Return of the Living Dead

Reviewed by Vittorio J. Carli

for Reel Movie Critic

H H H

Cast

Clu Gulager

Burt

James Karen

Frank

Thom Matthews

Ernie

Linnea Quigley

Trash

 

Directed by Dan O'Bannon. A horror film. Rated R (for violence, language and some sexuality). Orion. Running time: 91 minutes

 

 

“Return of the Living Dead” is a surprisingly effective and stylish rip-off of George Romero's zombie films. It effectively combines repulsive gore with riveting action and sly humor. It's about a chemical accident that unleashes a plague of zombies. A group of creatively dressed punk/new wave fans, a few preppies, and some "normal" adults fight against the growing zombie hordes.

"Return of the Living Dead" differs from "Night of the Living Dead", because the living dead can run fast, they possess greater than mortal strength, and they occasionally use their intelligence to trap the living. Also, they only eat brains because it relieves the pain of being dead. The cannibalism scenes in the film are convincing looking because the film uses real cow brains.

The seminal 80's horror film will be shown at the Music Box on October 16 at 3:05 as part of the Music Box Massacre which will feature 24 hours of horror films including the classic silent vampire film, "Nosferatu" and the premier of the new Japanese terror flick, "Pulse."

There will also be a Halloween costume contest, and an appearance by the popular horror host, Count Midnight. Appropriately enough the excellent local punk/horror band Mucus will also play live at the festival at 2:30 p.m on October 16. Tickets can be purchased for $20 in advance at www.ticketweb.com or for $24 at the Music Box on the day of the festival. For more info and a complete schedule go to Movieside.neweyefilms.com.

"Return of the Living Dead" is one of the festival highlights. It was originally released in 1985, and it was so successful that it spawned its own cycle of zombie films, the best of them, “Return of the Living Dead III” was famously panned by former mayor Ed Koch in a film review that was part of a TV talk show.

"Return of the Living Dead" starts out announcing that the events of “Night of the Living Dead” actually happened, but they were fictionalized to avoid a lawsuit. The real zombies were created by a chemical spill, and the chemical containers were accidentally sent to a business which provides corpses for the medical establishment.

Of course a pair of numbskulls (hilariously played by Thom Matthews and James Karen) accidentally release the gas. One of the cadavers comes back so the men cremate him which releases the gas into the air. The man who helps them cremate the corpse listens to German music, and he may be a Nazi. An acidy rain spreads the gas into the graves at the aptly named Resurrection Cemetery .

Some punk and new wave fans are partying in he cemetery waiting for their friend Freddy--oblivious to the fact that they are about to become zombie food. An exhibitionistic female punk named Trash (Linnea Quigley) does a strip tease. She shares her necrophilia fantasies with the group, but she gets more than what she bargained for. Linnea Quigley later went on to become the supreme scream queen in the ‘80s. She was always much better than her films

This film includes some blistering punk tunes which works ideally in the film. I particularly liked the way Rocky Ericson “Burn the Flames'" when a noble zombie cremates himself. The soundtrack also includes songs by The Cramps, The Damned, and the Flesheaters.

"Return of the Living Dead" does not break new ground, and it is nearly as thoughtful as the recent George Romero film, "Land of the Dead." But it is well directed, and wonderfully campy, so it richly deserves its fervid cult following.

“Return of the Living Dead” is a surprisingly effective and stylish rip-off of George Romero's zombie films. It effectively combines repulsive gore with riveting action and sly humor. It's about a chemical accident that unleashes a plague of zombies. A group of creatively dressed punk/new wave fans, a few preppies, and some "normal" adults fight against the growing zombie hordes.

"Return of the Living Dead" differs from "Night of the Living Dead", because the living dead can run fast, they possess greater than mortal strength, and they occasionally use their intelligence to trap the living. Also, they only eat brains because it relieves the pain of being dead. The cannibalism scenes in the film are convincing looking because the film uses real cow brains.

The seminal 80's horror film will be shown at the Music Box on October 16 at 3:05 as part of the Music Box Massacre which will feature 24 hours of horror films including the classic silent vampire film, "Nosferatu" and the premier of the new Japanese terror flick, "Pulse."

There will also be a Halloween costume contest, and an appearance by the popular horror host, Count Midnight. Appropriately enough the excellent local punk/horror band Mucus will also play live at the festival at 2:30 p.m on October 16. Tickets can be purchased for $20 in advance at www.ticketweb.com or for $24 at the Music Box on the day of the festival. For more info and a complete schedule go to http://movieside.neweyefilms.com.

"Return of the Living Dead" is one of the festival highlights. It was originally released in 1985, and it was so successful that it spawned its own cycle of zombie films, the best of them, “Return of the Living Dead III” was famously panned by former mayor Ed Koch in a film review that was part of a TV talk show.

"Return of the Living Dead" starts out announcing that the events of “Night of the Living Dead” actually happened, but they were fictionalized to avoid a lawsuit. The real zombies were created by a chemical spill, and the chemical containers were accidentally sent to a business which provides corpses for the medical establishment.

Of course a pair of numbskulls (hilariously played by Thom Matthews and James Karen) accidentally release the gas. One of the cadavers comes back so the men cremate him which releases the gas into the air. The man who helps them cremate the corpse listens to German music, and he may be a Nazi. An acidy rain spreads the gas into the graves at the aptly named Resurrection Cemetery .

Some punk and new wave fans are partying in he cemetery waiting for their friend Freddy--oblivious to the fact that they are about to become zombie food. An exhibitionistic female punk named Trash (Linnea Quigley) does a strip tease. She shares her necrophilia fantasies with the group, but she gets more than what she bargained for. Linnea Quigley later went on to become the supreme scream queen in the ‘80s. She was always much better than her films

This film includes some blistering punk tunes which works ideally in the film. I particularly liked the way Rocky Ericson “Burn the Flames'" when a noble zombie cremates himself. The soundtrack also includes songs by The Cramps, The Damned, and the Flesheaters.

"Return of the Living Dead" does not break new ground, and it is nearly as thoughtful as the recent George Romero film, "Land of the Dead." But it is well directed, and wonderfully campy, so it richly deserves its fervid cult following.

 

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