Holiday Gift Guide 2019: Blu-ray gifts for film fanatics

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Big Trouble In Little China: Steelbook, Lithograph and Green Vinyl Edition

It took a while, but John Carpenter has finally become the rock star he’s always wanted to be: his movies and scores are being rediscovered by a new audience, and that audience is heavily into collectibles. Shout Factory has been giving his films the special-edition treatment for a while now, finally rolling out his magnificently goofy kung-fu adventure Big Trouble In Little China this month in a jam-packed special edition – which is available from the label in a limited exclusive bundle with a vivid lithograph of the steelbook art and a 7” green vinyl single of the re-recorded main title theme, because what the hell.

$51.98 (USD), Blu-ray, shoutfactory.com

Godzilla: The Showa Era Films, 1954 – 1975

The Criterion Collection’s admiration for the King Of The Monsters goes back a long, long way; the highbrow label had been negotiating a box set of Toho’s seminal monster movies back in their laserdisc days. It was worth the wait: Criterion’s glorious, oversized package is a celebration of kaiju cool, assembling 15 features on eight discs with copious special features – including the original Japanese cut of King Kong Vs. Godzilla, never before available to western audiences – and commentaries. Also, you can put it on the shelf next to last year’s Ingmar Bergman box to see if they fight.

$209.98, Blu-ray, unobstructedview.com

Ida Lupino Filmmaker Collection

People don’t talk enough about Ida Lupino, even after a comprehensive TIFF retrospective a couple of years back and a growing sense that the actor-turned-filmmaker was one of the most interesting talents to come out of the Hollywood studio system, bringing a woman’s perspective to film noir. Kino Lorber’s boxed set aims to fix that, offering new restorations of four of Lupino’s features – Not Wanted, Never Fear, The Hitch-Hiker and The Bigamist – all supplemented with audio commentaries (by women!) and a glossy booklet reprinting a 1980 essay by the late Ronnie Scheib. Sadly missing is Lupino’s shattering 1950 drama Outrage, which remains unavailable in North America, but hopefully that’ll be available by next Christmas.

$87.98, Blu-ray, unobstructedview.com

The Anne Bancroft Collection 

Ida Lupino’s not the only woman getting her own boxed set this year. Mixing previously released titles (Don’t Bother To Knock, The Miracle Worker, The Graduate, To Be Or Not To Be and her sole effort as a writer-director, Fatso) with new-to-Blu editions of The Pumpkin Eater, Norman Jewison’s Agnes Of God and David Jones’s 84 Charing Cross Road, Shout Select’s eight-disc omnibus spans 35 years in the beloved Bancroft’s career – and serves as a reminder of her versatility and her enduring intelligence. Buy it for that relative who’s been moaning that they don’t make movies like they used to.

$79.98, Blu-ray, Bay Street Video (1172 Bay) and Sonic Boom (215 Spadina). Available December 10.

The Fly Collection

Let’s be honest: only one of the Fly movies is any good, and it’s the one David Cronenberg made in 1986 with Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. And it’s not just good, it’s great. But 20th Century Fox made three Fly movies before that, and there’s Chris Walas’s disappointing The Fly II on the other side, so clearly there’s something about the whole human-insect hybridization thing that resonates and you probably have a weird friend who would really like to have this spanking-new Scream Factory set on his shelf.

$79.98, Blu-ray, Bay Street Video (1172 Bay) and Sonic Boom (215 Spadina). Available December 10.

POPSTAR: Never Stop Never Stopping Steelbook

Shout Factory’s reissue of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping doesn’t really add anything to The Lonely Island’s genius musical mockumentary – all the special features, including the killer audio commentary from creator/stars Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer – were produced for Universal’s original 2016 disc – but it does enclose its Blu-ray in a gorgeous, ridiculous steelbook case featuring Conner4Real torching a giant bee with a flamethrower. It’s a gift for the ages, especially if you start singing the Michael Bolton hook from Incredible Thoughts while the recipient unwraps the package.

$29.98, Blu-ray, Bay Street Video (1172 Bay) and Sonic Boom (215 Spadina).

Twin Peaks: From Z To A

You might want to check to make sure the David Lynch enthusiast in your life hasn’t already pre-order CBS/Paramount’s comprehensive Blu-ray box – limited to just 25,000 pieces – includes all three seasons of the cult television series and Lynch’s 1992 prequel Fire Walk With Me, as well as a 4K disc that presents the series pilot and The Return’s stunning eighth episode (the one with the woodsman) in ultra high-def. Also included are most of the special features produced for previous releases (including the trove of deleted scenes known as The Missing Pieces), a new interview with Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee, a selection of art cards and a little figure of Laura Palmer kissing Agent Cooper in the Red Room. 

$170, Blu-ray/4K, Bay Street Video (1172 Bay) and Sonic Boom (215 Spadina). Available December 10.

Anna And The Apocalypse

Looking for a great new holiday tradition? Here’s a Christmas movie where the dead walk and the living sing, forcing a teenager (Ella Hunt) and a few of her classmates to form a rescue party and save their friends (and her custodian father) who’ve barricaded themselves in the school. With or without the soundtrack CD, it’s a perfect stocking stuffer – and we’re not just saying that because VVS pull-quoted NOW’s review for the box art. Honestly. 

$32.99, Blu-ray, Bay Street Video (1172 Bay) and Sonic Boom (215 Spadina)

@normwilner

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