Just for fun, I thought I’d make a list of some movies that I, as an avowed physical media die hard, would love to see finally get pressed on that most sweet of plastic discs, the blu ray. This is probably the first of many of these lists. Though at least I don’t have to add Hercules and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad since Disney is finally down to the stuff that they’ve been putting off forever.
5. Tropic Thunder: The Theatrical Cut Sure, we have the “director’s cut” of Ben Stiller’s masterpiece on blu ray, but damn it, I want the version that I originally fell in love with. The one that includes the immortal line, “When we get back to the world, I’ma finally teach you how to juggle.” Like most comedic director’s cuts, especially those from the post 40-Year-Old Virgin world, the recut slows down the great pacing and includes material that had originally been cut for a reason. Take Anchorman for example. I loved that film from the first time I saw it, but the “unrated” (aka R-rated for language) cut practically ruined the movie for me. I honestly don’t mind including unrated or director’s cuts on blu ray. Hey, it’s a great extra and simply adds value to your purchase. In fact, the ability to do that is one of the reasons I love the format and continue to support it. It still blows my mind a little bit having worked at a video store stocking VHSs for idiots who would complain about “them black bars” for widescreen titles that people can watch multiple seamless versions of movies. But it drives me absolutely bonkers on those few occasions when studios make a seemingly arbitrary decision to not include the original film you went to see. In this case, the one for which Robert Downey Jr. deservedly got nominated for an Oscar.
4. The (original) Star Wars Trilogy This one I know I’m not alone on, though I’m much, much less rabid about it than many fans. We did get the option of getting the original release trilogy on DVD after all, even if it wasn’t animorphic, so I don’t feel like Lucas was trying to screw fans as much as a lot of people. I’m not a fan of everything that was done in the Special Editions. The Sarlaac Pit in particular just felt like the wrong way to go. But I also feel like there were a lot of things that I would consider improvements. Like almost everything that was done in Empire. Still, having the original films, warts and all, makes for a fascinating historical record of what made people fall in love with these movies in the first place and it would be great to have them in the best format available. Lucas has claimed they no longer exist in those forms, but that’s undoubtably hyperbole. Good prints certainly are out there. Hell, the Library of Congress has at least one of Star Wars and one of Empire since they were both selected for preservation under the National Film Registry. Now that Disney is in charge of the materials, I have a surprising amount of optimism that they will partner with Fox to release them. Maybe it won’t be right away. They are concentrating on creating new content after all. But there’s too much money to be made from them to not see it through. If the Batman TV show rights can finally be hammered out, this definitely can.
3. Fiend without a Face
One of my favorite old horror films, I want to see this atmospheric Cold War creature feature in hi def. Especially from Criterion, since they put out a great DVD of it. It would make a great companion piece to the fantastic Blob release they did. I love the brain monsters with their spinal chord tails and slug-like eye stalks. I love the creepy stop motion they use for them when we finally see them in the end. I love the jelly-like blood that comes out of them when they get shot. And I love the nonsensical but awesome origin for them. Blu is mostly known for producing fantastic color images, but I honestly feel it sometimes is even more impressive when it’s used for a great black and white transfer that makes the shadows inky and the whites pop. I long to see many, many classic monster/horror/sci-fi films on blu. I also would enjoy seeing Cat People, Them, War of the Worlds, The Thing From Another World… the list goes on. Fiend could be seen as a placeholder for them. But it is near the top of the heap for me and hopefully because of its association with Criterion it’ll see release someday.
2. The Iron Giant Speaking of the Cold War, IG may have tanked at the box office due to the poor efforts of a confused Warner Bros marketing team, but it is widely beloved by those who’ve fallen under its spell. Besides simply being the most gorgeous animated film to come out of Warner Bros’ short-lived animation department with its wonderfully stylized character design and beautiful 2D animation (with some CGI assistance that is not overpowering), the film is important for being the debut feature of Brad Bird, who went on to create Pixar classics and direct the best Mission: Impossible film. So you’ve got exactly what blu-ray was made for: fantastic visuals, historical and artistic significance and a great story all coalescing to be worthy of a truly special release. Sure, if Warners releases the film as a bare-bones disc people would probably just be happy to have it. (Assuming it has a top-notch transfer.) But given how important it is and how underappreciated it was, it screams for context. Give us some commentaries! Give us some deleted scenes in hi-def! Give us production art! Give us features that are actually special and don’t just put it out as a kiddie title. Please. This film deserves more.
This movie did not do very well when it was released to theaters, though I went and was immediately a fan. I don’t know that it did that well when it was released on DVD, though I bought it. I haven’t seen the sales figures. But dammit, this weird little attempt to turn Matt Stone and Trey Parker into live action stars is the Top Secret of it’s era. A Zucker parody film that actually sticks it to a genre instead of slapping together disparate scenes and/or characters from other movies in unclever mash-up scenarios like most everything we’ve gotten lately. In addition to the South Park guys being widely involved in something they didn’t create for what feels like the first and only time, you are basically getting the only anti-bro sports movie ever made. You have a host of great character actors appearing, some of which we’ve now lost. Ernest Borgnine, Robert Stack and Robert Vaughn among them. There’s Yasmine Bleeth showing she’s better at comedy than fake lifeguarding. I had a poster of her pretty much because of this movie. You have Jenny McCarthy back when MTV was determined to make her a star and she was game to do some impressively weird and crude stuff. And thankfully was not yet a crazy anti-vaxer.
The appearances of Reel Big Fish as the Milwaukee Beers’ house band immediately sealed its legendary status with us third-wave ska kids. But mostly, the movie is actually really funny. While not everything has aged well (does anyone still remember Women Who Run with the Wolves?) I still quote lines from it. “No you don’t, you like Taco Bell” and “It certainly does seem to be raining sh@t on Joe Cooper right now” being a couple of notable examples. It’s a perfect encapsulation of who I was and what I loved when I was 18 years old. Some people have Animal House. Some people have Breakfast Club. But for me, it is calling people in khakis “cock,” jamming to Beer and dicking around in the driveway playing games with your friends.