John Charles, of course, is VIDEO WATCHDOG's Associate Editor, the author of THE HONG KONG FILMOGRAPHY, 1977-1997 (McFarland), and host of the website Hong Kong Digital. He has chosen to divvy his list between a "Best" and an alphabetical arrangement of "The Rest." - TL
By John Charles
VIDEO NASTIES: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE (Nucleus Films UK PAL DVD)
Home entertainment has never been more high tech and special features have never been more pervasive, but this superb 3 disc set reminds one of how important it is to support the independent specialty labels. A true labor of love and admirably comprehensive, this is an excellent documentation of how British Right Wing politicians and their allies manufactured a horror videos “moral crisis” to help divert public attention from their own monumental policy failures.
THE REST (alphabetical):
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010; Disney Blu-ray)
I was surprised by all the negative reviews for this Tim Burton fantasy, which ranks among his most exquisitely styled, well cast and satisfying works. It was also the only post-production conversion feature released in 2010 to have anything approaching acceptable 3-D (and is also available on a separate Blu-ray release in that format).
DARK AND STORMY NIGHT (Shout! Factory DVD)
I adore 1930s old dark house mysteries and Larry Blamire’s satirical tribute features the look, casting, and creaky plotting of someone who loves them as much as I do.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Alliance Films Canada Blu-ray)
Some have expressed disappointment in the second and third entries in this trilogy and I suspect it has a lot to do with just how forceful and enthralling this initial instalment is. Noomi Rapace is fascinating as the titular anti-heroine and watching her character across three movies gave me 7 ½ hours of cinematic bliss.
THE RED SHOES (Criterion Blu-ray)
I have never screened THE RED SHOES in black and white, but I’m sure it would still be superb. In color, it is a ravishingly beautiful experience and the recent restoration is skilfully rendered on this stunning disc.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (Universal Blu-ray)
While well past the target age, I could not help but be charmed by the infectious energy and visual invention on display throughout virtually every moment of this Edgar Wright confection. It is also a wonderful visual treat for those who love Toronto.
SHUTTER ISLAND (Paramount Blu-ray)
People have complained about how obvious the twist in this film is, but it should be obvious to anyone who has seen the trailer. The point was never the mystery, but the opportunity for Martin Scorsese to indulge in a deep and meaningful character study; on that level, coupled with his superb directorial technique and fine performances from the principles, it is a complete success.
SPLICE (E1 Canada Blu-ray)
It goes off the rails in the final reel and overdoes the splatter in one sequence, but Vincenzo Natali’s refreshingly intelligent science fiction/horror thriller depicts basic moral issues of experimentation in frank terms that few filmmakers have dared in the past. It is also wonderfully Canadian in the best Cronenbergian sense.
STAR CRASH (Shout! Factory Blu-ray)
My favorite to date of Shout!’s Roger Corman Cult Classics line offers Luigi Cozzi’s campy sci-fi cult classic in a surprisingly elaborate special edition release that certainly won’t disappoint fans who have been waiting a very long time for this sort of loving celebration.
TOY STORY 3 (Disney Blu-ray)
Another superb effort from Pixar, TOY STORY 3 once again bucks the sequel curse, seeming entirely fresh, appealing and witty (it’s part prison movie send-up and a very good one at that), with the sort of dazzling animation we have come to expect from this company (though as with UP, there is no reason to watch this movie in 3-D). For all of 2010’s vivid horror imagery, Big Baby is still the creepiest thing I have seen all year.