Director: Dan O’Bannon
Cast: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa
Review Author: Tony
Next entry to this months horror season is a another Horror Comedy (Baby steps, I’ll get to scary stuff soon) the 1985 cult classic, The Return of the Living Dead. This was a recommendation and a last second entry to my list of horror films to review this month (shock, horror, we actually plan this stuff). While the film shares a similar title to George Romero’s horror classic Night of the Living Dead its more of an homage as Romero went on to direct Dawn of the Dead as the sequel then Day of the Dead.
Night of the living dead was the first film to truly make zombies terrifying, they used to just be shambling minions for protagonists to swat aside, Romero turned them into flesh-eating monsters. Romero’s zombie is perhaps the most influential zombie to date, he set the template for the undead and every film that followed in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s used this template. Almost every film except for Return of the Living Dead.
What I only found out after watching this film is that the zombie trope where they eat brains originates from this film. Return of the Living Dead’s zombie threw Romero’s template out the window. These zombies can run, talk and are a real pain to kill. Even the characters in the film are bewildered that these zombies don’t follow the rules. There’s a hilarious scene where the warehouse employees try to take care of a newly reanimated corpse and find out just how durable these zombies are.
The film starts in a medical warehouse where the manager Burt is leaving new guy Freddy with foreman Frank to close up. Frank can resist showing off to Freddy that the film the Night of the Living Dead was actually based a real life events, and that they have some off the zombies in the basement inside military barrels Of course they’re curiosity lead to the outbreak of the toxic gas that renders the dead living again with an insatiable hunger.
Return of the living dead is a prime example of an 80’s horror film, it’s camp, over the top and filled top to bottom with gratuitous nudity and gore. The music is fantastic from the synth theme song to the rocking soundtrack, it all matches the tone of the film perfectly. While not particularly scary the film delivers on the comedy in spades, from slapstick to gory gags the film had me laughing throughout.
Return of the living dead is now up there with Evil Dead 2, Shaun of the Dead and American Werewolf in London as my favourite Horror comedy. Not one second of it’s one hour and thirty minute run time is wasted.