No verbose introduction, you can go to our 2022 list to read one if you want. Here are our favorite releases of 2023 in alphabetical order (give or take a letter; we were absent the day the class learned the letter "R"), and then we'll get to the Big Amazing Colossal Release of the Year…

Note again that these aren’t the best movies to hit home video this year, just our favorites. Our taste in movies has never been less than suspect.

The Boy with Green Hair (Warner Archive) Certain movies touch you when you’re a kid formulating opinions of the world, and this was one of the ones that affected me deeply, an anti-war fable about tolerance and acceptance of those who are different. Dean Stockwell, Pat O’Brien, and Barbara Hale star, and it contains a musical number that was apparently edited out every time I saw this on TV.

The Cat Creeps (Vinegar Syndrome Labs) VS debuted a wonderful new label for films that had fallen through the cracks, like this one. By 1946, Universal wasn’t really trying to make good horror films, just bottom-of-the-bill chillers they could promote in hope of drawing in stragglers. Noah Beery, Jr., Rose Hobart, and Paul Kelly star, which gives you part of the problem: the studio couldn’t even be bothered to cast John Carradine or George Zucco. Originally released with She-Wolf of London for perhaps the lamest horror double-feature of the ‘40s.

The Criminal Acts of Tod Slaughter: Eight Blood-and-Thunder Entertainments, 1935-1940 (Indicator) Grand Guignol late-show fodder when I was a kid, on UHF stations that couldn’t afford anything but the cheapest old-movie packages. I have tremendous affection for Mr. Slaughter and his films, and it’s been great fun to see these low-budget British horror/suspense films in restored prints. Includes Murder in the Red Barn, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Crimes of Stephen Hawke, It’s Never Too late to Mend, The Ticket of Leave Man, Sexton Blake and the Hooded Terror, The Face at the Window, and Crimes at the Dark House. Indicator also made available a biography of Tod Slaughter, sold separately, and we read it and enjoyed it cover to cover.

Curucu, Beast of the Amazon (Vinegar Syndrome Labs) Long missing-in-action 1956 independently produced monster movie distributed in the U.S. by Universal as a double-feature with The Mole People! Wow! John Bromfield, Beverly Garland and Tom Payne star; Curt Siodmak wrote and directed. Is it any good? Well… Miss Garland excels in it. The monster, however, is something they should’ve rethought (it looks like a college mascot for a team called the Fightin’ Chickens).

Flesh and Fantasy (Vinegar Syndrome Labs) Another Universal tidbit. 1943 supernatural-themed anthology film directed by Julien Duvivier and starring Edward G. Robinson, Charles Boyer, Robert Cummings, and Barbara Stanwyck. Three episodes; originally contained a fourth (starring Gloria Jean) but that was replaced by footage with, of all people, Robert Benchley. Him we like.

The Green Hornet (VCI) The original 1940 serial, the first big-screen adaptation of the popular radio program, and arguably the best. Rumor has it that bonus material was contributed by your humble but brilliant In The Balcony chief scribe. Gordon Jones and Keye Luke star across 13 episodes of high-buzzin’ action.

If I Had a Million (Kino) Screwy 1932 comedy/drama about what happens to random people who are gifted with $1 million. Everybody remembers it for the wonderful W.C. Fields “road hog” segment, and rightly so. Seven different directors contributed to the film.

The Killer Shrews / The Giant Gila Monster (Film Masters) We’ll admit, we were skeptical of another company coming along to release public domain films, so we’ve been especially delighted by Film Masters, the Company of the Year for us, with superb presentations of cult favorites and a nice array of bonus materials, too. A great way to build a nice library of movies you’ll want to revisit.

Laurel & Hardy: Year One The Newly Restored 1927 Silents (Flicker Alley $49.95) For those of us zealously guarding our beloved “Lost Films of Laurel & Hardy” DVDs for all these years, we are in for a real treat, with early films starring our beloved Stan & Ollie, including Sailors Beware!, The Second Hundred Years, Do Detectives Think?, and their earliest known film together, way before Hal Roach in The Lucky Dog, amongst many other films. Laurel & Hardy Blu-ray releases had been a uniform disappointment; this is the first one to hit it out of the park.

Looney Tunes: Collector’s Choice Vols. 1 and 2 (Warner Archive) Dozens of new-to-home-video classic Warner Bros. cartoons, a mix from the 1940s and 1950s. All of our film presentations include cartoons before the show, and these are must-haves.

Mexico Macabre: Four Sinister Tales from the Alameda Films Vault, 1959–1963 (Indicator) I’m not gonna lie to you, I LOVE these Mexican horror films of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, many of which appear to be heavily inspired by 1930s Universal horror films, which were probably playing the teevee or theatre reissues in that country at the time. Packed with bonus material; features Black Pit for Dr. M, The Witch's Mirror, The Brainiac, and The Curse of the Crying Woman. You’ll be surprised at how good and how scary they are in the original Spanish presentations.

Ring-a-Ding Rhythm (a/k/a It’s Trad, Dad) (Sony) 1962 British musical, the first directed by Richard Lester, who’d go on to make… uh… other 1960s British musicals. Apparently, for a hot few months, what we Americans call “Dixieland” was popular in the UK, but they called it “Traditional Jazz” or “Trad,” and here are a bunch of jazz bands playing it, including the Dukes of Dixieland, plus Helen Shapiro and Craig Douglas as our stars, and Chubby Checker, Gary U.S. Bonds, the Paris Sisters, Del Shannon, Gene Vincent, etc. Mr. Acker Bilk and his Band steal the show.

Sci-Fi From The Vault - 4 Classic Films (Mill Creek) Mill Creek continues to issue affordable vault titles from Sony’s Columbia holdings. This set includes Creature with the Atom Brain and It Came from Beneath the Sea (both 1955), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), all available previously on pricier sets that had bonus material, and the BD debut of – get this – The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959), Lou Costello’s swansong (replacing Bud Abbott with a very, very tall Dorothy Provine).  

Tales of Adventure: Collection 1 and 2 (Imprint) Our favorite movie boxed sets of the year come from the Via Vision boutique label, and offer a wonderful mix of A and B films, mostly from the Republic, Columbia, and Universal vaults, all of them packed with action and color and derring-do, plus enough bonus material to get us through 2024. Collection 1 included Arabian Nights with Maria Montez, The Desert Hawk with Richard Greene and Yvonne DeCarlo, Zarak with Victor Mature, A Thousand and One Nights with Cornel Wilde and Phil Silvers, and Omar Khayyam with Raymond Massey. Collection 2 adds some B&W adventures to the mix and features Angel on the Amazon with Vera Ralston, Daughter of the Jungle with Lois Hall and lots of Jungle Girl stock footage; Fair Wind to Java with Fred MacMurray; Elephant Walk with Elizabeth Taylor; and Safari with Victor Mature and Janet Leigh. Perfect popcorn pictures for the matinee set.

Targets (Criterion) Roger Corman had three days left on a Boris Karloff shooting schedule contract and some unused footage and handed it to Peter Bogdanovich and told him to use it as the springboard to make a movie. The result is a 1968 suspense classic, with aged Boris attending the premiere of his latest film at the drive-in and having to contend with a real-life horror.

The Three Stooges - Stooge-O-Rama (Kit Parker Films) Mammoth collection of Stooge stuff for fans, including an expanded version of the documentary originally shown on A&E’s Biography, rare shorts, TV appearances and commercials, and much more, spread out across 3 discs. Fans will relish it.

Thrillers From The Vault - 8 Classic Horror Films (Mill Creek BD $49.95) If you don’t have these already, jump on this delightful set of low-budget but entertaining shockers, including The Black Room (1935), The Man They Could Not Hang (1939), Before I Hang (1940), The Man with Nine Lives (1940), The Devil Commands (1941), and The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942), all starring Boris Karloff; The Return of the Vampire (1943) starring Bela Lugosi; and the BD debut of a film that should be in the Sci-Fi set, Arch Oboler’s end-of-the-world drama Five (1951).

Tod Browning’s Sideshow Shockers (Criterion) The notorious Freaks (1932), with real-life sideshow curiosities, is the drawing card, but you’ll also love Lon Chaney in perhaps his most bizarre role, with Joan Crawford in The Unknown (1927). Rounding out the set is the rare Browning film The Mystic (1925)


AND... Our selection as Official ITB Release of the Year for 2023...

Soundies: The Ultimate Collection (Kino) Four-disc collection sampling of 200 shorts—jazz, country-western, folk, and the boogie woogie roots of rock ’n’ roll) For many, many years I’ve been collecting and showing Soundies – 1940s music videos played on a juke box with a projector stuck inside it – and I’m delighted to have a four-disc collection of 200 shorts across the musical spectrum. This is a set we dip into every week - and every week we have found a new favorite.

Favorite ITB Discs of the Year 2023