I’m the guy at DVDActive.com that gets all of Lionsgate DVD and Blu-Ray discs for review. And let me be clear that when I say all of them, I really mean all of them, despite the fact that I’ve sent several E-Mails stating that I have no want or time to review workout videos or Bratz Babies cartoons. Lionsgate is an interesting company that serves its purpose in the modern market (and I just discovered they were founded by the late great Robert Altman). The studio’s horror and action output (usually theatrical) is the closest thing we’ve got to a modern New World lately, filling an important slot for low to middle budget exploitation, yet these sleaze merchants also own the release rights to many important foreign films (mostly thanks to some agreements with Studio Canal), and they have a particular affinity for the art house. The studio’s biggest asset, however, for genre fans at least, is its ginormous release catalog.
No matter how terrible the Saw films may be (and Part 4 was pretty bad), I root for every one of them at the box office in hopes that the studio will eventually find themselves comfortable enough financially to really roll out the back catalog, or at least sell pieces of it to other interesting studios. Lionsgate has managed to compete with the majors in the international box office, but they also stand to compete with the best genre and cult specific DVD studios, like Blue Underground and Synapse (who are the modern equivalents to Wizard video, and who have purchases rights before).
Unfortunately the studio is acting too slowly for me. I need them now. So far we’ve got a small handful of worthy double-dips, and an even smaller pinch of previously unavailable and rightfully wanted releases. Most of the effort seems to be going into puffy boxed hot chick releases, like the Bridget Bardot, Cathrine Deneuve, Sophia Loren collections, which suspiciously appear to be padded with strikingly average features. What follows are two lists I’ve compiled from memory – one of semi-recent Lionsgate releases that were previously available on region one DVD that were worth the double dip for cult and/or genre fans, and another of Lionsgate cult or genre releases that were not at all available in region one.
Re-releases featuring additional extras and/or anamorphic widescreen video:
High Noon (pending review, I just got it in the mail)
King of New York
Not previously available in region one:
The House that Dripped Blood
Now, the biggest acquisition Lionsgate made, as far as people like myself are concerned, was that of Artisan Entertainment, a studio which itself acquired the home video rights to the film libraries of Republic Pictures, Vestron, FHE and Carolco Pictures. Within these libraries are a clutch of great horror, exploitation, and cult favorites which have either only seen a lesser Artisan Home Entertainment or Trimark release, or never been released in region one at all. Here’s a list of memorable features I’m reasonably sure Lionsgate is holding onto (this is all based on my personal knowledge and minimal internet research).
Perdita Durango (aka: Dance with the Devil)
Dead/Alive (aka: Braindead)
La Setta (aka: The Sect)
Class of 1999
Death Warmed Up
Some Vestron titles acquired by relatively new horror/exploitation studio Code Red (Sole Survivor, The Mutilator, Don’t Go in the Woods), DVD greats Blue Underground (Venom, Dead and Buried, Possession) and Anchor Bay (Class of 1984, Macabro, The Hills Have Eyes). Other features have been released by the original release owners, MGM (Dolls, From Beyond, Last House on the Left, the Dr. Phibes films).
So here’s to hoping that Lionsgate slows down on re-releasing double-dips that no body in the world wants (Shanghai Surprise), or sextuple-dips that even rabid fans don’t need (the Rambo series), or even double-dips with zero new extras (Hard Candy), and gets to tearing up that back catalog, or at least selling more of it to Blue Underground.