Kansas film about notorious Bender family serial killers to make its debut Tuesday

The film is available on DVD, Cable OnDemand, and online on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon

In 2013, John Alexander, of Los Angeles, and JC Guest, of Asheville, N.C., now Harvard alums, traveled to Kansas in the middle of summer to make a film based on a true legend of the western frontier. They settled on the infamous story of the Bender family.

Four years later, the film “Bender” shot in Geary County, Wichita, El Dorado and Hall County, Neb., will make its North America debut on Aug. 1, with its worldwide debut to come. It will be available on DVD, Cable OnDemand, and online on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.

“It took several years to produce this film since it was a large-scale production working with an independent film budget,” Alexander, the director, said. “Period pieces are always more time consuming and expensive than other genres, and we took the period authenticity very seriously.”

The story of the Bender’s is a Kansas family who owned an inn and general store in Labette County from 1871 to 1873. They’re suspected of killing about a dozen travelers and burying them in their apple orchard before their crimes were discovered and they fled. What happened to the family after that is unknown.

In previous reporting, Alexander said they chose the story because of it’s chilling nature, and the fact that it had not been shared with a worldwide audience. Looking back, Alexander said traveling to Kansas to shoot the film was essential to maintaining its authenticity.

“Shooting Bender on location in Kansas did add to the film because so much of the story is about the land itself: the prairie, the grasses, and what vanishes into the dirt beneath our feet,” he said. “I could have filmed the movie in California, or on a sound stage, but it wouldn’t have had nearly the same authentic creepiness. Out on the Kansas plains, the openness is almost stifling, suffocating, and it is the harshness of the…

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