Movie Review: BEN Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack

BEN was directed by Phil Karlson and stars Lee Harcourt Montgomery, Joseph Campanella, Meredith Baxter,  Rosemary Murphy and Arthur O’Connell.

In Ben, detective sergeant Cliff Kirtland (Joseph Campanella) 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. Put your feet up – way up – and watch: Ben is an absolute must for everyone who likes a good scare!

This 1972 follow up picks right up where Willard left off with the army of rats on the run and terrorizing the small town. Watch out grocery store, clean up on isle five!  Ben is still in the lead spot and ends up meeting Danny, a talented, yet lonely young boy who is dealing with some serious health issues. The two hit it off but it doesn’t take long for the local law enforcement to get hot on the trail, or maybe in this case – the tail. Anyway, in Danny’s eyes, he’s made a new friend in Ben but the authorities see it in a completely different light because these rats are killers. What happens is, the rat’s layer is located and the authorities come in and take them out in hot and violent fashion. There’s no way a rat could escape this fiery inferno, but in the end, Danny gets a shocking surprise that his friend Ben has somehow survived the attack.

Okay, this horror sequel got a little weirder and much more cheesy but it’s still the perfect companion for Willard. The story was good and all but it simply inserted another young boy to become friends with this smart rat. Everything was taken to the next level because there were a lot more rats running around this time or at least it appeared that way. There’s A LOT of rats creeping and crawling around in this movie! This time the rats are out on their own and also get to do some exploring which means they cause much more havoc and chaos. As far as the human factor goes, I thought all of the performances were really good and of course Lee Montgomery stole the show with his interactions with the rat. Director Phil Karlson did a good job capturing the terror as well as the cheese that this movie possesses.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. Both discs also include their own individual artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for the high-definition disc were better than I expected. The picture and sound quality for the standard-definition disc were also good. Scream Factory gave the movie an HD transfer from the best surviving print. Unfortunatley, the negative and inner positive could not be found so this is the best they had to work with. There’s a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie that explains it all. There’s some grain and milkiness but to be honest the movie still looked good and the sound was clear.

Bottom line is, Ben was another first time watch for me and a fitting sequel to its predecessor that released a year earlier. The story is still about a boy and his rat except this time the rat simply makes a new friend. This movie even features the Acadamy Award nominated song by the one and only Michael Jackson. It’s a catchy and creepy little tune about the killer rat. This sequel can get pretty cheesy at times and even stalls in certain scenes but it still feels like a worthy companion piece to Willard for some strange and bizzare reason. I guess because it continues the story from the first movie and gives the bad rat a little bit of redemption. Maybe? In my honest opinion, after watching Willard and Ben, you can’t have one movie without having the other. Ben finally makes its Blu-ray and DVD debut on May 16th and is worth checking out. If you pick up Willard you might as well grab Ben because these two films go together.

Distributor: Scream Factory

Run Time: 94 Minutes

Rated: PG

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

DVD Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)

DVD Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include an all-new interview and audio commentary with Lee Montgomery who played Danny in the movie. The original trailers, TV and radio spots and images are also included.

  • NEW HD transfer of the best surviving archive print
  • NEW audio commentary with actor Lee Montgomery
  • NEW interview with actor Lee Montgomery (09:19)
  • Theatrical Trailers (03:31)
  • TV Spots (00:43)
  • BEN/WILLARD Double Feature Trailer and TV spot (01:32)
  • Radio Spot (00:29)
  • Still Gallery (01:32)
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