Well, the recession continued, forcing DVD output to drop to levels even worse than last year's rock bottom. Thanks to Blu-ray we still saw a number of releases, although most were no frills ports of previous DVDs. As our physically oriented world continues to shift to a digitally contained one, the golden age of “collecting” and physical ownership may now be well behind us... Well, the recession continued, forcing DVD output to drop to levels even worse than last year's rock bottom. Thanks to Blu-ray we still saw a number of releases, although most were no frills ports of previous DVDs. As our physically oriented world continues to shift to a digitally contained one with Netflix, iTunes, Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, the golden age of “collecting” and physical ownership may now be well behind us. Are we DVD and Blu-ray (and Laserdisc and HD-DVD and VHS and…) enthusiasts the bastions of an old age? As we enter 2011 that may just be the case, but nevertheless there were still several worthy discs to buy and to own that came out in 2010. Here’s our ten favorites: 10. Madman (1980) Code Red You know it was one of those years when the most divisive release of 2010 rounds off the top ten. Code Red had a pretty tumultuous year with conflicts over rights for unreleased properties, missed street dates over the (still) impending release of Nightmare and several threats of foreclosure. The most controversy came from their 30th Anniversary of the beloved campfire slasher, Madman. The print sourced was far from ideal – an interlaced TV print that still had all the claw marks that dogged the old Anchor Bay disc a decade prior. Yet, for fans of the film, the ninety-minute documentary on the movie was the main thing that mattered, and for that the Red came through. With the excellent commentary ported over and a bunch of other new extras, this is a slasher fan’s delight. Is there room for improvement for the feature presentation itself? You bet, but Code Red came through where it counted, and if you see this as a documentary with the film as an extra, it’s hard to overlook this as one of the better achievements for genre fans this year. 9. Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls (1973) Scorpion Releasing Scorpion Releasing and Code Red are two birds of a feather, and you can always bet that either of them will unearth some fine anomaly. Scorpion had a good year with their discs of two eclectic, eccentric British cult-horror flicks, Goodbye Gemini and Girly, but their best work this year was on the immensely enjoyable Doctor Death. A fine balance between laughs and thrills, and with a tour de force performance from John Considine, it was my most pleasant surprise this year. The commentary and featurette add a nice context for what it was like making low budget horror in California in the early-seventies. Seek out this soul, good doctor! 8. Humanoids from the Deep (1980) Shout! Factory Of all the studios releasing horror this year, none had a better track record than Shout! Factory, who have now firmly planted themselves as the king of the cult this year after excellent releases of Piranha, The Slumber Party Massacre series, the Gamera series, The Stepfather on Blu-ray and many more. Definitely the winner of the “title you’d never think would get released on Blu-ray” award (runner up: Midnight Legacy’s strong debut, Alien 2: On Earth) is the eighties Roger Corman production, Humanoids of the Deep. The transfer was pretty eye opening, and all the video extras really were a lot more than anyone was expecting with this little flick. It’s great B-movie fun and if you are tired of all the re-releases of the big movies, then here’s a new catalog title worth owning this year. 7. City of the Living Dead (1980) Blue Underground Blue Underground has been playing it pretty safe the last few years, avoiding any new investments and instead riding out the recession with Blu-ray ports of their older titles. Thankfully this year they put a little more into their ports, often adding new commentaries, like they did with the solid discs for Maniac and Vigilante. Their best disc though, was their re-do of Lucio Fulci’s masterpiece, City of the Living Dead. Although it wasn’t as packed as the overseas Blu-ray, it still came with a number of new HD featurettes and a dynamite transfer. There is nary a more beautiful thing on Blu-ray than the last ten or so minutes in the catacombs of Fulci’s zombie opus. 6. Survival of the Dead (2010) Magnet Madman is a great film with a mediocre transfer and a great batch of extras. Romero’s latest, by comparison, is a bad film with a good transfer and an even greater batch of extras. Michael Felsher’s longer-than-the-feature documentary is about as epic a making-of that I’ve ever seen, going as far as being a document of our times with coverage of the Obama election. Add in a number of extras on and interviews with George A. Romero and the whole package serves as a telling document of just what makes the horror legend tick. It even makes you understand why he’d make a bad movie like this one. 5. The Exorcist (1973) Warner Brothers For too long Warner forced fans of the most popular horror film of all time, The Exorcist, to be divided. Either you were in the “The Version You’ve Never Seen” camp, or you were in the original cut camp. Both were released separately and with their own spate of extras, but now finally on DVD the two came together for a stunning remix and a release that combined everything and then some with nearly an hour of new extras. Finished off with a shiny hardcover book package, this was finally a release where the book was as grand as the cover. 4. Grindhouse (2007) Dimension Another set of two movies that were finally (properly) paired together is Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof for the two-disc Grindhouse Blu-ray. This is pretty much everything the fans were asking for, with the two films presented in the complete double-feature format with all the trailers and with the hours and hours (and hours) of extras. In addition to all the trailers, there are a ton of new extras too, but really it’s the grindhouse experience at home that sells it all, and this set is the ticket! 3. The Evil Dead (1980) Anchor Bay Another movie you’ve probably all seen way too many times, but yet another that’s more than deserving of a mention here. The Evil Dead made the jump to Blu-ray finally, and while it certainly saw a ton of DVDs with none of them being really definitive, it looks like right off the bat in HD The Evil Dead can officially be considered definitive. The A/V restoration is pretty amazing, and both framings of the film, 1.85:1 and 1.33:1 are both housed on the same disc with the same excellent remixed audio track. There’s also most of the extras from the various DVDs past (still no Within the Woods wahh wahh) and a brand new commentary with the three main guys who made it happen. Bar none, their commentary was the best of the year and is certainly one of the best commentaries I’ve ever listened to. The story of the making of The Evil Dead may be old hat now, but when it comes from the voices of Bruce Campbell, Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi, they make it sound as fresh as it was when they were first trying to sell the movie on 42nd street thirty years ago. 2. Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1980) VCI On paper, VCI’s release of this humble little made for TV movie doesn’t really seem like all that much, but Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a wonderful little thriller and this disc’s heart is in the right place. VCI has always tried with limited means to give genre fans the cult films they ask for, but past releases like Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things or Don’t Open the Door have always been lacking in one fashion or another. Here, though, they present this TV titan with a beautifully clean transfer, an immersive 5.1 remix and an affectionate commentary with writer and director. They even made a custom logo in tribute to the film in a cornfield. In the crop of horror television, this stalk grows highest of all. 1. Never Sleep Again (2010) 1428 Films I guess in a year where the well for good horror films on DVD, new or catalog, was running dry (we got Troll 2 for Christ’s sake!), it’s fitting that the best disc of the year is a new entity all to itself. Never Sleep Again is the sprawling, epic pandora’s box of the entire A Nightmare on Elm Street saga. Running a massive four hours (and that’s just for the documentary itself!) and with over a hundred participants from each of the eight New Line movies it leaves no stone unturned or no blade unsharpened. Amazingly it doesn’t just stop there – there’s a whole other disc of extras that didn’t make the feature, making up for another several hours of extras. As if that weren’t enough, the filmmakers also got together for an upgrade (controversial as it may be for those who bought the original disc) with a four-hour commentary to go along with the feature. We’re talking ten hours of content all about one franchise. That’s like a horror convention in a box, and if you bought the set right from the filmmakers then you even got a signed poster from Heather Langenkamp, too. In 2010 Freddy got a remake, a nice new Blu-ray of the original film and a solid Blu-ray of the revisioning, but nothing does the icon more proud than this, the best release of 2010. Here’s hoping keeps putting out horror documentaries so their 1428 Films gives us another 365 to look forward to. Honorable mention: Shout! Factory’s entire library (Piranha, Slumber Party Massacre, Gamera, etc.), Antichrist, King Kong, Maniac, Hatchet, Halloween II (2009), Scream (1980) Previous Top Tens: 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 Happy New Year!