We’ve reached the point of the year where you are expected to buy gifts for your friends and family. That leaves you with two options. You can continue to buy the terrible gifts you buy every year that your friends secretly hate and either end up donating to the Goodwill or re-gifting to some other poor fool, or you can actually buy them something cool that they would enjoy and cherish for years to come. If you choose the former, you can leave now because there’s nothing here for you, however, if you choose the latter please continue to read on. I’ll give you a moment to think it over.
Have you made your decision? You have and you finally want to be a good gift giver? That’s wonderful news! And in even better news I have created the perfect gift guide to help you! Below you will find a selection of DVDs and Blu-rays, broken down into helpful categories, that will finally allow you to give holiday cheer to your loved ones. Happy shopping!
Blast from the Past TV Show Box Sets
Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection
This 16-disc DVD mega set features everything (well, mostly everything) from the Saved by the Bell universe. This means all 16 episodes from Good Morning Miss Bliss (repackaged as Saved by the Bell), all episode from Saved by the Bell, all episodes from Saved by the Bell: The College Years and both movies. In addition those 118 episodes, the set also comes with a locker full of special features including two brand new documentaries!
The only thing this set lacks is Saved by the Bell: The New Class. While that spinoff series doesn’t nearly have the charm of the Zack Morris-led gang, it would have been a nice addition. With that being said, that series did manage to run for 7 seasons and seeing as how this set already tops in at 16 discs, it’s understandable to not have it included.
That minor gripe aside, this set rules. You should own it. And buy it for your best friend.
The Outer Limits: Season One and Season Two
There is nothing wrong with your television set.
Back in March Kino Lorber released the first season of the original series run of The Outer Limits. The 7-disc set includes all 32 episodes from the groundbreaking horror anthology. Some episodes even featuring audio commentary from a host of film historians including Tim Lucas and Reba Wissner and for those that prefer to read the set comes with a 40-page booklet essay courtesy of one David J. Snow. Needless to say, it’s a stunning release.
Kino Lorber followed that release up with The Outer Limits: Season Two in November. This 4-disc set contains all 17 episodes from the show’s second and final season, re-mastered in glorious HD. Also include are two alternate episodes, which are different cuts of two episodes that started as pilots but then were morphed into The Outer Limits. Audio commentaries are back, as is another booklet essay from Mr. Snow.
The Outer Limits doesn’t get the love of The Twilight Zone but it’s just as good as just as important. So why not own both seasons on Blu-ray?
This year was a big year for the world’s greatest actor, Nicolas Cage. Not only did he take the world by storm for the billionth time with movies like Mandy, but he saw a number of films, new and old, hit Blu-ray. Everyone of them would make for a great gift.
211 — Dir. York Alec Shackleton
I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen 211, so I really can’t vouch for it that much. Apparently it’s based off some real life bank robbery and it describes itself as Black Hawk Down meets End of Watch. It very likely has nothing in common with either of those movies. And there’s a good chance that it’s not very good. With that said, Cage and Blu-ray.com did describe it as “very watchable midline movie, flawed in many ways but more than capable as a decent little genre time waster.” High praise. Get it.
Fire Birds — Dir. David Green
Fire Birds is a Top Gun knock off that trades out the cool jets for kind of lame helicopters. There’s also a love story with Cage and Sean Young that is severely lacking in chemistry. Also there’s a good chance this movie was intended to serve as a recruitment video for the military. So yeah, a fair bit of this movie isn’t great, but there is a scene with Cage shouting he is the greatest and that is well, the greatest. Oh and you remember that nonexistent chemistry I told you about? It’s highlighted with a Phil Collins song. Oh yeah.
The Humanity Bureau — Dir. Rob W. King
This is another Cage movie I’ve yet to see, but as we’ve already established I can recommend movies simply because they have Cage. Apparently this film takes on climate change and those that choose to ignore the science and pretend it’s a hoax. Or something like that. Either way, in your face old white republicans!
KNOW1NG (4K UHD) — Dir. Alex Proyas
Cage stars as an MIT professor that realizes that a 50 year old time capsule unearthed from his son’s school contains various number sequences that predict horrible events. Realizing that one event has yet to occur, Cage frantically does all he can to stop it in this sci-fi thriller from Alex Proyas. It’s come to my attention recently that lots of people don’t love this movie and that’s stupid as hell. KNOW1NG rules and we should all appreciate it. It was also one of Cage’s last big box office hits, making it quite significant.
The film was released earlier this year on 4K UHD by Lionsgate and it looks glorious. This film is visually stunning and perfect for 4K. Now go read Roger Ebert’s 4-star review of the film (he ranked it as the 6th best movie of 2009!) and then go order yourself a copy of two.
Looking Glass — Dir. Tim Hunter
This neo-noir has Cage co-starring with Robin Tunney as a married couple that after suffering a terrible tragedy decide to buy a roadside motel in order to get a fresh start on their lives. They quickly discover that the motel and small town contain deep, dark secrets. I’ve immediately soured on this one a little since I first watched it, but it’s still a fascinating watch with a great score. And Cage, is of course, awesome.
Mandy — Dir. Panos Cosmatos
Mandy is the best movie of the year. I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. So that means you should know what it’s about, but in case you’re some weirdo, I’ll get you caught up to speed. Cage lives a quiet life in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), but that is all interrupted when a crazy cult comes waltzing in and wreaks havoc. Cage then seeks vengeance in bloody rampage of epic proportions.
Mandy is heartbreaking, funny and everything you could possibly want in a movie. The Blu-ray contains some deleted scenes that fans will find intriguing.
Mom & Dad — Dir. Brian Taylor
Is Mom & Dad more of less bonkers than Mandy? I can’t be sure, but it is a fantastic twist on the zombie subgenre. And Mom & Dad is a zombie movie, no matter what anyone tells you. Parents are infected with something that makes them want to kill their kids. As a result Cage destroys a pool table with a sledge hammer. It’s great.
The movie does end a bit abruptly which may seem odd, but only adds to the charm. Brian Taylor should make a million movies with Cage.
Teen Titans Go! to the Movies — Dir. Aaron Horvath & Peter Rida Michail
This is another Cage movie I haven’t seen yet and I’m only vaguely familiar with the show the film is based on. With that said, I saw the trailer and it made me laugh plus Cage finally gets to play Superman. And I really like Scott Menville. Obviously, you should buy it.
Valley Girl — Dir. Martha Coolidge
Valley Girl is a film we should all be eternally grateful for. It was the first starring role of Cage’s career and as a result played a pivotal role in launching his iconic career. Cage stars as new wave Hollywood punk Randy, and when he meets valley girl Julie (Deborah Foreman) he decides to go against all societal norms and make a move for Julie because no one is going to tell him who and who he can’t score with.
Valley Girl has been towards the tops of my “must have on Blu-ray” list for years. I even started an online petition once. Shout Select finally came through and released this bad boy and it’s wonderful. Not only is the movie awesome, but the release is loaded with special features, many of which is new but also with a lot of older stuff ported over from the DVD. This is a must own.
Wild at Heart — Dir. David Lynch
Wild at Heart is one of the craziest movies I have ever seen. I’ll never forget the first time I watched it. I had no idea what I had just witnessed, but I knew I loved it. Sailor (Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern) are badly in love and will do anything to be together, but Lula’s mother (Diane Ladd) will do whatever she can to tear them apart. There’s also a weird scene with Crispin Glover and Willem Dafoe plays an all-time great creep. It’s Lynch, it’s Cage, it’s Dern, it’s great.
Wild at Heart was released on Blu-ray a few years back by Twilight Time. That Blu-ray was overpriced and limited, meaning it quickly sold out and became more expensive. Unfortunately, you no longer have to overpay because Shout Select has released a new version. This release only contains one new special feature, an interview with Barry Gifford, but it ports over a bunch of old stuff. Great release.
Windtalkers — Dir. John Woo
Inspired by the real life Navajo soldiers that help the US in World War II, Windtalkers is the type of based-on-a-true-story film that doesn’t get all the specific details right, but manages to entertain nonetheless. Cage stars as a sergeant that teams with a young Navajo code talker (Adam Beach) to in order to keep a wartime code from getting into the hands of the Japanese. The cast is rounded out wiht all stars Peter Stormare, Noah Emmerich, Mark Ruffalo and Christian Slater. Bringing it all together is the flare of John Woo.
Windtalkers was released on Blu-ray years ago but had some techincal issues. MVD fixed those issues and get the film a two disc release, offering up the theatrical and director’s cut. While no new features are included, the release does port over all of the old stuff, making this the best overall release of the film to date.