Christopher Nolan’s three Batman movies have been issued together on Blu-ray before, but not as lavishly and bells-and-whistles-laden as with the six-disc The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition ($99.97), limited to 141,000 sets. As if the films weren’t excellent in themselves, the sturdy box houses three Bat-toys, one 48-page book and five art prints by cult illustrator Mondo.
Warner Bros. aimed to replicate Nolan’s Dark touch with its Superman reboot, Man of Steel. Zack Snyder’s summer smash lives on a double-disc combo ($35.99) with four hours of extras.
If your kids think they can’t be scared by a 50-year-old TV show, behold the power of Rod Serling! Now on DVD shorn of extras, thus available at a more affordable price, The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series ($169.98) caused my three skeptical children, ages 9 to 16, to jump and scream. Anti-black-and-white as they are, they found themselves entranced by such classic half-hours featuring a ventriloquist’s dummy with a mind of its own, a proto-Chucky kids’ doll (“My name’s Talky Tina … and I’m going to kill you!”) and William Shatner’s nervous airline passenger spotting a creature on the wing of the plane. Get in the Zone — all five seasons, 156 episodes, 25 discs — because it’s not just the greatest anthology in television history but one of the greatest shows period.
Similar, but in Japanese, is Ultra Q: The Complete Series ($59.97). This utterly oddball sci-fi series from 1966 also predates The X-Files with investigations of such strange stories as UFO sightings, a house full of giant spiders, killer vines, shrunken citizens, a dimension-tripping train and many, many rubber monsters à la Godzilla’s golden age. Take a chance on it because the 28 episodes represent a ton of fun; the only negative is the absence of any kind of guide on the package to acquaint newbies, but you’ll live.
Weirdest of all is Time- Life’s The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Complete DVD Collection ($249.95), likely the only spot in popular culture to corral Ronald Reagan, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Muhammed Ali, Betty White and Mr. T. It’s a real time-warper and, at 25 discs, a time-eater. (Warning: Contains Charo.)
To celebrate a quarter-century of movie-skewering, there’s Mystery Science Theater 3000: 25th Anniversary Edition ($64.99). Presented in a tin, the limitededition set is heavy on the sci-fi — or should that be sigh-fi? — with Moon Zero Two, The Day the Earth Froze, The Leech Woman and Gorgo being ripped new ones by our lightning-witted, space-stranded hosts. To make this batch more special than the previous ones, Shout! Factory has included a pair of classic, out-of-print episodes (The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and the riotous Joe Don Baker action vehicle Mitchell) along with a feature-length, retrospective documentary on the groundbreaking, Peabody-winning comedy series.
The Vincent Price Collection ($79.97) gives six of the horror legend’s best movies their Blu-ray debut, including four of his stellar Edgar Allan Poe pictures for director Roger Corman and the fan-favorite The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Beautiful transfers and a wealth of special features help viewers see the films with fresh eyes.
And because nothing says Christmas quite like a mental institution run by nuns and a serial killer appropriately named Bloody Face, there’s American Horror Story: Asylum ($59.99), the second season of the FX hit series.
Now that Breaking Bad is gone, can we please talk about phenomenal Mad Men: Season 6 ($49.97) was? Spend your new year watching Don Draper’s worst days.