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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Slasher > Exploitation > Serial Killer > True Crime > Mystery > Crime > TV > Zombies > Cul > Bender (2016/Candy Factory DVD)/Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season (2016 - 2017/Sony Blu-ray Set)/The Dead Next Door (1989/Tempe Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Evil In Us (2016/RLJ DVD)/Phantasm: 5 Movie DVD C

Bender (2016/Candy Factory DVD)/Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season (2016 - 2017/Sony Blu-ray Set)/The Dead Next Door (1989/Tempe Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Evil In Us (2016/RLJ DVD)/Phantasm: 5 Movie DVD Collection (1979 - 2016/Well Go Set)/Phenomena (1985/Argento/Synapse Blu-ray)

Picture: B/B+/B & C+/B-/C+/B+ Sound: B/B+/B & C+/B-/C+/B+ Extras: D/B/B/D/C+/B Main Programs: C/C+/C+/B-/C+ (B-/C+/C/C-/C-)/B

Now for our latest set of horror thriller releases, including a few classics...


The world's first serial killing family is captured in this interesting horror/thriller, John Alexander's Bender (2016), that uses a historic backdrop as the centerpiece for vicious murder. Based on a true story and a short running time (the film clocks in around 80 minutes), this Kansas set story has some interesting stylistic choices and is overall a pretty strong and unsettling little movie that was better than I originally expected it to be. Some drawbacks are the seemingly clean costumes for some of the characters and some performances that feel a bit too theatrical.

Bender stars Bruce Davison (the original Willard, the first X-Men film), Linda Purl (Happy Days), James Karen (Return of the Living Dead), Buck Taylor, Jon Monastero, Nicole Jellen, and Reylin Caster.

Doctor York encounters some odd folks in a small Kansas town as he encounters several ill patients and unfortunate incidents. When he crosses paths with the Benders (also known as ''The Bloody Benders''), a seemingly normal family with a bit of an edge to them, soon York's life gets more and more dangerous.

Presented in standard definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix, the film is shot very well in a scope format, though was likely shot on video. The compression issues are pretty drastic with lots of choppy edges that could easily be rectified on Blu-ray disc so hopefully a release on that format will be down the pipeline. However, if you're watching it on a non 4K TV, I'm sure the film would look better.

No extras.

Blacklist: Season Four

James Spader (Secretary) returns in Season Four of Blacklist. A distant cousin to Silence of the Lambs mixed with police procedural drama, the show has some interesting characters and some fun action moments but also somewhat grounded in reality. The show also features Megan Boone (Step Up: Revolution), Diego Klattenhoff (Homeland), Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist: Redemption), Harry Lennix (Dollhouse), Amir Arison (Girls), Mozhan Marno (House of Cards) and Hisham Tawfiq to name a few.

Former government agent Raymond "Red" Reddington (Spader) was once at the top of his game and was a highly most wanted man for decades. But when he suddenly surrenders to the FBI with an offer to help catch a terrorist under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth "Liz" Keen (Boone), a beautiful yet sassy young FBI profiler who's just barely out of Quantico. The two end up solving various crimes and get in one life threatening situation after another.

22 Episodes make up Season Four includes Esteban, Mato, Miles McGrath, Gaia, The Lindquist Concern, The Thrushes, Dr. Adrian Shaw, Dr. Adrian Shaw: Conclusion, Lipet's Seafood Company, The Forecaster, The Harem, Natalie Luca, Isabella Stone, The Architect, The Apothecary, Dembe Zuma, Requiem, Philomena, Dr. Bogdan Krilov, The Debt Collector, Mr. Kaplan, and Mr. Kaplan: Conclusion.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a crisp DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the difference between the original television broadcast and the Blu-ray is significant enough of a difference that fans will want to take hold. Plus, commercial free and without network watermarks is always a plus and makes viewing shows like this more fun to watch on disc.

A digital UV copy is also included.

Special Features...

A Darker Shade of Red (Blu-ray exclusive)


A Lighter Shade Of Red

Mr. Kaplan: End Of An Era

Gag Reel

Deleted Scenes

3 Episode Commentaries

For more on the series, try our previous coverage as follows...

Season One DVD set


Season Three Blu-ray set


Dead Next Door

The 1989 zombie indie The Dead Next Door is a fun film for fans and made by fans.

A lot of love and affection went this little splatter fest, which is highly inspired (and wears the inspiration proudly on its sleeve) by the films of George A. Romero, Tom Savini, Peter Jackson, and Sam Raimi. I couldn't help but smile when watching this, especially during the first act where the filmmakers went to Washington DC and grabbed a few guerrilla filmmaking shots of Zombies staggering in front of national landmarks.

Directed by J.R. Bookwalter, this movie wasn't shot recently with digital HD cameras but rather on film in the late 1980s, a time when making a film of this nature wasn't exactly heard of and long before The Walking Dead and most likely not too long after the impact of Return of the Living Dead. The film starts out in Ohio where a zombie disease quickly spreads, even to the gates of the White House, leaving it up to an elite team of Zombie Squad soldiers to battle against the never-ending hoards of the undead and the secretive religious cult hell-bent on protecting them.

The film is presented on 1080p Blu-ray disc with two different 2K restored versions of the film in both its original 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio and a new 1.78:1 widescreen ratio for the transition to viewing on HDTVs. As for the audio, there is a DTS HD-MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 Surround Original Cast Mix and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 Surround Classic Dubbed Mix as well. An anamorphically enhanced, standard definition DVD version of the film is also included in lesser resolution.

Special Features and Technical Specs:


2015 Audio Commentary with producers J.R. Bookwalter, Jolie Jackunas and Scott P. Plummer

"Restoration of the Dead" Featurette (19 mins.)

Capitol Theatre Screening Q&A (12 mins.)

The Nightlight Screening Q&A (16 mins.)

Behind the Scenes Footage (19 mins.)

Deleted Scenes & Outtakes (7 mins.)

Storyboard Gallery (27 mins.)

Around The World Gallery (4 mins.)

Behind The Scenes Gallery (9 mins.)

Production Stills Gallery (6 mins.)

and Tempe Digital Trailers: The Dead Next Door (2015 Version), Platoon of the Dead (2009), Poison Sweethearts (2008)


FIRST TIME ON DVD! Standard-Definition Presentation of 2K Restored Feature in 4:3 Original Aspect Ratio (1.33:1, 78 mins.)

NEW! 2001 Foreign DVD Audio Commentary with writer/director J.R. Bookwalter and makeup FX artist David Lange

NEW! Richards Returns: An Interview with Actor Scott Spiegel (5 mins.)

NEW! Akron Location Tour with James L. Edwards (5 mins.)

FIRST TIME ON DVD! Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy surround Original Cast Mix

FIRST TIME ON DVD! 2015 Audio Commentary with producers J.R. Bookwalter, Jolie Jackunas and Scott P. Plummer

Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Classic Dubbed Mix

2005 Audio Commentary with writer/director J.R. Bookwalter, actor Michael Todd and cinematographer Michael Tolochko, Jr.

20 Years in 15 Minutes (16 mins.)

Video Storyboards (8 mins.)

Video Pre-Shoots (6 mins.)

Auditions (14 mins.)

2000 Frightvision Reunion (6 mins.)

Three Miles Out Music Video (3 mins.)

Tempe Video Trailers: The Dead Next Door, Kingdom of the Vampire (1991), Ozone, The Sandman, Polymorph

PACKAGING (First 1,000 Units Only)

Slipcover with Newly-Commissioned 2017 Artwork

Classic VHS Release Wrap Arts

If you have a love for zombie films, then you won't want to miss this great new release of an indie horror classic!

Evil In Us

This 'cabin in the woods' / body horror indie, The Evil in Us (2016), is a mix of Cabin Fever, Rabid, and The Evil Dead, only not as strong as any of them in terms of innovative filmmaking or storytelling. There's plenty of gore and some interesting special effects moments for fans of the genre, however some kills are dealt with blood splattering on victims instead of showing the action. The film stars Ian Collins, Kylee Bush, Debs Howard, and John Gillich.

Six school friends party it up on the fourth of July on a small remote island off the Washington coast. Soon, the party goes south when they unknowingly take a new bio-active drug that also happens to contain a life altering virus that causes fits of psychotic rage. Only one of the friends, Brie, doesn't take the drug and is forces to watch her friends not only have rage attacks but also develop a taste for human flesh as well. Trapped and fending for her life, Brie must find a way off the island before she becomes an appetizer.

Presented in standard definition DVD with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, the film looks and sounds fine for the aging format but isn't anything too special or innovative. There's plenty of blood in the film and some of the presentation is hit and miss. The score is one of the stronger parts of the film, as its presented nicely on the disc for a Dolby mix.

No extras.

Nothing too new here that you haven't seen before yet for an indie it has a few good moments when mediocre actors turn into savage meat eaters.

Phantasm: 5 Movie DVD Collection

Well Go USA issued a Blu-ray box set of all five films in the Phantasm series and though we covered two of the films from them on separate Blu-ray, we finally pulled together all of our coverage of the series when we covered the Arrow U.K. box set at this link...


For those not upgrading to Blu-ray or wanting the films for places they only have a DVD player, Well Go's Phantasm: 5 Movie DVD Collection will fill the gap(s) the Blu-ray sets missed. We get all 5 films in anamorphically enhanced 1.85 x 1 presentations that starts strong with the restored original, gets a little weaker and average with the second & third films, then gets better with the last two. The lossy Dolby Digital mixes (5.1, 2.0, etc.) follow the same pattern with the restored original sounding remarkably good for its age, sonics then get a little weaker with the second & third films but at least sound natural considering, but the last two films are louder and too harsh and edgy for their own good. The Blu-ray playback on all five are easily better, of course.

As you might expect, the extras are not as wide-ranging as the Blu-ray sets as DVD is an older, more limited format. Still, extras for each film are as follows, starting with the original film...

Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Don Coscarelli and Stars Michael Baldwin, Angus Scrimm and Bill Thornbury

Graveyard Carz

Interviews with Don Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm

Deleted Scenes

Theatrical Trailer


Audio Commentary with Don Coscarelli, actors Angus Scrimm and Reggie Baniste

The Ball is Back - documentary on the making of Phantasm II

Deleted Scenes

Workprint Scenes

TV Spots

Theatrical Trailers


Audio Commentary with Stars A. Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm

Balls of Steel: Bob Ivy's Stunt for the Ages



Audio Commentary with Director Don Coscarelli and Actors Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm

Phantasm IV: Behind-The-Scenes



Audio Commentary with co-writer/director David Hartman and co-writer/producer Don Coscarelli

Behind the Scenes

Deleted Scenes

Phuntasm: Bloopers and Outtakes

Theatrical Trailer

That's as good as it will get in the older format, but that'll have to do.


Last but absolutely not least, a long-awaited classic. Though released months ago as a limited edition steelbook and only available on the web, Synapse's HD restoration of Dario Argento's Phenomena (1985) swims onto Blu-ray disc in grand fashion. Featuring three cuts of the film, this release is in standard Blu-ray packaging (not the collectible steelbook packaging) and it does not contain the limited edition remastered soundtrack CD, or the booklet that was available with the steel book. This trend will continue with the upcoming and highly anticipated HD restoration of Argento's Suspiria this winter and with the company's previous release of Argento's Tenebrae. When comparing the price of both editions on the website, an extra five dollars for the booklet and steel book isn't a bad deal for a disc with this much entertainment. Surprisingly, this is the first time the film has been on Blu-ray in America.

One of Jennifer Connelly's first films and also starring the great Donald Pleasence, Phenomena is 80s Italian horror at some of its best. Centering around a Swiss Girls Academy where a killer is running rampant, a uniquely gifted young girl named Jennifer (Connelly) is at the center of the crimes. Among her gifts is the ability to communicate with insects that catches the eye of Dr. McGregor (Pleasance) who, along with his pet monkey, to help find the killer. Things get even more bizarre from there in a movie you have to see to believe.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an greeting sounding DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 lossless tracks in various languages. This is the best looking I've ever seen the film with nicely saturated colors and not as much noise as previous releases. Complete with a heavy metal (and highly 80s) soundtrack and a wonderful score by Goblin. There's also two completely different sound mix options on the 110-Minute Version which includes the original 2.0 stereo mix, along with a rare alternate mix containing different sound effects and music cues. There is even an English/Italian Hybrid Audio and Complete Italian Audio Options the 116 Minute Version.

Special Features and Specs:

Three different cuts of the film including Creepers (85 minute American version), a 100 minute version, and a 116 minute version.

Audio Commentary Track on Phenomena (110 Version) from Argento scholar and author, Derek Botelho and film historian, journalist and radio/television commentator, David Del Valle (who has been on a good roll lately of making commentary tracks).


Interview with Andi Sex Gang

Phenomena International Theatrical Trailer

Creepers U.S. Theatrical Trailer & Radio Spots

Synapse has done a great job remastering Phenomena on Blu-ray disc in a transfer that definitely looks better than it did on DVD from Anchor Bay several years ago. This obscure little film is one of my favorites by Argento so it's nice to see it make its way onto Blu-ray disc with this nice of a presentation and extras. Recommended.

- James Lockhart & Nicholas Sheffo (Phantasm)



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