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Last Minute Christmas Gift Guide

Well, the holidays are upon us, and with that comes holiday shopping. So here we are, back with our annual last-minute gift guide, to help guide you to the latest and greatest DVD and Blu-ray gifts that will be on everybody’s wish lists this year!

For the person who is just a little… offbeat:

Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series – I don’t really know how the original Twin Peaks worked as well as it did. I’ve learned over the years that I really don’t like anything David Lynch has a hand in… except for Twin Peaks. So I was as excited (although cautiously so) as anyone else when Twin Peaks’ return was announced. However, the difference her is that while originally Lynch had to make some mainstream concessions to get onto network TV, those restraints are gone now. So the result is a completely Lynch-ian surreal mess that throws coherence and plot right out the window in favor of atmosphere and weirdness for weirdness’s sake. Sigh. I really wanted to like this new series, but it’s almost completely incomprehensible. On the plus side, the new box set that collects all 18 episodes is a real beauty, with nice packaging and a tone of extra features, although many of them are as oddball as the show itself.

For the person who has questionable taste in movies:

The Transformers Series 4K Ultra HD – Okay. I know some people hate the Transformers movies. And I totally get why. They’re a bit of a mess. For my money, I really enjoy the first film and the third film. Are they perfect? No. But to me, they’re large-scale, big budget fun. The second, fourth, and fifth films, however… not good. Well, for those people who do love the films, Paramount has now released the first four films on 4K Ultra HD for the first time (The Last Knight was released on 4K when the film hit home video a few months ago.) First off, I really love the cover art for these releases, which feature new art-inspired designs. Then there’s the film’s themselves, which look and sound amazing. These are the kinds of films that 4K Ultra HD is made for, boasting incredible sharpness and literally jaw-dropping colors. The surround soundtracks will literally shake your speakers, so you might want to nail them down. If you don’t like the movies, there’s nothing for you here, but if you’re a fan, these are breathtaking new transfers of the first four films.

For your friend who has a potty mouth:

South Park: The Complete First Five Seasons (Blu-ray) – Similar to the Transformers release above, these are new editions of existing releases in a new format. South Park has been around so long, the first five seasons came out on home video before Blu-ray was a thing, released only on DVD. Now, CBS/Paramount is allowing fans to complete their Blu-ray collections as the first five seasons are released in individual season sets on Blu-ray. Now, obviously, the show isn’t known for high fidelity graphics, but Blu-ray is always a better option than DVD in terms of color and clarity. Each set includes extra features and are all available at a relatively low price point, so fans can now round out their collections and dump those early DVD releases.

For the person in your life who’s already seen every movie:

Jerome Bixby’s The Man From Earth: Special Edition – SO, ten years ago, this tiny little movie came out that completely blew me away. It remains an obscure favorite, although it has gained something of a cult following. That film is The Man From Earth. The story is simple, a man calls a group of friends – all scholars and academics – together to reveal that he’s been alive for over a hundred thousand years. And… that’s pretty much it. It’s not a plot heavy film, nor is it an action or adventure movie. It is, however, a thoughtful, fascinating, and engaging movie to watch as this group of characters deals with an idea that none of them consider possible. It’s a truly special little film, and with familiar faces such as William Katt, Tony Todd, and Richard Riehle in the cast, it’s got some nice fan appeal. The film has now been released as a special edition Blu-ray, packed with extra features including a documentary that’s as long as the film itself. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

For the whole family:

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas: Grinchmas Edition – I was never a big fan of this movie when it came out back in 2003, but I didn’t have kids then.

Watching it now (with the new Grinchmas Edition which — as far as I can tell — is simply a repackaging), I still don’t love it, but I can appreciate it more as family-friendly entertainment.

It’ll never replace Elf as our go-to Holiday movie, but it’s worth having for the kids.

For the person in your life who always figures out who dun it in whodunit movies:

The Alfred Hitchcock Ultimate Collection – I’m just gonna come right out and say this: The Alfred Hitchcock Ultimate Collection is one of the single finest Blu-ray collections I have ever seen. Period. First off, you’ve got Alfred Hitchcock. The Master of Suspense. Hitchcock was one of the best, plain and simple. Films he made over half a century ago still hold up as some of the best mystery and thriller movies ever. Hitch knew how to cast a film so he didn’t have to spend all of his time trying to elicit strong performances, and the results were movies that were both emotionally captivating and technically groundbreaking. Then you have the DVD collection itself; 15 of Hitch’s best films ever, each one with a complementary suite of extra features. This set not only includes the Master’s most popular films, such as Psycho, Rear Window and The Birds, but also some of his lesser known masterpieces like Rope (one of my personal favorites), Saboteur and Torn Curtain. While this set was released a few years ago, this new re-issue also includes 10 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents that weren’t in the previous version. The set’s packaging is also worth noting. The discs come in a book-style package, and each disc sleeve and disc is adorned with artwork from the different movies’ posters. There’s also a full-color booklet that gives interesting trivia about each movie, reprints the original movie poster, and points out where Hitchcock’s cameo appears in each film.

For the person who hates Christmas:

Silent Night, Deadly Night – This all-new Blu-ray collector’s edition comes from Shout Factory’s Scream Factory imprint, and it’s everything a fan of slasher films could want. This 1984 cult classic was once considered so extreme that it was notoriously pulled from theaters after just a week in release. And while, sure, a murderous Santa Claus might be considered disturbing, the film isn’t really all that controversial when you watch it through the lens of 30 years of horror films since. But that’s okay, because I love this film. It’s twisted and dark and funny and has that classic slasher film feeling. This new edition is loaded with new extra features, making this the best home video version yet.

For the overworked parent in your life:

One Day at A Time: The Complete Series – Despite its incredible popularity on television (it ran a whopping nine seasons), Norman Lear’s One Day at a Time has only ever seen one season released on DVD. Until now, of course, thanks to the supreme efforts of Shout Factory, who have released the entire series in one massive box set that includes every single episode – over 200 in total. I loved this show back in the day, and watching it again was a great nostalgia trip for me. Better than that, however, is the fact that the show holds up surprisingly well. Of course, the fashions and hairstyles show their age, but the show is still really good. Bonnie Franklin, Valerie Bertinelli, Mackenzie Phillips, and of course, the late, great Pat Harrington as Schneider were a terrific family comedy team, and it’s fun to watch the two younger girls grow up, especially. This giant box set includes the One Day at A Time Reunion, and the “This Is It: The Story of One Day at A Time” documentary. This is a great set, a great show, and will make for a nice gift this holiday season – either for a friend or for yourself!


For the kids:

Peanuts Holiday Collection 4K Ultra HD – An interesting choice to release in the 4K Ultra HD format, this Peanuts Holiday Collection includes three timeless Charlie Brown specials: It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Of course, all of these are favorites of the holiday season, and I love seeing them over and over again every year. The 4K Ultra HD gives a slight upgrade, mostly in the form of better colors, stronger blacks, and slightly more atmospheric sound, but it’s not like an A/V revolution happening here. Still, if you don’t already own these specials and have upgraded to 4K (or are planning to), it’s a great buy.

For the comic book fan:

Superman: The Movie Double Feature – I love this new Blu-ray release from The Warner Archive print-on-demand service ( There’s been no shortage of Superman movie home video releases, but this one is a great version of the first movie (although I’d like it better if they’d managed to squeeze the theatrical cut on here as well.) What you get on this double feature is the Director’s Cut of Superman (by Richard Donner, with a different ending and more of Donner’s original footage) and the Extended Edition of the film (which runs almost three hours long and includes rarely-seen footage created for the television airing of the film.) It’s a great way to see a couple of the alternate versions of such a beloved film. Neither is quite as good as the final theatrical version, but for Superman fans and completists, it’s great to have both of these versions on Blu-ray.

For the person who raises chickens in their backyard (How is that a trend?):

Green Acres: The Complete Series – Man, I loved this show when I was a kid. I watched it in re-runs, and it seemed like it was always on when I was young. Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert were pure magic on screen together, and the story of high society socialite living and working on a farm was always good for comedy gold. It was like the reverse Beverly Hillbillies. Now, the entire series is available in one terrific box set from Shout Factory, delivering all 170 episodes on 24 discs. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’d watched this show, and I was happy to see it’s just as charming now as it was when I watched it in my youth. Another great set that I expect will be a nice holiday gift for many people.

For the overly dramatic person in your life:

Dynasty: The Complete Series – Ahhh, Dynasty. The Colbys and the Carringtons. Joan Collins, Linda Evans, John Forsythe, Heather Locklear, Aaron Spelling… How is it that this show and Dallas managed to stay on the air at the same time for so many years when they’re almost the same show? I don’t know, but I can appreciate the over-the-top soap opera nature of Dynasty. Let’s see, what do we have in Dynasty: The Complete Series? Romance? Check. Intrigue? Check. Death by arson? Check. Revenge? Check. Long lost child? Check. Heart transplant drama? Check. Kidnapping? Check. Cliffhanger endings? Check. Great guest stars? Check. How could you not have a good time with this show? Sure, it’s ridiculous and shallow, but at least it’s fun. Soap fans, prepare yourself for a trip back to Dynasty! This massive box set now collects the entire series in one place for the first time, delivering nine seasons’ worth of episodes on 57 discs. Yikes! I can see this on a few holiday wish lists this year!

For the youngest sibling in your life:

Everybody Hates Chris: The Complete Series – I don’t hate Chris, and I don’t hate Everybody Hates Chris. I don’t love it, either, but it’s a solid show overall. This box set collects all four seasons on 16 discs, and if you liked the show, it’s a great value. Based on the life of comedian/actor Chris Rock, the best part of the show is Tyler James Williams, who was pretty talented as a young actor (and who had a notable role as Noah on The Walking Dead). Over the course of four seasons, the show presented some pretty funny episodes, some pretty average episodes, and a handful of real standout episodes. Now you can revisit them all for a pretty fair price point.

For the Jackass fan:

Three Stooges: Big Box of Nyuks – Okay, so I’ve never been the biggest Three Stooges fan in the world, but I can still appreciate a terrific product. This 10-disc box set isn’t a complete collection of works by the Three Stooges by any stretch, but it’s a nice cross-section of their career at an affordable price point, which makes it a winner in my book. First up, you get six complete feature films: Time Out for Rhythm (1941), Rockin’ in the Rockies (1945), Have Rocket, Will Travel (1959), Three Stooges Go Around the World in A Daze (1963), The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962), and The Outlaws Is Coming(1965). Then you get The Complete Animated Series, which presents all 165 episodes of the 1965 cartoon series, which is a great rarity for fans. Then you get two films about the Three Stooges: the documentary The Three Stooges: Hey Moe, Hey Dad! (made by Moe Howard’s son Paul), and The Three Stooges, a 2000 television-movie biopic starring Michael Chiklis, Paul Ben-Victor, and Evan Handler. Finally, you get a ton of miscellaneous short films, cartoons, TV pilots, and bonus features. It’s really a great box set for fans of this classic comedy troupe.

For the horror fan who hates slasher films:

Horror Hall of Fame Gift Set – This 9-disc set collects five previously-released horror collections. Budget priced from Mill Creek, you get two performer-centric collections (Vincent Price and Boris Karloff), two Hammer Horror collections, and one more generic classic horror collection. Now, I use the term “classic” with care, as most of the films in this collection (with the exception of a few of the Vincent Price ones such as The Last Man on Earth and The House on Haunted Hill) are more from the classic era of Hollywood than actual “classics.” None of the big-name horror films are collected (Karloff’s Universal Monsters films are obviously absent), but it’s hard to argue with getting 26 movies for under 30 bucks.

For the person who’s just a little smarter than you:

Westworld: The Complete First Season – I had heard so much about Westworld before I got the chance to watch it that I was worried I wouldn’t like it. The overriding opinion seemed to be that it was a good show but so dense that it was hard to follow. I’m happy to report that that isn’t the case. Yes, it’s a complex, layered show, and yes, it requires some thought while watching, but it’s also a fairly straightforward narrative that isn’t confusing just for the sake of being confusing, but rather just deep and complicated. The original Michael Crichton film from the ‘70s is one of my favorite movies of all time, so I really wanted to like this show, and I’m very pleased to say that I do. Quite a lot. The season one collection is available on DVD Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD, and it looks absolutely stunning. This is an extremely high budget show with a definite visual flair and crisp graphics, and the 4K Ultra format really lets that shine.

For your groovy uncle:

The Complete Monterey Pop Festival – The Monterey Pop Festival film has been released on video before, but this is by far the most complete package of the seminal music festival ever released. In addition to the original film, you also get two complete films that capture the entirety of both Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding’s sets. On top of that, you get additional performances by The Association, The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Al Kooper, the Mamas and the Papas, Laura Nyro, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Simon and Garfunkel, Tiny Tim, and The Who, among others. Then you get the whole Criterion Collection treatment: restored and remastered sound and picture, plus tons of new extra features including audio commentaries, interviews, a photo essay, and more. Simply put, this box-set-styled release is all a classic rock fan could want.

For the person taking a twelve-hour plane ride:

The Godfather Trilogy: Omerta Edition – This isn’t the first time The Godfather Trilogy has been packaged as a trilogy (or the second… or the third… or the fourth…) The fact is, if you want to own the Godfather Trilogy in its entirety, there’s no shortage of ways to do it. This latest collection, The Godfather Trilogy: Omerta Edition is the first time, however, that the films have been packaged together into a box set that is really designed as a good gift. The previous collections featured the films and some extra features, but that’s it. This limited-edition box set (only 45,000 copies) includes a booklet, postcards, magnetic poetry, and more which makes it a great gift and a nice addition for hardcore fans. Oh yeah, I guess the films themselves are pretty good, too.

For the person who suffers from FOMO:

The Crown – This incredibly impressive television series is collected into a season set for viewers who missed it on air. Claire Foy is radiant and amazing as young Queen Victoria II in her mid-twenties. Supported by John Lithgow (as Winston Churchill) and former Doctor Who Matt Smith, this is one of those productions where everything just clicks, especially the performances. With lavish production values, top-notch writing, and flawless performances, this show succeeded in taking a subject matter I really don’t care all that much about (historical drama/biopics have never been my favorite genre) and turning it into must-see television. The second season is supposed to take a leap forward by a decade, so I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

For the person who’s already watched all of the American TV shows:

George Gently: The Complete CollectionGeorge Gently is an extremely popular British mystery show that ran for several seasons. This cop show is set in 1960s and 70s England, and the period trappings will make it more interesting to some viewers and less interesting to others, but overall I do like the show. This is a solid series with good performances and interesting cases that bring the societal aspects of 1960s Britain into the workings of the show, but I don’t find it to be quite as engaging as some other British cop shows. What makes the show work the best is Martin Shaw, who plays the titular character and brings that mix of solemnity and charm to his role. This new box set (available on Blu-ray and DVD) collects all eight seasons, which gives you 25 complete movie-length episodes of proper mystery fun.

For the Royals watcher in your family:

The Sissi Collection – I’ll be honest, I was completely unfamiliar with the Sissi films before this box set crossed my desk. Starring Romy Schneider, this collection of five films from the 1950s and on, are a family-film franchise about a European princess and her life in the 19th The five films included are the official Sissi trilogy (Sissi, Sissi: The Young Empress, and Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress). Then you also get Victoria in Dover, which is a similar film (although unrelated, technically), which sees Schneider playing Victoria, the Queen of England. Finally, you get Forever my Love, which is sort of a distillation of the trilogy into a single film. Apparently, these movies were quite popular back in the day, and I have to say that they are pretty enjoyable overall, especially considering their age and the fact that they’re pretty family-friendly. The box set also includes a nice booklet and a few quality extra features.

For the Spanish-speaking Horror fan in your life: (Wow, that’s oddly specific…)

The Paul Naschy Collection II – I’ll admit, my knowledge of Paul Naschy was pretty limited before Shout Factory’s Scream Factory imprint released a five-film box set earlier this year, serving as a really terrific primer on a major movie figure in another country. Called “Spain’s answer to Lon Chaney,” Naschy not only played iconic characters such as The Mummy, the Wolfman, Frankenstein (or his monster, for you nitpickers out there), and Dracula, but he also wrote, produced, and directed many of his own films. This second five-disc collection includes the following movies: Hunchback of the Morgue (El Jorobado De La Morgue), The Devil’s Possessed (El Mariscal Del Infierno), The Werewolf and The Yeti (La Maldición De La Bestia), Exorcism (Exorcismo), and A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (Una Libélula Para Cada Muerto). While this set doesn’t include all of his major horror icons in it, we do see Naschy as a werewolf, which is pretty iconic. The films are in Spanish and subtitled in English, and while they are all from the 70s and 80s (and therefore are somewhat cheesy at times), they are a lot of fun, and a neat glimpse into the career of a Spanish film icon.

For the person who really enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express:

The Best of Agatha Christie: Volume 1 & 2 – These two new Agatha Christie collections feature three stories/films in each set, which means you get a set of six TV movies/miniseries between the two sets. Volume 1 includes And Then There Were None, a recent miniseries starring Charles Dance, Sam Neill, and Miranda Richardson; Five Little Pigs, starring David Suchet (as Poirot) Rachael Stirling, Toby Stephens, and Aidan Gillen; and Death on the Nile featuring Suchet once again, alongside Emily Blunt. Volume Two gives us The Witness for the Prosecution, starring Toby Jones, Kim Cattrall, and Andrea Riseborough; Three Act Tragedy—with Suchet and Martin Shaw; and Hallowe’en Party, starring Suchet, Zoë Wanamaker, and Timothy West. There isn’t a bad film in the bunch, and really, this is some of the greatest mystery fiction ever written. I really enjoyed going through some of the films I hadn’t seen yet, and these are terrific DVDs to pick up if you get inspired to dig into Agatha Christie a bit more after watching the new Murder on the Orient Express big screen film.

For the kid who’s dialed into pop culture:

Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You – When I first heard about this animated movie, I was afraid we were going to be subjected to an animated version of Mariah Carey running around the screen for 90 minutes. Luckily, that’s not it. While the main character (a little girl who wants a dog for Christmas) is named Mariah, and the film does feature three Mariah songs on the soundtrack, that’s really where it ends. From there it’s just a typical Christmas-themed animated film, filled with cute moments, a cuddly dog, and some decent songs. Good for the kids, maybe less so for Mariah Carey fans.

For someone you really love a lot (because these are pretty pricey!):

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The Complete Series and CSI: Miami – The Complete Series – With the holidays around the corner, CBS has released two massive new box sets for the fan of crime procedurals in your life. The CSI box set includes all 15 seasons of the show that really reinvented the crime procedural, and it makes for some easily digestible, completely binge-able television viewing. I always liked the mothership CSI show the best out of all the spin-offs, and this really is an amazing collection, packed with extra features on top of some 300+ episodes. Meanwhile, CSI: Miami delivers ten seasons of slightly sunnier cop show. David Letterman made a joke a while back about how CSI: Miami was going to shake things up soon David Caruso is going to try a second facial expression. Well, there’s definitely some truth to that joke, and Caruso remains the reason why this was always my least favorite show of the CSI franchise. Without him, you’d have another solid if unremarkable procedural show, but he really detracts from the overall quality for me. Still, for fans of the show, again you get over 200 episodes of the show plus a bevy of extra features, so it’s a fan’s dream come true.

For the X-Files fan who already has all the X-Files stuff:

The Fall: Complete Collection – Gillian Anderson stars in this British show about a detective on the hunt for a serial killer, played by Fifty Shades of Grey‘s Jamie Dornan. The first two seasons came out on home video last year, but now it’s been re-released in a complete series collection (which includes the third season) to let fans experience the whole show in one shebang. You can get it on DVD or Blu-ray, and it is an exciting, thrilling series that’s worth binge-watching. Anderson is in top form here and Dornan is suitably creepy as the serial killer, and the show isn’t afraid to go to some dark places. For those having X-Files withdrawal, I highly recommend this equally thrilling series.

For the guy who makes dad jokes all the time:

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIX – This latest collection brings us three new riffed-upon movies: Girls Town, The Amazing Transparent Man, and Diabolik. Then there are Satellite Dishes. Since this is probably the last collection for a while (due to movie licensing issues), Satellite Dishes is a collection of host segments from many of the movies they don’t have the licenses for. As always, there really isn’t anything here that you won’t find on many other MST3K releases out there, although I do like these box sets over the single movie releases. You get three (and a half) movies, copious extras, and plenty of laughs. Hard to argue with that. Re-watching these movies in MST3K style is too much fun!

For the video gamer in your life:

Halo: The Complete Video Collection – The Halo video games are a pop culture phenomenon, and a big part of their popularity is the advertising and multimedia culture they’ve created. From short films online to animated movies and live-action specials, the world of Halo has long gone beyond just video games. Now, this six-and-a-half-hour collection gives us the complete video collection of pretty much all of the greatest video efforts made by the Halo team. Halo Legends presents eight short animated films that explore the Halo universe at large. Halo 4: Forward unto Dawn is a live-action special which sees a group of cadets meet up with the iconic Master Chief as they fight for their lives, running almost two hours total. Halo: Nightfall, a five-episode series which was produced by Ridley Scott, is another live actioner that gets a little murky plotwise, but has some cool action and special effects. Finally, Halo: The Fall of Reach gives us an animated origin story for Master Chief, and this was my favorite of the programs included. It’s cool, exciting, and it paints in a back story for the character that’s defined this saga. This collection is a real treat for Halo fans.

For the person who drives a pick-up truck:

CMA Awards LIVE – Okay, I’m not a giant country music fan, but I do like some of it and above all, I can appreciate a great live performance. And that’s what this 10-disc collection offers us: over 125 live performances from the entire history of the Country Music Awards from the 1960s to the current day. I mean, just look at the list of SOME of the included performers: Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, Loretta Lynn, George Strait, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Glen Campbell, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Trisha Yearwood, and Dwight Yoakam. And that’s just a PARTIAL list! Honestly, if you’re a country music fan, I can’t think of a better collection than this.

For the obsessive Game of Thrones fan:

Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season – It’s easy to feel like you’re sick of hearing about Game of Thrones, especially if you’ve ever been on the internet. But it’s hard to deny that the show is extremely impressive. It’s like a big-budget fantasy epic film that happens to be split up into hour-long chapters. After a season-long wait, Season Seven has finally been released on Blu-ray and DVD. As I only watch this show on disc and have to avoid spoilers all year long, it was nice to go in and find some surprises and still enjoy watching the show. This was a fascinating season. While it’s only seven episodes long, each one is basically a movie-length epic, and the events happen fast and furious. This might be the most epic and action-packed season yet. And that’s saying something! While I’m not the massively obsessed fan that some people are, there’s no doubt that I really enjoy Game of Thrones.

For the sports fan in your life:

Houston Astros 2017 World Series Collector’s Edition & World Series Champions – Are you a Houston Astros fan? Then you’ll definitely want to pick up 2017 World Series Collector’s Edition. There are two versions of this available: one for the casual fan, and one for the die-hard fan. 2017 World Series Champions: The Houston Astros is a one-disc highlights film which gives you the movie-length version of the Astros’ journey to infamy. Then there’s also Houston Astros 2017 World Series Collector’s Edition, which is an eight-disc box set includes every single game of the World Series in its entirety. There’s also an entire bonus disc filled with goodies from extra interviews to audio clips and much more. Either one of these is a must-have for die-hard fans!

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