Tuesday, 12 August 2014

[Feature] Blu-Rays We Want to See

While more and more obscure titles are released on Blu-ray every week, there are still plenty of great (sometimes classic) films that are still not available on this wonderful high-definition format. What gives?

If you're like me, a HD snob, you probably have plenty of visually arresting movies that you want to revisit, but refuse to watch in standard definition (yes, yes... first world problems, I know).

Under the Flag of the Rising Sun

As of this date, most of Kinji Fukasaku's filmography has yet to see a Blu-Ray release. However, if there were only one Fukasaku film I could have on Blu then it would have to be Under the Flag of the Rising Sun. Sachiko Hidari, a war widow, has spent twenty-six years searching for the truth about her husband's death. Was he executed? Was he a deserter? Was he a hero? As the government adheres to the official, flawed version of events, the stubborn woman seeks her answers by speaking to the men who served with her husband. The stories told by these damaged soldiers comprise the bulk of the movie and accounts complicated by each man's "truth."

Criterion Films, this is right up your alley. I don't know what you have to do, but do whatever it takes to get this masterpiece under your label so we can have a Blu-Ray version.

Braindead / Meet the Feebles / Bad Taste

Okay, okay, I'm cheating a little by lumping these three together. So sue me already. Long before he was making films about the Hobbits of Middle Earth, Peter Jackson made his name with three cult-classic schlock fests. Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles, and Braindead have rightfully gained cult classic status, so what gives Peter Jackson? Why haven't these awesome films seen the light of day in glorious 1080p HD?

Granted, we did come close to seeing a local Australian release of Braindead courtesy of local distributors Cinema Cult. However, it was halted due to licensing issues. Word has it that Peter Jackson's Wingnut Company has bought the rights for all three films and as such, they are planning on doing full restorations for each film. Fingers crossed that we might finally see these films sometime within the next year.

Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey

Strange things are a-foot at the Circle-K. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure already has a Blu-Ray release and yet Bogus Journey remains relegated to DVD? Doesn't make a lot of sense now does it? Perhaps it's just me, but I believe Bogus Journey stands neck-to-neck with Excellent Adventure and deserves better treatment. After all, this is a teen comedy that dares to reference Ingmar Bergman and The Seventh Seal, a joke that I'm willing to bet went completely over the audiences head at the time (granted, it went over my head as a kid as well). Keanu Reeves has consistently teased the prospect of doing a third film. If that third film should ever see the light of day, then why not release Bogus Journey on Blu beforehand to capitalize?


A quiet, but incredibly poignant film. Kanji Watanabe is a clerk who has lived a dull, unsatisfying life working in the government's offices diagnosed with cancer and given only a year to live. He tries to enjoy his days by picking up a former co-worker and taking her out on the town. She finally convinces him that this is not the way to spend the rest of his life. He soon realizes that he has a strong desire to do something with his life so that it will not have been a total waste. Therefore, he begins to work in cooperation with the people... accomplishing something that nobody in the office had the nerve to do before.

Ikiru is a radical departure for Director Akira Kurosawa, a man best known for his Samurai films. It's as low as low-key can be. It is a meditation on the very essence of life and what it is to live. Well deserving of HD Treatment.

JSA: Joint Security Area

Long before Park Chan-Wook was making a worldwide name for himself with his blood soaked Vengeance trilogy, he made a film that became one of the highest grossing films in Korean history. I speak of the 2000 Political-Thriller JSA: Joint Security Area.

JSA is a powerfully moving and keenly intelligent analysis of the confusing political situation between the two opposing governmental systems. It was the highest grossing film of 2000 in its native homeland, so how in the blue hell hasn't this been released on Blu-Ray yet? In South Korea, a Blu-Ray release was teased but has still yet to come to fruition. Here's hoping it will come soon rather than later.

Johnny Got His Gun

Perhaps one of the greatest anti-war films ever made continues to be criminally overlooked and unjustly mis-treated.Johnny Got His Gun was, of course, best known for its implementation into the video clip for Metalica's ever popular metal anthem, One. A fantastic use of the film, no doubt, but even on its terms Dalton Trumbo's film is a hauntingly devastating masterpiece. It's a film that will rattle you right down to your core and leave you wanting to become a pacifist. A story that authentically imparts the loneliest possible consciousness, one where the subject can't even be sure whether or not he's alive as he subsists in a living death. Distributors everywhere I beg of you, please do this film justice and give it another restoration.

Trick or Treat

Here's an overlooked 80's horror-comedy that is just dying to get some love from a distributor such as Shout Factory. When an awkward-bullied teen plays the record of his favourite hair-metal band backwards, he inadvertently releases the spirit of an evil psychopath rocker. Trick or Treat is a cheesy yet terrifically funny horror-comedy. In a time where Heavy Metal was indicted as being the music of devil-worshippers by overly concerned PTA members, the evil spirit Sammi Curr was an amalgam of every parent's worst nightmare at the time.

Trick or Treat has everything you could want. Including a rocking soundtrack, courtesy of Eddie Clark, ex Motorhead. Special Effects courtesy of effects maestro Kevin Yagher. An abundance of action, loads of laughs, a totally ridiculous plot and the most wonderful '80's stereotypes as characters. Including appearances from both Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons, what more could you want?

At one point in time, Anchor Bay were set to re-release the film on DVD way back in 2006, but the DVD was halted due to certain copyright issues with the soundtrack. I don't know what it would take to get those issues cleared, but it would be nice to see this underappreciated 80's horror-comedy get a new lease of life.

Heidi: The Girl of the Alps

For years, I've wanted to see Director Isao Takahata's pre-Ghibli television series Heidi: The Girl of the Alps. But, unfortunately, it's been a near impossible task as the series was never released on DVD with English subs. With all the recent speculative talks of Ghibli closing shop, then what better time for someone to pick up the rights and give this series a much-needed dose of English friendly Blu-Ray love.

Before Sunrise / Before Sunset

I adore these films and I make no apologies in saying that out loud. I honestly believe that Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy crafted the finest love story ever told on film with this trilogy. So, it's criminal to me that I have the final instalment of this trilogy (Before Midnight) sitting on my Blu-Ray shelf, yet the first two instalments are limited to a stingy, cheap, bare bones double DVD pack.

It's time for perhaps the greatest on-screen love story ever told to receive the grand treatment. I'm talking commentary tracks, retrospective featurettes. Hell, box all three films together in one nicely designed digipak if you have to. Just give me these two films on Blu-Ray already so I can complete the trilogy.

What do you think? Which films would you like to be released on Blu-ray? Let us know in the comments below!

(This Feature Was Originally Published Over at Neon Maniacs on 11/08/14 by yours truly)

--Daniel M



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