It’s that time of year once again, kids: that instance wherein we shuffle throughout crowded store aisles like maniacs and send cheesy messages of holiday cheer to family members and old acquaintances whom we would normally give absolutely no inkling of thought to. Yes, it’s the holiday season, and — as always — the notion of “What the Hell do I buy for that movie/TV-obsessed loser in my life this year?” emerges. Thankfully, the folks at Universal Studios Home Entertainment have made shopping for even the pickiest person in your group a cinch — by giving us several truly kick-ass collections to covet like, well, maniacs in crowded store aisles.
Unless you’ve lived under a rock all your life or your parents only ever subscribed to Lifetime Network, you have probably heard of a fellow by the name of Alfred Hitchcock. For you truly naïve people out there, Hitchcock revolutionized the method of moviemaking in general by developing many different styles which he used in his now-legendary line-up of thrillers. And Universal’s Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (MSRP $299.98) brings us fifteen of the master’s features, from 1942’s Saboteur to his swan song, Family Plot (1976) — with all those great epics in-between (Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Birds, Rear Window). This 15-disc Blu-ray set contains numerous special features for each title, most of which are not available individually, and is an absolute must for fans of classic thrillers that helped to pioneer the genre.
Speaking of pioneering genres, where would the very field of horror movies be without the classic Universal monsters? OK, I’ll be the first to admit there are a lot of god-awful scary flicks out there today, but we can hardly attribute those failures to the films that you’ll find in Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection (MSRP $159.98) — a positively dynamic set that brings us the premiere features that would go on to spawn several cult franchises: 1931’s Frankenstein and Dracula (as well as the Spanish-cast version of Dracula), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Wolf Man (1941), The Phantom of the Opera (1943), and The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), which is available in both 3D and 2D here. For additional information on this must-have set, please check out my review here.
Next in this impressive lineup of goodies is the Universal 100th Anniversary Collection (MSRP $349.98), which is available on Blu-ray as well as SD-DVD. This massive set is not as theme-oriented as the previously-mentioned titles; instead, this anthology offers up a varied 25 (!) hits from the Universal library, beginning with classics like the original All Quiet On the Western Front and Abbott & Costello’s Buck Privates to contemporary favorites like Despicable Me, The Fast and the Furious, and Jurassic Park. Of course, there are a number of fantastic items to be found in the middle of the set, including Jaws, Spartacus, The Sting, The Breakfast Club, and more — each with its own assortment of special features. A review for this item, too, is available from yours truly to peruse at your leisure, and can be found here.
Moving onto Standard Definition DVD titles available this holiday season, we have one of my absolute favorite shows — Universal’s House: The Complete Series (MSRP $199.98). All eight seasons of this memorable medical drama starring Hugh Laurie (as the brilliant Vicodine-addicted titular diagnostician), Omar Epps, Robert Sean Wilson, Lisa Edelstein, Jesse Spencer, Olivia Wilde, Peter Jacobson, and Jennifer Morrison are presented here on 41-discs in a handsome box set, with an exclusive full-colored 24-page booklet also on-hand for you diehard fans to dive into.
Finally, we have another box set of a television icon. Universal’s release of Columbo: The Complete Series (MSRP $149.98) presents us with another beautiful box set containing every episode and TV-movie starring the legendary Peter Falk as the seemingly-absentminded but completely cunning police detective, Lt. Columbo. This 34 single-sided disc set brings all 69-episodes from the show’s original seven seasons, as well as 24 television movies produced over an impressive 35-year period (1968-2003), with an equally-esteemed list of guest stars including Leslie Nielsen, Louis Jourdan, Roddy McDowall, Anne Francis, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, George Wendt, and Matthew Rhys.
All of these great releases (and more) are available now.