The Big Movie House's Favorite Blu-ray Releases of 2020

2020 was a trying year for everyone. Thankfully, we had blu-rays (and other media) to keep our minds off of what was going on in the world. Here are my favorite blu-ray and 4K blu-ray releases of 2020.
Here is a list of runner-ups: Terror Firmer (Troma), Hammer Vol. 5: Death and Deceit (Powerhouse/Indicator), Armour of God II: Operation Condor (88 Films), Bamboozled (Criterion), Dragon Lord (88 Films), Underwater (Fox), Evil Dead 4K Collection (Best Buy Exclusive SteelBook) (Lionsgate), Mallrats (Arrow Video), Parasite 4K (Universal), The Bride with White Hair (Eureka), Mad Max (Kino Lorber), Martial Law 1 and 2 (Vinegar Syndrome) He Came from the Swamp: The Films of William Grefe (Arrow Video), I Know What You Did Last Summer Trilogy (88 Films)

10. Tremors (Arrow Video) 

Let’s start off kind of easy with a disc that many have waited years to get. Universal clearly doesn’t give two shits about this film (even though they did make the making-of doc) and they happily licensed it out to Arrow, who did a bang up job. The film has never looked better and sounded better and the special features are going to take up a lot of your time and they are worth it. I love that Arrow has given this the Limited Edition treatment while still giving us standard editions for those who can’t afford, or care about, the Limited Editions.

9. Mr. Vampire (Eureka Entertainment) 

Mr. Vampire is a first watch for me in 2020 and I fell head over heels in love with it. The film is fun, funny, scary, and exciting. This is the perfect film to show kids to get them into horror and martial arts. Eureka gave the film a brand new 2K transfer that breathes new life into the film. The special features are worth the time. I learned a lot about, not only the film, but about Chinese history and customs, from the commentary track.

8. Skinned Alive, Ozone, and SOV Six Pack (Tempe Digital) 

Tempe Digital was very active in 2020. They did a full on restoration of Skinned Alive and gave us a Limited Edition blu-ray of that. They then released Ozone in a Deluxe Edition that contained two versions of the film and a huge amount of special features. Then, at the end of the year, they released the rest of the films made during the first five years of the companies existence. All of the films come with tons of special features including commentary tracks and making of. Booklets and soundtracks round out the offerings of these really amazing releases. These films are not for everyone, but those who do like them can appreciate these releases. I don’t normally put BD-Rs on my “Best of” lists, but I had to make an exception in this case.

7. Blue Underground 4Ks (Blue Underground) 

The boutique labels in 2020 really showed us how much older films can benefit from being in 4K and Blue Underground was one of the companies leading the way. All six 4K’s they released in 2020 and each one is just jaw-droppingly great. Every film looked great and showed us how film looks in 4K. Their Maniac release showed us that 16mm looks great as well. Zombie looked especially great in 4K, giving me the feeling like I was watching the film in the theater from an actual film print. For the four that had Lmited Editions released on blu-ray before they hit 4K, all of the special features have been carried over. Blue Underground has a slew of 4K releases lined up for 2021 and I am very much looking forward to each of them.

6. War of the Worlds (Criterion) 

For the past few years, Paramount's presence was very small compared to other big companies. They especially didn’t like to release too many catalog titles. This changed in 2020 when they came back with a vengeance. Not only were they releasing tons of titles but they were also licensing out a ton of titles to other companies. War of the Worlds was one such title and showed us that Paramount still had it in them when they put their mind to it. Criterion released this blu-ray and they did a fantastic job with it. The picture quality is mind-blowing and the special features package is a lot of fun. 

5. Beastmaster, The (Vinegar Syndrome) 

The Beastmaster is a very fun if uneven fantasy film that was all over the 80’s. The film has never been released on blu-ray in the States (it got a release in Australia and probably other countries too) so this release is a big deal. Vinegar Syndrome knew what they had on their hands and they put a ton of effort into this release. They gave the film a brand new 4K restoration that other companies should use as a basis for their work and they allowed Coscarelli to go in and update some of the effects (on a separate blu-ray and not the main one). Add to that a bunch of legacy featurettes and a main doc that shows the love that the filmmakers have for the film (even if it isn’t the version they wanted released) and a booklet with essays about the film.

4. Dragons Forever (88 Films) 

Dragons Forever is one of my favorite Jackie Chan films. It is also one of my favorite Sammo Hung films as well as one of my favorite Yuen Biao films. These three guys are always magic when they make films together. It is a shame that they have never done another film as a trio after this. Here in the States we never got this film past laserdisc and VHS, so I had to go to the UK and get the 88 Films blu-ray, which was a very smart move. This is one great release. We get 3 versions of the film including the English version which is the version I fell in love with. They also brought over the extras from the Hong Kong Legends dvd release (except for the Bey Logan commentary) and added a few of their own. 

3. Dawn of the Dead: Limited Edition (Second Sight) 

Dawn of the Dead has one of the shittiest histories in all of film when it comes to rights. Through the Anchor Bay blu-ray release in the early 2010’s, there was never really a problem with the rights. Then rights owner and crabby old man, Richard Rubenstein, decided to do a costly 3-D conversion of the film which made the price that he was demanding to release the film to skyrocket. Since Rubenstein only owns the US rights, this meant that other countries could do releases without his say so. Second Sight came to the rescue. They restored the film in 4K (all three versions) and created a whole slew of special features just for this release. They also added the film’s score and novelization and gave us one of the best releases of 2020.

2. Gamera: The Complete Collection (Arrow Video) 

I grew up watching monster movies. My mother introduced me to Godzilla when I was a kid (Godzilla 1985 had just hit theaters) and I haven’t looked back. It has been a dream of mine to be able to have all of a film series in one package and that dream was realized for the Gamera series with this set from Arrow Video. They have fixed the wrongs from the Mill Creek sets, brought over the 4K restorations for the Heisei trilogy, and given Gamera the Brave the respect it deserves. All of these films come with a commentary track, a rather informative introduction from August Ragone, and other special features. Arrow outdid themselves with the packaging which looks like their Herschell Gordon Lewis set from years back. They even included some Gamera comic books from back in the day. This is the type of set that Criterion’s Godzilla set should have been. This is one hell of a set.

1. Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection (Severin Films) 

I had never heard of Al Adamson before Severin announced their Masterpiece Collection back in February, but after seeing their promo trailer, I knew that I had to have this collection. Severin went all out for this set. Instead of focusing on a slipcover, they created a digibook-type packaging that makes the set stand out of the crowd. The set contains almost every film Adamson made before he was brutally murdered in the 90’s. We also get special features on most of the films that includes audio commentaries and new interviews with cast and crew. There is also a booklet that goes into more detail about each of the films found in the set (which is just about all of Adamson's films and is a really good read. This is the type of set that a more popular director would get, but I am glad that Severin gave it to Adamson. This is one of my favorite sets of all time and the Best Blu-ray Release of 2020.

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