Monday, January 10, 2022

Favorite Catalog Releases From 2021

This has been an unbelievable year for catalog releases and this list could very easily go into the dozens so here's a list of a just few of my favorites.

I remember paying $20.00 for multi-gen bootleg VHS with burned in Greek subs or such for some of this back in the dark ages of cult film collecting. 

 SATAN'S BLOOD 1978 Vinegar Syndrome Blu

Director & writer Carlos Puerto's sex & gore-filled Satanic romp has had a couple of DVD releases in the past but with a new 4K scan of the 35mm negative Vinegar Syndrome's Blu-ray brings all the skin & Satanic goings-on out in gorgeous clarity. One of the first post-Franco regime Spanish horror films that took advantage of the relaxing censorship standards, there's also was some help here production-wise from Juan Piquer Simón (PIECES) and Vinegar adds a great bunch of extras including a 45-minute Spanish documentary on the film, still gallery and best of all a commentary track by Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger.

Along with the exploitive elements on full display, it's also a beautiful looking film filled with a moody gothic atmosphere some very creepy set design (including an unsettlingly macabre doll), and a climax that'll stick in your brain for quite a while afterward. 

AN ANGEL FOR SATAN 1966 Severin Films Blu

One of last of Barbara's B&W Italian Gothics to receive a quality release, Severin's Blu-ray of this perverse (and sometimes still shocking) gem will have you thankfully tossing all those ropey bootlegs and quasi-legit DVDs in the waste bin.  

Directed by Camillo Mastrocinque this one hits all the marks - beautiful B&W cinematography by Giuseppe Aquaris, a haunting soundtrack by Francesco De Masi and the breathtaking presence of Barbara Steele. Although there is the expected witches curse, this is not exactly a horror film as its more of an unsettlingly Gothic melodrama with some obvious underpinnings of S&M and sexual perversion. 

Severin's release contains a very nice commentary from Barbara and David Del Valle in which she touches on her entire career in Italy and in addition there is a second more scholarly one from Kat Ellinger. A nice extra is the 1967 short BARBARA AND HER FURS (which is a must-see experience) 


Although he started out his career as one of the faces of French New Wave cinema Jean-Paul Belmondo in the 70's and 80's was the star of a great string of police/thriller action films among them this 1976 release directed by Philippe Labro.

A twisting turning tale has Belmondo playing a mercenary hiring out as a type of rogue policeman who works for various agencies as he has carte blanche to do what he needs to do to get his man. After busting a drug smuggling ring, he goes after “L’Épervier” (“The Hawk" played by Bruno Cremer from SORCERER), a ruthless thief who employs petty criminals to help him rob banks and then murders them.

 Featuring of course the usual jaw dropping stunts (performed by Belmondo himself) this is one of a group of great Belmondo action films that Kino has brought out. Now please can we get PEUR SUR LA VILLE (THE NIGHT CALLER) with Belmondo chasing a serial killer in Paris. 

Kino's Blu features an audio Commentary by Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson and an interview with director/writer Philippe Labro.

DOCTOR X 1932 Warner Archive Blu 

Featuring a stunning restoration from a recent 4K scan of the last surviving Technicolor nitrate print this Michael Curtiz directed & wonderfully lurid pre-code shocker joins last year's release of its companion film MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM.

Fast-talking newspaperman (Lee Tracy - who specialized in playing fast-talking guys) is on the trail of "The Moon Killer" which leads him to the clinic run by Dr. Xavier (Lionel Atwill) along with Atwill's daughter (Fay Wray) and a whole host of potential red herrings with the clinic's staff of doctors (all of whom have some unique habit or psychoses).

A great pre-code horror with thinly veiled allusions to prostitution, double entendre wisecracks, along open talk of cannibalism. The "synthetic flesh" sequence still packs a jolt, and nobody can chew up scenery like Atwill.  

Warner Archive has included a nice batch of extras including two commentaries, a documentary on Curtiz and the alternate B&W version of the film. 

THE DESIGNATED VICTIM 1971 Mondo Macabro Blu

Mondo Macabro continues to surprise us with great underseen gems including this Italian riff on Patricia Highsmith's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. Directed by Maurizio Lucidi and a script co-written by Aldo Lado (WHO SAW HER DIE?) it features the wonderful Tomas Milian along with Pierre Clémenti, Katia Christine, and Marisa Bartoli. Clementi and Milian are wonderful playing off each other and there's some great use of Venice locations (which I'm always a sucker for).

Plus, Mondo Macabro brought out a much-needed beautiful upgrade release of Piero Schivazappa's FEMINA RIDENS (THE LAUGHING WOMAN) on Blu along with a passel of other great releases including ITS NOTHING MAMA, JUST A GAME, and the very bizarre & interesting HUMAN ANIMALS.

BURY ME AN ANGEL 1972 Shout Factory Blu 

Blessed with one of the greatest taglines in the history of film "A howling hellcat humping a hot steel hog on a roaring rampage of revenge" this has been long missing on home video and is now out as part of the Shout Select line. Originally announced by Shout as part of The Angel Collection DVD set that was to also include ANGELS HARD AS THEY COME (which was also released by Shout on Blu in 2021) and ANGELS DIE HARD this package along with a Nurses/Students and a Filipino action set fell off the radar as Shout began winding down their New World releases about a decade ago. 

Directed by Barbara Peeters (SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS & most of HUMUNOIDS FROM THE DEEP) it's the rare biker film that is told from a female point of view - both as far as the film's director and its lead character.

The film mixes a road movie with the biker genre as 6 Ft. Dixie Peabody (playing "Dag") sets out on a journey to avenge her brother's death. Like a lot of biker films, it consists of long takes of bikes cruising along desert highways with the appropriate fuzz guitar soundtrack and along the way there's some bloody violence, a bit of nudity and a jarring twist in the ending. Dan Haggerty (GRIZZLY ADAMS) who pops up in a few biker films shows up here as a hippie artist.    

Nothing earth-shattering plot-wise but it's always great to get another classic biker film in HD and its companion release ANGELS HARD AS THEY COME (written by Jonathan Demme) is an interesting biker version of RASHOMON. 

Here's hoping we can get some more New World titles and these Shout Select releases are limited, so once they're gone they're gone. 


Along with last year's William Grefe collection, this is another fascinating journey into the world of low-budget regional filmmaking. Featuring haunted pianos, alien invaders and a talking monster truck among other wonders, Rebane's films while never to be considered great are fascinating pieces of movie history and exude a certain grungy low-budget charm.

Missing from the box is his magnum opus THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION (released on Blu by Code Red), BLOOD HARVEST (available from Vinegar Syndrome), and two of his later efforts THE CAPTURE OF BIGFOOT and RANA: THE LEGEND OF SHADOW LAKE (both held by Troma) but there's still much to love here including my personal favorite THE DEMONS OF LUDLOW and a highly informative documentary on Bill and his career.


Consisting of 12 Blu-rays, 3 CDs and featuring 20 films along with hours of special features, short subjects, interviews, commentaries etc. this is one of the top releases of the year for me.

Kicking off with Kier-La Janisse's epic 194 min. documentary WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED it then takes a world-wide tour of the genre including (with many making their HD debut) EYES OF FIRE (USA 1983), WITCHHAMMER (Czechoslovakia 1970), VIY (Soviet Union 1967), LAKE OF THE DEAD (Norway 1958, ROBIN REDBREAST (UK 1970) and IL DEMONIO (Italy 1963) among others.

There's also a hefty book, a CD soundtrack with music from the documentary and actress Linda Hayden (THE BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW) reading Arthur Machen's The White People. 

All in all, a beautiful (and thankfully compact) package that is perfect for a winter,s night viewing (or listening).


Directed by Giorgio Ferroni and one of the first Euro-horror films to be produced in color this has had several notable home video releases before, however this new release from Arrow is the definitive one by far.

Containing four(!!) unique cuts of the film we also get a packed set of extras including a commentary from Tim Lucas, visual essay by Kat Ellinger, archival interviews, alternate opening credits, poster gallery and more.

One of the most ravishing looking horror films (with all apologies to Mario Bava) from the golden age of Euro Gothic horror this is eye candy of the highest degree and has never looked better. 

BEYOND TERROR 1980 Cauldron Films Blu

 A long-lost Spanish oddity that throws together juvenile delinquency mayhem, gothic horror and some Blind Dead inspired attacks this sleazy and gore/nudity packed shocker one on the more surprising releases of the year (especially considering its long unavailable status on home video). 

Directed by Tomás Aznar, this may initially seem to be a weird viewing experience with seemingly three separate stories grafted together (with the horror element not kicking in until the climax) but there's a  nightmarish flow to the film that draws you in. Probably not the best film for Euro-horror newbies to dip their toe into, it's definitely worth a look for those into the more "out-there" examples of the genre.

Another one of those that I initially owned via a bootleg from a murky European PAL video tape release this has been given a 4K scan from the original negative that brings out the earthy and hazy intended color palette of the film (and now you can actually see what's going on).

Some other favorites from 2021:

Vinegar Syndrome's Camille Keaton in Italy collection
Arrow Films massive Shaw Brothers box
Vinegar Syndrome's rescue of the lost NEW YORK NINJA
Kino Lorber's NIGHT GALLERY Season 1 box
Criterion's Melvin Van Peebles box

and many more....

Things I'm looking forward to in 2022...

AGFA has teased the release of a HUGE Doris Wishman Blu-ray collection (maybe two separate boxes) which will include the recent 4K restorations, which going by the recent sample of films put up on the Criterion Channel, is going to look gorgeous. 

Severin has dropped some hints concerning a Black Emanuelle/Laura Gemser box. Laura in HD! Sign me up!

Synapse films in their usual methodical way (with the results sure to be worth the wait) have been working on a new restoration of TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD which has been shown at some recent festivals. Along with three(!!) different cuts of the film I'm sure Synapse will have a great batch of extras. 

Shout Factory has announced a couple of long-missing video titles from the Group One catalog with ALLIGATOR and THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER.

Vinegar Syndrome is going to release a new 4K(!!) restoration of the Swedish exploitation classic THRILLER (aka THEY CALL HER ONE EYE) starring the great Christina Lindberg along with Forgotten Gialli: Volume Four (containing  Stelvio Massi's ARABELLA BLACK ANGEL)

Cauldron is releasing Lucio Fulci's great poliziotteschi COUNTERBAND with Fabio Testi.

88 Films release of THE BLACK CAT 

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