Made over the course of several years during the late eighties, The Dead Next Door finally spluttered into VHS life by 1989, and has since gone on to evolve a minor cult reputation over the decades since. An ode to the zombie films of the seventies and eighties, it's an ambitious tale of an uprising of the dead that sweeps across America. Sounds unoriginal now, in the wake of millions of such films, but back then such films were comparatively infrequent. Here the film follows a government appointed 'Zombie Squad' as they tour the countryside surviving whilst searching for what promises to be a cure for the epidemic.
Back in the nineties I picked up a dupe tale of the film, as it was not easy to get hold of at the time in the UK, and was for a while of the opinion that it had actually been shot on VHS (I'd seen a few features of this ilk around the period, like Redneck Zombies and the fuck-awful Zombie 90). The reasons for it resembling a video-made item are now clear (explained indirectly through some of the extras that have materialised on disc since), however, it was indeed shot on film (Super 8mm to be specific). That makes it even more ambitious for what was essentially a group of amateurs with little experience behind them. There are some decent gore effects throughout, with a story that spans a variety of locations, populated by many extras. Sam Raimi became involved from a production point of view, and Bruce Campbell ended up helping with the looped sound as well as voicing one of the characters - the location-recorded sound at the time proved to be unusable so the whole film had to be redubbed in post-production. Overall J R Bookwalter did an impressive job under the circumstances, although casual modern-day viewers may be left a little cold.
There are also several of J R's pre-Dead short films, which show surprising promise considering he was just a boy at the time (these have commentary tracks by J R and his son!). Aside from new featurettes the discs collate the extras from previous releases, plus have some trailers for various things. There is also a CD of the soundtrack for used and unused material, plus a booklet, a reversible cover with unique number (for the 1000-limited print run). Pleasingly it's also signed by J R himself.
Whether you want to pay a much larger sum for the UE will depend on a) how much you like the film, and b) how much of a collector you are, but it is truly an ultimate and very complete package, on the whole a loveletter to the film itself. Alternatively you get the main transfer plus some of the extras for a much lower price from 88 - the choice is yours. Either way, I think this film deserves a place in the discerning horror fan's collection.