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10 DVDs for the Cinephile In Your Life


All I ever want for Christmas are not my two front teeth, but a stocking stuffed with Blu-rays and DVDs. Here are some suggestions for possible gifts for the cinephiles in your life:

81CbmFcxAWL._SL1500_.jpgJames Dean: Ultimate Collector's Edition (Warner Brothers). $72.49.
A stunning box with remastered Blu-rays of the three films the talented, doomed, James Dean made. The set includes East Of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. It also comes with lobby cards, posters and a beautiful book and scores of documentaries on the supernaturally talented Dean.

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (Shout Factory). $240.00.
An amazing box including all 325 episodes of Norman's Lear's satirical meta-soap opera (which ran from 1976-1977) starring the hilariously deadpan Louise Lasser as the troubled wife dealing with murder, infidelity, and assorted family tragedies all while worrying about yellow waxy buildup on her kitchen floor.


Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 2.02.26 PM.pngHouse Of Cards (Sony). $27.95. 
Now is your chance to dive into this brilliant DC-set series with a terrific Kevin Spacey as the House Majority Whip, who, when passed over for Secretary of State, begins a Machiavellian scheme for power. With Robin Wright as his Lady Macbeth-like wife and a powerful Corey Stoll as a tragic political pawn. Just riveting.

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Baron Blood: The Mario Bava Collection (Kino Classics). $21.60.
Thrilling, lovingly restored, Blu-rays of the Italian master of the macabre Mario Bava, whose gothic chillers have been wildly influential. Bay Of Blood, Five Dolls for an August Moon, Black Sabbath, Kidnapped and the underrated The Whip and the Body, starring Christopher Lee, are given the respect they deserve.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 2.11.32 PM.pngThe Films Of Chester Novell Turner (Massacre Video). $22.45.
Black Devil Doll from Hell, a fabulously crummy 1984 made-on-video oddity about a good Christian woman who buys a Rick James-looking ventriloquist dummy at a thrift store only to have the doll come to live and ravage her sexually. Your jaw will unhinge. The soundtrack is also unbelievable -- like someone leaning their elbow down on a synthesizer. Turner is championed for making horror films with all-black casts in a mostly white genre. His other film -- the omnibus Tales From the Quadead -- is also included.


Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 2.25.53 PM.pngMiss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (Acorn). $27.84.
A terrific series from Australia set in 1920s Melbourne starring Karen Greenwood as a crafty detective. There's a nice feminist temperament and the mysteries are wonderful. Acorn DVD has some other fantastic mystery series like Prime Suspect, Midsomer Murders, Falcon, and Vera with Brenda Blethyn as an enjoyably grumpy Detective Chief Inspector.

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Early Fassbinder (Criterion) $43.99
This set features a collection of the early films of the late, great German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Experimental, radical movies featured here include Love Is Colder than Death, Katzelmacher, Gods of the Plague, The American Soldier, and one of my favorites -- Beware of a Holy Whore, about a tempestuous movie crew stranded on location.


Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 2.43.45 PM.pngNashville (Criterion). $43.99.
Robert Altman's 1975 masterpiece. Nashville is a sardonic, freewheeling look at the state of the nation mixing politics and country music, with a staggering ensemble including Keith Carradine, Lily Tomlin, Karen Black, Ronee Blakely, Barbara Harris and Geraldine Chaplin.

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The Vincent Price Collection (ScreamFactory). $67.63.

Shout Factory has been on a roll this year with great releases but this, under their "Scream" label, is the finest. This set features six spine-tingling remastered Blu-ray tales of terror starring fright king Vincent Price. The Pit and Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Haunted Palace -- all directed by Roger Corman.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 2.49.04 PM.png My Mother the Car (TGG Direct) $22.46.
 This 1965 TV show may be one of the worst ever which makes for compulsive viewing. Jerry Van Dyke stars as a man who buys a 1928 Porter and when he turns on the car radio he hears the voice of his dead mother (Ann Southern). If that doesn't scream Christmas what does?

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