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Return of the Living Dead – Review

Return of the Living Dead – Review

Sep 23, 2011

reviewed by hallo
directed by Dan O’Bannon, 1985

Some movies carry with them a sense of legend that escalates them in quality past the film’s real achievements.  Return of the Living Dead is such a film.

Director Dan O’Bannon is himself something of a legend.  He is most known for his screenwriting and character development, making a name for himself in films such as Alien and Total Recall.  And yet it is  silly little zombie flick O’Bannon directed in 1985 that cemented his name in horror movie history among die-hard fans.  O’Bannon only directed two films during his career, one of which was a zombie spoof called Return of the Living Dead.  It is cheesy, over-the-top, and filled with every element one would expect to find in a mid-80’s horror film.  You know – perfect.

The film is a heavy spoof on Romero and this original Night of the Living Dead.  The U.S. army is to blame in this one, producing a chemical agent that brings dead things back to life.  When a few barrels of this stuff accidentally gets shipped to a medical supply company (conveniently located next to a mortuary, crematorium, and cemetery), it creates a recipe for disaster.  The manager of the supply company, Frank,  shows his new warehouse employee, Freddy,  a young rebel, the aforementioned barrels and accidentally releases the fumes from the container in the process.  Not only does every dead thing in the medical supply company come back to life, including dogs cut in half for universities to study, but the cemetery begins to unleash the living dead.  Add to the mix a gang of 80’s styled friends who are coming to pick up their buddy Freddy.  This is a real beauty of a group as depicted through their clever names:  Spider, Trash, Chuck, Casey, and Scuz.  All these guys provide the necessary collection of humans for the newly resurrected zombies to feast on.  Frank and Freddy attempt to keep things under wraps as long as they can, but soon there is a frenzy of zombification and mayhem.  The only way for the government to lock down the problem is by sending in a nuclear strike on the peaceful little town.

Return of the Living Dead certainly has some memorable characters, such as “Tarman”, the first zombie unleashed by the chemical.  If you enjoy zombie films, then it seems near impossible not to appreciate ROTLD.  Yes, the dialogue is hokey, the plot is ridiculous, and the effects are way over the top – but this is a satire.  Then, right in the middle of the the silliness, O’Bannon throws in some effective scares and shocks that would stand up to any zombie movie out there.  It is a nice mixture of comedy and art.

I can’t put my full weight behind ROTLD, but if you enjoy horror and enjoy zombies, then what are you waiting for?  Take a look.

Click here to purchase Return of the Living Dead

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