The Dead Next Door (1989) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)

The Dead Next Door (1989) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)
Directed By: J.R. Bookwalter
Starring: Pete Ferry, Bogdan Pecic, Michael Grossi
Rated: UR/Region A/Full Screen and Widescreen/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Tempe Digital

Two and a half decades before “The Walking Dead” made zombies mainstream on cable television, 19-year-old writer/director J.R. Bookwalter (“Ozone,” “Witchouse 2: Blood Coven”) embarked on “The Dead Next Door,” an ambitious horror feature pitting an elite team of Zombie Squad soldiers against hoards of the undead and the secretive religious cult hell-bent on protecting them. The film would ultimately take four years to complete with the help of a now-famous Hollywood director and more than 1,500 Northeast Ohio residents, who portrayed the multitudes of bloodthirsty ghouls.

From what I hear, The Dead Next Door was the most expensive 8mm film ever made. Produced by Sam Raimi and even having such names as Bruce Campbell doing the dubbing for some of the characters, The Dead Next Door certainly is a zombie movie that was a bit before its time and has its moments. Coming to the world at a time when the zombie subgenre wasn’t as played out, this is a movie that offers up a pretty good plot, makes good use of what it had to work with, and probably gives is good gore above everything else. The characters are a bit whacky, they are named after famous horror people, and the movie does sort of dip and dives through some portions of the plot, but I still enjoyed the whole spectacle of the whole thing above all else. The movie was probably one of the better zombie offerings for the time and while you can’t call the cast the best cast you’ve ever seen, you can at least see the midnight movie feel jumping off the screen while you watch this one.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen The Dead Next Door on Blu-ray, but this is a far more mainstream release. It ports over a whole list of the same extras as before, with a few noticeable missing things. It lacks the VHS version of the film, the short films, the No-Budget Nightmares commentary, and a few more things. But the things I’ve mentioned by name are perhaps the biggest thing missing from this version that was in the limited Ultimate Edition that came out in 2015. This version does, however, pack a couple new commentaries listed below, a location tour, and a slipcase. The movie does have both the full frame and widescreen versions of the film like the one before. For my money, I think the natural 1:33 ratio version looks the best while the other is nice to have but seems to lose some detail. If you don’t already own the Ultimate Edition of this film, this is still as good a version as any to own.

Extras

DISC ONE BLU-RAY
– 2K Restored Feature in 4:3 Original Aspect Ratio (1.33:1, 78 mins.)
– 2K Restored Feature in 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1, 78 mins.)
– DTS HD-MA 5.1 Surround Original Cast Mix
– DTS HD-MA 5.1 Surround Classic Dubbed Mix
– 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.)
– Tempe Digital Trailers: The Dead Next Door (2015 Version), Platoon of the Dead (2009), Poison Sweethearts (2008)
DISC TWO DVD
– 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 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

Quality of Transfer: 90% (1:33) 85% (Widescreen)