{Team KR} David Sodergren Shares His Favourite Blu-Rays He Watched In 2020.

Let’s face it, 2020 has been a huge flaming bag of shite from start to finish. Luckily, one thing has kept me sane throughout — the constant stream of excellent Blu-ray releases. My top 10 last year only included UK releases, but I’ve broadened my remit this year to include US releases too, because why the hell not? Most of the titles here are region free, but there are a couple of region A releases, so make sure you can play them before purchasing.

I’m writing this list in early December, so there are a few contenders that would likely be on this list, but they’re not gonna arrive in time, eg Vinegar Syndrome’s Black Friday titles — Forgotten Gialli Volume 2, Silent Madness — and Arrow’s release of one of my favourite films, Tremors.

Oh, and one major caveat — this is my personal top 15. You may disagree, and that’s okay. I like weird fucking movies.

15. An Ideal Place To Kill

(Mondo Macabro, region free)

This ain’t the last time you’re gonna see Umberto Lenzi on this list. 2020 was the year that one of Italian horror cinema’s most unfairly maligned talents finally got his due with a bevvy of great Blu-ray restorations. An Ideal Place To Kill is a weird sexy thriller, with elements of giallo cinema, and is terrific fun.

14. Witchcraft

(88 Films, region B)

From Joe D’Amato’s marvellous Filmirage company comes Witchcraft, a ludicrous gore extravaganza that stars — wait for it — Linda Blair and David Hasselhoff. This is the only release from 88 Films to make my list, but it’s worth pointing out their incredible work releasing Jackie Chan and Jean Claude Van Damme’s back catalogue this year, which don’t fit within the remit of a horror blog, but are highly recommended for cult cinema fans.

13. Patrick Still Lives

(Severin, region free)

Severin had a great 2020. Patrick Still Lives is an unofficial pseudo-sequel to the boring Australian film Patrick, improving on it by turning the dial up to 11 and amping up the sex and violence to mind-boggling proportions. It’s outrageous high-camp ultra-sleaze, and not — I repeat, NOT — for the easily offended.

12. Rabid

(101 Films, region B)

Honestly, I don’t know how many times I’ve owned Rabid on home video. At least two VHS copies, two DVDs, and now this is my second Blu-ray…but it’s worth it, because Rabid is one of the best films of the 70s. Impossibly fast-paced and totally wild, 101 Films present the film in a new 4K scan, and that bleak Canadian winter has never looked better.

11. Daughters Of Darkness

(Blue Underground, region free)

An elegant and erotic Belgian vampire movie, Blue Underground showed this 1970s classic the respect it deserves with an astonishing 4K transfer on both Blu-ray and UHD. As a terrific bonus, they included the soundtrack on CD, making this already essential purchase even more, err, essential.

10. Friday The 13th Box Set

(Scream Factory, region A)

In 2020, Scream Factory did the impossible and somehow located the cut footage from Friday the 13th Part 2. It’s VHS quality, but considering the footage was believed lost, they made a legion of slasher fans very, very happy. Despite some issues with the initial batch, this is a must-have for Friday connoisseurs.

9. He Came From The Swamp: The William Grefe Collection

(Arrow Video, region free)

Despite dominating my list last year, Arrow went a bit more mainstream this year, with less emphasis on cult genre titles. But towards the end of the year, they pulled this insane box set out of the bag, a collection of seven of Florida drive-in auteur William Grefe’s movies. From jellyfish men to drugsploitation and hicksploitation titles, it’s an unexpected delight.

8. House By The Cemetery

(Blue Underground, region free)

Another gorgeous restoration from those boffins at Blue Underground, Lucio Fulci’s blood-drenched haunted house epic has never looked better than in this 4K release. As usual, BU include the soundtrack on CD, but the real draw here is the transfer…and the film itself, of course.

7. My Bloody Valentine

(Scream Factory, region A)

Another victory for Scream Factory, with the uncut footage from one of the finest slasher movies from the golden age finally incorporated into the movie in high definition. Canada produced some excellent slasher films, but this is arguably the best, and the release does the film justice.

6. Bahia Blanca

(Severin, region free)

Although it’s already out-of-print due to its incredibly limited halfway-to-black-friday release, Severin made a lot of Jess Franco fans very happy by showing some love to one of the master’s most neglected titles, the excellent drama Bahia Blanca. For a film only ever seen in shitty quality VHS-o-vision, the image quality here was a revelation. Severin apparently have more Franco titles lined up for 2021, and I can’t fucking wait.

5. The Complete Lenzi Baker Giallo Collection

(Severin, region A)

I mentioned Umberto Lenzi before, and this release from Severin compiles the four gialli the Italian maestro made with American actress Carroll Baker in the late 60s/early 70s. At least two of these films are masterpieces (Orgasmo, Paranoia), while the others are highly enjoyable. Add in tons of extras, and you’re onto a winner.

4. Forgotten Gialli: Volume One

(Vinegar Syndrome, region free)

It may seem crazy to put this above the Lenzi/Baker box, as none of the films in this set come close to the quality of the Lenzi ones…but that’s precisely why I’ve done it. I never thought I’d get to see a film like The Police are Blundering in the Dark on DVD, never mind on a beautiful quality Blu-ray, but once more, Vinegar Syndrome have gone above and beyond. It’s not a great starting point for giallo newcomers, but obsessives will lose their damn minds over this set.

3. The Severed Arm

(Vinegar Syndrome, region free)

Sandwiched in amongst all these massive box sets is The Severed Arm, my horror film discovery of the year. I reviewed it a while back on the blog, but suffice to say it’s an unbelievable proto-slasher fiercely deserving of rediscovery, and the Vinegar Syndrome release would be my single film Blu-ray of the year, were it not for…

2. Dawn Of The Dead

(Second Sight, region B)

One of the most lavish releases for a single film ever, this is the definitive release of Romero’s zombie epic. Incorporating three cuts of the film, hours and hours of extras, three soundtrack CDs, a book and the novelisation. The meticulous restoration work has paid off — the film will never look better than it does here.

1. Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection

(Severin, region A)

And here we are, the number release of 2020. It just had to be. A complete box set of all available Al Adamson films, restored from the best surviving elements. Breath-taking. The fact that a company would go to this length for a filmmaker that most people have never heard of…it blows my mind. I’m still working my way through all THIRTY-TWO films in the collection, but so far every one has been great fun. As a bonus, there’s a feature-length documentary on the man himself, which takes a marvellous turn from filmmaking retrospective to grisly true crime, as wild as anything in Al’s movies.

Now, here’s to Severin putting out that Andy Milligan boxset soon…

David Sodergren

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. This was followed by Night Shoot, a brutal throwback to the early 80s slasher movie cycle, in May 2019.

2020 will be Sodergren’s biggest year yet, with two new horror novels being published. Dead Girl Blues is a slasher-noir mystery, and it will be followed by a return to full-blown supernatural horror before the end of the year.

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

Maggie’s Grave

The small Scottish town of Auchenmullan is dead, and has been for years. It sits in the shadow of a mountain, forgotten and atrophying in the perpetual gloom.

Forty-seven residents are all that remain.

There’s nothing to do there, nothing to see, except for a solitary grave near the top of the mountain.

MAGGIE WALL BURIED HERE AS A WITCH reads the faded inscription.

But sometimes the dead don’t stay buried. Especially when they have unfinished business.

A relentless folk-horror nightmare from the author of The Forgotten Island, Maggie’s Grave will disturb and shock in equal measure.

You can buy Maggie’s Grave from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Dead Girl Blues

When a young woman dies in Willow Zulawski’s arms, it sets in motion a chain of events that will push her to the brink of madness.

A mysterious video is the only clue, but as Willow digs deeper into the murky world of snuff movies, those closest to her start turning up dead. Someone out there will stop at nothing to silence her.

After all, when killing is business, what’s one more dead body?

Part noir mystery, part violent slasher, Dead Girl Blues is the latest twisted shocker from David Sodergren, author of The Forgotten Island and Night Shoot.

You can buy Dead Girl Blues from Amazon UK & Amazon US

The Forgotten Island

When Ana Logan agrees to go on holiday to Thailand with her estranged sister Rachel, she hopes it will be a way for them to reconnect after years of drifting apart.

But now, stranded on a seemingly deserted island paradise with no radio and no food, reconciliation becomes a desperate fight for survival.

For when night falls on The Forgotten Island, the dark secrets of the jungle reveal themselves.

Something is watching them from the trees.

Something ancient.

Something evil.

Combining the cosmic horrors of HP Lovecraft with the grimy sensibilities of the Video Nasties, The Forgotten Island is an outrageous old-school horror novel packed with mayhem and violence.

You can buy The Forgotten Island from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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