I have only been collecting import blu-rays for the past few years and I really only import things that I know are worth it. I don't really buy things on a whim like I would a blu-ray from my local Best Buy. When you import, you have time to actually think things over and possibly regret your purchase for a longer amount of time than you would if you bought something locally.
That being said, here is a list of some of my favorite imported blu-rays and one DVD that I still have that is worth mentioning. I will give the important info at the beginning of each entry.
Note: I used to have a lot of import DVDs, but I got rid of them because I needed the money or I upgraded them to blu-ray. This is the only DVD that I have yet to upgrade.
Thing From Another World, The (Universal U.K.)
When most people hear the title "The Thing" they will immediately think of the John Carpenter classic from 1982, but we all know that film was a remake of the sci-fi classic The Thing From Another World, released in 1951.
This DVD, released by Universal U.K., is a pretty standard DVD release, save for one special feature: an audio commentary from John Carpenter. This track is really good with Carpenter keeping pace with the film and talking about his love for the film and its flaws.
If you are a fan of the film itself or if you are a John Carpenter then you owe it to yourself to find this DVD. It has two different versions of the film: the original black and white version and a colorized version. No other special features besides the commentary track, but when a track like this is this good who needs anything else.
Black Sheep (Alliance)
Black Sheep is a New Zealand horror film about infected sheep that go on a rampage during business summit. Basically, zombie sheep killing in the most glorious over the top and very gory ways.
This film is owned by The Weinstein Company in the States, which means that it will never see a release on blu-ray here. There are a lot of horror and other genre films that Weinstein owns that they just keep locked away. They are the trolls of genre film in the States. Luckily, Canada has come through with this blu-ray and it is really nice. The picture quality is great and all of the special features from the DVD releases are here.
Black Sheep is a very funny film with some great effects done by Weta Workshop, the Peter Jackson owned effects house, so you know that the effects are going to be top notch. Oh, and the film is in its original aspect ratio. Some Canadian companies release "full frame" releases of films shot in scope, but this is one of the few that you don't have to worry about.
Coffy (Arrow Video U.K.)
I have reviewed this blu-ray here, but I just want to say that this is a great blu-ray and it is a shame that none of the special features found on this disc were optioned by Olive Films for their Stateside release.
Deep Red (Arrow Video U.K.)
I had never seen Deep Red before picking up on a few recommendations from readers of this site and I have to say that, while the film is good, it is not the classic that many believe it is. I found the film to be very long in the tooth and the pacing hurts the film. I find the film at least half an hour too long and was able to figure out most of the mystery before the characters did. The film is still a good film, but I think that it could have been even better with another round of edits.
Deep Red was released in two different packages in the U.K.: the first being a very lavish set that sold out very quickly and a one disc set that came later on. I missed out on the lavish set and had to settle on the one disc set. (I refuse to pay the scalper prices for the lavish set). The features found on the one disc set are nice. We get a bunch of interviews, a video essay exploring the film and Argento's career and an audio commentary. Missing are the Export Cut and the CD soundtrack.
Still, this is a great release that should be snapped up.
Foxy Brown (Arrow Video U.K.)
Foxy Brown is another blu-ray that I reviewed here, and it sadly has not been given the respect that it deserves in its own country. Such a shame.
Fright Night (Eureka!)
Fright Night is an excellent film that has been given the royal treatment in the States, so why did I import the film? Two reasons: one, I will not pay the scalper prices for the blu-rays releases in the States, and two: this release is better in many ways.
While there are some features that didn't make it to this release, namely the commentary tracks by the cast and crew, this release has its own set of special features. There are a bunch of new interviews and some of the featurettes made it over from the Twilight Time releases, but the main attraction, special features wise, is a two and a half documentary, about the making of the film, called "You're So Cool Brewster!" This doc goes deep, some say too deep, into every facet of the behind the scenes of the film.
The A/V quality is great, but it is that doc that seals the deal on this release.
Hammer Horror: The Blu-ray Collection (Shock)
This box set comes to us from a land down under and, despite some flaws, is an amazing set. You get 18 films and the complete series of The World of Hammer on 17 discs. Two of the films are in SD, but those are just extras to another film. I have not watched all of the films yet, but the ones I have looked and sounded great.
One other common complaint among those who own this box set is with the box itself. The box stands very tall and is wide and bulky. Just think of that one textbook you had when you were in high school and you will know what I am talking about. Or think of a really big dictionary, encyclopedia, or bible. The packaging is also reminiscent of a digibook with the disc being kept in the pages of the book. The only problem here is that the pages can be kind of tight, so getting the discs out can be a hassle sometimes. The way to remedy this is to keep the discs in some paper sleeves. I know that they should be kept in what they come in, but this time you might want to make an exception.
That being said, this is a really nice set for fans of Hammer Horror.
Killer Beasts (Dogs, Grizzly, Day of the Animals) (VZ Handels GmbH)
My wife bought this for my birthday a few years ago because she knows that I love "When Nature Attacks" films and this one has three good ones. Dogs is the weakest out of the bunch, but it is still good fun. Grizzly is a fun watch and Day of the Animals is the best of the three. This set, from Germany has each film on its own disc with plenty of extras carried over from the American dvds and blu-rays. This set cost my wife less than the cost of just one of the films on blu-ray here in the states. This is a great value and a must for fans of this genre. Oh, and the discs are region free.
Matinee (Arrow U.K.)
I have reviewed Matinee here, but I want to say that this is a blu-ray that fans of 50's sci-fi films should own. It has a great premise, acting, and direction.
Man From Hong Kong, The (Umbrella Entertainment)
The Man From Hong Kong is the Ozploitation of a James Bond film. You have Jimmy Wang Yu as the Bond character, bedding the babes and saving the day. The film has a lot of good action scenes and there is just a cool factor at play here.
The blu-ray from Umbrella is really good. The film looks and sounds great and there are plenty of extras, even if they are older. The coolest features here are the five extra films from director Brian Trenchard-Smith. They may only be is standard definition, but they are a great addition to this this blu-ray.
Mighty Peking Man (88 Films)
A few years ago, it was announced that Mighty Peking Man would be coming to blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA. I waited a while for that release before the release was cancelled. No reason as to why, but I assume it was because either Miramax or The Weinstein Company had it and wouldn't let go of it.
Flash forward to 2016 and 88 Films announces that they have the rights in the U.K. and that they will be releasing a blu-ray of it sometime in 2017.
The blu-ray was finally released in March and when it landed in my hands I almost cried. I LOVE Mighty Peking Man. The film is filled to the brim with craziness and the effects are hit and miss, but the film just makes me smile to no end. The blu-ray itself is pretty good. The A/V quality is the best we will see and by no means that mean it is bad. There is only one special feature, but it is a Bey Logan commentary track, so that is great. This blu-ray is worth importing.
Night of the Living Dead (Happinet)
Night of the Living Dead is a classic, not just in the horror genre, but in cinema as a whole. We would probably not have zombies as we know them today without this film.
The blu-ray from Japan's Happinet is the best version of the film that you can get right now. There is a rumor that Criterion is going to release this sometime in the future, but right now, this is it in terms of quality.
The film looks and sounds great and there are plenty of special features to keep us satisfied for a long time.
One-Armed Swordsman Trilogy, The (Intercontinental Video )
These films bring back a ton of memories. I use to watch kung fu flicks with my mother all the time and these films were among the many that we watched. Jimmy Wang Yu is perfect as the swordsman of the title. The man has a charisma that not many people have. He commands the attention in every scene he is in and he gets it. When his arm is chopped off in the first film, his reaction is priceless.
These three films are readily available through sites like YesAsia.com and they are totally worth the price. While most Hong Kong films were getting shitty upscales for their blu-ray debuts, these transfers are full 1080p HD and the subtitles are pretty good as well. There is not much on these discs in terms of special features. Each film comes with a theatrical trailer for the feature and some other trailers as well. There is also a featurette about kung fu on each of the discs.
Payback (Warner Bros.)
Payback is one of those films that went through many post-production woes including firing the director and reshooting the entire third act to make it more commercial. In 2006, Paramount (and Warner Bros. everywhere else) released The Straight-Up edition that included the Director's Cut, including the original third act, of the film and a host of extras.
When Paramount (in the U.S.) released Payback on blu-ray, it only came with the Director's Cut. Many, including myself, liked the Theatrical Version of the film, but Paramount did not listen to our cries.
Warner Bros. did hear our cries and released the film in the U.K. (and other countries) with everything that the U.S. blu-ray had on it, but they added the Theatrical Version to the mix, in full HD. This version of the blu-ray is the definitive version of the film and the extras are outstanding. This thing goes for cheap on Amazon and other places, so it is pretty easy to pick up.
Phenomena (Arrow Video U.K.)
2017 is the year of Argento. So far this year we have gotten brand new blu-rays (with brand new transfers) for The Stendhal Syndrome and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage with The Church, Opera, Two Evil Eyes coming to us hopefully this year as well.
We also got the blu-ray I am talking about right now, Phenomena. This film was released in the U.S. by Synapse in a beautiful steelbook last year (with a non steelbook version coming later in the year.), but Arrow has won this fight with this gorgeous 4K remaster. All three versions of the film (Italian, International, and American Version called Creepers.) look amazing and there are some great extras on here as well. We get a brand new 2 hour making of and a featurette that goes into great detail concerning the different cuts of the film. On top of that we get the film's soundtrack on cd and a beautiful slipbox that just looks great in person.
If you are looking to get Phenomena on blu-ray, this the version to get.
Police Academy: The Complete Collection
The Police Academy films are a very strange set of films. The first film was a huge hit and the films that came after kept grossing less and less, but they were still being made. They were turning enough of a profit to warrant another film. Despite the films being hits here in the States, they have never been given the best treatment when it comes to home video. Sure, they were all released on VHS and DVD, but the DVDs were a mixed bag. The first film was given the special edition treatment and all the other films have at least a featurette, but some of the films were released in the original aspect ratio, while others were cropped for "fullscreen".
The biggest question mark for the series is why it has been released on blu-ray while the U.K. has had the films on blu-ray for almost four years. This happens quite often with Warner Bros. blu-rays, but eventually they get a stateside release. Not with Police Academy.
Now the good thing about this release is that it is region free, so you don't have to worry about being locked out of watching the films or the special features. All the films look good except for the third one, which has been DNR'd. Why only the third one is a mystery to me, but such is life.
The Police Academy films are not fine are, but they are a decent way to make a rainy day go by quicker. I watch these films once a year to pass time when I can't think of anything else to watch. They are harmless fun and should be enjoyed as such.
Psycho Complete Collection, The (Via Vision)
I consider myself a fan of the Psycho franchise. I am not a super fan or anything like that. I just enjoy the films and that is about it. When I ordered this set, Psycho IV: The Beginning and Psycho 1998 were not yet on blu-ray, so this set offered things that I could only get in this set. So, of course I ordered it.
This is a really nice set. Psycho 1960 comes with the film's original mono track which is something that we don't have in the States and it sounds great. There is also an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents called A Lamb to the Slaughter and that is not on the blu-ray in the States either, although it was on the dvd that housed the other special features that are on the blu-ray.
The second and third films are the Scream Factory Collector's Editions. You wouldn't know it from the disc art, but when you pop the disc into the player, the Shout! Factory intro happens, then the Scream Factory one, then the infamous Scream Factory menus. This is nice because now I don't have to buy the Scream Factory discs.
Part four has no special features, but does boast a great look picture. Psycho 1998 has everything that was on the Universal dvd. The set also comes with The Psycho Legacy, a paint by numbers doc that runs under two hours and crams five films and a TV movie's worth of information into this short run time. The doc is not very good and I quickly grew tired of it.
Last but not least is the inclusion of the 1987 made for tv movie Bates Motel. This is by far one of the worst things that I have ever seen. Here is a review of this awful piece of trash.
This set is great, but if you are a special features freak then you will want to get this plus the Scream Factory discs for part four and the remake.
Strange Days (Koch Media)
The year was 1995 and Roger Ebert was raving about a film that I knew a little bit about. The film was about the mystical future of 1999, at the turn of the century and the millennium. This was going to be a big deal for us in four years. Anyways, the film tells the story of Lenny, a black market deal of "clips". "Clips" are someone's memories experienced by the wearer of a device that syncs in with the brain. This allows the wearer to experience everything from being a college coed taking a shower to a robber who is about to bite the dust. This go crazy and there are a lot of things that shouldn't be talked about if you haven't seen the film at least once. All I will say is the film stars Ralph Finnes, badass Angela Bassett, and Tom Sizemore while he still was able to get studio gigs. The film was also written and produced by James Cameron and directed by Academy Award Winning Director Kathryn Bigelow. The film is packed with action, but also looks at society as a whole. Oh and the police are racist. This film is just as important today as it was when it was released in 1995.
On to the blu-ray: we, in the states, have yet to see this film released on blu-ray. We do have a non-anamorphic picture that it is the right aspect ratio and an HDTV version that is not. This film, like The Abyss and True Lies, remain unreleased in their country of origin. Luckily the Germans know how to release a blu-ray and this one is great. It contains all of the special features that were found on the dvd and Laserdisc releases, along with a feature or two that is German only. The film looks great, the best I have seen it look and I have seen this film many times, so I know how it should look. The audio is great as well. This release is locked to Region B, so you will have to have a region free player or a region b player for this to work. It is worth the money as this is part of my New Year's viewing every year.
So, there is my favorite import blu-rays (currently). I am always importing things, so there is a chance that you will see another list like this within the next year. Anyways, thank you for stopping by.