Directed by J.R. Bookwalter
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
MY GOD! I CAN SEE! That was my initial thought upon hitting the Play Movie option on the DVD menu for Anchor Bay’s newest DVD release of the cult classic The Dead Next Door. Up until now this homegrown piece of zombie film history has only been available on really tired looking VHS and not so on the level DVD releases. I remember the first time I watched my long sought after copy years ago. I thought I bought a bum item. Little did I know that the print of the film actually looked that bad.
The story follows the exploits of a group of commandos aptly named The Zombie Squad who are sent out on a mission to find a cure for a recent epidemic that has caused the world to fall victim to armies of the living dead. Along the way they run into a fanatical group of zombie lovers that seem hellbent on co-existing with the dead because they believe their existence to be “the will of God“. Of course, as expected, things go horribly wrong from there.
Like any first time effort for a filmmaker, J. R. Bookwalter’s foray into the zombie genre was a trial by fire kind of experience. Armed with only a handful of lights, an old 8mm camera, and enough enthusiasm for 20 films, he set out to make his epic sized homage to zombie films and the horror genre as a whole.
For the most part, he succeeded. While at times it is a bit distracting to have characters named Raimi, Carpenter, and Savini running around, one cannot deny what an absolute blood spattered blast this film is. From zombies at the White House gates to truly psychotic amateur stuntmen hurling themselves off of moving cars, you cannot help but have a good time! Some of the FX in this film still look pretty damned good. And now that you can actually see them — thanks in part to Anchor Bay’s had-to-be-painstaking digital restoration of the film– it’s all the better. The best CGI in the world cannot come close to the coolness of a good looking mechanical zombie puppet and some good old fashioned splatter. The Dead Next Door delivers on everything that has made the zombie sub-genre so beloved by fans, and then some.
The DVD itself is filled to the hilt with never before seen deleted scenes, exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and a great commentary with Bookwalter, his co-producer Michael Todd, and cinematographer Michael Tolochko, Jr. These cats have some tales to tell, and the result is almost as good and entertaining as the feature itself. This baby has been four years in the making, and it really shows!
The Dead Next Door has long been a hard to find zombie classic. Even casual fans of zombie films should give this one a whirl. Believe me when I tell you, you just haven’t seen this film until you watch this new transfer of it. Now I really know what all the screaming was about next door. Damned undead noisy neighbors!
20 Years in 15 Minutes Documentary
Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery
4 out of 5