6 Foreign Horror Movies We Want On Blu-Ray
March 3, 2016
Yesterday, we looked at
6 classic horror titles that, for whatever reason, have not made the upgrade to Blu-Ray, at least commercially here in the States. Cultivating that list of movies managed to get me thinking about a lot of other deserving flicks that still haven’t been given the proper high def / special edition treatment.
This time, let’s look at some foreign horror. Sometimes, some of the most innovative, unique and interesting storytelling in the genre has come from other countries. At the height of the DVD boom, we had Tartan Extreme DVD importing over some of the best ultra violent and hyper stylized movies from the Asian market including the “Vengeance” trilogy from Park Chan-wook. For a brief time there, Dimension Films extended to their “Dimension Extreme” sub-label to bring some of the crazy gory terrors coming out of the French-Extremist movement.
And while the usual suspects over at
Scream Factory, Synapse Films, Severin and beyond have been doing the devil’s work by providing us with amazing restorations of some of our favorite cult classics, I wish one of them would step up and dive head first into the foreign horror pool. Here are 6 foreign horror movies that we absolutely need on Blu-Ray.
DAY OF THE BEAST (EL DIA DE LA BEASTIA)
This is actually one I haven’t seen, myself, but it’s not for lack of trying! Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia is one of the most radical genre writer/directors out there, somewhat reminiscent of his peer Guillermo del Toro, but with a touch of Peter Jackson’s early film lunacy. In particular, WITCHING & BITCHING and THE LAST CIRCUS are unlike anything you’ve ever seen or experienced. But his earliest work is a bit harder to find, unless you have a multi-region DVD player. Screw that! I want his first few films on Blu! According to the IMDB synopsis, a priest learns about the coming of the Anti-Christ and teams up with a heavy metal fan and the host of a talk show on the occult to summon the devil to find out the details so they can kill the baby. Wait, what?! If it’s even remotely as insane as Iglesia’s more recent work, then I have to see this thing! Also, his third film PERDITO DURANGE was released in a heavily censored version in the US as DANCE WITH THE DEVIL. It stars Javier Bardem, Rosie Perez and James Gandolfini, so I think it’s time American audiences got to see what all the fuss is about on that one too!
Easily the most notorious horror movie to come out of the wave of French Extreme cinema in the mid to late 2000’s, MARTYRS truly has to be experienced to be believed. And with the recent remake just getting a Blu-Ray release last month, isn’t it about time we got a proper Blu-Ray release here in America of the original? The first half plays out like one of the most extreme vengeance stories possible with an abused victim taking revenge against the family that tortured her as a child, but the radical change in direction for the third act is what everyone talks about in this flick. Personally, I’d prefer a Blu-Ray of INSIDE, mainly because that’s a great holiday horror movie that can ruin anyone’s Christmas, but MARTYRS is the quintessential French horror film from this period and hence should be celebrated and respected, whether you like it or not.
For whatever reason, while the Park Chan-wook “Vengeance” trilogy is available on Blu-Ray, as is his most recent American film STOKER, there are still titles from his filmography that have yet to make their US Blu-Ray debut. And my favorite of the bunch is his epic modern vampire tale THIRST. This 2009 movie tells the story of a priest that becomes a vampire after a blood transfusion and how he converts the woman of his desires into a vampire as well. Their relationship as bloodsuckers becomes very, very complicated as she takes to vampirism a bit too well. As with all of Park Chan-wook’s work, it’s beautifully shot and has some gorgeous visuals that would benefit greatly from being presented in high def.
OPEN YOUR EYES (ABRES LOS OJOS)
Alejandro Amendabar’s 1997 OPEN YOUR EYES is my all-time favorite foreign film. The Spanish filmmaker made a strong directorial debut with his film THESIS (which is on Blu-Ray, by the way), but it’s his second film that really will blow your mind. A handsome womanizer finally meets the girl of his dreams when an old fling takes her revenge and seriously scars his face. At first, he attempts to carry on with his life by wearing a mask, but his vanity prevents him from enjoying life the way he used to and his dream girl doesn’t see him the same anymore. That’s when an offer comes from a radical company that’s willing to fix his face with advanced surgery, but is it too good to be true? If this trippy premise sounds familiar, it’s because it was remade (poorly) into the Tom Cruise movie VANILLA SKY, which is not nearly as successful or mind-bending as this original Spanish version. In fact, Penelope Cruz plays the same character in both versions and while she’s amazing in the original, she feels a bit off in the remake. There’s, of course, a DVD out there of this, but as my favorite foreign film, I’d love to see a proper high def release! Bring me the Blu!
How is it possible that a modern Spanish classic could spawn a franchise spanning 4 films and yet the original isn’t available on Blu-Ray in the States yet? When the original [REC] came out, I was completely blown away. At that point, I’d grown weary of zombie films. I was tired already of “found footage.” And yet, here was a Spanish import that implemented all of those things. And you know what? It did them better than anyone before them had, making this not only one of my favorite zombie movies, but also my favorite found footage movie. It’s genuinely scary! Yet again, eventually came the unnecessary America remake under the title QUARANTINE, which left out one of the creepiest aspects of the finale from the original. What’d directors and series creators Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero do when they made their sequel? Based it all around the one tiny element the American remake left out and ran with it! The sequel takes things in a whole new direction, then the 3rd film serves as a prequel before the 4th and final film closed out the series in style. To the best of my knowledge, only the 3rd film got a Blu-Ray release in the US, but really we should get a box set of the complete franchise at this point, starting with the original classic!
RINGU (ALL THE MOVIES!)
Last but not least, we need the original Japanese version of THE RING, aka RINGU. And all its sequels, prequels and whatever else is out there! The original 1998 Japanese movie by Hideo Nakata completely changed the trajectory of horror for the several years that followed. All of a sudden, American studios got hip to the scary cinema coming out of Japan and immediately began remaking films like THE RING and THE GRUDGE for American audiences. While I like the American RING just fine, I never thought it matched the scary intensity of the original. The moment when Sadako emerges from the TV is still one of my absolute favorite horror sequences. And now with the upcoming THE RING VERSUS THE GRUDGE movie opening this summer, it seems like a no brainer. Inevitably, someone will put out SADAKO VS KAYAKO on Blu-Ray and whomever does that should also capitalize on the previous movies in that format. There’s already a RINGU: ANTHOLOGY OF TERROR DVD set out which collects 4 of THE RING movies. Now would be the perfect time to upgrade that set to Blu. And while we’re at it, the original JU-ON and PULSE movies are also much desired. J-Horror is ripe for a revival, at least in the home video collector’s market!