In this tech-savvy modern era of digital delight, it’s surprising there are films suspended in states of dormancy, with some likely to never see the light of day. Negatives are lost or destroyed, rights, licensing and distribution issues pose many problems, and sometimes studios have no faith in releasing movies that bombed at the box office or have since gone out of print. This isn’t just specific to theatrical releases.
TV movies receive name changes, and all kinds of edits are made as studios almost seem to expect people not to remember the differences from TV, Betamax, VHS, and any other media format. This remains an issue for movies and TV shows that do manage to find their place on physical media or streaming services. Regardless of whatever reason(s) studios have for holding out, these movies rightfully deserve a place in our Blu-ray collections.
1. Chasers (1994)
Chasers, directed by the late Dennis Hopper, is an underrated comedy from 1994 that stars Tom Berenger, Erika Eleniak, and William McNamara. The day before he’s discharged, Eddie is tasked with escorting a navy prisoner with a Chief Petty Officer whose temper and patience proves to be much shorter than the trip itself.
Chasers is funny and has a likable cast, but it didn’t do well during its theatrical release. A snap case DVD was released around 2000-2001, however it’s since become out of print like other Tom Berenger flicks.
2. House Arrest (1996)
Featuring an impressive ensemble cast, House Arrest is a quirky 1996 comedy that has mostly been forgotten about since its release. Grover (Kyle Howard) struggles with the idea of his parents (Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Pollak) separating. Of course, this leads to him and his sister locking them in their basement and it isn’t long before other people get involved.
House Arrest isn’t the type of movie anyone would view and think, “This deserves an award.” The performances are good, it’s decently directed, and it’s mindless entertainment deliberately created for that purpose. That said, if Sharknado is allowed a Blu-ray release, why not House Arrest?
3. Mermaids (1990)
A surprising entry for the fact that, even with the star power of Cher, Winona Ryder, Bob Hoskins and Christina Ricci, Mermaids still seems underappreciated. This coming-of-age dramedy based on the 1986 novel beautifully depicts life in the early 1960s for a conflicted and confused young woman.
Sure, a movie titled Mermaids probably wouldn’t strike very many as something interesting — and Disney’s animated movie, The Little Mermaid (which debuted merely a year earlier) is likely the first thing to come to mind — but it’s an entertaining film filled with terrific performances.
4. Soapdish (1991)
Yet another comedy featuring a terrific ensemble cast, Soapdish satirically explores the behind-the-scenes dramatics of juggling appearance and family life, all the while maintaining professionalism in a soap opera career. If nothing else, Soapdish is worth a watch just for Sally Field and Robert Downey Jr.’s performances alone.
Soaps operas are notoriously cheesy and often strive miserably to blend absurdity and realism, rarely ever satisfactorily. Soapdish tackles this by creating dramatic personal issues for the characters’ personal lives that outshine what drama their characters face on their show.
5. Helter Skelter (1976)
By now, there’s a bunch of other movies titled Helter Skelter. The 1976 TV movie, however, is still the best version of the events spanning 1969 to the early 1970s. It’s creepy, effective, and Steve Railsback’s portrayal of Charles Manson is chillingly accurate. There’s definitely no shortage of Manson content, but it’s just baffling that this adaptation of Helter Skelter isn’t on Blu-ray.
If you’ve never seen it and you’re scoffing at the effectiveness of a made-for-TV film, Helter Skelter will totally surprise you and likely defy your expectations — by far. It covers so much of the infamous murders and the court case without skimping on details.
6. Summer School (1987)
I still remember the first time my parents showed me Summer School: It’s an awesome comedy from 1987 starring Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley. Mark’s character, Mr. Shoop, gets roped into teaching a Remedial English class, which, for an easy-going gym coach, is something of a test in and of itself.
The cast is likeable, their characters all with differing personalities — of course, Dave and Chainsaw (Gary Riley and Dean Cameron) are two who stand out to horror buffs like myself. A Blu-ray release of Summer School would totally be welcomed, especially if it includes the music video for E.G. Daily’s Mind Over Matter.
7. See Spot Run (2001)
Longing for the breezy, cheesy feel-good comedies of the early 2000s? I wholeheartedly understand, and that’s why See Spot Run deserves a Blu-ray release. Yes, some of the comedy is dated, but nevertheless it’s hilarious and very well-paced, and you’ll probably want to buy a dog afterward.
David Arquette is fresh off Scream 3, Ready to Rumble and his time with WCW, making See Spot Run a slight change of pace. He’s joined by Angus T. Jones, Michael Clarke, and Paul Sorvino. You wouldn’t think the aforementioned talent would pair well together, but what ensues is pure fun.
8. The Pacifier (2005)
It’s typically older Disney movies that aren’t given decent physical media releases, but 2005’s The Pacifier is surprisingly lacking. Two versions of the DVD were released: one being full screen, the other being widescreen. Vin Diesel plays a skilled Navy SEAL tasked with babysitting while searching for a secret project.
The concept is pretty straightforward: tough guy can fight and lead missions, yet can’t successfully change a diaper. If it seems somewhat similar to Three Men and a Baby, rest assured it’s not really. The Pacifier is funny, heartwarming and has an awesome soundtrack.
9. The Midnight Hour (1985)
The Midnight Hour is a TV movie that debuted November 1, 1985. It received a VHS release ages ago, but not an official DVD release; although, to be honest, you can find it bootlegged online and the full movie was posted on YouTube. Midnight Hour is a long sought-after Halloween movie about a town curse that resurrects the dead and, of course, all hell breaks loose.
The Midnight Hour is sure to make “Best of Halloween” lists despite its initial lack of appreciation, comparative to Hocus Pocus. It has since found an audience, and a Blu-ray release makes perfect sense. My request? Please keep The Smiths’ How Soon is Now? in it, or no deal.
10. Buster and Billie (1974)
Buster and Billie is a mid 1970s era piece drama set in 1948. Jan-Michael Vincent and Joan Goodfellow star as the titular characters who, as they gradually fall in love, spend virtually every waking moment with one another. The trailer and the plot are spoiler heavy (they usually are), but this has a Road House meets The Outsiders meets a Nicholas Sparks adaptation vibe.
Without giving much away, Buster and Billie is an intrepidly crafted film with sufficient performances and direction. Romeo and Juliet it is not, however the story’s transition from act one to act three evokes something of a familiar poignancy. Aside from awaiting a Blu Ray release, I’m surprised Buster and Billie hasn’t yet been remade.
I’m personally of the opinion that virtually every motion picture should be released to physical media, primarily because they’re historical in the sense that some of what’s been captured on film are the concepts, mentality and ideals of previous generations.
Film expires and becomes weathered, especially sitting in dusty boxes in studios or lost in vaults. Preservation of original content is important, and although many of the selected films aren’t exactly The Godfather, they’re worthy of a proper Blu-ray release.
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