The Ten Most Wanted Blu-Ray Box Sets
Star Wars: The Complete Saga finally came out on Blu-Ray today, satisfying many film fanatics with the most wanted high definition box set to date. That’s great, if you’re satisfied with the “Special Edition” versions at least, but that’s just one box set out of the way. No, as always happens with fanboys, we want more. Many of the best DVD box sets ever produced have yet to appear in high definition, so we’ve compiled our list of The Ten Most Wanted Blu-Ray Box Sets that have yet to be announced. We all know Indiana Jones is coming eventually, but that doesn’t help fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Hayao Miyazaki and A Nightmare on Elm Street, for whom the majority of their beloved movies have yet to make the transition to Blu-Ray and really deserve some love. Find out what else made our list – and what box set inevitably topped it – right now.
10. LONE WOLF & CUB
After Kurosawa’s samurai movies, many of which are now available on Blu-Ray (except for Hidden Fortress… what’s up with that?), the greatest samurai series of all time may be the Babycart series, better known in America as Lone Wolf & Cub. A noble samurai goes on the run with his three-year-old son after his clan betrays him, taking the path of the wandering assassin and undertaking a series of universally awesome adventures. There were six Lone Wolf & Cub movies (the fifth one, Babycart in the Land of Demons, is probably the best), and the first few were edited together to create the popular American version, Shogun Assassin. A boxed set of the original movies, and Shogun Assassin, in high definition would make any action fan gargle with joy. To date, none of them have appeared on Blu-Ray at all. Come to think of it, Zatoichi deserves a boxed set too, although putting over 20 films in one set would probably be cost-prohibitive.
9. THE MUPPET MOVIES
We suspect this may be in the cards with the new movie coming out, but unlike Indiana Jones we haven’t heard anyone talking about it yet. The Muppets are a beloved creation from The Muppet Movie to Muppet Babies and beyond, and there have been a number of classic movies to star the fuzzy, felt creatures, like The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Christmas Carol and even The Great Muppet Caper. The later films like Muppet Treasure Island aren’t as memorable, and probably wouldn’t warrant their own Blu-Ray release, but as a boxed set this would be the ideal Christmas gift for old school enthusiasts and youngsters alike. To date, only two Muppet films have made the transition to high-definition: The Muppets Take Manhattan and Muppets from Space. Not. Nearly. Enough.
8. THE FILMS OF WOODY ALLEN
Woody Allen has never been a huge supporter of DVD as a medium, beyond strong transfers and widescreen (the latter of which he supported before it was even fashionable). His films never carry much in the way of special features, and we can’t think of a single commentary track he’s ever contributed to. And you know what? That’s okay, because despite the occasional dud the prolific writer/director can get by with just presenting his amazing movies all by their lonesome. So far, only Allen’s most recent films like Whatever Works and Vicki Cristina Barcelona have been released in high definition, but true Allen fans would kill to see Gordon Willis’s sumptuous cinematography from Manhattan on Blu-Ray, and frankly any of Allen’s earlier films as well, from Annie Hall to Bananas to Crimes and Misdemeanors.
7. THE MARX BROTHERS COLLECTION
The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection is one of the best box sets ever produced, if only because the movies themselves – like Duck Soup, Animal Crackers and Monkey Business – are still some of the funniest comedies ever made. The other Marx Brothers DVD set, The Marx Brothers Collection, contains more of their later, less funny comedies, but is probably worth full price just for A Night at the Opera alone. None of them have been released on Blu-Ray, and that’s a travesty. Granted, they’re practically ancient but that hasn’t stopped the Buster Keaton’s The General from impressing the hell out of us in high definition, although the sound quality on their earliest films like The Cocoanuts would probably be less-than-spectacular. The quality of the movies themselves would more than compensate.
6. THE HAMMER HORROR COLLECTION
Hammer Film Productions successfully reinvented the horror genre in the 1950s, most famously with The Horror of Dracula, Christopher Lee’s first iconic outing as the legendary vampire. Before these films, horror movies were mostly black & white, bloodless and fairly sober affairs. After them, the genre began to explode with colorful, violent, sexualized subject matter. Many of them are really excellent films, and all of them are beautifully staged and shot. A Blu-Ray collection with at least most of the classics is one of the first things that came to our heads when we came up with the idea for this list: incredible films, all under the same banner, all of which would benefit greatly from the high definition treatment. To date, most of their earlier films have yet to grace Blu-Ray in any form, classic or otherwise. This is a travesty.
5. FRIDAY THE 13TH, HALLOWEEN, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (tie)
Speaking of horror: All the major horror franchises, from Friday the 13th to even Puppet Master, have had DVD box sets. To date… Well, Alien is just about the only one to appear as a complete collection on Blu-Ray, and that series frequently veered into straightforward action territory anyway. We’ve seen most of the more popular entries of Friday the 13th, Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street in high-definition, but the real fans of these movies, the ones that kept the franchises going for decades (before the inauspicious remakes) are completists. They want everything. Yes, even Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Special box sets of all the films in each franchise, perhaps excluding said remakes (we could go either way), would be a fantastic gift to all the folks who made the series so popular in the first place, even if crappier films like Friday the 13th: Part 5 – A New Beginning never make it onto the market as individual releases.
4. THE WORKS OF INGMAR BERGMAN
The Criterion Collection, everyone’s favorite DVD and Blu-Ray distribution company, has actually been slowly rolling out Blu-Rays from their extensive library of the films of Ingmar Bergman, who is considered by many to be the greatest director who ever lived. We’ve already seen The Seventh Seal, The Magician, Fanny & Alexander and Smiles of a Summer Night. That’s four down, and 59 to go, including such timeless classics as Persona, Wild Strawberries and Cries and Whispers, to name a few. The sensational cinematography, subtle storytelling and philosophical themes of Bergman deserves more than that, and the slow trickle of high definition content from the master filmmaker is frustrating as hell. There have been several DVD box sets of his work to date, but none on Blu-Ray. Please, sir… We want some more.
3. THE STUDIO GHIBLI COLLECTION
The Studio Ghibli Collection was, and we suppose still is, a “Must Have” for DVD and animation enthusiasts. The box set included every film from Studio Ghibli (at the time), which included such incredible cinematic experiences as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Laputa: Castle in the Sky as well as the studio’s non-Miyazaki productions, which are less famous in America but are still some wonderful films. We’re particularly fond of Pom Poko, about a society of raccoons that fights off invading westernization using their all-powerful shape-changing scrotums. (No, we’re not making that up.) Anyway, the set was indispensable for a time, but the films were all packed on the same side of their discs, resulting in a presentation that was serviceable at best. Fans of Hayao Miyazaki can appreciate how special these films would be in high definition, but a Blu-Ray re-release would also mean the set could now include Ghibli’s later films that didn’t make the original release, like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo and Tales from Earthsea. As it stands, only Ponyo and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind have been released on Blu-Ray in America. We want all of them. Now.
2. EVERYTHING BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK
Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t just one of the greatest filmmakers who ever lived, he was also one of the most financially successful. So even though his films are now considered “classics” it’s bizarre that big films like Notorious and Rear Window haven’t made the transition to Blu-Ray yet. In fact, so far we’ve only really had two big Hitchcock releases in the medium: Psycho and North by Northwest, both of which looked amazing and got the deluxe treatment from Universal and Warner Bros., respectively. But Hitchcock deserves better than this, or at least more. We want Universal and MGM to re-release their own DVD box sets (which included the bulk of the director’s many American films) in the Blu-Ray format, or if that would be too expensive for the typical consumer, we’d at least like them released in bite-sized chunks like the James Bond franchises have been doing, with 3-4 movies per set, each with at least one classic and a few of the smaller films: package Rear Window with The Trouble with Harry and Marnie, for example, or Notorious with Spellbound and The Paradine Case. Basically, we want Alfred Hitchcock in high-definition now, and we want a whole hell of a lot of him.
1. STAR WARS: THE ACTUALLY COMPLETE SAGA
Dear George Lucas,
Thank you for the 40 hours of special features on your Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-Ray collection. Now if you could just make the actual “features” special again, that would be great. Not “Special Edition” special either. Actually special, like a childhood toy finally returned to us in its original condition, not a brand new version that looks like the old one but can talk and shoot lasers out its eyes. Don’t worry, we’re done with that metaphor now. Put simply, if you don’t include the original Star Wars trilogy, it’s not “The Complete Saga,” is it? Don’t make us define the word “complete,” sir. But you know what? Even if this week’s Star Wars: The Complete Saga included the original versions of the films in glorious high definition, this set wouldn’t be complete because it doesn’t include the two other films in the series: 1984’s The Ewok Adventure and 1985’s Ewoks: Battle for Endor. We’ll cut you some slack on the TV series (and the Christmas special), but these were films – Made for TV films, granted – that you’ve completely ignored in the supposedly “complete” set. Sure, they suck, but that didn't stop you from including the new trilogy, did it?
Even after the entire hullabaloo, Star Wars remains our most wanted Blu-Ray box set. Hook us up, dude. What happened to you? You used to be cool.
THESE ARE OUR MOST WANTED BLU-RAY BOX SETS. WHAT ARE YOURS…?