For the third straight day Upcomingdiscs is here to help you with that home theater fanatic on your Christmas list. There’s a ton of stuff out there to pick from. Leave it to us to help you pick out just the right gift. If the gift is a hit, we don’t mind if you take all of the credit. Of course, if the gift isn’t a hit, we’ll take the heat for you. But the only heat there’s going to be this holiday season is the warm glow of a high-definition monitor and a few classic television shows via Image Entertainment.
These guys might not release as much stuff as the other studios, but they sure do have some of the best classics that I’ve seen in 2010. Here are three of my favorites. They’ll be your friends’ favorites, too.
Thriller: The Complete Series DVD
Boris Karloff was one of the finest actors of his generation. His iconic portrayal of the Frankenstein monster was one of Hollywood’s early defining moments. He went on to delight us for decades. But his accomplishments were not limited to the big screens of major motion pictures. Karloff delivered one of the best horror anthology series on television. Long before Michael Jackson came along, Karloff was the original Thriller. Thriller was a milestone. It was so good that Alfred Hitchcock killed the show because it was taking too much attention away from his series. Image delivers the complete series here. Now, I have usually reserved this year’s gift guide to Blu-ray releases only. I’m making an exception here, because this is the best complete series collection on the planet. Hopefully, next year I can talk about their new Blu-ray release. But don’t let that stop you from giving this set to every Universal horror fan on your Christmas list.
One of the joys of my life has been some of the people I have met and developed a relationship with over the years in the film industry. I regret that I never had the opportunity to meet some of the actors who are no longer with us. At the top of that list is Boris Karloff. To me, there is absolutely no equal in horror filmdom. Over the years I’ve had quite a few chances to hang out with Sara Karloff, his daughter. I’m happy to count her a friend. She was very instrumental in getting me some attention for my tribute song Man Created A Man. She has inherited that kind generosity that Boris was so known for. On Wednesday, the 13th, appropriately enough, I had the chance to talk with Sara again. Thanks to the Image release of the great television series Thriller, we got together once again to chat about Boris Karloff. This time you get to eavesdrop, and you won’t even have to swear out a warrant. Bang it here to listen to my chat with Sara Karloff: Sara Karloff Interview
The Twilight Zone: Seasons 1 & 2 [Blu-ray]
“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”
It would be very hard, indeed, to argue against the impact that The Twilight Zone has had on television. To say that the series was a milestone in that medium would be an understatement of the worst kind. When Rod Serling brought his landmark series to CBS in October of 1959, television was still very new. No one was quite sure what the future held for that magical box. But that box was part of an invasion. The television set would change the face of the world. It would become the social center of our homes. It would influence who we choose as our leaders. In 1959 those fortunate enough to already have television sets in their homes would become the first to see that future. They were given a glimpse of what life might or would be. It was a gift that has continued giving 50 years later. Now it’s out on high-definition Blu-ray, and that gift just got better than it’s ever been. Still, it’s important to give credit where credit is due. The Blu-ray box might say Image Entertainment on the cover. But this gift card is signed: All The Best, Rod Serling.
Through two seasons Image has rewarded fans with a collection of extras that really makes the difference here. Your Twilight Zone fan couldn’t ask for anything more. There are commentaries, radio dramas and vintage interviews with the show’s stars over the two seasons. The third season is on the way in early 2011. Get your friends started with these first seasons and I guarantee you, they will be looking for more.
I know that these episodes have been released several times over the years in various forms. It’s fair to ask the question: Is all of this worth the price of buying them again? The answer is: Absolutely. Image went the extra miles here to bring us so much extra stuff that you’ll spend tons of time with this set long after you’ve watched the episodes. They could have just given us the shows and a few things ported over from the DVD sets and still sold the heck out of the sets just for the restored value of the episodes themselves. This is how vintage television should be released on Blu-ray. Let this serve as a lesson to all studios out there contemplating the release of classic shows in high definition. Make it a collection to be treasured. Your friend doesn’t have a Blu-ray player? Check out my friends at Oppo Digital and buy one now. You’ve just ran out of reasons to not buy Blu-ray. Just sayin’ “submitted for your approval”.