The Dead Next Door

With three films to go, it’s time to go old school. The Dead Next Door was made in 1989, and shot on super 8mm by a 19 year director called J.R Bookwalter – who also acts in the movie and does some of the special effects.

Why am I blogging about this? Well, it’s essentially an amateur movie that got a cinema release – decades before YouTube, Vimeo and cheap digital technology young Mr Bookwalter made a film himself and got it released!

But, watch and especially listen closely. Sam Riami was involved in helping with some of the financing and B Movie legend Bruce Campbell is dubbed onto the main actor. Mr Bookwalter’s enthusiasm attracted interest from these horror legends who also started out in the amateur format of super 8mm.

So, what’s the film like? It’s got a slow start, but gradually builds, it has a topsy-turvy sense of  humour and the gore effects look homemade but are bloody enough to satisfy. As the film goes along, you gradually get drawn in and it turns into a whole lot of fun. The script (written by a kid who was 19) actually has some very good ideas, and it’s pretty well directed and photographed.

I’d say, that I’ve seen big budget horror movies with fewer ideas than this, and also less fun. As a horror script writer for hire, I’ve seen a lot of horror films worse than this…

In the end it’s an amateur film, but a fun one. And I’d actually put it up there alongside Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Brain Dead by Peter Jackson (which it has a lot in common with).

Bookwalter went onto to work in low-budget films for Charles Band of Empire pictures fame.

I don’t normally do this, but the entire film is currently available to watch for free on YouTube, It’s below…

So, 3 films to go…

Matthew Cooper has written for most of the UK soaps, including writing episodes of Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. Matthew was winner of the Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge, the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal TV Society nominated. He’s been a script consultant and script writer for hire for over 20 years. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.