Josh Gressett is a prolific movie watcher and fan of many genres. He's also a big physical media collector and sometimes expresses his thoughts on discs at his Blog THOUGHTS ON DISC. He can be found on Twitter @josh1126h and Instagram @josh1126.
5. Ride the Pink Horse (1947)
Since purchasing my very first Criterion Collection DVD (I believe it was either Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or The Royal Tenenbaums), they have been, almost exclusively, the source of all my film discoveries and lessons and I believe the same can be said of most cinephiles. 2015 was an incredible year for the company, with numerous discoveries to be made, but the most thrilling for me was Robert Montgomery’s film noir Ride the Pink Horse. It’s a film noir I had never heard of, but easily belongs in the conversation with classics like Touch of Evil and Out of the Past.
Available on Blu-ray from Criterion:
4. Graduation Day (1981)
Beginning with a fantastic high school track and field montage/music video, Graduation Day is an endlessly entertaining 80’s slasher. There is a large number of 80’s slasher films I have not seen and when I do finally see them, they don’t make much of an impact. Graduation Day, however, was not only one of my favorite discoveries of 2015, it immediately became one of my favorite slashers of all time. It doesn’t stray from usual slasher tropes or clichés, but that’s okay. My love for the movie comes from the frenetic energy (especially in the editing of the montages and flashbacks), great cast (especially Christopher George as the near-sadistic track and field coach), and eclectic soundtrack (classical, rock, pop, metal, disco?).Also, in the film’s best section, near-forgotten 80’s rock band Felony shows up to play a 10 minute song at a roller disco while a maniac wearing fencing gear stalks a teenage couple in the woods. It’s slasher perfection.
Available on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome:
3. Trick or Treats (1982)
There were two home video “boutique” labels that went above and beyond and really impressed with their output and quality this year. I’ll get to one in the “Number 1” slot in a bit, but first, Code Red Releasing has churned out (frustratingly timed, most of the time) a ton of interesting stuff this year. They also began their relationship with Screen Archives this year, making buying these great titles easier for everyone. This entire list could consist of Code Red titles, but I chose one that I had never heard of until they put it out. Gary Graver’s Trick or Treats is a fun combination of Halloween and Problem Child. A babysitter tries to deal with an annoying little boy that fakes his own death and dismemberment a-la Harold and Maude over and over again, while simultaneously being stalked by a deranged killer. It’s crazy, goofy and fun and I am so glad Code Red decided to put it out.
The Code Red Blu-ray is available here:
2. The Entity (1982)
Barba Hershey returns home from a routine day of work and adult education courses and is savagely attacked by an unseen force punctuated by a chilling, throbbing score. This happens five minutes into the film. Hershey and her family are terrorized by this force for the remainder of the 125 minute running time. It’s a much more brutal, adult version of Poltergeist that never lets up on the protagonists or the audience. It’s long for a horror film, but never boring.
Available on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay here:
1. Spider Baby (1967)
The great people at Arrow Video have been dazzling home video nerds for a while in the U.K., but in 2015, they debuted their Arrow Video U.S. line. With Criterion-level special features and packaging, Arrow U.S. is already dazzling us media collectors stateside. Again, this list could consist exclusively of Arrow U.S. titles, but I went with “The Maddest Story Ever Told,” AKA Spider Baby. Lon Chaney Jr. opens the film, performing one of the greatest opening theme songs ever, a bouncy, silly number promising an inevitable “cannibal feast.” The maddest story ever told is an absolute spot-on moniker for Jack Hill’s bonkers film. Mad performances, mad setting, mad plot, it’s all mad and infinitely fun and rewatchable.
You can find the Arrow Video Blu-ray here:
Soul Survivors (2001) – Underrated, dare I say, Fulci-esque teen horror. Worth reconsideration.
Foxes (1980) – Jodie Foster in 1980. That is all.