegar Syndrome) / The Cinderella reissue story of the year. Here's a film that was hard to even watch on any format, then along comes Vinegar Syndrome to bless us with a truly stellar special edition. To top it all off the slipcover has the texture of the skin of some kind of Mamal. Increasing the creep factor, and going a long way to extend the Cronenberg metaphor of 'The New Flesh'. I'm very impressed. High price tag. But they delivered in every way, so they're forgiven." - Anton Sardelic

_________________________

"Martin (Second Sight) - a release plagued by delays and what-ifs after the 3 hour version was uncovered late into the set's development. It may lack the longest version of the film due to the individual greed of the rights owner, but that should not take away from what is an otherwise excellent much anticipated release." - Lewis

_________________________

"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Dark Sky 4K): It is my understanding that the Second Sight edition is both very similar and arguably better than the domestic release, but the Dark Sky version is no slouch. Carrying over many of the archival extras from the previous releases including four commentaries, a feature length doc that gets a little too fan-boyish, and an anniversary Q&A between William Friedman and Tobe Hooper. The 4K presentation is appropriately filmic and low-fi considering the 16mm source - the draw for this collector and lukewarm TCSM fan was the cheaper price tag ($20 vs. $40 for the Second Sight)." - Drew Morton

_________________________

"Oppenheimer (Universal 4K): To put it simply, Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer is one of the best looking and sounding 4K discs I have ever seen. The large format footage - both color and black and white - is served really well by the uptick in resolution and HDR, getting damned close to the theatrical experience. Moreover, the soundtrack retains its thunder and dynamism despite not being done in Atmos. If the maxed out AV specs on the feature weren't enough, the disc is stacked with special features ranging from a feature length documentary about its titular subject, a roundtable about the film and its reflection of American history, and a feature length documentary about the making of the film itself. The disc has been sold out for weeks for very good reason - the release reminds me of the halcyon days of DVD in the late 90s and early 00s - lovingly put together and extremely comprehensive." - Drew Morton

_________________________

"Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023); Universal; US; All - The most important release of the year in the worldwide market of physical media. As did for film print, 70mm and IMAX, Christopher Nolan in 2023 fully embraced physical media as well, explaining to everyone what was already obvious: with a physical copy in your hand, there's no way the movie you purchased could be deleted from a server or abruptly modified or disappear for some rights issue. The result is that the first print of the 4K edition of the movie has gone soldout in the US, something probably never happened in the last decade, and the full story made headlines on Variety." - Alfredo Santoro

_________________________

"The Lighthouse (Arrow) - a true experience and what may be Robert Eggers finest work to date. While you won't notice much of a downgrade by watching the blu ray edition instead, the extras including a fantastic making of documentary ensure this is more worth checking out." - Lewis

_________________________

"Martin (Second Sight 4K): George Romero's bleak and melancholy vampire film gets a beautiful 4K restoration thanks to Second Sight. On the special features front, it's loaded with four (!!) commentary tracks and a feature length documentary about the making of the film. It's an extremely unsettling watch, especially in the home invasion sequence which almost seems like an verite recreation of the Manson murders. " - Drew Morton

_________________________

"Picnic at Hanging Rock (Second Sight) - Second Sight continue to produce deluxe box sets of loved classics and cult favourites, and this might be their finest work 4K work yet. Brimming with different versions of the film, extras, books and even postcards this is a treat for fans seeking the definitive version of Weir's haunting classic." - Lewis

_________________________

"The Psychic 4K UHD Severin. One of the Godfather of Gore's earlier, restrained efforts. Apparently, Quentin Tarantino is pondering a remake. This should be recognized as an all-time horror classic. A fabulous transfer and fantastic array of supplements, including a fascinating 1993 interview with Fulci." - Kevin Sunde Oppegaard

Gary's 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' list

Some titles come out late in the year and aren't seen, or get swept under our collective radar under, deserved more 'love' than the poll offered... or I just liked. This is my 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' list of a under-represented Blu-rays and a couple of 4K UHD titles that, I think, some genre-fans, cinephiles etc. may wish to take a second look. For myself, they have appeal for various reasons (in alphabetical order):
12 Angry Men [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Sidney Lumet, 1957) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Angel Face [Blu-ray] (Otto Preminger, 1952) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
Anna May Wong Collection [Blu-ray] - Dangerous to Know, 1938 - King of Chinatown, 1939 - Island of Lost Men, 1939 - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz [Blu-ray] (Ted Kotcheff, 1974) Fun City Editions (BEAVER REVIEW)
Asteroid City [Blu-ray] (Wes Anderson, 2023) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Aviator's Wife [Blu-ray] (Eric Rohmer, 1981) Metrograph Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)
Big Time Gambling Boss [Blu-ray] (Kosaku Yamashita, 1968) Radiance (BEAVER REVIEW)
Black Circle [Blu-ray] (Adrian Garcia Bogliano, 2018) Synapse Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Black Sabbath AIP-version [Blu-ray] (Mario Bava, 1963) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Blonde Ice [Blu-ray] (Jack Bernhard, 1948) Classicflix (BEAVER REVIEW)
Blood and Black Lace [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Mario Bava, 1964) Arrow UK
Branded to Kill [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Seijun Suzuki, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Bullet Train [Blu-ray] (Jun'ya Sato, 1975) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Changeling [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Peter Medak, 1980) Second Sight Films UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
Clash by Night [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1952) Warner Archive(BEAVER REVIEW)
Le combat dans l'ile [Blu-ray] (Alain Cavalier, 1962) Radiance UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
Cool Hand Luke [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Stuart Rosenberg, 1967) Warner (BEAVER REVIEW)
Counsellor at Law [Blu-ray] (William Wyler, 1933) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Curucu, Beast of the Amazon [Blu-ray] (Curt Siodmak, 1956) Vinegar Syndrome Labs (BEAVER REVIEW)
Cutter's Way [Blu-ray] (Ivan Passer, 1981) Fun City UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
Daughters of Darkness [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Harry Kumel, 1971) Blue Underground (BEAVER REVIEW)
Death Wish [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Michael Winner, 1974) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Day of the Locust [Blu-ray] (John Schlesinger, 1975) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Desperate Hours [Blu-ray] (William Wyler, 1955) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
Don't Deliver Us from Evil [Blu-ray] (Joel Seria, 1971) Mondo Macabro (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Driver's Seat [Blu-ray] (Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, 1974) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW)
Drowning by Numbers [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Peter Greenaway, 1988) Severin Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Edge of the World [Blu-ray] (Michael Powell, 1937) Milestone (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Eight Mountains [Blu-ray] (Felix van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch, 2022) Janus Contemporaries (BEAVER REVIEW)
Elegant Beast [Blu-ray] (Yuzo Kawashima, 1962) Radiance Films UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
EO [Blu-ray] (Jerzy Skolimowski, 2022) Criterion (Janus Contemporaries) (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Fall of Ako Castle [Blu-ray] (Kinji Fukasaku, 1978) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)
Fascination [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Jean Rollin, 1979) Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema XII [Blu-ray] Undertow / Outside the Wall / Hold Back Tomorrow - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema XIII [Blu-ray] Spy Hunt / The Night Runner / Step Down to Terror - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema XIV [Blu-ray] (Undercover Girl, One Way Street, Appointment With a Shadow) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema XV [Blu-ray] - Man Afraid (1957), The Girl in the Kremlin (1957), The Tattered Dress (1957) - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Flesh and Fantasy [Blu-ray] (Julien Duvivier, 1943) Vinegar Syndrome Labs (BEAVER REVIEW)
Force of Evil [Blu-ray] (Abraham Polonsky, 1948) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Frenzy [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1972) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW)
From Hollywood to Heaven: The Lost and Saved Films of the Ormond Family 1951-1997 [Blu-ray] - Indicator US (BEAVER REVIEW)
Ghost Stories For Christmas Volume 2 [Blu-ray] (The Treasure of Abbot Thomas, The Ash Tree, The Signalman, Stigma and The Ice House) RB BFI UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
Giallo Essentials - White Edition [Blu-ray] (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire and The Suspicious Death of a Minor) Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
Godland [Blu-ray] (Hlynur Palmason, 2022) Janus Contemporaries (BEAVER REVIEW)
Goodbye, Dragon Inn [Blu-ray] (Tsai Ming-liang, 2003) Metrograph Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)
Gorgo [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Eugene Lourie, 1961) Vinegar Syndrome (BEAVER REVIEW)
Gothic Fantastico: Four Italian Tales of Terror [Blu-ray] (Lady Morgan's Vengeance, The Blancheville Monster, The Third Eye. The Witch) - Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
A Haunted Turkish Bathhouse [Blu-ray] (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi. 1975) Mondo Macabro (BEAVER REVIEW)
Heat [Blu-ray] (Dick Richards, 1986) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Hopping Mad: The Mr Vampire Sequels [Blu-ray] (Mr Vampire II and Mr Vampire III, Mr Vampire IV and Vampire vs Vampire) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW)
House of Terrors [Blu-ray] (Hajime Sato, 1965) Mondo Macabro (BEAVER REVIEW)
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead [Blu-ray] (Mike Hodges, 2003) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)
Imitation of Life [Blu-ray] (John M. Stahl, 1934) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Inland Empire [Blu-ray] (David Lynch, 2006) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Interrogation [Blu-ray] (Ryszard Bugajski, 1989) Second Run UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
It Came from Outer Space [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Jack Arnold, 1953) Universal Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)
Joy House [Blu-ray] (Rene Clement, 1964) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
King & Country [Blu-ray] (Joseph Losey, 1964) RB UK StudioCanal (BEAVER REVIEW)
Knockabout [Blu-ray] (Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, 1979) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Last Island [Blu-ray] (Marleen Gorris, 1990) Cult Epics (BEAVER REVIEW)
Laurin [Blu-ray] (Robert Sigl, 1989) UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
Lady Whirlwind (1972) + Hapkido (1972) [Blu-ray] - Arrow (BEAVER REVIEW)
Love Letters [Blu-ray] (William Dieterle, 1945) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Lukas Moodysson Collection [Blu-ray] (Fucking Amal, Together, Lilya 4-ever, A Hole in My Heart, Container, Mammoth, We Are The Best!) ‎Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
Made in Hong Kong [Blu-ray] (Fruit Chan, 1997) Metrograph Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Man in Half Moon Street [Blu-ray] (Ralph Murphy, 1945) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)
Mark of the Devil [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Michael Armstrong, Adrian Hoven, 1970) Vinegar Syndrome (BEAVER REVIEW)
Millennium Mambo [Blu-ray] (Hsiao-Hsien Hou, 2001) Metrograph Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)
A Moment of Romance [Blu-ray] (Benny Chan, 1990) Radiance Films UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
Morgiana [Blu-ray] (Juraj Herz, 1972) Second Run UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
Night Has a Thousand Eyes [Blu-ray] (John Farrow, 1948) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Night of the Hunted [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Jean Rollin, 1980) Indicator US (BEAVER REVIEW)
No Bears [Blu-ray] (Jafar Panahi, 2022) Criterion (Janus Contemporaries) (BEAVER REVIEW)
One False Move [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Carl Franklin, 1992) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Others [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Alejandro Amenabar, 2001) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Outrage [Blu-ray] (Ida Lupino, 1950) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Pandora's Box [Blu-ray] (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)
Party Girl [Blu-ray] (Daisy von Scherler Mayer, 1995) Fun City Editions (BEAVER REVIEW)
Pearls of the Deep [Blu-ray] (Jan Němec, 1965) UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Phantom of the Monastery [Blu-ray] (Fernando de Fuentes, 1934) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
Piccadilly [Blu-ray] (Ewald Andre Dupont, 1929) Milestone Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Red Sun [Blu-ray] (Rudolf Thome, 1970) Radiance Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Seventh Seal [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Silent Avant-Garde [Blu-ray] (various, 1924-1970) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Something to Live For [Blu-ray] (George Stevens, 1952) ‎Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)
Stella Maris [Blu-ray] (Marshall Neilan, 1918) VCI (BEAVER REVIEW)
Tar [Blu-ray] (Todd Field, 2022) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW)
Thieves Like Us [Blu-ray] (Robert Altman, 1974) Radiance UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
Three Days of the Condor [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Sydney Pollack,1975) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Tombs of the Blind Dead [Blu-ray] (Amando de Ossorio,1972) Synapse Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
T.R. Baskin [Blu-ray] (Herbert Ross, 1971) Fun City Editions (BEAVER REVIEW)
Twilight (Szurkulet) [Blu-ray] (Gyorgy Feher, 1990) R0 UK ‎ Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)
Two Films by Marguerite Duras [Blu-ray] (India Song/Baxter, Vera Baxter) - Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Two Orphan Vampires [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Jean Rollin, 1997) Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
Unman, Wittering and Zigo [Blu-ray] (John Mackenzie, 1971) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
Upgrade [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Leigh Whannell, 2018) Shout! Factory (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
Villages of the Damned: Three Horrors From Spain [Blu-ray]  - El bosque del lobo aka The Forest of the Wolf (1970), Beatriz (1976) and Las flores del vicio aka The Sky is Falling (1975) - Vinegar Syndrome (BEAVER REVIEW)
A Violent Life [Blu-ray] (Paolo Heusch, Brunello Rondi, 1962) Raro Video Usa (BEAVER REVIEW)
Walkabout [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Nicolas Roeg, 1971) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Walking the Edge [Blu-ray] (Norbert Meisel, 1985) Fun City UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Whale [Blu-ray] (Darren Aronofsky, 2022) Lionsgate (BEAVER REVIEW)
You and Me [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1938) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

Favorite Commentaries of 2023:

 

 

There were so many commentaries in 2023 by Kino, Indicator, Imprint, Arrow, Second Sight etc. for their consistent inclusions. Criterion, the pioneer of the feature, still appears to be distancing themselves from new commentary track supplements.

Whenever we start naming names we run the risk of forgetting someone - so I will apologize for that immediately. I also didn't hear every commentary made in 2023, but I did listen to shy of a hundred. I appreciate and respect commentarists very much. We trust you never feel it is a thankless job. We will always support your efforts.

 

Winner for the third year in a row is:

 

Imogen Sara Smith - cited with the most first place votes for Lady From ShanghaiForce of Evil, and Outrage... Suffice to say that the DVDBeaver niche loves Imogen.

 

Multiple mentions for:

 

Daniel Bird - for a single commentary, Daniel had the most mentions for On the Silver Globe 

 

Tim Lucas Commentaries cited positively, for my personal favorite, include The Night of the Hunter, The Night of the Hunted, The Rape of the Vampire, The Man in Half Moon, Black Sabbath, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock, Lorna the Exorcist, Sinner: The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac, Barbarella, Lady From Shanghai, etc. I think Tim, single-handedly, raised the bar on commentary track quality.   

 

Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw Enthusiasm cannot be contained in their 2023 discussions on They Might Be Giants, The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism, Curucu, Beast of the Amazon, Flesh and Fantasy, Conquest of Space, The Bullet Train, Run, Man, Run Blu-rays. Tangential film examples abound...

 

Frank Djeng Frank is a Wushu / Hong Kong film commentary BEAST. There is no other way to describe it. I doubt this is all the Blu-ray packages that he did commentaries for in 2023, but we'll try; The Postman Fights, Royal Tramp Collection, Taxi Hunter, The Skyhawk, A Moment of Romance, The Prodigal Son, Beach of the War Gods, Magic Cop, Angela Mao: Hapkido & Lady Whirlwind Hapkido, Hopping Mad: The Mr. Vampire Sequels, Burning Paradise... He does them solo or is occasionally paired with the likes of director Ronny Yu, actor Bobby Samuels, Marc Walkow, Michael Worth, writer John Charles etc.

 

David Del Valle - David is another favorite - from 'campy' Star Pilot (2+5: Missione Hydra) to Marlene's Dietrich's The Song of Songs, exotic travelogue Raw Wind in Eden to Hollywood Babylon-ish The Carpetbaggers, and 1957's 'dark cinema' Appointment with a Shadow and more released on 2023 Blu-ray! Sometimes paired (with David DeCoteau, Daniel Kremer or Matteo Molinari) David always shares the less-publicized, often first-hand, gossip on productions and stars. He's a gem!

 

Daniel Kremer strong mentions for his extensive work on the "Directed by Sidney J Furie Great job, Daniel!
 

Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson Howard has had some health challenges in 2023 and we wish him the very best in putting them firmly behind him. We need you Howard!

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas Deservedly, she has a loyal fanbase that adore her work!

Adrian Martin Another personal favorite - I'd love to hear more from Adrian in 2024!

Joseph McBride - numerous mentions for his work, notably The Trial

 

Others with multiple votes from 2023 (and previous years):

 

Bill Ackerman

Michael Brooke

Travis Crawford

Samm Deighan

Elijah Drenner

Kat Ellinger

Nora Fiore

Christopher Frayling

Lee Gambin

Gary Gerani

Troy Howarth

David Kalat

Glenn Kenny

Julie Kirgo
Tom Mes

Eddy Muller

Josh Nelson
Jason A. Ney

Tony Raynes

Amanda Reyes

Alan K. Rode

Eloise Ross

Steven Jay Rubin

Jasper Sharp
Alain Silver and Jim Ursini

David J. Skal

Randy Skretvedt
Farran Smith Nehme

Stephen Thrower

Calum Waddell

Tom Weaver

__________________


Comments of 'Favorite Commentaries' from 2023 include:

"Every single commentary on The Sensual World of Black Emanualle Collector's Set " - Dan Hassler-Forest

______________________________


"Favorite Commentary: Full Circle; Messiah of Evil; The Carpetbaggers" - Nick Garlick

______________________________

 

"Favorite commentaries: In order of preference:
1. Daniel Bird - On the Silver Globe
2. Jasper Sharp and Tom Mes - The Bullet Train
3. Jason A. Ney - Carrie (1952)
4. Alain Silver and Jim Ursini - Uptight & The Long Voyage Home
5. Frank Djeng - Burning Paradise (his countless other tracks this year are all worth listening to, but this was my favourite)
6. Pamela Hutchinson - Pandora's Box
7. Doug Kalat - Three Ages
8. Travis Crawford - Martin (& Kat Ellinger's is great too)
9. Eloise Ross - Bluebeard's Eighth Wife
10. Claire Kenny, Glenn Kenny and Farran Smith Nehme - State of the Union"- David Brook

______________________________

 

"All three The Horrible Dr. Hichcock commentaries provided food for thought, exploring different aspects from Gothic themes to comparing the different versions (including a novelization based on the script that clarified how much the structure had changed in production), while four commentaries on Martin offered everything from anecdotes to analysis, and Jeremy Richey's Shiver of the Vampires track revealed the various artistic and intellectual influences on the production besides Rollin's fevered imagination." - Eric Cotenas

______________________________

 

"Me, Tom Weaver, Tim Lucas, Christopher Frayling" - Gary Gerani

______________________________

 

"The best continue to be Tim Lucas, Imogen Sara Smith, Troy Howarth, Kat Ellinger, Samm Deighan, Tony Raynes, Kim Newman, Eddy Muller. David Del Valle (on a good day).
If I'm wavering on spending hard earned cash on a blu ray, a commentary by any of these well spoken, well prepared, insightful and informative experts will loosen my grip on my credit card." - George Brown

______________________________

 

"Joseph McBride for The Trial - Criterion" - Paul Todd

______________________________

 

"There is absolutely no doubt that Imogen Sara Smith is the finest exponent of the voice-over commentary. She is extremely intelligent, a great writer, and one of the absolute best American film historians, and arguably now the finest in that large group of film noir historians. Eddie Muller, who used to be the best at commentaries, has passed the torch on to Ms Smith, whom he regards as better than himself. He also inaugurated her as editor of the Film Noir Foundation's newsletter. She always begins her commentaries by justifying her choice of the particular film, and with Outrage clearly acknowledges how Ida Luplno has been underrated by feminist film scholars, and how in her film direction, was so advanced in her representation of women's issues. When listening and watching, we are never in doubt that she is aware of where we are exactly in the film, and although she digresses to provide biographical information on the actors, she never strays away from the plot as so many commentators do." - Peter Rist

______________________________

 

"State of the Union Lucy Bolton gives a thoughtful summation of the much-loved Angela Lansbury's long and versatile career.
The Kiss Before the Mirror Nora Fiore packs in a welter of facts and opinions in her incomparable, fast-paced, staccato style. Well-researched and organised commentary for this pre-Code gem." - David Redfern

______________________________

 

"The Enforcer, Alan K. Rode Outside the Wall, Alan K. Rode Man Afraid, David Del Valle and David De Coteau" - Maggie Breitmeier

______________________________

 

"Daniel Kremer's work on the "Directed by Sidney J Furie" box-set, and his work on Is Paris Burning with Howard S. Berger. Also his work on Arrow's The Desperate Hours. David Del Valle, Julie Kirgo, and Samm Deighan generally." - Tony Jaffe

______________________________

 

"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - Amanda Reyes and Bill Ackerman (Second Sight - hey, what can I say?)
Martin - Travis Crawford (Second Sight)
Gina - Kier-La Janisse and Justine Smith (Canadian International Picture)
The Black Pit Of Dr. M - Abraham Castillo Flores (Indicator)
The Pack - Lee Gambin (Shout Factory)
On the Silver Globe - Daniel Bird (Eureka!)
The Curse Of Her Flesh - Heather Drain (Distribpix)
Blood Sucking Freaks - John Szpunar (Vinegar Syndrome)" - Bill Ackerman

__________________________

 

"Alexandra Heller-Nicholas & Josh Nelson - Chopper
Amanda Reyes & Bill Ackerman - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Josh Nelson - Black Sunday" - Fletch Buster

______________________________

 

"No specific commentary comes to mind-and don't have time to listen to many - but always try to listen to anything from Imogen Sara Smith." - BGM

__________________________

 

"Three commentaries really stood out to me as particularly excellent this year:
David J Skal - Freaks (Criterion)
William Friedkin - Bug (Imprint)
Lee Gambin - Resurrection (Imprint)" - Tim Leggoe

__________________________

 

"Tim Lucas on The Night of the Hunter was very helpful unpacking that film, he always does a great job." - Jason Overbeck

__________________________

 

"Three Days of the Condor (Mitchell and Thompson), Marathon Man (Mitchell and Thompson), Death Wish, The Train" - Warren Ketter

__________________________

 

"The Last Picture Show w/Peter Bogdanovich [Criterion]" - Anthony Dugandzic

__________________________

 

"Kat Ellinger- Pretty Baby" - Gabriel Neeb

__________________________

 

"Three Ages - Masters of Cinema - David Kalat" - Steve Rutt

__________________________

 

"Michael Brooke on "Barrier" by Jerzy Skolimowski" - Michal Kubik

__________________________

 

"Daniel Bird on On the Silver Globe. For one of the most impenetrable films going, this (insider) explanation is required listening." - Chris Browne

__________________________

 

"Imogen Sara Smith (ex.  Lady From Shanghai) and Tim Lucas (ex. The Man In Half Moon Street) always provide well researched commentaries. They touch on symbolism, context, and how the film fits into the careers of cast and crew. They have very pleasant voices and they never sound as if they are reading off a script. They steer clear of dead space and they don't make mistakes - something that does happen on quite a few commentaries by others. There were also superb specialty commentaries this year in which the author of material concerning a famous film artist lent their insights to new releases. Randy Skretvedt (Laurel & Hardy Year One) and David J. Skal (Tod Browning) come to mind." - Douglas C Head

__________________________

 

"Messiah of Evil - Kim Newman & Stephen Thrower - Felt like a chat between two crusty coves in the corner of a seaside alehouse. Loved the insight into the film's production and troubled release but also enjoyed their linking of moments from this film to horror tropes and pop art references. Oak-aged commentary that lingers on the palette.
Have these two ever co-commentated before. If not, they should, as their informed bonhomie would rival those Daughters of Darkness, Ellinger and Deighan. Brothers of Bedlam, perhaps?" - Neil Williams

__________________________

 

"Imogen Sarah Smith on Force of Evil (Kino) The presence of Smith, informative, passionate, with a soothing speaking voice, is a selling point all its own. Case in point, this disc, which I already owned in a Region B Arrow set, but bought solely for the new commentary. Did not disappoint." - Ryan Callahan

__________________________

 

"Julie Kirgo latest heard on KL's The Carpetbaggers. Her commentaries with partner Nick Redman are perhaps the best of all time, for their friendliness & feeling to share their feelings about the material rather than show off their knowledge, or teach you or shower you with forgettable facts.
John Frankenheimer on any movies he directed, per his description of details & little known tech facts, without blowing his own horn as too many director commentaries do. Fortunately, he seems to have made commentaries on most all his movies before he died. God bless him." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

__________________________

 

"Anything by Imogen Sara Smith and Tim Lucas. They are the best at commentaries and I will often purchase a disk simply because their commentary is on it.
I have also come to greatly appreciate Joseph McBride, Julie Kirgo and Eddie von Muller commentaries.
In 2023:
Imogen Sara Smith on Force of Evil
Joseph McBride on The Big Easy
Tim Lucas on The Man In Half Moon Street
Tim Lucas on Lorna the Exorcist (an intellectual treatment of something decidedly unintellectual)
Imogen Sara Smith on the  Lady From Shanghai
Tim Lucas on the Lady From Shanghai
Steve Mitchell and Steven Jay Rubin on Hell Is For Heroes
Joseph McBride on The Trial" - Gary Slatus

__________________________

 

"Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw's commentary track on the 88 Films 4K UHD of Cannibal Holocaust. The only way to watch this film (with a gorgeously remastered picture), is listening to the commentary by the foremost experts on cult movies! The most notorious video-nasty ever made, it has a place in cinema history, which Messrs Newman and Forshaw know." - Kevin Sunde Oppegaard

BOUTIQUE Labels


Our niche heavily gravitates to 'Boutique Labels' as their strongest preference. For 2023 we had the most "Favorite Label" votes in our poll ever, and we also utilize that in determination of the ranking - that is in a 'total votes' system. Here are the TOP 10 mentioned Blu-ray / 4K UHD Production labels:

1) Kino Lorber

The most remarkable thing about Kino's number one position is that it didn't have many top ten in any of our categories. They dominated with a multitude of different releases scattered across balloter's selections. They easily tripled or quadrupled most of their competitor's output. 

2) Criterion

The race for first was as close as it's ever been. Kino just edged ahead of Criterion - both getting strong mention of their 4K UHD catalogues. The latter's high level cinema gauged against the former's massive output and extensive number of commentaries.

3) Radiance Films

Radiance are new and exciting with impressive, underexposed, film selections.

4) Severin

Severin have been going the extra-mile for years with the most eclectic and extensive packages of any distributor. I can't wait to tuck-in to Cushing Curiosities.

5) Indicator (Powerhouse)

Indicator remain a huge fan favorite in the DVDBeaver sphere for their extensive extras and complete packages.

6) Arrow

Arrow do, complete, flawless packages. If you are a fan of the specific film - you can always purchase their editions with confidence.

7) Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome's production is mind-blowingly prodigious - their commitment shines through on almost every release they put out. Passion.

8) Eureka (Masters of Cinema)

Eureka are exploring an avenue of martial arts cinema while maintaining their adherence to revered directors in the genre space via their Masters of Cinema sub-label.

9) Imprint (Via Vision)

Un-restrain-able Imprint remain consistent releasing films never seen in the HD formats and plenty of actor/director themed boxsets.

10) Second Run

Second Run, continue to improve exploring beyond their Czech New Wave core with exceptional European cinema from Poland, Hungary and beyond to India, UK and the US. A wonderful crop from them in 2023.

 

Others:

 

Mondo Macabro are a personal favorite and they always skirt just outside of our top ten. I think they have the coolest signature opening and it's companies like them that keep us excited about continuing this website - always interesting and lesser-seen cult titles spanning the globe.

BFI have really expanded their catalogue with new 4K UHD titles and more content than previous years - just being nudged out of the top ten.

I would gladly review more Studio Canal UK if they would send me content to cover.

Synapse also deserves similar respect to Mondo Macabro. We love much of their eclectic catalogue.

88 Films are making extensive gains into the Region 'A' market and new 4K UHD editions in 2024. They continue on an upswing!

Classicflix / Film Masters titles fit squarely in our niche. As do most of Warner Archive. Vintage cinema lives!

P.S. Network and Olive are gone and their Blu-ray editions were greatly appreciated.

__________________________________

Comments (most responses were just the name of the company but here are a sampling of some of the comments balloters made):

 
"Kino Lorber -- for output, pricing and their sales, Kino towers above all." - Walker Roberts

"Warner Archives. They don't produce a large number of disks, but what they do put out is uniformly great. In 2023, Flamingo Road, Caged, Angel Face, The Boy With Green Hair; Westward the Women, Border Incident, The Old Man and the Sea, The Strawberry Blonde, The Damned Don't Cry, Storm Warning, The Fastest Gun Alive, Wife versus Secretary, Safe In Hell, One Way Passage, Four Dancing Daughters, Queen Christina, Dangerous When Wet. Wow, dead nuts classics just continuously come spewing out of there." - Gary Slatus

"KL this year, simply for the amount of quality little-known & watchable movies, as well as a number of non-English language & more esoteric movies." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

"Radiance - brilliant label
Special mention for the very sad demise of Network here in the UK. An awful loss and a massive if not irreversible setback for much archival television and film." - Nicky Coia

"Radiance - brilliant label
Special mention for the very sad demise of Network here in the UK. An awful loss and a massive if not irreversible setback for much archival television and film." - Nicky Coia

"Kino Lorber impresses with a hefty slate of classic 4K UHD Releases" - Harvey Clarke

"Indicator - for not only restoring so many obscure films that deserve to be rediscovered, but especially for the levels of care that they pour into their unique and gorgeously packaged box sets." - Dan Hassler-Forest

"RADIANCE FILMS -The new kid on the block has delivered a series of quality Blu Ray releases that are delightful in delivering a sense of joy through discovery or re-discovery of cinematic cannon. Each film's package is sensitively curated, and the transfers are as good as the best Criterion releases. They were many more films that I had to leave off my top ten Blu Rays, including Yakuza Graveyard, The Bride Wore Black and Red Sun. Utter joy. A brave decision to create a new boutique label by Francesco Simeoni, but one that has certainly created a great deal of excitement for independent filmmakers and film collectors everywhere. My gratitude glows for Radiance." - Neil Williams

"Favorite label - Kino, they seem to release so much, and it is greatly appreciated, at reasonable prices." - Bill Migicovsky

"Indicator: for the attention they give to what are often less than 'prestigious' films. A movie-lover's label." - Nick Garlick

"Criterion - I know it is predictable. Each month they are releasing 4 to 5 movies that range from very good to great. I also want to recognize Arrow and Kino Lorber which release a few movies every month that are must haves. Thanks Kino Lorber for starting a cult film collection. Radiance and Flicker Alley don't release anywhere near as much but when they do it is always exciting. I wish I could do a 5 way tie." - Douglas C Head

"Best newcomer in the market in years, Radiance could only start with a bang, since it's the personal project by Francesco Simeoni, part of the bunch of people that made Arrow Video great. And Radiance fully follow the same path, with a great design, rich and beautiful box-sets that could be considered the physical counterpart of a festival retrospective and the same level of attention to detail and curation." - Alfredo Santoro

"Radiance, because they've been taking risks with a fascinating array of titles that I'm often unaware of and giving them a new lease of life."- David Brook

"I do love what Anti-Worlds are doing in the UK : they're just not doing enough releases per year ! So I'll instead give a shoutout to Second Run : their releases aren't always technically flawless, but they have been able to maintain a good quality going to movies not many people are releasing on Blu-ray elsewhere in the world, and I'm very happy that a label chose (and is able to keep doing it) to dedicate itself to this (mostly) Eastern-Europe catalogue at such a steady pace." - Remy Pignatiello

"Radiance. What can you get the man who has everything? The latest Radiance release. It's hard to believe they've only been doing it for a year. Wonderful curation. Extra features that provide excellent historical and artistic context. Unique and stylish packaging. A label clearly designed for physical media obsessives like me." - Ryan Callahan

"Criterion, Arrow, Kino, Imprint, Indicator and Severin really outdid themselves this year. I also have to give a shout out to Second Sight." - David Hollingsworth

"Vinegar Syndrome- I'd never heard of this web order company before DVDBeaver reviewed Techine's Wild Reeds, and I needed to order it and came up on them. For just a little extra they do slip cover limited editions for us collector nerds, and they distribute a wide variety of independent companies, including Altered Innocence and Big World Pictures. Shipment to UK is not crazy expensive either." - Billy Bang

Tie: Arrow Video and Kino Lorber. Between them, the best curated, best mastered, 4K UHD titles available. No slathering of films with heavy-handed HDR, excellent mastering, film grain intact. Great commentaries. Arrow really goes all-in with supplements. Really good value for money." - Kevin Sunde Oppegaard

"For numero uno, how could anyone not say Imprint Films? Stunning, even gobsmacking. And with their astounding Hard-Box July? Come on, people! You know it's the truth. Runners-up in a close second are Indicator Films. Kino Lorber continues to do the lord's work, but it was a bit of a slower year for them. Arrow also had a great showing this year." - Tony Jaffe

"Severin is knocking it out of the park this year with 4K exploitation, but Radiance Films is actually my favorite label as they expand their filmography, including curating Raro Video releases in the UK, being forced to utilize existing HD masters but doing their best to make them upgrades over the earlier US releases. Like Second Run - Laurin is a masterpiece but the Blu-ray does not so much offer anything new as make the film more accessible to a wider market - Radiance are a number of noteworthy releases that just couldn't make the list no matter how impressive." - Eric Cotenas

"Imprint for delivering films on Blu-ray I've wanted to see for a long time ... and for continuing to do so (Mountains of the Moon in 2024)" - Geoff Dubois

"Severin is tops these days, with Indicator and Radiance coming close behind. The latter two still have too many upscaled SD transfers in their catalogue for my liking (Kino Lorber as well). Criterion does a better job these days with their streaming Channel than they do with their discs in terms of film selection (too many resources wasted on trying to please Ava DuVernay)...." - Bill McAlpine

"Radiance - Radiance has already made a name for itself in a short period of time for its carefully picked releases that are pitched perfectly for film fans and collectors. Its output has been very much reminiscent of early Indicator before the label grew exponentially and dare I say it lost a little of its identity along the way (this is not to denigrate the label, it's great that they've seen such success and continue to produce fantastic releases amongst their ever expanding output).
You can tell a great deal of work goes into Radiance's releases - the carefully picked and encoded films they release, the box art and design with the removable slips that leave the box art free of certificates and other clutter, the transparency and communication around limited edition runs and announcements, their support of smaller labels - I could go on. In short you can tell it's run by film fans for film fans, and I look forward to what it does next." - Lewis

"Indicator, RB UK: because they have the best and most complete extras. They also find rare material, especially from Mexico and the UK. I would put Kino Lorber in second place because of their extensive catalogue." - Peter Rist

"Warner Archive, because they are the most consistently excellent provider of classics with flawless picture and sound quality." - Istvan Ribardiere

"Radiance Films - has a new releasing company got out of the blocks with such confidence and panache as Radiance Films? I find their choices more interesting than Indicator, and the restored films come with great cover designs and supplements. However I've given up on the complicated subscription service options on their website, and just order from Amazon." - Billy Bang

"Powerhouse Films Indicator UK for paying due diligence to the mainstream and marginalised cinematic past and continuing to provide quality in its inimitable curation of film packages. Bravo!
ClassicFlix for its indefatigability in preserving and restoring popular cinematic culture of yesteryear. Kudos to CEO David Kawas!" - David Redfern

"Kino Lorber, USA Indicator, Great Britain Imprint, Australia Anolis and Ostalgica, Germany" - Maggie Breitmeier

"Criterion - At a time when we have SO many incredible smaller labels doing exceptional work uncovering and restoring hidden gems, I feel more than a little guilty naming Criterion. We have companies out there like Severin, Fun City Editions, Radiance, Terror Vision, Second Sight, Second Run, Yellow Veil, Canadian International Films, American Genre Film Archive, Imprint, Indicator, Film Desk, Cinema Guild, Eureka!, Vinegar Syndrome, Mondo Macabro, Factory 25, Kino Lorber, Deaf Crocodile, Arbelos, Flicker Alley, Umbrella, Blue Underground, Arrow, BFI, Distribpix, Altered Innocence and Milestone (among many others) investing/risking their finite resources to lovingly produce discs for films that are seldom recognized as part of an established canon or known to a large preexisting fanbase. So how can I pick the titans of teal transfers? Severin, Radiance and Second Sight in particular had especially strong slates this year. Criterion didn't rescue a slew of lost films like Vinegar Syndrome, didn't produce box sets with the fevered labor-of-love quality of Severin (The Sensual World of Black Emanualle Collector's Set) or Imprint (Directed by Sidney J Furie). I encountered plenty of new-to-me gems through Radiance Films, Fun City Editions, Canadian International Pictures and Mondo Macabro, whereas I mostly re-bought films I already knew I liked from Criterion.
But I just looked over Criterion's 2023 lineup and felt like I had to acknowledge all of those beautiful editions of personal favorites: Chilly Scenes Of Winter, Mean Streets, Targets, a 4K release of The Last Picture Show that rescues the previously rare director's cut of Texasville, and after years of internet rumors, After Hours. They put out a handful of my favorite contemporary titles (the incredible Small Axe series, Bergman Island, Petite Maman). I was grateful for the sets devoted to films by Marguerite Duras, Bo Widerberg, Budd Boetticher, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Tod Browning, and appreciated the mix of European arthouse classics (The Rules Of The Game, The Servant), American auteur cult favorites (Inland Empire, The Trial), Black indie gems (The Watermelon Woman, Drylongso, Medicine For Melancholy) and 4K special editions of enduring American studio titles (Dazed & Confused, Thelma And Louise, Days Of Heaven). " - Bill Ackerman

"Arrow - their 4K releases really stunned me this year, especially Blood and Black Lace which didn't quite crack my top five because of the lack of inclusion of new extra features. Mario Bava's colorful palate - similar to an episode of Batman 66 - really pops here. Their Witness package makes me naively hopeful that they can nab the rights to Peter Weir's Master & Commander and finally put out a release that brings all the DVD extras over. Their release of The Last Emperor on 4K includes both the theatrical version (4K UHD) and the extended television version (HD only, which was on the original Criterion DVD but never made the leap to the Blu) in their original aspect ratios (not the reframing done by Storaro later). Dynamite work." - Drew Morton

"Kino favourite this year, closely followed by the still impressive Criterion and the excellent new addition of Radiance." - James Kemp

"Warner Archives and Kino are probably top equal. WA have had a good mix this year including westerns and noirs.
Kino are producing some great 4K releases. I especially like the foreign films they have been releasing or distributing, such as the Raro label." - BGM

"ARROW VIDEO. A near impossible task, as just about any and every boutique home video label you could mention raised the bar in 2023, but for sheer hit rate, coupled with excellent technical presentations, for me this year belongs to Arrow. Their 4K slate alone - although run close by Kino and Criterion - put them at the top." - Jim Laycock

"Kino Lorber consistently releases a multitude of great catalogue titles on 4K with superb, never disappointing transfers, great classic artwork and enjoyable commentaries." - Warren Ketter

"Kino Lorber is Tops, followed by Arrow, Indicator, Warner Archive and Criterion." - Anthony Dugandzic

"Imprint / Not every title is a masterpiece, but they tend to dig up neglected classics like 'North Dallas Sixty', 'Barfly' and the long unavailable films of Chinese master Zhang Yimou and give them attractively packaged releases with decent extras. They've sort of taken up the space once held by the now defunked Twilight Time. Worthy of special acknowledgement is their focus on delving into all the nooks and crannies of Sam Peckinpah's filmography. Their putting out the best editions of those films, and showering them with avalanches of extras. This year they started releasing box sets that spotlighted the overlooked filmographies of Hollywood actors and directors like Sidney J. Fury, Jeniffer Connely & Jessica Lange. This is great, but they need to space that stuff out. 5 box sets in 2 months is way too much. Also price remains a barrier to acquisition to non-Australian collectors. I don't have as many as I'd like, but the ones I do have always hold a place of honor in my collection." - Anton Sardelic

"Criterion. I know, basic, but they released some great editions of some great movies and the announcements for 2024 look amazing.
Runners Up: Radiance, Arrow, KL, Deaf Crocodile. Hell, I like all the boutiques." - Gabriel Neeb

"It's impossible to choose from among the many international indie labels - all have their strengths and weaknesses, though all are doing outstanding work, as are larger, more corporate entities like Kino and Warner Archive." - Stuart Galbraith IV

"Imprint - for punching so high above their weight, with so little money" - Paul Bennett

"Indicator. For the sheer variety in their releases, the consistent love and care that goes into every title and the magnificence of their boxsets." - Steve Rutt

"Indicator. Two years in a row I chose Kino, and I think that would be the safe route again except for the bold turn made by Indicator. Considering their sum total releases in 2023, I can safely say I have never seen a label wear its heart more prominently on its sleeve. Citing prevailing trends in the market at last they undertook their own 4K releases and pulled off eight in their first year - the most notable of which were six by Jean Rollin. Indicator took stock and makes a multi-year gamble: that a nuts and bolts restoration of a (niche) genre auteur's complete filmography will be greeted by a receptive market. Meanwhile the long-delayed Michael J Murphy passion project streets in January, a "half a Murphy" set worth of Ormand Family films in June, Tod Slaughter in November, and in between they even manage another Universal Noir box, a Mexican film set, and I presume there were a couple of regular discs dropped in along the way too... but plainly, the days when Indicator subsisted on churning out a lineup undergirded by licensed studio product, amazingly, seems to have passed. And yet even in the waning days of 2023 they let slip that a deal has been inked for another sixty Columbia titles (Joan Crawford, more Hammer, more Columbia Noir sets) to be released over the next seven years, so it seems we will see the best of both worlds going forward for some time." - Chris Browne

"Imprint for sheer quantity and quality. They released exactly 100 features in 2023 and so many of my favourite releases of the year were amongst them. You can sense the love that they put into what they do and I'm happy to just give everything they put out a chance.
Second Sight for sheer quality of every individual release. Their collector's sets are the best in the game and always unmissable." - Tim Leggoe

"A favourite label? Hard to choose. Criterion, of course, for the depth of their catalogue, and Kino Lorber, for the sheer volume of their output. But the Brits - Powerhouse, Second Run, Eureka! (Masters of Cinema, Eureka! Classics), Arrow Films - lead the pack with their eclecticism and quality product, often at quite reasonable prices." - Jeff Heinrich

"Mondo Macabro - The only label that I blind buy every release they put out. Their taste and ability to uncover provocative and worthwhile exploitation films is second to none.
Kino - Their output is incredible and they are very smart about how they are picking which titles to upgrade to 4K. Their sales are also great and happen frequently enough that it is easy to keep up with their titles without falling too far behind.
Fun City Editions - The best curation, or maybe just their taste most aligns with my own, but this is a label that I trust like a friend, when they put out a film I didn't previously know, it becomes imperative that I check that film out as soon as I can.
Radiance - Best new label for sure, I'm still catching up with their releases from this year but I have been very impressed with what I have seen so far and I can't wait to see what they're able to do once they start rolling out with some hits in their pocket." - Jason Overbeck

TV (on Blu-ray... or DVD or 4K UHD)

Countless TV-based entertainment came to disc this past year - mostly recent series, and Dr. Who etc., we mostly focus on older series. Here are a few that received mention in our poll (and a few made-for-TV Movies):

 

(CLICK Covers for more Information)

 

   

 

 

 

  

   

       

  

___________________________

"MAIGRET - VOLUMES 2, 3, 4 (Kino Lorber) - Georges Simenon regarded Rupert Davies as the only actor who accurately embodied his great detective character and, like the original novels, the mysteries proposed by each episode are only a format permitting an engrossing parade of unique and eccentric characters and ruminations on the human condition. The show is also a splendid showcase for all the great talents of the British stage, quota quickies of the 1930s through the 1950s, and also the Hammer films, so it's rewarding on numerous levels." - Tim Lucas

___________________________

"Colombo the 1970s. The two pilots & all 50-some episodes of Peter Falk's quintessential frumpy & brilliant detective noted for the top-notch actors playing the villains. You either love Falk as Colombo, or you don't." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

Film Noir on Blu-ray (and a few on 4K UHD)

Film noir, proto-noir, and near-noir (1938-1964) released on Blu-ray in 2023 (in alphabetical order) BIG thanks to Gregory


An Act of Murder [Blu-ray] (Michael Gordon, 1948) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Angel Face [Blu-ray] (Otto Preminger, 1952) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
Appointment with a Shadow
[Blu-ray] (Richard Carlson, 1958) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Appointment with Danger
[Blu-ray] (Lewis Allen, 1951) R0 Australia Imprint (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
Beware, My Lovely
[Blu-ray] (Harry Horner, 1952) R0 Australia Imprint
Blast of Silence [Blu-ray] (Allen Baron, 1961) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Big Knife [Blu-ray] (Robert Aldrich, 1955) Allied Vaughn (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
Blonde Ice [Blu-ray] (Jack Bernhard, 1948) Classicflix (BEAVER REVIEW)
Border Incident [Blu-ray] (Anthony Mann, 1949) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Burglar (Paul Wendkos, 1957) R0 Australia Imprint
(BEAVER REVIEW)
Caged [Blu-ray] (John Cromwell, 1950) Warner Archive
Calcutta
[Blu-ray] (John Farrow, 1947) RB UK Arrow Video (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
The Cat Creeps [Blu-ray] (Erle C. Kenton, 1946) Vinegar Syndrome Labs (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Catman of Paris [Blu-ray] (Sherman L. Lowe, 1946) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)

City of Fear [Blu-ray] (Irving Lerner, 1959) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
Clash by Night [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1952) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
Le combat dans l'ile [Blu-ray] (Alain Cavalier, 1962) Radiance US (BEAVER REVIEW)

Convicted [Blu-ray] (Henry Levin, 1950) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Damned Don't Cry [Blu-ray] (Vincent Sherman, 1950) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Dark Past [Blu-ray] (Rudolph Mate, 1948) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Desperate Hours [Blu-ray] (William Wyler, 1955) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Enforcer [Blu-ray] (Bretaigne Windust, Raoul Walsh, 1951) RB UK Signal One Entertainment (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
The Facts of Murder
[Blu-ray] (Pietro Germi, 1959) Radiance UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Female Animal (Harry Keller, 1958) RB UK Arrow Video
Flamingo Road [Blu-ray] (Michael Curtiz, 1949) Warner Archive
Flesh and Fantasy [Blu-ray] (Julien Duvivier, 1943) Vinegar Syndrome Labs (BEAVER REVIEW)
Force of Evil [Blu-ray] (Abraham Polonsky, 1948) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Girl in the Kremlin
[Blu-ray] (Russell Birdwell, 1957) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Great Gatsby [Blu-ray] (Elliott Nugent, 1949) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)
Hold Back Tomorrow
[Blu-ray] (Hugo Haas, 1955) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Human Desire [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1954) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
I Am Waiting
[Blu-ray] (Koreyoshi Kurahara, 1957) RB UK Radiance (BEAVER REVIEW)
Island of Doomed Men (Charles Barton, 1940) R0 Australia Imprint
(BEAVER REVIEW)
Jennifer (Joel Newton, 1953) R0 Australia Imprint

Johnny O'Clock [Blu-ray] (Robert Rossen, 1947) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
Joy House [Blu-ray] (Rene Clement, 1964) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Lady from Shanghai [Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1947) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Lady Gambles
[Blu-ray] (Michael Gordon, 1949) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Lady on a Train
[Blu-ray] (Charles David, 1945) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
A Lion Is in the Streets [Blu-ray] (Raoul Walsh, 1953) Warner Archive
The Long Wait
[Blu-ray] (Victor Saville, 1954) 4K UHD ClassicFlix
The Maltese Falcon [4K UHD Blu-ray] (John Huston, 1941) Warner (BEAVER REVIEW)
Man Afraid (Harry Keller, 1957)
[Blu-ray] Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Man in Half Moon Street [Blu-ray] (Ralph Murphy, 1945) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)
Mildred Pierce [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Michael Curtiz, 1945) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Mr. Wong, Detective
[Blu-ray] (William Nigh, 1938) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Night Has a Thousand Eyes [Blu-ray] (John Farrow, 1948) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Night of the Hunter [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Charles Laughton, 1955) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Night Runner
[Blu-ray] (Abner Biberman, 1957) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
One Way Street
[Blu-ray] (Hugo Fregonese, 1950) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Outrage [Blu-ray] (Ida Lupino, 1950) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Outside the Law
[Blu-ray] (Jack Arnold, 1956) RB UK Arrow Video (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
Outside the Wall
[Blu-ray] (Crane Wilbur, 1950) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Rancho Notorious
[Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1952) Warner Archive [DVD review]
Raw Wind in Eden [Blu-ray] (Richard Wilson, 1958) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Red Menace (R.G. Springsteen, 1949) R0 Australia Imprint
(BEAVER REVIEW)
Ride the Pink Horse
[Blu-ray] (Robert Montgomery, 1947) RB UK Arrow Video (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
Rio [Blu-ray] (John Brahm, 1939) Kino
Rope [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW)
Rope of Sand
[Blu-ray] (William Dieterle, 1949) R0 Australia Imprint (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
Singapore
[Blu-ray] (John Brahm, 1947) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Six Bridges to Cross
[Blu-ray] (Joseph Pevney, 1956) RB UK Arrow Video (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
The Sleeping City
[Blu-ray] (George Sherman, 1950) RB UK Arrow Video (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)

The Sniper [Blu-ray] (Edward Dmytryk, 1952) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)
Sorry, Wrong Number [Blu-ray] (Anatole Litvak, 1948) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
Spy Hunt
[Blu-ray] (George Sherman, 1950) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Step Down to Terror
[Blu-ray] (Harry Keller, 1959) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Storm Warning [Blu-ray] (Stuart Heisler, 1951) Warner Archive
The Suspect
[Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, 1945) RB UK Arrow Video (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
The Tattered Dress
[Blu-ray] (Jack Arnold, 1957) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
13 West Street
[Blu-ray] (Philip Leacock, 1962) R0 Australia Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)
Thunder on the Hill
[Blu-ray] (Douglas Sirk, 1951) RB UK Arrow Video (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
Thunder Road
[Blu-ray] (Arthur Ripley, 1958) Sandpiper Pictures
Time Out of Mind
[Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, 1947) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Touch of Evil [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1958) UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER Blu-ray COMPARISON)
The Trial [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1962) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Undercover Girl
[Blu-ray] (Joseph Pevney, 1950) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Undertow
[Blu-ray] (William Castle, 1949) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Witness in the City
[Blu-ray] (Edouard Molinaro, 1959) RB UK Radiance (BEAVER REVIEW)
A Woman's Vengeance
[Blu-ray] (Zoltan Korda, 1948) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
You and Me [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1938) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

Giallo on Blu-ray in 2023 (and on 4K UHD)

The term "giallo" (translated literally as "yellow") refers to a particular cinematic form of, mostly, Italian-produced murder mystery films that can blur the line between art and exploitation. There are new Giallo Blu-ray releases in 2023 (in chronological order) BIG thanks to Gregory!

Blood and Black Lace [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Mario Bava, 1964) Arrow UK (ALT-BLU-RAY-BEAVER REVIEW)
Naked You Die aka The Young, the Evil and the Savage
[Blu-ray] (Antonio Margheriti, 1968) RB Germany X-Rated
The Sex of Angels
[Blu-ray] (Ugo Liberatore, 1968) RB UK Malombra Films
The House That Screamed [Blu-ray] (Narciso Ibanez Serrador, 1969) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
Shadow of Death
[Blu-ray] (Javier Seto, 1969) Mondo Macabro (BEAVER REVIEW)
Cold Eyes of Fear [Blu-ray] (Enzo G. Castellari, 1971) Indicator US (BEAVER REVIEW)
Delirium
[Blu-ray] (Renato Polselli, 1972) Vinegar Syndrome
Five Women for the Killer
[Blu-ray] (Stelvio Massi, 1974) Vinegar Syndrome
The Sunday Woman [Blu-ray] (Luigi Comencini, 1975) Radiance Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Psychic [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Lucio Fulci, 1977) Severin (BEAVER Blu-ray REVIEW)
Murder Obsession [Blu-ray] (Riccardo Freda, 1981) RB Raro Video UK (BEAVER REVIEW)
A Blade in the Dark
[4K UHD Blu-ray] (Lamberto Bava, 1983) Vinegar Syndrome (ALT-BLU-RAY-BEAVER REVIEW)
Off Balance aka Phantom of Death
[Blu-ray] (Ruggero Deodato, 1988) Cauldron Films
Private Crimes
[Blu-ray] (Sergio Martino, 1993) Severin

Best Cover Designs:

Another year for impressive artistic covers whether from new inventive artists or replicas of vintage posters! Arrow, Criterion, Kino, Radiance, Mondo Macabro, Flicker Alley, Masters of Cinema, Indicator and a few other labels getting a fair share of votes. So many inventive covers, often chosen from extensive, artistic, old poster designs.

Some Steelbooks (often exclusive) were chosen, if most not enough votes to make the listing.

Many are collectable in their own right. (Mostly in alphabetical order! - each received 4 or more votes!)

 

TOP FIVE 'BEST COVER' VOTES:

(CLICK COVERS FOR MORE INFORMATION!)

 

  

       

 

Also receiving votes (in no order)

 

 

     

 

 

 

OUR BANNER CONTEST:

 

(CLICK to ENLARGE)

This year we had three prizes - Days of Heaven 4K UHD, The Day of the Locust Blu-ray and T.R. Baskin Blu-ray - and a 'trying' contest. Of the 210 films, Henrik V. remarkably got 206 correct, David H. less, and Eric C. got less again. So, Henrik, is a new winner at this contest and gets first choice of the disc prizes, David H. can pick between the remaining two and Eric C. gets the last one. Thanks to all two dozen who participated.

NOTE: One title's release date, Danza Macabra: Volume Two (#11, #12) was moved to 2024 after the banner was made.

 

1) Death of a Gunfighter
2) The Enforcer
3) The Circus
4) Accion Mutante
5) The Stud
6) The Burglar
7) Creature from the Black Lagoon
8) The Maltese Falcon
9) Sinner: Diary of a Nymphomaniac
10) The Facts of Murder
11) The Devil's Lover
12) Castle of Blood
13) That Uncertain Feeling
14) Jailhouse Wardress
15) Assignment K
16) The Day of the Locust
17) The Pianist
18) 13 West Street
19) Horrors of the Black Museum
20) Blue Rita
21) Kill Butterfly Kill
22) The Man in Half Moon Street
23) The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
24) The Burglar
25) The Burglar
26) Blast of Silence
27) Typhoon Club
28) The Monster Squad
29) Messiah of Evil
30) Count Dracula
31) Barbarella
32) Barbarella
33) Barbarella
34) Stalag 17
35) The Long Arm of the Law
36) Barbarella
37) The Fugitive
38) Godland
39) Gator
40) The Bitch
41) The Last Picture Show
42) Death Race 2000
43) American Graffiti
44) Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
45) The Food of the Gods
46) Witness
47) Pandora's Box
48) Ginger Snaps
49) Frenzy
50) Singapore
51) The Others
52) Lorna the Exorcist
53) It! The Terror from Beyond Space
54) The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock
55) From Beijing with Love
56) Ghost Dog
57) The Dark Power
58) Fascination
59) Beast from Haunted Cave
60) La Bamba
61) Beach of the War Gods
62) Alien Outlaw
63) The Desperate Hours
64) Cry, the Beloved Country
65) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
66) Rosemary's Baby
67) The House by the Cemetery
68) Story of a Cloistered Nun
69) India Song
70) The Dead Mother
71) Bride of Frankenstein
72) The Wicker Man
73) Zombie Holocaust
74) The Train
75) Tenebre
76) Picadilly
77) Moonage Daydream
78) The Girl from Rio
79) Carlito's Way
80) The Misfits
81) Interrogation
82) Santo vs Infernal Men
83) The Trial
84) Fatal Femmes
85) Blood and Black Lace
86) The Mummy
87) Magnum Cop
88) The Postman Fights Back
89) Hustle & Flow
90) A Day in the Country (Partie de Campagne)
91) The Witch
92) Elvira: Mistress of the Dark
93) Gregory's Girl
94) The Princess Bride
95) The Black Circle
96) Taxi Hunter
97) The Spanish Dancer
98) The Rape of the Vampire
99) The Rape of the Vampire
100) The Life of Emile Zola
101) The Sensual World of Black Emanuelle
102) The Night of the Hunted
103) Jagged Edge
104) The Exorcist
105) Double Life of Veronique
106) Return of Swamp Thing
107) Gorgo
108) Elizabeth
109) Black Magic Rites
110) Love and Larceny
111) The Skyhawk
112) Weird Science
113) Unman, Wittering and Zigo
114) Enter the Dragon
115) Strangers in the House
116) The War of the Worlds
117) The Black Pirate
118) The Tall T
119) The Iron Perfect
120) Gloria
121) Human Desire
122) Hatchet for the Honeymoon
123) Upgrade
124) Triple Cross
125) Cold Eyes of Fear
126) Angel Face
127) The Manchurian Candidate
128) The Manchurian Candidate
129) Red Sun
130) Black Pit of Dr. M
131) The Catman of Paris
132) Black Pit of Dr. M
133) Bus Riley's Back in Town
134) For a Few Dollars More
135) Wish You Were Here
136) American Flyers
137) The Nutty Professor
138) Joy House
139) Lady Frankenstein
140) Lady Frankenstein
141) The Monster of the Opera
142) Petite Maman
143) The Bride Wore Black
144) Shanghai Joe
145) The Longest Yard
146) Branded to Kill
147) Branded to Kill
148) Branded to Kill
149) Picnic at Hanging Rock
150) Morgiana
151) Anna May Wong Collection
152) Two Orphan Vampires
153) The Shiver of the Vampires
154) The Seventh Seal
155) 12 Angry Men
156) Frankenstein: The True Story
157) The Maltese Falcon
158) The Maltese Falcon
159) EO
160) The Whip and the Body
161) The Five Days
162) The Man Who Fell to Earth
163) Lucky Jordan
164) Lucky Jordan
165) Lucky Jordan
166) Lucky Jordan
167) The Belle Starr Story
168) The Beast Must Die
169) Streets of Fire
170) Phenomena
171) Last Hurrah for Chivalry
172) No Man is an Island
173) Flamingo Road
174) The Wildcat
175) Flamingo Road
176) Flamingo Road
177) Flamingo Road
178) Mildred Pierce
179) Mildred Pierce
180) Welcome to the Dollhouse
181) I'll Cry Tomorrow
182) Asphalt
183) Secret of the Incas
184) Hell of the Living Dead
185) Shangri-La
186) Death of a Gunfighter
187) Silent Avant Garde
188) White Woman
189) The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock
190) Creature with the Atom Brain
191) The Bride Wore Black
192) The Bride Wore Black
193) Creature with the Atom Brain
194) Sorrowful Jones
195) The Enforcer
196) The Enforcer
197) The Lady from Shanghai
198) The Lady from Shanghai
199) The Dunwich Horror
200) House of Terrors
201) Imitation of Life
202) Imitation of Life
203) Magnificent Warriors
204) Lady Whirlwind & Hapkido
205) They Live
206) Together
207) Death Wish
208) Snake & Crane
209) Blood Dynasty
210) The Cat Creeps

"Reports of the death of DVD are greatly exaggerated"

 

Again, we had a few DVDs selected this year - documentaries, kickstarter, and other, silents, public domain content, older and modern TV series, soft-core?, westerns, playhouse etc, - the format is far from dead. I still have many DVDs in my 'rewatchable' shelf including The Fountainhead, Impact, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Strange Illusion, Day of the Triffids , Clean and Sober, and many more, that may never be on Blu-ray.

(CLICK COVERS FOR MORE INFORMATION!)

     

       

       

     

     

     

     

 

Comments:

 

"Edition filmmuseum, which still only produces DVDs and not Blu-rays has slowed down and only released one 2-DVD set this year, but I am impressed that they not only support German and Austrian films from almost any era, but have also released many of James Benning's 16mm films on DVD, and others from elsewhere, including Filipino, Lav Diaz's first major epic film, Batang West Side (2001), which came out last year, and which I have a copy of. Their discs can be easily ordered online" - Peter Rist

_____________
 

"1) Vogues of 1938 (United Artists, Walter Wanger, 1938) ClassicFlix, Silver Screen
2) Hey Diddle Diddle (United Artists, Andrew L. Stone, 1943) ClassicFlix, Silver Screen
Two welcome releases that may not be top-tier titles but are definitely 'nice to have'." - David Redfern

_____________
 

"An einem truben Nachmittag (Seance on a wet Afternoon 1964) Pidax" - Maggie Breitmeier 

_____________

 

1) Friends And Strangers (Grasshopper Films)
2. The Super 8 Years (Kino Lorber)
3. The Artiface Girl (Eagle Entertainment)
4. The Elephant 6 Recording Co. (Kino Lorber)
5. Subject (Kino Lorber) - Bill Ackerman

_____________

 

"I may still buy DVDs on occasion when I know there is little difference in picture quality between the DVD and Blu-ray and there is a reasonable price saving.
2nd hand DVDs may be the only way to view some titles, such as the Fox catalogue." - BGM

_____________

 

1. Illicit Behavior + Indecent Desires 4 (MVD/SkinMax)
2. Sexual Impulse + Sexual Roulette (MVD/SkinMax)
3. Midnight Obsession + Private Obsession (MVD/SkinMax)
4. Lap Dancer + Bare Exposure (MVD/SkinMax)
5. Test Tube Babies from the Year 2000 + Rebecca's Secret (MVD/SkinMax)
Full disclosure: I have not seen any of the SkinMax DVD releases, but surely these are the only DVDs worthy of the precious real estate on one's media shelf?" - Elijah Drenner

_____________

 

1. The Bedford Incident (Harris) [Umbrella Entertainment]
2. Life With Father (Curtiz) [ClassicFlix]
3. Vogues of 1938 (Cummings) [ClassicFlix]
4. Trade Winds (Garnett) [ClassicFlix] - Anthony Dugandzic

_____________

 

1. The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (MPI)
2. Succession - The Complete Series (Warner Home Video/HBO)
3. Dear Mr. Brody (Greenwich)
4. The Man in the Basement (Greenwich)
5. Close to Vermeer (Kino Lorber)
"One of the great things about the DVD revolution was that, in the releasing of complete series boxed sets of old TV shows, many of these programs found new appreciative audiences. Like Leave It to Beaver (more progressive and truthful than many imagined) and the original version of Dragnet (far more innovative than most realized), The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, far from reflecting conservative '50s values (as Beaver was likewise imagined), viewers discovered one of the more subversive sitcoms of its time. Succession is one of many fine new dramas now available, and the latter are a mix of two great documentaries and a French drama you'll not want to miss. " - Stuart Galbraith IV

_____________

 

"Bonanza (The Official Complete Series) Now I can keep up with the Bonanas for Bonaza podcast even if I lose my wifi.
The only other DVD acquisition worth talking about from 2023 is the DVD I bought of Raquel Welch's 1970 TV special Raquel! She sings. She dances. She visits a orphanage with John Wayne. She walks around Paris while she sings cover songs. They don't make TV like this anymore and it's kind of a shame. It was a top discovery of the year but the release is surely a decade old and could not possibly be eligible for this poll." - Ryan Callahan 

_____________

 

"British Transport Films - Life on the Line - BFI The final installment in the long running series. After nearly 20 years collecting these marvellous films, I just couldn't pass this last one on by." - Steve Rutt
 

 

        

Notable Rants and Praise
Rants: "American Graffiti 4K UHD disastrous transfer with grain removal"

Praise: "Studio Canal and Criterion for steadily releasing excellent 4K UHD catalogue titles of the great movies of the 50's, 60's and 70's these past few years, making collecting physical media to upgrade previous 'lesser' transfers still very much an essential part of life." - Gerard Castelein

"If only some of my above listed favorites, Tim Lucas, Sara Imogen Smith, Troy Howarth, Kat Ellinger, Samm Deighan, etc, would put together a commentary training seminar, to teach some other commentators how it should be done. They could even bring in the elder greats like Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, De Palma, Carpenter as guest lecturers!

There are several guys who appear frequently on discs (esp from Kino) who seem to believe that watching the film without preparation, and winging / spitballing / B. S. -ing a "commentary" filled with insipid observations / speculations just repeated throughout the film, and interspersed with literally hundreds of "ya knows," is what film buffs are hoping for in a good, engaging commentary. And I'll refrain from a full -blown rant about those who think narrating what is happening on the screen is commentary. These are wasted opportunities!

The best commentators, as in any endeavor, are obviously well prepared before they sit down behind the microphone and press Play on the video machine." - George Brown

"Many thanks for your continued work on the website." - Nicky Coia

"Praise for:
Kino Lorber for getting Julie Kirgo to record commentaries again
Indicator for its exhaustive work on the Jean Rollins films
BFI for its entire Flipside series (and this year's Full Circle)
Whoever gets Kim Newman to record a commentary" - Nick Garlick

"Praise for the sheer volume of first-rate releases we've been getting this year. But rant for the fact my wallet and spare time can't keep up with it all!
Thanks and keep up the great work over at DVD Beaver."- David Brook

"Studios not doing even the bare minimum : Disney locking the Fox catalogue, Sony slowing down licenses, Warner being out of reach of pretty much everyone except Criterion, Universal sitting on tons of restorations, Paramount fudging a third of their releases one way or another. If they won't or don't want to do stuff properly themselves : they can let indie labels do it, there are dozens around the world who would be happy to release those movies and would do a better job at it more often than not.
In 2023, it's absolutely unbelievable to still see subpar Blu-ray encodes. Yet, we still do, be it through studios releases or indie labels (including very premium ones - yes : Criterion), despite Blu-ray being a 15 years old format. Several encoding houses can do absolutely fine encodes : labels/studios should either go with those instead of whoever they're using, or go back to the encoding house and get them to do a proper job they should have been mastering for a long time now.
UHD, while a newer format, already is 7 years old now and obviously, if a 15 years old less challenging technology isn't mastered, UHD encodes also have their share of issues.
While the industry made fudged-with restorations rarer and rarer, it is frustrating to see new tools being used on a handful of restorations to create new ways for restorations to be fudged with (because it seems some people think movie restoration is perfect to try new digital tools like shiny toys). Picnic at Hanging Rock has been a 2023 pinnacle of this, worryingly kind of inaugurating what is best described as a forgery of a restoration (with all the organic 35mm filmic texture having been replaced by a digital fake grain emulation that isn't even able to feel real - I wouldn't have caught it otherwise), but which has been accompanied already by a few
UHDs sourced from AI-upscaled fake-grained 2K masters that shouldn't have been used for UHDs. Hopefully, it won't be a lasting trend, but any single one movie "restored" this way is one too many already."
Praise :
We're absolutely spoiled by physical releases, especially from indie labels, and though yes, the market overall has been decreasing in sales for 15 years (yes : 15), the activity in number of releases probably has never been that high, reminding people that the market isn't dead, but also that there are soooooo many movies to be watching and releases to look for outside of the usual big studio release of the year. Please do. Please be curious. Please spread your purchases outside of the predictable top 10 sellers.
While I liked Criterion's encodes to change for the better, a development I'm liking from them is how they've opened up their releases to a whole array of movies that were in their blind spot before. It took some time (and a NYT op-ed) for this to appear, and while I wish mainstream medias (and even some specialized ones) would stop writing "Best this or that" list as if Criterion was the only label releasing these movies on video, I do think people having negatively responded to this opening are missing out on great movies because of their own personal prejudices, and that a larger part of cinema being explored is just that : a larger part of cinema being explored. And it's wonderful to be exposed to this larger part."- Remy Pignatiello

"Shout out to Walter Chaw, Kim Newman, and Toby Roan, the other contributors whose presence on a disc can compel purchase." - Ryan Callahan

"Physical media still matters. Many people say that streaming is better, but I definitely have to disagree. Once a 4K, Blu-ray or DVD is in your hands, then it's yours permanently. With streaming, you don't have that luxury nor security." - David Hollingsworth

"Rant - well not a rant but a suggestion that the year end poll for DVDBeaver stops at releases to November 30th of the year? Todd Haynes' The Velvet Underground' for example was released for the home market on Boxing Day 2022, and I doubt anyone other than me will think of listing this superlative documentary for this year's list. And although Wajda's War Trilogy was among the Top Ten box sets of 2022, I wonder how many who listed it, actually watched it, as it was only released mid- December 2022? I mention this because, although every year I have made it a point to sing the praises of Second Run, I found their Blu-ray transfer of 'Ashes & Diamonds' underwhelming. The Arrow Academy Blu-ray edition from 10 years prior was much better." - Billy Bang

"2023 feels like the last hurrah for buying physical media in corporate retail spots with Best Buy eliminating Blu-rays from their sales floor, which is kind of a bummer because I do occasionally enjoy hunting down their Steelbook 4K releases, when the art is unique and preferable to the main release. I'm not sure if those editions will continue to be available on their website, I guess only time will tell. Barnes and Noble has likewise been eliminating their blu ray titles every year, with my local stores having now a sliver of what they previously carried. Whenever a new Criterion sale happens at Barnes and Noble, I visit the shop and I'm disappointed by how badly the selection has been gutted. I wonder if that sale will cease in 2024? I don't want to sound down the on medium, my passion for physical media grows at a pace that exceeds my functional storage for them, but any time it gets harder to shop for these little discs, it pushes them further into niche." - Jason Overbecki

"...I'd say, overall, that the number of releases scanned from the original negatives seemed to have increased this past year, which is great. By the way, you left two high-profile 4K releases off your master list (unless I missed them)... the 4K LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK and the 4K PUMPKINHEAD -- I included them on my list regardless. I think you also may have missed this month's Kino release of THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (did a com. for that). By the way, talk about doing hard work that nobody ever checks out... I did a FIVE HOUR COMMENTARY for Imprint's Blu-ray release of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. Not a single review so far! Oh well... at least I got some decent bucks for that astonishing amount of research and performance. Then there was the debacle of the COLUMBO extras that were killed... really sad. Personally, I enjoy being diverse with my various audio chats... 12 ANGRY MEN one minute, THE TRUTH ABOUT SPRING with Hayley Mills the next. Just did three noirs for Kino, including the rarely-seen Edward G. Robinson gem BLACK TUESDAY. In any event, keep up the good work, my friend!" - Gary Gerani

"I have found that I'm now more drawn to comprehensive box sets (unlikely to stream anywhere and especially not as a group). Indicator and Severin are really tops in this regard and I'm much more inclined to purchase a big set rather than individual titles. While many of these sets are expensive, sales and third-party sellers can bring those prices down considerably... but that usually means that I don't get to watch these until a year or two after release. Some of these sets hold only marginal or 'academic' interest for me, so purchasing, watching and then reselling them allows me to recoup those expensive prices. It's my new form of video rentals." - Bill McAlpine

"Just some conversational remarks: The four Cohen Rivettes are major for me, especially Up, Down, Fragile. (I have an original French lobby poster of it framed on my wall, one of my favorite films of his.) Finally, Rivette is starting to get just exposure, even though some Blu-rays have fallen OOP. I feel the Pasolini '60s set is a big deal, because to me that is the period that shows his true genius, his work with environments and actors and his formal and conceptual grasp. The early von Trier box looks great but I wish it included Medea. Apparently, Severin's Blood for Dracula only includes a 4K - am I wrong? I'm not getting it because my viewing is too small to warrant a 4K UHD player, but I have that Australian Blu-ray which is okay. Glad for The Trial, Love Letters, A Lion Is in the Street and Helen of Troy. I'm with everybody, Munchasen and After Hours deserve Blu-rays. To me, the '50s is what's left to mine Losey, The Sleeping Tiger and The Gypsy and the Gentleman are unnoticed masterpieces. I'd sooner re-watch those than The Servant; that's great but, personally speaking, I don't know if I need more than one viewing. I noticed it got a 4K. Aren't we owed a re-issue for VCI's The Prowler, long OOP?
Oh, yes, Elvira Madigan is a great part of the '60s to me. I don't know the other films in the Widerberg Criterion box. Duras is one of the half dozen or so leading '70s directors for me. I feel a career box set makes more sense than the two films, but how many people are going to put out the money for that if it's a blind buy? Since Icarus has a Le Navire Night DVD, I definitely feel Song and Baxter are great representative choices." - Peter Henne

"If only some of my above listed favorites, Tim Lucas, Sara Imogen Smith, Troy Howarth, Kat Ellinger, Samm Deighan, etc, would put together a commentary training seminar, to teach some other commentators how it should be done. They could even bring in the elder greats like Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, De Palma, Carpenter as guest lecturers!
There are several guys who appear frequently on discs (esp from Kino) who seem to believe that watching the film without preparation, and winging / spitballing / B. S. -ing a "commentary" filled with insipid observations / speculations just repeated throughout the film, and interspersed with literally hundreds of "ya knows," is what film buffs are hoping for in a good, engaging commentary. And I'll refrain from a full -blown rant about those who think narrating what is happening on the screen is commentary. These are wasted opportunities!
The best commentators, as in any endeavor, are obviously well prepared before they sit down behind the microphone and press Play on the video machine." - George Brown

"Secret of the Incas (Kino) - I nominate this as the WORST commentary. The person doing the commentary just flat out leaves when the movie still has about a half hour left and what commentary he does is just IMDB recital ("now on screen is this person who was in this film, this other film, and that film") " - Nicholas Diak

"With so many fantastic films yet to make their debut in hi-def, I'm so grateful for the labels prioritising getting so many overlooked and underreleased gems out on Blu-ray at all. Especially at a time when there is growing pressure to pivot to UHD. So shout out to labels like Radiance, Eureka, Second Run, BFI, Powerhouse (and others) who consistently bring us interesting films that may never be commercially viable on an expensive format like UHD. By introducing these films to new audiences and providing existing fans the chance to own them, they are making a great contribution to film culture and history.

Of course I can understand those labels who are re-releasing much of their back catalogue on 4K commercially. Especially with certain collectors hungry for the best possible editions of their favourite films and guaranteed to double dip in order to upgrade to the highest pixel count. But it is especially frustrating when you get blatant duplications of existing Blu-ray editions down to the box art, sometimes even less comprehensive versions of still in print releases, or worst yet when a label is sitting on rights and not even releasing any version of a film at all. Yes Criterion Collection and Arrow are certainly the worst offenders here.

I'm used to hearing about these popular releases help finance more obscure ones eventually but it seems like popular releases are increasingly dominating big boutique labels' release slates while lesser known films are decreasing. So I can't help but wish more resources were put in to unique releases rather than duplicating films with already strong physical media representation. Physical media's popularity in light of streaming is a great thing and we can afford to rebalance priorities slightly. I have hope that the many passionate people working for boutique labels can continue to do this in 2024 and beyond." - Lewis

"In this golden age of boutique releases and skyrocketing prices, it's damn near impossible to keep up, let alone know when to take a gamble on a release. Much thanks to Gary for keeping the lights on at DVDBeaver and making it easier for all us movie maniacs out there." - Walker Roberts

"Another great year for film as well as for DVDBeaver as usual. Thanks for being the go to physical media film site and for covering such an extensive range of the year's releases in forensic detail!" - Lewis

"With all of the cinematographers and directors from the Film Noir era being long gone, I am troubled that a lot of current digital transfers and "restorations" cater to what people expect these black and white films to look like, rather than what audiences of the time saw on 35mm prints. For example, Warner Bros. noirs were less dark and less contrasty than, say, RKOs, but Blu-ray WB Archive transfers, e.g., of The Big Sleep are in my opinion, too dark, lacking their full grey range. My mentor, William K. Everson used to call this film and The Maltese Falcon, films gris, not in subject matter, but in their look. I find that the Masters of Cinema Blu-ray disc of Double Indemnity is closer to what I remember the film looked like than the Criterion version (based on your stills) with Paramount's John Seitz very subtle mastery of daytime lighting, including the shadows cast from Venetian blinds, not being high contrast black and white but rendered in varied tones of grey. Conversely some digital transfers lighten up the image, so that older DVDs of The Big Combo better represent the fully-noir black shadows of John Alton's highly expressive key lighting (without any bright, fill lighting) than the most recent Blu-ray transfer. Whoever is responsible these days (probably not experts of cinematography) for digitally changing the image of a film, should screen a print or two first." - Peter Rist

"The volatile economic situation is very much apparent with the sad loss this year of Olive Films and Network. Collectors are the poorer for their demise.
The 2-disc case that houses Criterion's Tod Browning's Sideshow Shockers is a real pain. Trying to prise out one disc without scratching is beyond reason
Gave Eureka's Pandora's Box a wide berth as encoding problems were reported.

Praise
Despite the precarious state of the physical disc market and rumours of its demise, boutique labels continue to rise to the challenge.
ClassicFlix are to release much improved restorations of Our Town and Meet John Doe.
Meanwhile, Warner Archive Collection is releasing the long unseen German version of Garbo's first talkie, Anna Christie.
There is still much out there for the discerning collector. Long may this continue." - David Redfern

"* Press and pundits to stop talking about the death of physical media. Film watchers still want independence from streamers, want to view films at 24fps and want to hold their purchases in their hand. I have recently sold a great deal of collectible Laserdiscs and VHS cassettes, which gives me hope that film viewing will evolve in similar ways to the Vinyl Revival.
* Disc supplements that repeat content rather than compliment each other. There have been a few releases this year with booklets that copy the content delivered onscreen on disc extras. A bit more care with curation.
* Death of British Independent Cinema - There is real concern in the filmmaking community on these shores that the government-backed B.F.I. funding is selecting films that tick boxes rather than seeking out filmmakers with authentic voices. UK independent film companies are floundering (and folding) under the weight of systematic cuts and withdrawal from European film funds due to Brexit. Low-to-middle budget feature films are disappearing from production and it will need a combination of a Labour Government and a more inclusive, less satisfied, less middle-class control of film funding to remedy this.

Praise:
* DVDBeaver - Gary and the team still provide the backbone of my film watching. Thank you for your excellent service for us old buffs.
* Those physical media traders that continue to collect and service the Disc community. Here in Brighton, England, there are three locations where you can buy, sell and discuss physical media releases. Special praise to Richard at Stop, Look & Listen, who has traced long forgotten discs for me, but also to Timeslip & Hunky Dory whose enthusiasm for film burns bright." - Neil Williams

"Praise to Imprint and Severin for their box set curation, Arrow for their Limited Edition 4Ks, Radiance for arriving on the scene fully formed, and Powerhouse for shining a light on the odd corners of cinema. Rants to Shout Factory and Criterion for putting out new 4ks of movies it feels like they just released. Double rant to Shout for not having the JFK theatrical cut in 4K." - Ryan Callahan

"THE DORIS WISHMAN COLLECTION (2022)and THE FLESH TRILOGY (AGFA) - When these movies first became available through the auspices of Something Weird Video some 30 years ago, they were objects of arcane mythology, so it was an inconceivable and mind-blowing privilege. Now it feels the same way to see them as restored as any other movies under the sun. With the grunge washed away, only the most sincere grunge remains - and we can begin, especially in the case of the Michael Findlay FLESH films, to appreciate their invention, humor, and daring (especially when the director risks his own neck to fight with another actor on the back of a moving flatbed truck!)." - Tim Lucas

"Rant and Praise: Warner Bros. really needs to treat their domestic consumers with the same care as their international ones - these sets like The Exorcist that have all the features on the physical discs internationally and only on digital domestically are hugely disappointing despite the top notch treatment of their transfers. Also, I'm growing weary of the phenomenon of distributors releasing remastered Blus with 4K transfers, radio silence, and then a 4K announcement 12-18 months later (looking at you Paramount, and to a lesser extent Shout and Arrow). I've gotten to the point where I'm going to sit back and wait so I don't get burned by a double-dip upgrade, especially with Paramount. But I'm also a little raw about that The Dead Zone upgrade with a new commentary less than two years after the Blu!" - Drew Morton

"This year, the retreat of big box stores like Best Buy/Walmart in the States and even a dedicated retailer in HMV scaling back their shelf space in favour of merchandise/vinyl fuelled the debate around the death of home video in many circles.
But to my eyes, the sheer number of labels, putting out high quality, lovingly presented editions of films new and old tells a different story. Home video is in the right hands and the fact the format has escaped the auspices of accountants and purchasing employees is a good thing. Let them talk about something else, with all the passion and enthusiasm of a plumber fixing a blocked toilet...
What a year it was for 4K UHD. Without exaggeration there were nearer 100 releases that deserved a mention.
The big studio output varied in quality, as ever, but when done right, they knocked it out of the park, as sell out success of Oppenheimer attested. There were lots of brilliant catalogue releases too, with the likes of Rosemary's Baby, East of Eden and Titanic.
On the cult side of things, Vinegar Syndrome/OCN continued to blaze trails and hit new heights. Severin leveled up with several incredible 4K releases - personal favourite being a definitive, restored edition of The Last Horror Film. Mondo Macabro's release of Dr Caligari was one of my favourite first time watches of the year. Scream Factory's Creepshow was another 10/10.
The rate at which Arrow, Criterion and Kino were putting out bucket list 4K titles was jaw dropping. Aside from the titles mentioned in my ballot, The Warriors (!?), The Night of the Hunter (!?!), After Hours (?!??)... 2023 will be very hard to top.
In the UK, Indicator stayed on course and put out many great releases. Their Jean Rollin series on
4K UHD stated their commitment to utilising the format, their way. I can't wait to see what they do with The Iron Rose. The just announced Oz-sploitation 4K series is very exciting. Radiance put down a marker with their first year and love that they have adopted the OCN Partner Label model to cast their net even wider.
Special mentions too for BFI for some brilliant treatments of British cult/curio items, Third Window and their Directors Company series, as well as Treasured Films, who are definitely on my radar for 2024." - Jim Laycock

"It was an honor to work on the bluray release of The Pack, which is not only a favorite of mine, but an important movie in dogsploitation and eco-horror"

"Curating the features and weaving together the oral history audio commentary with people who worked on the film was an absolute treat - this is for The Day of the Locust Blu-ray release, which was just wonderful to work on."

"Favorite release of 2023: Looney Tunes Collector's Choice Volume 1" - Lee Gambin

"Rant
Not overly keen that some 4K releases are not accompanied by a Blu-ray, or if there is one it is the old master. Great to have a Blu-ray on hand if watching on another TV or at another place.
There seems to be bit of a reissue campaign going on with the only difference being a new cover design.
Would like to see more releases which have not made it onto disc before, but appreciate the labels are limited in what they can do here.
Normal complaint about Disney and the Fox catalogue. There are a number of noirs I would love to see on Blu-ray. How can a family friendly studio like Disney not support film preservation.

Praise
It is reassuring that most of the main studios are still involved with physical media and releasing some wonderful discs.
Great to see some new labels pop up and I am certainly interested in the output of Radiance Films, who are producing quality releases. Look forward to their World Noir boxset which I probably will not receive until next year.
2024 looks to be another great year. Who ever would have thought films like Scarlet Street, Meet John Doe, and The Roaring Twenties would be having 4K releases. I have been waiting ages just for The Roaring Twenties to come out on Blu-ray.
Labels that show original movie art work on their covers." - BGM

"The new "restoration" of Pandora's Box from Eureka/MOC is a real disappointment with a very smudged, over-processed look. Others at Nitrateville and elsewhere have documented the restoration errors. Thanks to Gary for adding those comments to his review. None of the bonus materials have subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. This makes the voice-over portions of the bonus material unhearable. The fancy book is nice but its contents can't hold a candle to the amazing essays in the Criterion DVD set...particularly Kenneth Tynan's long "The Girl in the Black Helmet." I went to EBAY and purchased a used copy of the Criterion set after viewing the Eureka/MOC release. Gary's screen captures from the Criterion DVD set look better to me than those from the Eureka/MOC Blu-ray set. I contacted Criterion and found out there are no immediate plans to upgrade their edition to Blu ray.
The problem of "missing" SDH subtitles on bonus materials continues with the lovely new Blu-ray of the The Last Picture Show from Criterion and the new Blu-ray restoration of The Johnstown Flood (1926). The latter title, particularly, relies on voice-overs to explain the special effects. Without SDH subtitles, the mediocre audio makes comprehension nearly impossible. This combination of poor audio--often made worse by the speaker wearing a mask--and no SDH subtitles happens too often.
Kudos to Milestone for the extensive print supplemental material available for THE EDGE OF THE WORLD and THE SPANISH DANCER.
The Cohen Blu-ray of THE THREE MUSKETEERS and THE IRON MASK creates some mixed feelings. The Film Preservation Society put out a superior restoration of the silent THE THREE MUSKETEERS just last year with a much more colorful horse. ;-) " - David T. Steere Jr.

"THE FRENCH CONNECTION. Reports of Criterion Channel using a censored version is the best argument for physical media so far this year. If they don't respond their brand is hurt. And man, that this happened just before Friedkin's death is haunting.

Warner Brother's decision to release classic titles in 4K but without any of the extras and trying to make up for it with AWFUL cover art has to be one of the most tone deaf moves since removing the "HBO" from "HBOMax."

I enjoyed NO HARD FEELINGS, but when the end credits rolled, a prompt for Main Menu and Extra appeared. Seriously? If I want those I can find them myself.

Anyone else bummed about Best Buy? Misery loves company...

Was LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 4K reprinted? If it did, it came and went so fast a lot of us missed it.

Hot off the Presses: the Shout! Factory edition of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA is going OOP. That's just to prep a great 4K edition, right?

Now that we're finally getting James Cameron's oeuvre- still waiting on STRANGE DAY- what do we have to wonder about? Peter Jackson's works? Let's start asking for those! And THE DEVILS by Ken Russell.

Disney finally released some shows on disc. Bummed about the paucity of extras but I'm glad they're here.

Now if they could just work out a deal with KinoLorber to get their catalog titles on disc, they'd probably become a physical media favorite.

Although I'm troubled by a Warners-Paramount merger, the idea of Warner Archive getting a chance to release titles from Paramount's (and since they own them, Miramax) vault is a delicious thought.

This applies more to 2024, but this one is a long time coming. Years ago, when Fran Simone was with Arrow, he mentioned he'd scored a license to a title he though he'd NEVER get. I always wondered what he meant... now with The Warriors and CONAN THE BARBARIAN in the offing, I have an idea of what he was talking about. Congratulations Fran, and looking forwar to Radiance in 2024." - Gabriel Neeb

"Huge compliments to all the independent labels that continued to release interesting and attractive titles this year. Congratulations to Radiance Films for completing a stellar first year of releases, particularly in the third and fourth quarters when the box sets came along in all their majesty. I participated in their 1/2 year purchase scheme and while the original layout drained the bank account, this slipped from the memory with the monthly arrival of their splendidly packaged wonders landing on the doorstep.
It was another terrific year from Second Run with their slate or new titles and upgrades, proof that quality over quantity is an honourable policy that ensures extremely high standards are maintained. Also, a round of applause to the two significant labels here in Australia for another great year. Imprint continue to storm the market with their humongous monthly releases, while Umbrella have taken the cue & refocused themselves again with high end boutique label packaging and quality international releases. A shame though that as part of this make way, they let go of their burgeoning Sunburnt Screen collection of Aussie gems.
Not really a rant, but an observation that the re-release of titles into 4K does seem to stem the tide somewhat for a few labels. Criterion seems to have slowed down their DVD upgrades in favour of blu to 4K and with the exception of the Tod Browning set this year, eschewed golden era Hollywood for most of the year. Hopefully next year's slate that already includes the Roaring Twenties and the Devil and Daniel Webster are a sign of a homecoming. A similar criticism on variety can apply to Eureka's Masters of Cinema series where strong as they were, fewer titles this year were from outside of Asian cinema. I'm not certain whether the well is drying, or Asian cinema is such an endless money-spinner.
Saddest story in the industry this year was the demise of Network. As an archive TV fan, they were truly committed to the cause & created excellent supplementary content right from the beginning of the DVD era. A shame that just when they were creating new material supporting their British Film & classic tv upgrade releases, they sank overnight leaving a gaping hole in the market for finely curated British film and television. Hopefully, others (and Imprint certainly are with their television line) can claim the reins." - Steve Rutt

"The French company The Jokers could be more serious about grain, and leave it be, please !!!" - Istvan Ribardiere

"As a Canadian resident, I am frustrated by how few of the country's films make it to Blu-ray disc; so, hats off to CIP, based in the U.S., who distribute through Vinegar Syndrome - as do a number of other smaller outfits, including a great little Hong Kong based disc producer, Kani Releasing: I am looking forward to getting Laurence Au's Spacked Out (KANI012) and Kong Dashan's Journey to the West (KANI 015), next year." - Peter Rist

"Alexandra Heller-Nicholas' - Consistently the best commentaries, essays and video Essays!
Tony Stella's artwork - so good!
Kat Ellinger's contributions across the board!
All the other contributors whose work goes unpraised or unreviewed - thanks for everything you do keeping the physical media industry alive! It is appreciated." - Fletch Buster

"Rant and Praise: The withdrawal of BestBuy from physical media will allow Amazon to gouge consumers to all new levels! If you're not already aware, even though "Free Shipping" is listed as a benefit of paying for an Amazon Prime Membership, do the math, you, me and all of us are being over-charged for shipping on top of paying full retail pricing on titles that should be given a pre-order discount! Amazon has been employing a "Dynamic" pricing algorithm, much like Ticketmaster, which punishes anyone ordering anything before release date. I don't imagine this year's rant will be printed, as I know all those links at the top of the page end up in the same place that accounts for one of your revenue streams, but hey, you did ask for it, and they sure do deserve it!" - Warren Ketter

"My biggest praise goes out to all of the boutique labels that bring us deep catalog titles that would never see the light of day!" - Mark Fry

"This is the first year I struggled to provide a list of top 10 Blu-ray releases for 2023, as the format was overshadowed by so many great 4K titles that came out this year (I could of easily provided a top 30 list of 4k releases for 2023). What a great problem to have for physical media collectors!" - Matt Lianza

"Having read that the British release of Beau is Afraid may have been pre-cut, I opted for the French 4K disc. I do find it surprising if (for instance) a penetration shot was rated 15 in Britain, but that's by no means the most remarkable aspect of the film. The first section, set in a nightmare urban environment, I believe to be the finest cinematic case of comedy of paranoia I've ever seen-wildly funny and disturbing, and so crowded with visual gags that even after two viewings I'm sure there are more to discover. The narrative then turns picaresque as Beau (an astonishing performance by Joaquin Phoenix, surely worthy of awards) attempts to make his way home to mother. Each section is prefaced with a loss of consciousness, a highly suggestive device. Echoes and omens abound, and at one point Beau foresees his own fate on a security monitor doubling as a domestic television; even the nature of time is untrustworthy here, along with everything he encounters. While his subsequent adventures are less horribly comical than the urban episode, dark humour is never far away, sometimes even within the same shot as the tragic. The whole glorious three hours are a supremely disturbing experience.
Writer-director Ari Aster says he regards all his work as comedy, in an interview (available online) associated with a season of films he curated at Lincoln Center as context to Beau is Afraid. Tati's Playtime is there to prove it, and I find two other selections especially meaningful. He sees The Birds as a projection of the mother's fears about her son, and Beau can certainly be read that way. He cites A Matter of Life and Death as giving him the idea of a tribunal, but how significant is it that it takes place in the afterlife? Perhaps the whole film is a vision experienced in the womb that precedes the credits and to which the narrative ultimately returns. More viewings, more insights and interpretations, and the film may prove inexhaustible. I mustn't forget to mention that the
UHD image looks magnificent - important in a film so visually detailed. A thesis might be written on the decor alone, let alone the meanings of the film. I look forward to experiencing it again." - Ramsey Campbell

"The pricing of some releases (studio released 4Ks even; steelbook or no soup for you!) is slowly advancing toward the plateau we experienced with LD in the 1990s. I don't relish going there again with the chronically weak yen and (permanently?) inflated international shipping costs (pre-covid I didn't realize how good I had it). Praise for Radiance films: Fran's approach to "open source" title suggestions, supplements (if you can find it, perhaps they can license it), participants ("I know a guy, who knows this guy, who knows something about...") and a frank 2023 postmortem of the top 10 would-have-been releases and WHY they didn't happen! Completely responsive and unabashedly art-house, the subscription plan makes it the Yang to VinSyns... err... Yin?" - Chris Browne

"Another stellar year by Kino Lorber, serving up several bona fide classic American films from the 40's thru 80's released onto the 4K format (I could've easily listed 4 or 5 of them among my Top 10 4K releases of 2023), in addition to every conceivable film genre in history, including 3-D. And just about all of their new releases come with commentary tracks, adorned with attractive slipcover designs. And they offer several sales annually with hundreds of titles at very affordable prices. An unbeatable combination!
Although Indicator didn't have quite as strong a showing as in prior years, their stellar lineup nonetheless consisted of a number of boxsets devoted to forgotten figures in cinema. They're among best when it comes to exposing these obscure bits of film history to a larger audience. Additionally, this past year saw them dive head-first into the library of Jean Rollin, with six 4K releases taken from the most pristine materials possible, and loaded with extras. They remain a Top 5 physical media distributor, easily.
It was a particularly strong year for Studio Canal (UK), with a few 4K Steelbook editions of key British films of the 70's, along with a quintet of important films made by European female directors (Kira Muratova and Muriel Box). Speaking of which, it was great to finally see Ida Lupino's "
Outrage" debut on Blu-ray stateside (Kino Lorber).
Warner Archive continues to impress, with a steady output of 4 or 5 films per month, and just about all of them making their debut on the Blu-ray format. The team of Warner Brothers and MPI take great care in utilizing the absolute best archival materials available (routinely undertaking 4K scans from the original camera negatives). As is, the discs are often revelations. However, if they ever ventured into the 4K format, WA discs would be jaw-droppingly good. They're another one of my Top 5 physical media distributors.
As for the most pleasant surprise of the 2023 calendar year? That would have to be the emergence of Radiance Films as a serious boutique label, specializing in undervalued world cinema, most notably Italian films. It was a challenge to limit my Top 10 lists to just a single Radiance boxset (Commedia all'italiana/Risi); I could have easily included their "World Noir: Volume 1," "The End of Civilization: Three Films by Piotr Szulkin," "Cosa Nostra: Franco Nero in Three Mafia Tales by Damiano Damiani," and Petri's "The Working Class Goes to Heaven." I would love to see this label acquire the rights to Bertolucci's "The Spider's Stratagem" and Scola's "We All Loved Each Other So Much." Francesco Simeoni & Co. would do those films justice.
Another great development was seeing Curzon (formerly Artificial Eye) delve into deluxe Directors' Boxsets: Wenders (late 2022), von Trier, Kieslowski and Ostlund. Hopefully they can continue the trend in 2024.
There are quite a number of labels that place a premium on packaging, with those at the forefront being Indicator, Second Sight, Imprint, Severin, Vinegar Syndrome, et al. But it's hard to surpass what Arrow has been accomplishing on this front. They are the "Kings of Boxsets" packaging, seemingly issuing one deluxe set a month. They're yet another of my Top 5 physical media distributors.
Auteur Roundup: A wealth of films from iconoclasts, far and wide....Welles, Browning, Zulawski, Rollin, von Trier, Wenders, Kieslowski, Bogdanovich, Roeg, Boetticher, Risi, Moodysson, Cronenberg, Frankenheimer, Friedkin, Romero, Pollack, Weir, Hawks, Muratova, Box, Duras, Widerberg, Losey, Hooper, Hill and Greenaway.
The End of an Era: Best Buy no longer stocking or even selling physical media. This means no more awesome Steelbook Edition designs. Theirs are still some of the most attractive covers in my entire library. What a shame!
FOMO-enting Anxiety: How Slipcovers Alter Our Spending Habits! The fear of missing out on slipcovers has never been more prevalent than this past year. In order to retain some money to put food on the table at the end of the month, might be a good idea to pick and choose your spots with obtaining titles right out of the gate.
Getting scalped! Anybody else miss out on those Oppenheimer 4K Steelbook editions worldwide, only to see eBay merchants pop up online within hours offering several copies at 2x to 5x their MSRP? Yeah.....I hate them, too!
It's great to see so many boutique labels not only doing well within their limited target audience of rabid collectors, but also the corresponding "independent" online shopping alternatives to the Amazon juggernaut. Places like DiabolikDVD, Grindhouse, GRUV, Deep Discount, Hamilton Books, Oldies, Barnes & Noble, etc. need to be supported, especially when their prices can be as competitive (and not just during sales); moreover, they VALUE your custom. Amazon is the Death Star!
All this is a declaration, yet again, that it was a stellar year in the world of physical media. My list of potential candidates exceeded 100 for the first time since I began partaking in these year-end polls. It never gets old to say this, but we are living in the "Golden Age" of movie collecting!

2024 Wish List for Blu-ray & 4K UHD:

Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick) 4K
Barry Lyndon (Kubrick) 4K
A.I. (Spielberg) 4K
Petulia (Lester) Blu-ray/4K
Playtime (Tati) 4K
City of Sadness (Hsiao-hsien) Blu-ray
The Crowd (Vidor) Blu-ray
The Fountainhead (Vidor) Blu-ray/4K
Greed (von Stroheim) Blu-ray
The Horse Thief (Zhuangzhuang) Blu-ray
The Spirit of the Beehive (Erice) Blu-ray
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid/The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah) 4K
The Searchers (Ford) 4K
L'Avventura/L'Eclisse/Blow Up (Antonioni) 4K
The Thin Red Line/The Tree of Life (Malick) 4K
Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (Paradjanov) Blu-ray
Blue Velvet (Lynch) 4K
Los Olvidados/Nazarin (Bunuel) Blu-ray
Seven Men From Now (Boetticher) Blu-ray
Une Femme Douce/Four Nights of a Dreamer (Bresson) Blu-ray
The Spider's Stratagem (Bertolucci) Blu-ray
Earth (Dovzhenko) Blu-ray" - Anthony Dugandzic

"As both a reviewer and one who occasionally creates audio commentary tracks, I'd like to address what, it seems to me, to be a great decline in first-rate commentary tracks. During the laserdisc era, from which this particular extra feature first arose, I'd argue that about 95% of commentary tracks were at least very, very good and many were outstanding, monuments to the films they covered. It was the era of people like Ron Haver, Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert, Donald Richie, Michael Jeck, Bruce Eder and so many others. Reliably fascinating, informative, and entertaining, these laser-era commentaries were a major selling point, and those of us old enough to remember them will recall that we couldn't wait to rush home and listen to them.

But in the last few years, in my view, everything has reversed: 95% of new commentaries on Blu-ray and elsewhere are at best perfunctory, flat-out awful at worst. Why is this so? Nearly all home video labels nowadays budget a tiny fraction for special features compared to 30 years ago. When a label invites me to create an audio commentary track, I warn them I typically spend 100-150 hours doing original research, writing a complete script (usually 35,000 or more words), time everything out, record, and edit the track. At a very modest $10/hour for a 125-hour job that comes out to $1250, yet most labels currently pay way less than minimum wage, less than what I made working at Burger King in 1978.

The result is there are far-fewer authoritative, definitive commentary tracks on the level of an Ebert, Richie, or Haver, and instead they're now mostly "watch parties," the undercompensated commentator attempting to make his low wage work by "winging it," speaking extemporarily. I can think of maybe two people - Mike Schlesinger and the late Donald Richie - able to speak off the cuff about a film running simultaneously for two hours and do a fabulous job. I certainly couldn't do it. So even the qualified writers and cinema historians almost always come off badly. They might know their stuff, but the tracks are generally dull and not very informative with little organization or depth, and rarely any original research.

Worse are the growing number of insufferable self-styled experts, "film historians" who, in willing to work for next to nothing, drive rates down for the more qualified, and whose tracks are rarely more than gossip, shameless name-dropping, and overly familiar, often apocryphal anecdotes and disinformation. I've seen some of these people brag on social media about how many dozens of tracks they've completed within a single year, a sure sign that none of them are any good.

There are still a handful of commentators delivering reliably excellent work, among them Tom Weaver, Tim Lucas, Paul Scrabo, the aforementioned Mike Schlesinger and a few others, but it's time for both labels and commentators to consider what's important here. " - Stuart Galbraith IV

"For me, the two most impressive releases that I bought this year are Oppenheimer and Soundies.
Soundies is a truly impressive passion project by all involved." - Bill Migicovsky

"Wasteful commentaries by guys & gals who talk too fast, shower you with facts that anyone can get from IMDb, have no personal or real insight that isn't leaned from gossip columns, or who try to teach you while betraying themselves with condescending tones." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

"Praise to Flicker Alley and Radiance which had an exceptional year! Rant against Kino Lorber for not including Commentaries on their Columbo box set." - Douglas C Head

"Masters of Cinema - unconditional praise for the quality of their releases this year, not a dud amongst them and probably the highest hit rate of anyone. Just a little rant that there was nowhere near enough of them!
Umbrella Entertainment's Limited Edition boxes and bundles may be pretty expensive, but they are uniformly great if you love the specific film getting the deluxe treatment." - Tim Leggoe

"Another amazing year, here in the UK. Biggest impression from a single label has to be Radiance, hands down, whose output I have been thoroughly excited by and so far has been a breath of fresh air in almost every respect; choice of titles, encodes, extras, artwork, packaging, interaction with audience. They're certainly setting the bar when it comes to most key elements of operating a boutique label, on these shores at least!

Still, all the usual suspects are keeping the spirit alive as well, with stalwarts Eureka, Indicator, Arrow, Second Run, BFI, Second Sight, Third Window and 88 Films all coming out with some excellent surprises and incredibly well-considered editions covering a surprising amount of ground. One thing you can't accuse any of these labels is skimping on effort, and the passion for their output is evident with every single title they put out.

My favourite additions this year from each label are as follows: Eureka with spaghetti westerns, various Toei titles, Pandora's Box (finally!) and a brilliant Zulawski box set (never thought I'd see the day); Indicator also with their first spaghetti western, some Mexican rarities, Hollywood and pre-Code classics, more Noir, and some Ozploitation scheduled for the New Year; Arrow strong-arming me into importing (Witness, The Warriors) and covering nearly every popular 'cult film' niche with various box sets (Psycho, Bruce Lee, Noir, Spaghetti Westerns, Japanese exploitation) and single titles (Blackhat, The Lighthouse, Naked Lunch, The Last Emperor, The Sisters Brothers, The House That Screamed); Second Run pushing out consistent gems, this year's highlights being The Cassandra Cat, Twilight, and their Skolimowski set; BFI also chiming in with some Skolimowski, as well as Ozu, Renoir, Bogdanovich and even Ken Russell; Second Sight maintaining their tendency to upgrade previous hits (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Changeling) and introduce some long-requested new ones (Martin, It Follows, Chopper), with their 2024 starting off with a bang (Mean Streets, Dead Man's Shoes, and a little film called The Hitcher); Third Window pushing out more contemporary Japanese cinema as usual, but also delivering some neglected corners of the recent past, this year covering The Director's Company (can't wait to discover more in the new year); and lastly I'm particularly grateful for 88 Films filling in some gaps for me, including Bava, Michael Mann, and various strands of Hong Kong action cinema!

Of course most of these labels are dipping into the 4K UHD territory, and it's interesting to see which directions each of them take with it. Especially curious is Criterion's relaunch in the UK, going full steam ahead with the 4K titles (and I was especially grateful to finally get hold of After Hours and One False Move this year, with Thelma & Louise and Lone Star scheduled for early 2024), albeit dropping from the previous three to just two titles per month...hopefully things work out and they build it back up again." - Ben Keeler

"*Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman do excellent commentaries together. However, I wish they'd stop continually interrupting each other.
*Kino's Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema has been a fantastic series. While there honestly hasn't been a lot of classic film noir included, what classic noir there has been has often been new to disk and excellently obscure. The series has been filled-out with arcane and entertaining crime films from the 40's and 50's which likely would have never seen the light of day otherwise. Hopefully, this series will continue for a very long time!
*When oh when will Paramount release Donovan's Reef on Blu-ray?! I fear that I will grow old and die before this ever comes out. This is an inexplicable situation, also. With John Wayne and Lee Marvin together, it would seem to have all the makings of a commercial winner.
*Criterion is alleged to sit on titles for interminable years on end. We'll all be dead by the time some of their titles are released on Blu-ray. There's no denying that Criterion does excellent work. Their output this year has been superb, putting out titles like Freaks, After Hours and One False Move for the first time on both Blu-ray and 4K UHD. And while it's understandable that Criterion needs to be run like a business, it is still so disappointing that so many of their titles have never progressed beyond DVD. My fantasy would be for Criterion to lose all of their licenses, so that a company like Kino Lorber could step in and release the entire shooting match on Blu-ray within a matter of a year or two.
* There are far too many films that have come out in Criterion Blu-ray editions during past few years that have been quickly regurgitated by Criterion into 4K UHD. Criterion also continues to make it pretty obvious that their new selections each month are often based on the race, gender or sexual orientation of the filmmakers and/or actors, rather than on whether a movie is a classic which has stood the test of time. Each and every one of Criterion's selections have indisputably good movies. And I've made many blind buys and have ended up enjoying them. However, it would be nice if Criterion viewed these films through a historic prism rather than as some contemporary flavor-of-the-month. It certainly appears that Criterion has largely abandoned classic Hollywood and classic Japan in lieu of modern, countercultural material.
This trend wouldn't be that bad if Criterion didn't produce so few new films each month. However, with only a handful of selections to choose from each month, this ongoing trend has become discouraging.
Having vented my complaints now, I profess to be eagerly looking forward to The Devil and Daniel Webster and the Roaring Twenties.
*In 2023, so many films that could have been selected for release by Criterion have languished for yet another year:
Adam's Rib,
The Alamo,
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore,
The Bad Sleep Well,
Ball of Fire,
La Bete Humaine,
Big Deal On Madonna Street,
The Big Sky,
Bondu Saved From Drowning,
Bringing Out The Dead,
Le Deuxieme Souffle,
D.O.A.
Drunken Angel,
Les Enfants Terribles,
Fallen Idol,
49th Parallel,
Green For Danger,
Gunga Din,
Hobson's Choice,
I Know Where I'm Going,
I Walked With a Zombie,
Knife In The Water,
The Lovers,
Miracle at Morgan Creek,
Mr. Arkadin,
Murmur of the Heart,
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,
Pepe le Moko,
Red Beard,
Ruggles of Red Gap,
Salvatore Giuliano,
Samurai Rebellion,
The Search,
The Seventh Victim,
Shoot the Piano Player,
Small Back Room,
The Spirit of the Beehive,
Stray Dog,
The Thief of Baghdad,
Thieves Highway,
Trouble In Paradise,
Unfaithfully Yours,
Winchester '73,
Wise Blood,
Z,
And dozens of classic Japanese films.
*Neither a rant nor praise - DVD Beaver might consider a special category each year for media that comes out in December of the previous year. I'd guess that very often people don't have a chance to watch many December releases before submitting their inputs to this poll." - Gary Slatus

"The proportion of quality image gain in 4K over Blu-ray is far less than the amount of gain of Blu-ray over DVD. This is due less to the bigger area offering more detail than to the limitation of the original film to have more detail to display.
I've yet to get a 4K player because my old Plasma is still running although showing its age with a couple of print-like scratches running down the far right side of the image, outside the range of 1.37:1 films but definitely marring the super wide screen. It does have its nostalgic aspect of course & one states little at the far right of the screen. Once my 51-inch Samsung Plasma evaporates into the great pixel paradise I plan to replace with an 65-inch LG OLED.
My main consideration about 4K is that Blu-ray at 4-5 feet on a 51-inch TV continues to impress me while I have to make mental adjustments & lower expectations when viewing one of the DVDs that comprise 10% of my collection vs. the 90% which is Blu-ray. I cannot believe that such a large part of my collection will ever be in 4K at least in my lifetime, nor do I wish to view most of my collection as if going home from a theatrical movie to see something else on TV." - Sahlan Simon Cherpitel

"I think we are currently living through a golden age of physical media collecting, with multiple labels, big and small, searching deep and wide to source and package an eye watering array of specialty films and collections. Long may it continue, and long may DVDBeaver help us all sort out the gems from the also-rans!" - James Kemp

"The worst releases this year (and there were very few dreadful releases), were transfers wrecked by their directors. "Director Approved" can, occasionally, be a disaster. Following on from the botched "Coppola-approved" Godfathers from last year:
- Second Sight's degrained Picnic at Hanging Rock. Peter Weir wrecked this. All the other Peter Weir releases this year (The Last Wave, Witness and The Truman Show) were untampered with. Thus, this was especially disappointing.
- Universal's American Graffiti. This most degrained 4K release ever. Because of George Lucas. As bad as the legendary Terminator 2 4K UHD. Not the fault of Universal, because they know how to master 4K UHD classics (see all the Spielberg 4K UHD titles). It's George Lucas' fault.
- And Warner Bros. USA really screwed up the cover art for the few classic films they released this year on 4K UHD, for their 100-year anniversary. Cover art is not as important, compared to the video and audio presentation, but - for Chrissakes - people from the US were buying the UK The Exorcist, in order to avoid the ghastly US cover. Ditto for The Color Purple. The UK versions of The Maltese Falcon and Rio Bravo were also markedly better than the US versions. Why? Who is responsible for the cover art for Warner Bros. US physical media? 13-year-olds?" - Kevin Sunde Oppegaard

"- Prices seem to be going up - how can we continue to support physical media?
- Labels releasing multiple versions of the same film (eg. The Last Picture Show) when so many good films haven't been issued on blu ray yet (Lone Star coming soon finally!)" - Geoff Dubois

"Hi you might not count this because I don't buy new films but I did get a couple silent films I really liked this year
"The Johnstown Flood 1926 restoration
Maine Films 1919 to 1921 was a Kickstarter I backed" - Lawrence Eddy

"I'm not dead!" To borrow a Monty Python line, one part of the entertainment industry that hasn't expired is home video on disc. Sure, sales of physical media have been declining for the last 20 years as more and more people stream studio content, but consumers in the biggest market, the U.S., still spend over $1 billion annually on digital discs (about two out every three of those are DVDs; the rest are Blu-rays and 4K UHDs). So I laugh when people say, incredulously: "You still have a DVD player?!" To (mis)quote Python again, this parrot has definitely not ceased to be. And DVDBeaver's annual poll is proof that we - reviewers and collectors and film aficionados all - continue to get the last laugh." - Jeff Heinrich

Join us for the conversations on Social Media!:

      

and help a fellow physical media advocate out with some pocket change each month:

Best to us all in 2024!

 

 

Hit Counter