The Dead Next Door J.R. Bookwalter

In a time where zombies are not only flooding the silver screen (and the straight to DVD market) but also video games, music videos, comics, etc., it's nice to go back to the golden age of horror when zombies weren't such a cash-in trend. The '80s were responsible for a preposterous amount of undead flicks, but they all seem to have a charming spread of D.I.Y. cheese to them that makes even the worst of them a good hoot to watch. The Dead Next Door is a lost zombie film that hasn't had the chance to be fully appreciated until now, 17 years after its cinematic release. Though he distanced himself from the film, Sam Raimi served as executive producer under the title of "Master Cylinder," and apparently used his cut from Evil Dead 2 to help fund this film. Set in Akron, Ohio, of all places, Bookwalter's film centres on a team of soldiers called "the Zombie Squad," who attempt to sweep their area clean of those pesky flesh eaters. The Dead Next Door is hardly a groundbreaking film, but it does throw in some new ideas (a zombie-supporting cult, a serum to save a bitten human that has serious side effects) and has an ending where the tables are turned on the Squad that should bring smiles to faces. The parallels to Romero's trilogy are certainly there, but this is one enjoyable horror film that has some top-notch gore (the disembowelment of Dr. Moulsson especially), a sturdy plot and best of all, it doesn't take itself seriously (i.e., zombies try to climb the White House fence). The featurette shows just how confidential Raimi's involvement was, as the cast and crew are censored when they utter his name, or they simply refer to him as Mr. X. Surprisingly, most of those involved reflect on how horrible it was to be a part of it all, largely due to its teeny budget and the fact that no one was paid for their work. The deleted scenes are paltry and Bookwalter explains why, but he does walk you through a "behind the scenes" film that sheds a lot of light on how the movie was constructed and amusingly includes footage of people participating in "Hands Across America" in downtown Akron. Plus: commentary, trailer, reunion, auditions, still galleries, music video. (Anchor Bay)