Hello there! Garrett here for the Nerd Mentality and I’d like to talk a bit about some excellent Blu-ray releases from 2017. I consider this past year to be one of the best years for physical releases. In recent memory, I cannot think of a time when so many films came out that I just had to have in my collection. Maybe you feel the same way. Before you check out my Top Blu-ray picks for 2017, you can also see what I awarded last year.
With so much stuff coming out, it is so hard to keep track of everything and perhaps some great stuff slipped past your attention. I’d like to take a moment to shine the spotlight on a few releases that I loved and think you might too. Or at least maybe this list will help you take a second look if you passed them by before. All releases will be Region A unless otherwise stated. As a note, this list will be spoiler free for those who have not already viewed the films. So without further ado (and in no particular order), I present my Top Blu-ray Picks for 2017.
Suspiria Steelbook – Synapse
Dario Argento’s thrilling masterpiece is finally released in a 4k restoration with amazing colors and a bombastic audio overload. The picture quality on this release of Suspiria has launched it all the way up to my top favorites to watch on Blu-ray. The nightmarish hues and eerie glows have never looked better. Every fan of Giallo (or really just film in general) must have this transfer in their collection. The special features are interesting and worth checking out and it comes with the soundtrack CD. Even at the MSRP of $50, you can’t go wrong with this release. There might be a regular release in the works at some point in the future for those who don’t want the Steelbook and soundtrack, but I couldn’t wait.
Twin Peaks A Limited Event Series – CBS/Paramount
If you frequent the site you already know how I feel about Twin Peaks. Basically, I think this series will be looked back upon as one of greatest shows of all time. The abundance of atmosphere, the psychologically rich characterizations, and the unforgettable soundtrack all connect to be a surreal and yet truly human combination. Some original fans may be put off by the seriously dark and at times avant-garde way of telling the story but this is a straight, unfiltered look through the creative minds of David Lynch and Mark Frost. I couldn’t be happier with Showtime allowing them to tell the stories the way they wanted to tell them. This box set has a unique DigiPack case and over 6 hours of behind the scenes footage for a glimpse of what it was like to shoot the 18 episodes. Twin Peaks is a must-have release.
Barry Lyndon – Criterion
You might get tired of hearing me say “best” but what can you expect from THE master of cinema, Stanley Kubrick. Criterion took what I consider to be the greatest period piece of all time and have released the definitive version for home media. The original release had absolutely no special features, so of course, the fine folks at Criterion give us an entire Blu-ray disc filled with special features alone. Not to mention the film is its original aspect ratio. Fans of classic cinema will enjoy the deep dive into this restoration. You can read all my thoughts here from my original review.
Stalker – Criterion
Criterion really spoiled us this year. Stalker is one of the greatest philosophical sci-fi movies ever made. This restoration is quite simply breathtaking. If you have ever seen Stalker in any other format you will have to see it again with this new remaster. It’s a challenging film and one that major studios would never attempt to make these days. While it would have been great to have more in-depth special features it’s hard to really use it as a negative when there are still some solid special features here. You are buying this for the film itself and it’s never looked or sounded better.
The Handmaiden – Artifical Eye
My favorite film of 2016 was finally released on Blu-ray in 2017. Unfortunately, in the U.S. it was released with incorrect subtitles and an edited version of the film. Thankfully the distributor Artificial Eye released both cuts of the movie with the correct subtitle colorization. Going all region is a slippery slope (because you will want to buy everything) but it’s well worth it for your collection. Just let that wallet scream. So while this version needs a Region B capable player it’s certainly worth picking up the version that Park Chan-wook created. The picture and audio quality is spectacular on this release.
Ice Cream Man – Vinegar Syndrome
Vinegar Syndrome deserves more love. They are one of the top working distributors in the business, but your average shopper has probably never heard of them. Sure it might be because they release films like Ice Cream Man (or the 70’s porn Babyface from Alex deRenzy). Their releases are always top notch in the transfer department and typically have nicely done special features as well. Vin Syn has become one of my favorite distributors in the last couple years because they release little known but interesting movies.
Ice Cream Man is a film I had owned on DVD. Clint Howard is a psychotic scooper of frozen treats and horrors because of his childhood experiences. While that may not win any Oscars for writing it’s certainly damn fine entertainment and no one does exploitation better than Vinegar Syndrome. The film looks gorgeous and one of the special features is the Monstervision edition with Joe Bob Briggs. Fun stuff and highly recommended.
Re-Animator – Arrow Video
Hopefully, everyone has seen Re-Animator by now. It’s a classic horror comedy that warrants repeat viewing. The performances are lots of fun and Arrow has put a great package together with loads of special features. You can read about exactly what is included in the official review and why you should buy this version here.
Hana-Bi – Film Movement
Hana-Bi, or Fireworks as it is known in the U.S., is easily my favorite older film that I just got around to watching in 2017. It gave me a new appreciation for Takeshi Kitano (and boy did I go off the deep end with ordering his other works). There is such a precise visual storytelling in the film. It is a marriage of painted art, emotion, violence and humor. It’s so sad that Kitano was not really taken seriously as a director/actor until he won the Golden Lion award for this film. His performance is perfect. Even though he rarely speaks lines there is so much to interpret in his actions and body language. I feel that I cannot praise this film enough and every fan of movies needs to see it. Film Movement did a great job with the transfer.
The Ghoul – Arrow Video
The Ghoul is a film I knew nothing about and I probably would have continued to be unaware of its existence if we had not received a copy to review here at the Nerd Mentality offices. Boy am I glad Arrow decided to release it, as I fell in love with the film. It’s a great script with a conceptual complexity that very few modern films play with. If you’d like to read more of my thoughts please check out my review here.
Rat Fink (Lost for 50 years) – Retromedia
Fred Olen Ray’s label Retromedia puts out quite a bit of classic horror and some oddball T & A titles. Rat Fink is a movie from 1965 where the film negative was destroyed in a fire. It was considered lost for 50 years until a print was discovered and a 2K master was made. It’s so interesting to see lost treasures like this (much like Private Property in 2016).
It’s worth checking out, especially if you are interested in films from that era. I don’t know if the main actor’s career would be any different if more people had seen the film (tragically he died in a plane crash a few years later) but there are quite a few elements that really work. At the very least it is an interesting entry in the history of film and should be seen by more people. I’m so happy 2017 afforded me the ability to see something that very few got the chance to watch.
Brain Damage – Arrow Video
Brain Damage started me down the trail of my love for Frank Henenlotter and it’s so nice to have a bunch of his films on Blu-ray. There are so many great special features on this release and the transfer has this great blue tone that drips out of each scene. It has a fun creepy atmosphere and some great comedic moments. Arrow typically does a fantastic job on their films and this is no exception. You can read more of my thoughts here from the review.
Kiju Yoshida: Love + Anarchism – Arrow Academy
This little pink box set from Arrow Academy did exactly what I like boutique labels to do, introduce me to new filmmakers I have not experienced before. Kiju Yoshida, or Yoshishige Yoshida, is a director of the Japanese New Wave of the 60’s and 70’s. Previous to 2017 I was blissfully unaware of that movement. Thankfully we have nice HD transfers of these interesting cinematic histories to go through and learn more about. You can read more about what is included in this release in the review here. It’s a fantastic package that should be in the collections of fans of groundbreaking cinema.
Little Sister – Kino Lorber
Unlike Rich (the Nerd Mentality’s resident theatrical guru) I don’t have MoviePass and therefore cannot see everything that comes to the theater each week. Nor frankly would I want to, as much of it does not appeal to me. Most of the films I catch are ones I eventually track down on Blu-ray or streaming. However, occasionally I will only find out about them because we got a copy in to review. Little Sister is one such film. I don’t know if the concept would have appealed much to me in theory but the execution and acting were perfect and I fell in love with its charm. Little Sister is a well-made film, with a lot of heart, that is worth checking out. You can read more of my thoughts on the review here.
Brigsby Bear – Sony Pictures Classics
Brigsby Bear is one of my favorite 2017 theatrical releases. It’s fun and innocent and makes me nostalgic for my childhood and the media that shaped my interests. Sony Pictures Classics previously has done some bare bones releases, as well as dabbled in BD-R. Thankfully I am happy to announce that not only is Brigsby Bear a pressed disc but there are tons of great special features that make it worth a purchase. Rich and I even did a podcast on the film that really fleshes out our thoughts on it.
Top Blu-ray Picks for 2017 Final Thoughts:
Well folks, there you have it. My Top Blu-ray Picks for 2017! Did one (or most) of your favorites not make the list? Probably so, but because there were so many really entertaining films that came out this year it was hard to pick a top list that would appeal to everyone and still be uniquely mine. Thankfully businesses still have film lovers in mind with their physical media releases. It won’t always be that way, and perhaps streaming could take a huge chunk of the market in the very near future.
This is why I applaud distributors like Vinegar Syndrome, Arrow, and Criterion because they consistently put out the best transfers and special features in the business. Many other boutique and main distributors still respect the hardcore fan too and give us films the way that we want them. To these companies on my list, I say thank you for a great 2017 in film releases and I look forward to what you have in store for us this year.