An Introduction to Horror Collecting on Blu-Ray / DVD / 4K [Fright-A-Thon]

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2020 was a lot, it was scary, it was difficult, it was arduous, but there were also good things that came out of it. Personally, 2020 has allowed me to fully embrace the movie collection and especially horror movies. What could be better than seeing the horror of the outside world? See a horror movie. So, I went down the rabbit hole collecting horror Blu-rays, 4K UHD, and a few DVDs. Oh, and some VHS tapes. There could also be one or two laser discs.

When it comes to formats, special editions, special features, variations or just owning 5 copies of the same movie, horror lends itself pretty well. After all, there could be several different cuts of a movie. To take Halloween ii for example. There is the theatrical version that we all know and love; but there is also the Television Cup of the film. What makes the difference? The TV cut had to add new scenes to make up for the loss of blood, violence and murder in the theatrical version. So you have completely new scenes and cut scenes to make it look like something else is going on. In the televised cut of Halloween ii, it’s cut to make it look like Michael Myers is killing the old lady at the start of the movie.

It’s things like that that make horror fans buy all the editions of the movies they love. Have 5 versions of Halloween? Join the club. Want that unedited commentary track where you can hear Jean Charpentier and Kurt russel toast their drinks and light cigars? Better to own the DVD version of The thing. This list is not exhaustive, but sufficient to get you started in the world of collecting horror movies.

Golden standards: Arrow Video, Scream / Shout Factory, Criterion Collection

These three are in a class of their own. Sure, they might be more expensive than other labels, but they are rewarded with the wealth of effort and time put into each release. Two are based in the United States and Arrow is based in the United Kingdom. So, for people without a Region Free player, it is more difficult to find Region Free titles on Arrow Video. Rights and licensing issues prevent them from releasing certain titles in region A. But you can’t go wrong with titles from any of these three companies.

Video Arrow

Link to Arrow video: Arrowfilms.com

If you’re looking for quality in anything, Arrow has you covered. They have specialty titles that no one else has. The extras and special features they have on their releases are also second to none (and on par with Scream Factory). Titles like The thing, lodge, and their special edition of Robocop are all strengths of this “boutique” label. They always release new titles and pay particular attention to the transfers of their films. They’ve also stepped up their efforts with the 4K versions, which is well worth the upgrade. The only issue is people who don’t have a region-less drive and sometimes the shipping cost. You can, however, find US sellers on Amazon or elsewhere that offer their movies.

They are definitely worth the price, especially if you like the movie. Their artwork and quality are top notch, you know what you’re getting with Arrow Video.

Criteria collection

Link to the criteria: Criterion.com

These are usually the most expensive, but well worth it. If you’re a complete movie buff, Criterion is your wet dream. The only problem with Criterion and Horror is that generally you will only get the top crust of the versions. But when they go out with a horror movie, they’re 100% worth the price of admission. They go through even more careful work to update and keep the original look of the films. For a collector, packaging is extremely important, and they always have great packaging. From artwork to outer box design, Criterion looks fantastic lined up on a shelf. The only problem is the lack of titles, but the ones that get the “Criterion” treatment are amazing.

Scream / Scream Plant

Link to Scream Factory: shoutfactory.com/collection/scream-factory

These are the ones that make horror collectors salivate. These are also the ones that scalpers and others like to take advantage of. So, when considering purchasing any of their titles, keep in mind that it will likely be sold at collector’s prices when it sells out. They are part of the reason owning a regionless drive is so essential. Their version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is sold out and very expensive. Turns out the Arrow Video version is still in print and readily available. They come with absolutely stunning covers that really stand out on your shelf, and these add to the collector’s value as well.

However, not all of them are collectible second-hand packaging and brands. They’ve gone to great lengths in their releases like Arrow and Criterion do. If you can get your hands on their boxes, they’re still worth it. And if problems arise, such as with their Friday 13 box, they hasten to remedy it. It might sound like an advertisement to them, but they do a really fantastic job and care about collectors and horror fans. They are usually my first choice for any horror movies I buy.

Mid-range but a gigantic library: Kino-Lorber

Link to Kino-Lorber: kinolorber.com

Kino might not have the most spectacular packaging like these other labels, but they make up for that with a huge library of films. They’ve beaten everyone up with the sheer number of titles available, but if you’re looking for the extras you might want to check elsewhere.

The most obscure labels, but still great

These three labels specialize in the little-seen or underrated gems of the film. Whether it’s Giallo movies from the ’70s, slashers from the’ 80s, or older films that normally might not see the light of day, you really can’t go wrong. In the case of vinegar syndrome, they have one of the best customer service and product quality in the industry. Their versions are sometimes individually numbered, which adds to the collector’s feel.

Severin specializes in controversial and provocative films. They also have the same level of love and craftsmanship in their releases as any other label.

Synapse is one that I’m relatively new to, and I don’t have many of their titles, but the couple that I do, I was blown away.

These companies show that physical media are alive and well. They don’t usually compete with each other for releases like Arrow or Scream Factory, so if you see a movie from them that you like, grab it!

Severin

Link to Séverin Films: severin-films.com

Vinegar syndrome

Link to vinegar syndrome: vinaigresyndrome.com

Synapse Films

Link to Synapse Films: synapsefilms.com

There’s a lot more and great studio releases too

These are just a few of the specialty labels that make Blu-ray and 4K releases. The big studios also have their own releases, but they’re not that hard to find. It all adds up to a love of horror and collecting. Also give these companies a follow up on their social platforms. This is the best way to find out about a sale or a new version of any of them.

This was just a small preview of what the horror movie collection looks like. There are many other formats, editions and general collections to take away! What are your favorite brands to buy movies?

For more on the horror, check out THS Fright-A-Thon, or stay tuned to That Hashtag Show.


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