BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Ben (1972) - Blu-ray Review

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Ben (1972) - Blu-ray Review

1 beers“Where Willard ended, Ben begins,” is the promise on the original poster for the quick sequel to the unexpected hit that was Willard.  Unfortunately, Ben was doomed the minute Willard ended.

No matter which way you look at it, Ben, the sequel to Willard, is just not a very good film.  It lacks momentum, interesting characters, and spends most of its time wrapped up in a narrative about a lonely little boy, Danny (Lee Montgomery), who writes a song about a murderous rat.  You can’t even laugh at this one, folks.  And as far as horror goes, the rats’ trashing of a grocery store is about as terrifying as it gets. 

Ben simply curls up and dies between its opening and closing credits.  Oh, and that song the boy writes?  A very young Michael Jackson sings it.  You might have heard it before.  Appearing on his album, “Ben” was a hit single and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, but lost out to The Poseidon Adventure’s love theme, “The Morning After”.  It was truly a different time.

But this film just can’t carry a tune.  It recaps the final ten or so minutes of Willard and then goes off on a bit of a tangent as a group of detectives – led by detective sergeant Cliff Kirtland (Joseph Campanella, Meteor) – argue about what happened to Willard.  And then there is a manhunt from crime scene to crime scene as the officials look for the rats and their leader, Ben.  This is where Danny comes into play with his, “tear it” screeches while at the police line.  Why the outburst?  I guess to provide some solidarity for the rest of the geeks out there.

Anyway, Ben – after hilariously peering at the dumbass coppers while they “investigate” the trail of crime scenes the rats leave in their wake – eventually takes a liking to Danny.  And the two become fast friends.  Danny just can’t believe that Ben would purposefully hurt another human, so he hides him from the police every single time they come calling.

It isn’t until it is too late that Danny sees another side of Ben and, even then, he still refuses to believe that Ben could do such terrible things.  The gore is amped up in this one, but is still relatively weak.  And the theme is all over the place, making this one just one “what the absolute fuck?!” moment after another.

The best thing to ever come from the movie was Pearl Jam’s nod to the film in the closing line of their song “Rats”, which suggests rats are better at being human than we are. 

Ben is for the die-hard Willard completist only.  Scream Factory missed the boat on this one by not offering both Willard and Ben as a twofer double feature as this release’s HD transfer, being mined from the best print available, is far from perfect.

Ben (1972) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
94 mins
Director
: Phil Carlson
Writer:
Gilbert A. Ralston
Cast:
Lee Montgomery, Joseph Campanella, Arthur O'Connell
Genre
: Horror | Thriller
Tagline:
Where 'WILLARD' ended... Ben begins. And this time, he's not alone!
Memorable Movie Quote: "You're the only friend I have. I love you, Ben."
Theatrical Distributor:
Cinerama Releasing Corporation
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 23, 1972
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 16, 2017
Synopsis: When detective sergeant Cliff Kirtland (Joseph Campanella, Meteor) investigates the horrifying murder of Willard Stiles by a band of rats, he discovers that the rats are now an organized army, and he must destroy the murderous rodents before it is too late. But the rats, led by Ben, the only survivor of the Willard attack, take to the challenge with full force and little fear.

Ben (1972) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- May 16, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Language:
English
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A/1

With an aspect ration of 1.85:1, Scream Factory releases Ben and his groupies onto blu-ray with a problematic transfer.  The new high-definition transfer has been culled from the best surviving print of the film and it shows with lack of depth and a dullness to some of the shots.  The black levels are a bit wavering and shadows become crushing at some parts.  Skin tones are pale and colors are a bit muted.  The sound is distributed here with an adequate DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Following in Willard’s footsteps, the film’s commentary is provided by the lead actor, Lee Montgomery, who talks about the animals and how the film was put together.

Special Features:

The best part of the release is the commentary from Lee Montgomery and the new interview with him.  This is just an all-around weak release.

  • Interview With Actor Lee Montgomery
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots
  • BEN / WILLARD Double Feature Trailer And TV Spot
  • Radio Spot
  • Still Gallery

Ben (1972) - Blu-ray Review

 

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