Best Horror Blu-Rays Of 2019
Despite the supposed ‘Death of Physical Media’, horror had another great year on Blu-ray in the UK. Thanks to companies like Arrow Video, 88 Films, Second Sight and 101 Films, 2019 saw the release of several fantastic movies in special, restored collector’s editions. So many, in fact, that choosing a top 10 was surprisingly difficult.
I had to leave off many great releases, such as Arrow’s Mario Bava box set and Limited Edition of Nightbreed, and the spectacular double bill of Killer Crocodile movies from 88 Films.
Still, here’s my personal top 10 of the Blu-rays released in the UK over the last twelve months.
10. FROM BEYOND (Second Sight)
Stuart Gordon’s Lovecraft adaptation reunites much of the cast and crew of Re-Animator, in a movie simultaneously more serious and more gloopy. The disc marked the UK HD debut of the uncut version of this splatter classic, along with commentary and several featurettes.
You can buy From Beyond directly from Second Sight
9. WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (Second Sight)
Fred Walton’s well-known slasher effort isn’t a particularly great film. The opening twenty minutes are incredible, and then it spins its wheels for a while. But what makes this release so worthy is the inclusion of the sequel, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS BACK, included in HD. The sequel is a far better movie than the original, with several clever twists and creepy moments, and is the sort of film I never expected to see on blu-ray, which will be a recurring theme on this list…
You can buy When A Stranger Calls directly from Second Sight
8. PROM NIGHT (101 Films)
One of the most famous slashers hit UK blu this year in a stunningly packaged set from 101 Films. It includes several old features along with new interviews, commentaries and a thick booklet. 101 Films had a good year in 2019, emerging as a label to watch.
You can buy Prom Night directly from 101 Films HERE
7. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (Arrow Video)
Arrow Video had another terrific year in 2019, putting out at least one must-have title per month, from some of the biggest names in horror to the lowest-budget obscurities. From the former category comes a beautiful 4K restoration of John Landis’s seminal horror comedy, as funny and scary today as it was in 1981. The limited-edition is gorgeously packaged with tons of features — outtakes, commentaries, interviews and a sixty-page book.
You can buy An American Werewolf In London directly from Arrow Video HERE (LIMITED AVAILABILITY)
6. PAGANINI HORROR (88 Films)
Ripped straight from the ‘I Can’t Believe This Is On Blu-ray’ files, Paganini Horror is an absurdly entertaining late-80s Italian horror flick (see my review on Kendall Reviews a few months back). Italian horror cinema from the 70s and early 80s is well represented on disc, but the late 80s not so much. Its great to see companies putting out some of these wild efforts, and as while they may not be as good as the golden age of Italian horror, they are often fabulously entertaining, and Paganini Horror is a great example of this.
You can buy Paganini Horror directly from 88 Films HERE
5. EXORCIST III (Arrow Video)
More Arrow (to be honest, they could have their own separate top ten), and it’s one of the greatest horror films of the 90s. Exorcist III was butchered by studio interference for its initial release, and this limited edition release includes the closest we’ll ever get to seeing the director’s cut. Both versions are among the highlights of 90s horror, and in my opinion, are far better than the original film. As usual, the rest of the disc is rounded out with a bevvy of extras and features.
Exorcist III is currently SOLD OUT
4. BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW (Screenbound Pictures)
An exquisite folk-horror gem that unfairly lives in the shadow of The Wicker Man, this early 70s British horror has been released in a 4K restoration that makes the film look brand new. Incorporating all the old features of the earlier DVD (apart from the inexplicable exclusion of the Linda Hayden interview) along with a bevvy of new extras, now is the time for Blood on Satan’s Claw to find its audience. Shame the blu is so ridiculously expensive (I’ve never seen it for less than £22).
You can buy Blood On Satan’s Claw directly from Screenbound Pictures HERE
3. BLOODY TERROR: THE SHOCKING CINEMA OF NORMAN J WARREN (Indicator)
Now we’re talking. The first of two extraordinary boxsets on this list, both celebrating lesser-known horror directors, Bloody Terror showcases five films from British horror auteur Norman J Warren. Of the five, at least four are weirdo classics, from the sleazy thrills of SATAN’S SLAVE to the bonkers madness of PREY to the Argento-esque aspirations of Suspiria-homage TERROR to the sub-Alien hi-jinks of INSEMINOID. All the films have been restored in 2K, and there’s a mind-boggling array of extras (including plenty of vintage material from the 70s), making this an essential purchase for fans of the sleazier side of UK horror.
You can buy Bloody Terror directly from Powerhouse Films HERE
2. BLOOD HUNGER: THE FILMS OF JOSÉ LARRAZ (Arrow Video)
Like the Norman J Warren set, Blood Hunger is a long-overdue appreciation of a lesser-known horror talent, in this case the Spanish-born José Larraz, who made a string of erotic horror films in England in the 70s. The most famous title is VAMPYRES, a stunning horror film that almost manages to out-Franco Jess Franco. The other two titles are more obscure but well worth watching, including the sinister slow-burn thriller WHIRLPOOL and the erotic arthouse drama THE COMING OF SIN. Arrow will continue to bang the Larraz drum in 2020 — they’ve already announced his loony slasher classic EDGE OF THE AXE and the 90s spookiest DEADLY MANOR. My pre-orders are most definitely in.
You can buy Blood Hunger from Amazon UK
1. THE PREY (Arrow Video)
Arrow grab the top spot with my personal release of the year, a disc that truly shows the power of the HD format. THE PREY is a film I had seen before, and one I had never been a big fan of. On a whim, I picked up Arrow’s disc and it changed my opinion of the film forever. As it turns out, being able to see what’s happening on the screen can really aid your appreciation of a film! Look, it’s a silly film, ultra-low-budget, sometimes incompetently made, but it also has an atmosphere all of its own, and an ending that will knock your socks off. See my Kendall Reviews article for more info on the film. Regarding the disc, Arrow pulled out all the stops. Two cuts of the film, restored in 2K, (I recommend the shorter version without the bizarre gypsy flashback interlude), as well as the option to combine both cuts into one mind-melting super-extended cut.
There are interviews with cast and crew, a location visit, and best of all, forty-five minutes(!) of outtakes! It’s everything you never knew you wanted and more. Honestly, kudos to Arrow for going above and beyond for this obscure slasher title, and here’s to many more in 2020.
You can buy The Prey directly from Arrow Video HERE
David Sodergren lives in Scotland with his wife Heather and his best friend, Boris the Pug. Growing up, he was the kind of kid who collected rubber skeletons and lived for horror movies.
Not much has changed since then.
His first novel, The Forgotten Island, was published on October 1st 2018 to critical acclaim. Up next is Night Shoot, a brutal throwback to the early 80s slasher movie cycle has just recently been released.
He has several more books in various stages of development.
You can follow David on Twitter @paperbacksnpugs
To find out more about David please visit his official website www.paperbacksandpugs.wordpress.com
Find David on Instagram here
A group of desperate student filmmakers break into Crawford Manor for an unauthorised night shoot. They have no choice. Their lead actress has quit. They’re out of time. They’re out of money.
They’re out of luck.
For Crawford Manor has a past that won’t stay dead, and the crew are about to come face-to-face with the hideous secret that stalks the halls.
Will anyone survive…the NIGHT SHOOT?
A delirious homage to the slasher movies of the 1980s, Night Shoot delivers page after page of white-knuckle terror.