New to Blu-ray/DVD: The Sender & The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season


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Editor’s Notes: The Sender and The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season are out on their respective formats August 25th.

The Sender

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The Sender (Olive Films) is a well-crafted psychological horror film. Zeljko Ivanek (TV’s Damages) stars as John Doe # 83, a patient admitted to a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. When the psychiatrist assigned to his case, Dr. Gail Farmer (Kathryn Harold (TV’s The Rockford Files), begins experiencing vivid hallucinations, she suspects that she may be telepathically connected to her new patient, envisioning what he is experiencing in real time.
Produced by the same studio that, two years earlier, introduced the world to the Friday the 13th franchise, The Sender relies less on gory murders and amped suspense than gradual, escalating horror. From the gripping opening scene, in which a man loads himself down with rocks and walks into a lake, the movie holds our attention with this guy’s story. Why is he trying to kill himself? Doers he possess telepathic powers? Are these powers blessing or curse?
Director Roger Christian and a uniformly strong cast make The Sender a surprising, low-budget horror film that stands out from the numerous slasher films produced during the 1980s. It is more cerebral than many of those pictures, which rely on gallons of stage blood and dumb, hormone-driven teenagers, drawing upon mental illness and the mysteries of the human mind for its thrills.
There are no bonus features on the Blu-ray release.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season

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The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season (Anchor Bay) begins with the outstanding episode, “No Sanctuary,” one of the most action packed, bloodiest of the series. Season 4 concluded with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group outnumbered, outgunned, and trapped in a shipping container at the mercy of Gareth and his band of cannibals. The outlook was bleak.

The problem with this series is that, apart from season opening and finale episodes, the shows tend to be too dialogue driven. For a series whose success is based on zombie/human confrontations, The Walking Dead too often lapses into long talky sequences that slow the pace and kill suspense. Much of this has to do with padding. After all, the show is about the humans defending themselves from becoming zombie meals, but we have back stories, conflicts among the humans, and assorted treks to supposedly safe locations.

Special effects tend to be exceptional — the best on television, easily ranking with what you can see in Hollywood features. The producers keep coming up with new and ghastly images, and I suppose that’s what keeps viewers coming back. However, the series is showing its age and often is repetitive. It’s tough sustaining any series for more than three seasons, especially one whose attraction is shocking viewers. Even deaths of key characters have become predictable, occurring for the most part in season finales. Viewers may be surprised, but never shocked, as they would be if a key character bit the dust early in the season. With its shortcomings, The Walking Dead is without question the best scripted horror ever aired on TV, delivering solid drama along with plenty of blood and gore.

Bonus extras on the Blu-ray release include several behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentaries, and deleted scenes.


About Author

For over 25 years, I was the Film and Home Entertainment Reviewer for "The Villadom TIMES," a New Jersey weekly newspaper, and have written for several other publications. I developed and taught a Film Studies program for two New York City high schools that included Film History, Horror/Fantasy, and Film Making.