i recently got married (yay, me!) and, in addition to several kitchen appliances and place settings, as a wedding gift we received a super fancy blu-ray player. i didn’t know much about the format when the gift arrived, but as it turns out, several blu-ray disks offer features absent from their dvd releases (apart from the obvious bump up in picture and sound quality). rather predictably, i’ve spent the last few weeks researching and purchasing the best that the format has to offer in the horror genre, and i thought i’d share a few of the ‘must-have’ blu-ray disks that i’ve found.
friday the 13th (2009)
the friday remake has polarized horror fans, but love it or hate it — this blu-ray is definitely worth having. in addition to the features present on the dvd, it has several blu-ray exclusives, including two featurettes (one on the history of the series and another that examines each of the film’s best kills in-depth) and a bd-live sneak preview of trick ‘r’ treat. the star of the disk, however, is the mis-named ‘trivia track’ which is actually a full-length picture-in-picture commentary featuring interviews with cast and crew and alternate versions of scenes (including the scene where jason gets his mask). i’m personally a fan of the remake, but i came to appreciate it even more after watching this track.
my bloody valentine 3d
the only blu-ray exclusive feature worth mentioning on mbv 3d is ‘molog’, which allows users to create their own visual blog entries that others can view during the film. i can’t say i was overly impressed with this feature as i didn’t see many such entries online, but that was a while ago and perhaps things have changed. what i am impressed with, however, is the 3d on this disk. while still not the same as the theatrical experience, the 3d present on this blu-ray release is far superior to that of the dvd, likely due to the resolution and clarity hd offers. at least for the moment, this is the best 3d experience one can have at home.
while a bastardization in many ways of the comic it’s based on (hellblazer), i still enjoy many aspects of constantine (alas, keanu is not one of them). this blu-ray version features all the extras of the special edition dvd release plus an additional picture-in-picture commentary track that delves into the history of the project and why john constantine ended up being portrayed as he is. similar to the friday remake, this commentary is interesting if you’re a fan of the source material, even if you’re not of the film itself.
the thing is definitely worth owning just to see in hd, but the blu-ray also includes a picture-in-picture commentary. most of the material contained in it is from the ‘terror takes shape’ documentary you can see elsewhere, but seeing pieces of it spliced along-side the film is definitely worth watching even if you’ve seen the doc before.
dawn of the dead (2004)
dawn of the dead is one of the few recent remakes to live up to its source material. the dvd release was loaded with extra features, but the blu-ray goes one step further by including a behind-the-scene/documentary style picture-in-picture commentary track that goes further into the making of the film.
land of the dead
similar to the dawn of the dead disk, land of the dead also features a picture-in-picture commentary track comprised mostly of behind-the-scenes footage. in addition to the typical interviews you’d imagine, it also includes john leguizamo leading a set tour where he and dennis hopper inform a pa that they don’t feel like working and are just going to dick around for a while.
the next-gen edition of the descent can be watched in one of three ways — the r-rated version, the unrated, or ‘the underground experience.’ the latter is another excellent picture-in-picture commentary track featuring just about every cast and crew member you can think of and does an excellent job of covering the film from conception to completion.
return to the house on haunted hill
while not a great film by any means, return to the house on haunted hill does feature one of the most unique uses of blu-ray technology seen thus far. the film is cheesy and filled with expendable characters, which fits perfectly with the choose-your-own-adventure-esque ‘watch the movie your way’ mode exclusive to the blu-ray edition. at pivotal moments in the plot, you’re given control of the characters actions and can influence the way the story plays out. with 96 possible permutations, it will be a while before i’ve seen every possible version of rtthohh.