When we asked some of our employees/pop culture experts to give us their Half-Year 2014 Top 5 Lists, a few people waxed poetic on why they chose their particular favorites. Here is what three Shout! Factory people had to say about their picks.
Antonio L. (Production Department)
Top 5 Favorite Home Video Releases of 2014 (So Far)
Who says physical media is dead? Certainly not us, and you agree (see here)! 2014 is shaping up to be another impressive year for Blu-ray and DVD, with releases fans have been pining for for years. It's hard to believe that 2014 is already halfway over, and with that, I look back at my five favorite releases of the last six months:
5. Fargo (Remastered)
Release Date: April 1, 2014
It was no surprise that this mid-90s classic would get re-released in anticipation of the FX TV series (seriously, if you haven't seen the show, it is a must!), but rather than just offering a rehash of the previous Blu-ray, MGM stepped up and offered a brand new video transfer. The results are amazing and made for a perfect refresher course right before the TV show debuted.
4. Power Rangers Legacy Collection: The First 20 Seasons
Release Date: January 2, 2014
Studio: Shout! Factory
I was just a precocious, young lad when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted in the early 90s. I ate this show up every day after school, my hunger for more episodes unsatiated, always wanting more, more, MORE! And now I can watch it whenever I want. This impressive set boasts 98 DVDs, the prize jewel being a bonus disc exclusive to this set, and it comes housed in a massive, collectible Red Ranger helmet! Now, if you'll excuse me, it's morphin time… The world isn't gonna save itself.
Format: Blu-ray 3D, Blu-Ray, DVD
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Studio: Warner Bros.
My de facto favorite film from last year gets the Blu-ray treatment it deserves! The video, audio and 3D presentations all pop. The 3D Blu-ray is the best way to see this film outside of the theater. As great as the movie is, the real treat is in the bonus features that go in-depth into the making of the movie. My favorite bonus feature is the short film that serves as a companion piece. It focuses on the Inuit fisherman Sandra Bullock's character inadvertently makes contact with. It's simply a great Blu-ray that I will watch over and over again.
2. The Visitor
Format: Blu-ray, DVD
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Don't ask me to explain the plot to this film. I'm not even sure there was one. But if you want to see a crazy, bonkers, experimental film with an amazing ‘70s techno score, The Visitor is for you! Where else can you see John Huston descend a never-ending staircase, a little girl get all creepy in a house of mirrors, or even Lance Henriksen do battle with a room full of birds? This movie makes no sense, and it definitely falls into the "it's so bad, it's good" category. The bonus feature in which Lance Henriksen essentially insults the film is shockingly honest; I'm surprised it made it onto the Blu-ray at all!
1. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Format: Blu-ray, DVD
Release Date: January 21, 2014
A who's who of comedy legends. A three-hour slapstick comedy caper. A director at the top of his game. A Hollywood icon in his second-to-last film. For all these reasons and many more, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is one of my favorite films of all time, and it's a film I've seen numerous times over the years. I had heard that several versions of the movie existed at one time or another since its release, each one incorporating a different number of deleted scenes. It seemed unlikely that the original version of the film would ever resurface. And then: Criterion to the rescue! While the original version wasn't included in this packed special edition Blu-ray, the most complete version to date is available, restoring scenes not seen in over 50 years. Watching the new version was like watching the movie again for the first time, being treated to new scenes and finding new details in the ones I had seen many, many, many, many times. Hands down, my favorite release of the first six months of 2014.
Top 5 Home Video Release I'm Looking Forward To For The Rest Of 2014
But what of the next six months? Surely there are great titles coming out then? Boy howdy! There are soooo many great home video releases coming in the second half of 2014, it's hard to pick only five.
5. Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
A childhood favorite film of mine, I am ecstatic that Disney is finally releasing this on Blu-ray. I had seen it in HD years ago on various VOD services, so to finally be able to own a tangible version of this film in HD makes me want to dance around with clothes that have come to life.
4. Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery
Release Date: July 29, 2014
With three unsatisfactory releases since 2001, fans have had to wait a long time for a definitive edition of this show on home video. Finally, the long wait is over! The entire series (including both versions of the Pilot) has been remastered in HD, and both the movie and the fabled deleted scenes are available. This is the set we die-hard fans have been waiting for, and it is truly complete now.
3. Batman: The Complete Series
Release Date: Unknown
Studio: Warner Bros.
There have been several Batman TV series throughout the years, but the Holy Grail has never been released. I'm speaking of the 1960s show starring Adam West and Burt Ward. It has been one of the most-wanted releases throughout the years, but it has never been made available due to complicated rights issues. But it appears all has been cleared up, as this holiday season we're finally getting the entire show. Fingers crossed that the show will also get a Blu-ray release.
2. Halloween: The Complete Collection
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Studio: Anchor Bay/Shout! Factory
It seemed almost impossible this release would ever happen. After all, the rights to the all the movies are spread across four different movie studios. But Anchor Bay and Shout! Factory laugh in the face of adversity, and together they have pulled off the impossible. Oh, and it will also feature the home video PREMIERE of the Producer's Cut of Halloween 6, a film that had only circulated amongst fanboys on low-quality VHS for decades. Every Halloween film, ever, in one collection. Squee!
1. The Wonder Years: The Complete Series
Release Date: Unknown
2014 has made the impossible happen with Batman and Halloween, so why not toss in one more for good measure? I'm talking about the TV show NO ONE thought would ever be on DVD… The Wonder Years! Everyone thought this would never happen due to the massive amount of music that would have to be cleared for licensing. Indeed, the show has been available on streaming services for a while, but there were many key songs replaced, including the iconic Joe Cocker-sung theme song. But it sounds like Time Life is doing it right. They've secured the rights to the theme song, and while they most likely won't get licenses for all the music, it sounds like they will get most of it. Outstanding. Now, hurry up and take my money already!
Elisa L. (Royalties Department)
Top 5 Shows to Help You Survive the Dreaded Fall Hiatus
Having Vampire Diaries/Supernatural/American Horror Story withdrawals? Look no further than WGN’s Salem, a historical fiction drama series inspired by the real Salem witch trials in Puritan-dominated colonial Massachusetts in the 17th century. Starring Janet Montgomery and a very rugged and long-haired Shane West (swoooon!), the characters find themselves in the middle of an epic romance as Puritan witch hunts engulf the town in hysteria, horror and despair.
2. Girl Meets World
‘90s kids, rejoice! Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel reprise their roles as Corey and Topanga in the Boy Meets World series sequel, Girl Meets World. Set in New York City, the series follows Cory and Topanga Matthews' daughter, Riley (Rowan Blanchard), and her best friend, Maya (Sabrina Carpenter), as they navigate the challenges of life as they start 7th grade. The new Disney Channel series looks promising (only 1 episode in!) thanks to original Boy Meets World producer, Michael Jacobs, who promises many cameos from the original cast throughout the upcoming episodes. …MR. FEENY!...FEE-HEE-HEE-HEENAY!...FEENY! …Too early for the Feeny call?
For the single, mid-late 20s bar rat comes Undateable, starring the hilarious comedian Chris D’Elia as Danny Burton, a 30-year-old Casanova who has good luck getting women into bed, yet is unable or unwilling to form a lasting commitment with any of them. Hilarity ensues as the series follows ladies’ man Danny and his roommate, sensitive bar owner, Justin (Brent Morin), as they attempt to date around Detroit while frequently being harassed by their friends/bar regulars.
4. Hollywood Game Night
Hosted by Jane Lynch, Hollywood Game Night features two teams of four players each (consisting of three celebrities and one contestant) playing a series of games. The celebrities play for a chance to win $10,000 for a charity of their choice, while civilian players compete for the right to win $25,000. Honestly, where else can you see the most random array of celebrities getting drunk together and playing charades? Pure TV gold.
5. Playing House
Created by and starring Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair, comes Playing House, a USA original series inspired by their real-life friendship. When single mother-to-be Maggie (Parham) ends her marriage upon discovering her husband's affair with a woman online, she turns to her best friend Emma (St. Clair) for support. In order to help Maggie in her time of need, Emma gives up her successful business in China to return to their hometown of Pinebrook, and help her best friend raise her unborn baby. Crude and hilarious, yet surprisingly heartfelt, the two friends find themselves in some sticky situations while having awkward run-ins with past high school lovers and various town locals. Think Workaholics meets Modern Family.
Sarah D. (Publicity Department)
Top Five Films (So Far) You May Have Missed in 2014
1. Jodorowsky’s Dune
The story of the most famous movie never made. Even if you aren’t familiar with Dune or Alejandro Jodorowsky’s work, anyone who loves movies should see this fascinating portrait of Jodorowsky attempt to create a big-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert's seminal science fiction novel Dune. While I had initially expected this film to be depressing, it is instead a joyous celebration of the creative spirit; invigorating and exhilarating, a beautifully told tale of Jodorowsky’s passion for art and the creative process.
2. Someone You Love
Fans of Leonard Cohen, take note! Someone You Love is the story of a Danish rock star who returns to his homeland for a creative re-boot after decades of living in Los Angeles, only to have his sojourn interrupted by his estranged daughter and her son. Beautifully shot with a stirring original score, Someone You Love is a heartfelt family drama that manages to overcome the clichés so often employed in telling this type of story.
3. The Raid 2
Picking up from right where the first film ends, The Raid 2 follows Rama as he goes undercover to infiltrate the ranks of a ruthless Jakarta crime syndicate and root out police corruption. Unrelentingly and inventively brutal, the film is stylishly shot and boasts some of the best fight choreography (not to mention editing) I’ve ever seen.
4. Under The Skin
A cinematic experience that is uniquely unsettling. Scarlett Johansson plays a woman of unknown origin who combs the highway in search of men, luring a succession of lost souls into an otherworldly lair. They are seduced, stripped of their humanity, and never heard from again. Eerily atmospheric, this examination of some of humanity’s most primal fears is at times both downright disturbing and yet deeply emotionally resonant.
5. The Final Member
While many great cities boast of their museums, only one city — Husavik, Iceland — can brag about a museum devoted exclusively to the study of male genitalia. The Icelandic Phallological Museum has everything in its collection from the petite field mouse to the colossal sperm whale, but is missing the most sought-after exhibition: a human specimen. A captivating and hilarious, this documentary (yes, documentary) follows two potential donors, an Icelander and an American, in their race to be the first to donate their ‘member'. The film could’ve taken a lurid, mocking, approach to the material, but instead is a charming and relatable story about personal legacies and achieving one’s goals in life.