'Tis the season to get away from your family, bundle up with a gallon of moonshine (preferably one with "XXX" written on the label), and watch endless hours of movies! What follows is not a comprehensive or "Best Of" list. These are simply seven DVD box sets that any film buff would be thrilled to find in his or her stocking this Christmas. Most of them were released in the past few months, and a couple have been out a while but just got amazingly cheap. Have a few gifts left to buy? Consider picking one of these up. You don't even have to get off your fat ass, if you click on the titles you'll be taken to the links on Amazon. I've included items to suit every budget, and they've been arranged in order of price. Naturally, the more expensive the set you purchase, the more you love the person you're buying it for. That's just the way it works.
The Alien Quadrilogy ($33.99)
Pretty much the gold standard for DVD box sets. This collection's price recently took an incredible drop. It was worth every penny of the $80 bucks I paid for mine years ago, so you can better believe it's worth $34. The set gives you several versions of each film in the beloved Alien series -- Alien (one of the best suspense movies ever made), Aliens (one of the best action movies ever made), Alien 3 (David Fincher's misunderstood take is a stronger movie with each viewing), and Alien: Resurrection (Nobody's perfect). An unprecedented amount of extra goodies that includes the amazing Director's Cut of Aliens, extremely cool fold-out packaging, and the absence of Alien Vs. Predator make this set a must-own. I've owned it for four years, and still haven't seen everything in there. Plus, don't you just love the word "Quadrilogy?"
strong>Blade Runner: Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition ($54.99)
I saw Blade Runner when I was a kid, didn't like it, and haven't seen it since. I've always wanted to give it a second chance, but everyone recommended a different cut of the film, and I didn't know which version I was supposed to watch. Now I can watch 'em all, baby! This very sleek briefcase contains a 3 1/2 hour documentary, commentaries and featurettes out the ying-yang, a signed personal letter from Sir Ridley Scott, and collector's photographs. It's got everything but a miniature origami unicorn. Oh wait, it's got that too! All this plus five versions of the sci-fi classic: Ridley Scott's recently released "Final Cut," his 1992 "Director's Cut," something called a "Workprint Version," and the 1982 theatrical and international versions. You see why I was confused?
Alfred Hitchcock -- The Masterpiece Collection ($60.99)
Another one that's been out a couple years, but it just took a sweet dip in cost. The word "Masterpiece" gets thrown around a lot in today's film culture, but it ain't hyperbole when you're talking Hitchcock. Look at these movies -- Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, The Birds, Shadow of a Doubt (Hitch's personal favorite), Family Plot, Frenzy, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Topaz, Marnie, Saboteur, Rope, The Trouble with Harry, and Torn Curtain. 14 classics, 60 bucks, that comes out to just over FOUR DOLLARS PER FILM! Plus all are remastered and full of extras. Oh, and it comes in like a purple crushed velvet box that I can't stop touching. Sometimes I think about stitching it into a robe and walking luxuriously around my apartment in it.
Stanley Kubrick: Warner Home Video Directors Series ($69.99)
What better time than the dead of winter for five frigid tales of icy detachment? This box gives you remastered versions of five of Kubrick's best -- 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut. These are challenging films that don't just reward repeat viewings, they practically demand them. They're loaded with special features, and all but Jacket come in 2-disc editions. You also get the excellent documentary, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. I've been dying to tear into this set.
Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition ($72.99)
Yeah, this is a movie website and yes, Twin Peaks is a television show. But the reason I included this and not something like my beloved Seinfeld box is that David Lynch's look at the underbelly of a picturesque town is probably the most cinematic non-cable program in the history of the medium. And finally you've got it all in one glorious package -- two versions of the pilot (one of Lynch's best works), the utterly incredible first season, the utterly bewildering second season, and a feature length documentary, Secrets From Another Place. Grab yourself a damn good cup of coffee, a damn fine piece of cherry pie, and a dancing midget, and prepare to get creeped out all over again.
New Line Cinema's 40th Anniversary Collection ($249.99)
Just released, this set includes 17 hit movies, a documentary on the history of New Line Cinema ("the house that Freddy built"), and a hardcover collector's book. It's hard to argue with the movies, which range from "Good" to "Real Damn Good": A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Player, The Mask, Seven, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Boogie Nights, Wag the Dog, The Wedding Singer, Rush Hour, Blow, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Elf, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers. and the movie that started it all -- John Waters' Pink Flamingos. Because really, what Christmas is complete without a singing anus?
United Artists 90th Anniversary Prestige Collection ($651.99)
If Richie Rich or the Monopoly guy happens to me a member of your family, maybe you'll find this massive box under your tree -- if it will fit, that is. 90 (90!) of the best films from United Artists' 90 year history on 110 (110!) discs, this is like buying your very own video store. Titles range in date from 1944's The Woman in the Window to 2004's Hotel Rwanda, and this baby has everything from The Greatest Story Ever Told to Road House (which is also known as the greatest story ever told). If you can't find something to watch in here, maybe movies aren't for you. Also available in a 30-disc version, for all you cheap bastards out there.
And what DVD box set would you like for Christmas this year, kiddo?