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Fender Bender (Blu-ray Review)

Fender-BenderThere are no accidents. He stalks the streets. Remorseless. Brutal. Bloodthirsty. When his prey is at its most vulnerable, he appears. And when night falls and all is quiet…he strikes. Prepare for the next driving force in horror with the October 4th, 2016 release ofFender Bender on Blu-ray, DVD and all major digital platforms from Scream Factory. Just in time for Halloween, this chilling feature also comes loaded with bonus features, including a “Retro VHS” cut of the film, audio commentary with the director, a behind the scenes featurette, a producer’s commentary, a collection of vintage slasher film trailers and more! Fans can pre-order their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com.

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Film 

Seventeen-year-old Hilary has just received her driver’s license… only to have her first accident shortly thereafter. Innocently exchanging her personal information with the remorseful stranger behind the wheel, Hilary returns home for a quiet evening with friends. But when the man she so readily handed all of her information to reveals himself to be something much darker and sinister than she could imagine, Hilary finds herself in a head-on collision with terror.

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  The immensely popular Scream Factory Blu-ray line from independent distributor Shout! Factory has made a big name and impact on the horror fandom and community right from its inception in 2012.  After a few years, fans began to ask if they ever thought of putting out their own films ever.  With trust from them having built clouts as huge fans themselves of the genre, they were definitely interested in it.  Then, last year, the exciting news dropped about Fender Bender with much excitement.  Fittingly, their first foray into filmmaking and producing would be a slasher film as their first Blu-ray release was the 1981 slasher sequel Halloween II (Also the first of the coveted “Collector’s Edition” line).

Right out the gate, this is ever the love letter to the slasher genre of the 1980s as there ever was.  And its one that successful is such without doing so in any sort of distracting ways.  Its straightforward being the the kind of film it wants to be in a way they were sort of made back then.  You won’t find a lot of winks to the audience or super meta stuff abound.  Fender Bender is very straightforward with what it is.  And what it is, is one of the best straightforward slashers in last decade or so (Hanging around in a territory with that of the first two Cold Prey movies).

Story setup of is a novel little simple concept that works just fine if you’re willing to go there.  Its a clever and fun conceit our killer has.  And its one that sort makes you think, “Yeah, how did someone NOT think of this way back when”.  Said premise works very well with the pre-credits scene of the film and our main body of the story.  In fact, its actually quite satisfying and really works well how the opening plays into the main story.  Not only is there a connection, but I rather enjoy getting a small dose and then having a full scenario sort of fill in answers and deepen the questions and curiosity posed from the opening kill.

Director Mark Pavia does so much with what little he probably had to work with.  Slashers, as they should always be, are a super low budget affair.  With that, he and his crew are able to assemble some unique intense sequence, all with a nice and not overbearing sense of style.  The key here to this movie’s success is how straightforward it is, and the ability and restraint to stay the course.  This film also rewards retro horror junkies like myself with the decision to have practical effects which are pretty fun to see with the kills.

Impressive enough, is the film’s ability to have some likable characters fill up the roster.  That’s not a requirement for a slasher (Personality stereotypes are fun), but it can be refreshing sometimes.  Our lead is Makenzie Vega and she works quite well to have around.  She’s menaced by Ben Sage who plays the killer.  And this guy is just a stone cold killer.  What I like is that while he’s human and can talk, there’s a good decision made to keep him silent for his stalking and murder proceedings.

I really hope I’m not overselling the film for you.  Fans of slasher films should really give it a shot.  If you’re a fan of the golden years but are not too big on films that are obsessed with overdoing nostalgia aesthetics or meta stuff, this should be the ticket.  One of the best compliments I can give the film is that it just does what it doesn’t and doesn’t trying to be anything else.  And what it does, it does well and is also a fun time.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  Fender Bender comes to Blu-ray with a terrific looking transfer that really pops and gives the film a certain nifty aesthetic that is both new and harkening back to a classic feel.  The image is sharp and vibrant, while able to bring a dark, cryptic look to the nighttime proceedings.  Details are rampant as you can make out plenty of blood an dirt/flesh/shine on the murder weapon knife.  Clothing fabrics, floor and countertop textures all come through, too.

Depth:  The image has a good 3 dimensional look to it.  Objects, people and environments are all free of one another.  Movements are smooth and natural.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and rich, with its highlight being the darkness and shadow work it does.  Its also nice that details on the leather mask, coat and overall killer costume still shine through and aren’t missing or compromised.

Color Reproduction:  Colors kinda pop when they’re allowed to be around. This one has a more natural look and many dark stalk and attack sequences.  Blood does gush through and pop.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and maintain their coloring and appearance through the slashing proceedings.  Dried blood, lip texture, makeup, stubble and dimples all come through in most all shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  This is a pretty awesome track that gets the job done very well. Sound effects and layered and full sounding, keeping the action and intensity.  Dialogue and score are also woven into this mix perfectly with each piece complimenting the other and never stepping on one another’s toes.

Low Frequency Extension:  Car engines, impalement, crashes, smashes and such thump your subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Front speakers expertly track and craft the movement and chase of the action.  There are some interesting moments in the rear channels, but they hold mostly to keeping mood with ambiance and light scoring touches.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp, clear and set to varying to degrees of audbility throughout the duration of the feature.

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Extras 

Audio Commentary 

  • Director Commentary
  • Producer Commentary

Retro VHS” Version of the Film (HD, 1:31:59) –Watch the film in a re-created mode that takes you back to the 1980’s and the heyday of VCRs.  It also features a little intro like “feature presentation” and a different Scream Factory logo.  This is also a hoot and the video quality is done extremely well to the point where I actually want to believe that they copied this over on a couple of VHS tapes before transferring it rather than double click a mouse for some sort of filter.

Behind-The-Scenes Featurette (HD, 9:16) – Interviews taken during shooting, though Mark Pavia has no problem vaguely spoiling or discussing a couple things.  Also features some onset footage.

“Slashback” Trailer Reel (HD, 38:39) – A collection of vintage Scream Factory-branded slasher previews. Features Halloween II, Visiting Hours, Bad Dreams, Blood & Lace, Final Exam, The Slumber Party Massacre, I Saw What You Did, Motel Hell, New Year’s Evil, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, Psycho II, Psycho III, Schizoid, The Final Terror, 3 Sleepaway Camp, Sleepaway Camp 2, Sleepaway Camp 3, Terror Train, The Funhouse, The Burning

Original Trailer and TV Spot (HD, 2:07)

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Summary 

I still maintain that Fender Bender is a fun ass time.  Its a very solid slasher and it just oozes with passion from all of those involved.  This Blu-ray brings some essential bonus features and the highly recommended and lovely VHS edition of the film.  Scream Factory’s transfer on the video and audio are both a heck of a good job.  Of all the “original” or “modern” horror films the Scream Factory line has brought out, this is one of my favorites and its a good start for them in their creation of original content.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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