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Drama / History / Thriller / Western

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Linda Purl Photo
Linda Purl as Mrs. Thomas
Buck Taylor Photo
Buck Taylor as Sheriff J.E. Stone
Bruce Davison Photo
Bruce Davison as Mayor Prentiss
James Karen Photo
James Karen as Old Man Bender
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
738.01 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 20 min
P/S 10 / 20
1.34 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 20 min
P/S 6 / 28

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by jwtrout5 / 10

Creepy enough in real life--why all of the changes?

The real life story of the Benders is creepy enough on its own, so why did the producers of this movie have to change so many things? Just about the only things correct in this are the names of those involved. I was thrilled when I heard that the local historical society in Cherryvale, Kansas supposedly helped the producers of the movie to get the details correct. However, the movie folks apparently didn't listen because so much is wrong. Artistic license, I guess but still, why? I will admit that I only watched this movie because I knew the story behind it. It's not typically my type of movie. The sets and cinematography were pretty good but the acting was only so-so for most of the people. It might be an entertaining movie for those watching it for the first time and not knowing the story but I just couldn't get past the inaccuracies.

Spoilers below * * * * Dr. York was happily married and not a widower. His wife wrote a book about his murder and the entire Bender situation. Dr. York did have two brothers searching for him but neither was his twin nor did either one visit the Bender inn alone. They found Dr. York's entire body not just "pieces of him." He's buried in Independence, KS. Pa Bender was not killed by Ma. The four of them were traced to the train depot nearby and then never seen again. John Bender Jr. was NOT a little boy. He was a grown man. That was the weirdest change of all. I could go on but I won't. A much better representation of this story can be found by watching Investigation Discovery's Evil Kin episode about the Benders.

Reviewed by parry_na7 / 10

Enjoyably odd slow-burner.

This is another fine release from High Fliers Films, a company I only discovered recently with the release of 'The Cleansing (2019)'. I am delighted to find there are many films under their banner, and a lot of them are horror stories.

This is another modestly budgeted chiller, based on the real life Bender family of the 1870s, the first known serial killer family. Director and co-writer John Alexander orchestrates events in a restrained manner, never in a hurry to tell their story. If you are prepared for a mainly unspectacular, intelligent slow-burner, this will not disappoint. That isn't to say there aren't moments that won't make you jump - the fate of one of the local doctor's patients, and the doctor's own eventual fate, for example, are handled deftly. Shocking moments in an overall ambience of distinctly calmed oddness.

There's an unspecific but unsettling nature about the directorial choices here too - lingering just too long on a smile, highlighting the rugged features of a character contrasted against a wide blue sky, introducing the grocery store as a lone silhouette, the omnipresent but barely perceptible buzzing of flies - that further communicates the sense of dislocation and unease as further disappearances occur in Fairweather.

Just don't eat the pork.

Reviewed by gavin69426 / 10

Pioneer Horror

The unsettling true story of America's first serial killing family. A troubled doctor (Jon Monastero) searches for patients swallowed by the prairie and encounters the Benders, homesteaders trapped by a life of unspeakable sin.

If nothing else, this film deserves praise for bringing the story of the "Bloody Benders" to life. Somehow, despite a lifetime of reading true crime and history, as well as devouring thousands of horror films, this reviewer has no recollection of ever hearing about the Bender family. And it is such a good story, that it really deserves to be explored more. From 1869-1872, the family killed at least 11 people and even captured the imagination of a young Laura Ingalls (1867-1957),who had a loose connection to the Benders.

Horror fans will delight at James Karen ("Return of the Living Dead") as lecherous Old Man Bender. His actions are ravenous, almost animalistic, but perhaps not far from reality. According to reports, the real Bender "spoke very little English. When he did speak it, it was so guttural that it was usually unintelligible." Further, he "was prone to laughing aimlessly, which led many to consider him a half-wit." So this bizarre portrayal is actually quite appropriate. (Horror fans also get Bruce Davison of "Willard" fame as the mayor!) The plot is clever and imaginative. The easy way out would have been to do a straight-up exploitation film with blood and guts. We still get that, of course, but the focus is really on an outsider (the doctor),which provides a more interesting story than just the same old hack-and-slash. The unfortunate thing is that there is very little dialogue, and a fairly short (80-minute) running time, so the film feels less than fully fleshed out at times. There is also the fact that the costumes seem too clean for pioneers. Apparently they could not afford to buy the costumes outright or get them dry cleaned, so the actors had to avoid dirtying the rentals.

While the film is less than perfect, it is still a valiant effort and ought to be appreciated for being more than the same old thing. Horror, as much as we all love it, has a tendency to beat a dead horse. Not so in this case. The "pioneer horror" subgenre is small – beyond "Ginger Snaps Back" and "Ravenous" there are few entries – and "Bender fits in well here. The film was in distributor limbo for a couple years, but is now seeing the light of day thanks to Candy Factory Films.

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