Top 10 Horror and Exploitation Blu-rays of 2016

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 26, 2016 05:24pm | Post a Comment

by Gabriel Wheeler

Most of us live in world where we can stream movies 24/7, but there are still quite a few of us who want physical copies of our favorite films, whether it’s for the artwork or the inclusion of extras like commentary, alternate cuts, behind-the-scenes photos, and more. Many amazing horror and exploitation movies found their way to Blu-ray this year, so without further ado here are my top 10 sleazy and scary Blu-rays for 2016.

Blood Father10. Blood Father (2016. Jean-Francois Richet. Lionsgate Films)

This is the only movie on the list that actually hit theaters in 2016. Mel Gibson plays John Link, an ex-biker on parole who runs a tattoo parlor out of his trailer in the desert. Out of the blue, his missing daughter gives him a call asking for money and so begins their high-octane journey full of mayhem. This is the ultimate dad film mixing elements of Breaking Bad and Mad Max. Also available on DVD.



9. Dolemite (1975. D'Urville Martin. Vinegar Syndrome)

Rudy Ray Moore explodes onto Blu-ray in Dolemite. This Blaxploitation classic comes with two cuts of the film and a dryly delivered, yet informative, commentary by Moore’s biographer, Mark Jason Murray. The widescreen cut is my preferred viewing method, but the full frame boom mic cut is also included so as not to disappoint fans. Gritty, dirty, and funny as hell, Dolemite is a testament to independent filmmaking.



8. Tenebre (1982. Dario Argento. Synpase)

Argento’s Tenebre finally makes its Blu-ray debut. This super stylish, gory giallo film follows horror novelist Peter Neal on a book tour in Rome. Unfortunately, someone is killing women in the exact same fashion as described in his books. Can he clear his name in time before he ends up in jail or dead? Featuring an awesome soundtrack by Goblin.


Blood Dinner

7. Blood Diner (1987. Jackie Kong. Lionsgate: Vestron Collectors Series)

This fall Lionsgate finally unlocked their horror vault and began releasing Blu-rays under the Vestron Collectors Series imprint. Blood Diner represents one of the earliest Vestron Collection releases. It was originally imagined as a sequel to Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Blood Feast, but that’s not exactly what it became. Two brothers, Mike and George, resurrect their dead uncle Anwar in order to help him bring forth the Goddess Sheetar. Only the body parts of sexually liberated women can be used to create Sheetar’s body. Once pieced together, she must dine on a virgin during an orgiastic Lemurian feast. The brothers use the Sheeitar leftovers in their cuisine at their hip L.A. vegetarian restaurant. Meanwhile, two detectives are hot on George and Mike’s trail. Hilarious and gross, this must be seen to be believed.


The American Horror Project

6. The American Horror Project Vol 1. 1971-1975 (Arrow U.S.) 

Three obscure films make their way onto a Blu-ray anthology in Volume 1 of this set brought to us by Arrow Video. Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood from 1971 is a moody, almost experimental film about a spooky amusement park full of ghouls and murderers, and featuring an early appearance by HervĂ© Villechaize.

The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976) is a psycho-sexual thriller/slasher that focuses on Molly whose delusions may be leading her down a murderous path. Surreal and dark, this is a twisted movie that stands out above the rest. Shot by Dean Cundey (Halloween 1-3, The Thing, Back to the Future, and Jurassic Park).

The Premonition (1975) rounds out the collection. It tells the story of an adoptive mother, Sheri, who is plagued by visions of a vengeful woman, Andrea. Andrea is looking for her own daughter who was presumably taken from her. Andrea thinks Sherri’s daughter, Janie, is actually her daughter and plans to abduct her with help from a creepy carney companion. Playing at times like a made-for-TV movie from the '70s, The Premonition is an interesting foray into the paranormal. It would make a great double bill with Carrie or The Fury.


The Stuff

5. The Stuff - (1985. Larry Cohen. Arrow U.S.) 

A handsome transfer awaits you on the Blu-ray release of the The Stuff. Director Larry Cohen, responsible for It’s Alive and Q: The WInged Serpent, brings us this outrageous horror tale. Basically, stuff bubbles out of the ground and a security guard sticks his finger in it, tastes it, and thinks it's delicious. Months later, The Stuff becomes a nation wide sensation. It tastes good, it’s low in calories, and everyone is eating it. However, the competition is suspicious, and they hire our hero James “Mo” Rutherford (Michael Morarity), an industrial spy, to get the goods on how this STUFF got quick FDA approval. It doesn't help that The Stuff’s side effects turn people into zombies. It's hysterically funny with a bit of social commentary, making this is one of Cohen’s best.


Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

4. Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (1970. Russ Meyer. The Criterion Collection)

“This is my party and it freaks me out!” declares Z-Man in Russ Meyer’s first studio picture for 20th Century Fox. Frenetic and debaucherous, Meyer’s flirtation with mainstream Hollywood is a wild ride. A young female rock band heads to Hollywood to make it, but will they survive before they are swept away in excess?! A cult classic full of crazy dialogue and fast-paced editing wrung out of the minds of Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert. Never has this looked better, except at the local drive-in. Also available on DVD.


The Thing

3. The Thing (1970. John Carpenter. Scream Factory)

John Carpenter’s icy tale of alien invasion, isolation, and trust issues is given an upgrade by the folks at Scream Factory. Arguably one of Carpenter’s best films, it revolves around a group of men working at research station in Antarctica who take in a Malamute that is being pursued by Norwegian researchers. Unfortunately, the Norwegians meet with a fatal accident and can not give warning that the dog is not what it seems. The dog has been assimilated by alien DNA and now all the men are at risk as the DNA passes from host to host, totally assimilating any organism it comes in contact with. It poses as and hides among the researchers. Kurt Russell and company try to discover who’s real and who’s compromised, as paranoia and claustrophobia take their toll and threatens them all. Rob Bottin’s special effects almost steal the show in this arctic horror tale.


Lone Wolf and Cub

2. Lone Wolf and Cub 1972-1974 (The Criterion Collection) 

Four years ago Animego put out a Lone Wolf and Cub collection that was problematic for many fans because of the excessive use of digital noise reduction (DNR). This set is cause for celebration as the film grain is back in these excellent 2k scans. The movies follow Itto, a disgraced Samurai, whose quest for vengeance first involves giving his infant son, Daigoro, the choice of a marble (death) or a sword (life). Daigoro chooses the sword and the two go on a bloody rampage that finally resolves in the sixth installment. Limb chopping, blood spraying, and over the top samurai action is what awaits you with these ultimate tales of vengeance. Included as an extra is Shogun Assassin, which is a re-edit of the first two films, dubbed into English with a killer synth soundtrack.


Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast Box Set

1. Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast (1963-1972. Arrow U.S.)

In a year in which we lost so many artists, this box set is the ultimate tribute to the Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis. Unfortunately, he passed away just weeks prior to its release. With the FEAST box Arrow has assembled enough ingredients for you to have your own Egyptian feast. Fourteen films are included in this box set! Blood Feast, Scum of the Earth, Two Thousand Maniacs!, Moonshine Mountain, Color Me Blood Red, Something Weird, The Gruesome Twosome, A Taste of Blood, She-Devils on Wheels, Just for the Hell of It, How to Make a Doll, The Wizard of Gore, The Gore Gore Girls, and This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! Never before have his films looked so good. This set is awesome and definitely not for the faint of heart, with too many extras to list. I still haven’t watched everything. Highest recommendation.

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Goblin (8), Jackie Kong (3), Dario Argento (8), Best Of 2016 (18), Film (184), Horror (213), Exploitation (6), Exploitation Films (4), Gabriel Wheeler (8), Kurt Russell (1), Criterion (13), Gore (6), John Carpenter (18), Roger Ebert (2), Russ Meyer (3), Larry Cohen (3), Hervé Villechaize (1), Herschell Gordon Lewis (3), Mel Gibson (6), Jean-francois Richet (1), D'urville Martin (1), Blu-rays (13), Blu-ray (32)