The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Synopsis: The events in George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead were based on a true story, and as part of the cover up the government shipped freeze-dried zombies to secret locations across the country. One mistakenly ends up at a medical supply warehouse, and is accidentally brought back to life. The employees band together with an ex-nazi mortician and some partying punks to survive the onslaught. Hilarity ensues. (Seriously… it’s a really funny movie.)
Killer Scene: Gas from the zombie container has leaked throughout the building, including into the freezer where a body hangs in a plastic bag. The employees hear the zombie banging around inside, and devise a plan to put him down… a pick-axe to the head. They open the door, the screaming zombie attacks the fantastic Clu Gulager, the axe slams into the back of the dead guy’s skull… but he keeps going… so they start to saw his head off and his screams become a warble as the blade hits the throat. “I thought you said if we destroyed the brain it’d die!?… It worked in the movie!… You mean the movie lied?”
Violence: Zombies are shot, axed, beaten, and burned… and people are attacked and are eaten out. (Their brains… from their heads. Perv.) There’s also some random football-like violence as the zombies rush and tackle some of their victims.
Sex: Scream queen Linnea Quigley strips down to her birthday suit while partying with her punk friends in a cemetery next to the warehouse. She’s attacked and killed by reanimated corpses only to return in all her naked glory as one of the undead.
Scares: Several jump scenes and fast moving zombies (years before Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later) combine for some pretty decent scares… usually followed with some great laughs. And the Tarman is creepy, gross, and scary too.
Final Thoughts: Dan O’Bannon (Alien) wrote and directed the film with an obvious love for the genre, but also with a real sense of joy. The dialogue is fast, creative, and funny, as when the zombies finish feasting on two hapless paramedics and one brain-eater crawls into the ambulance, picks up the CB radio, and says “Send more paramedics…” like he’s ordering Chinese takeout. The effects are also a highlight including a scene where our heroes strap down the withered and worn torso of a zombified woman for interrogation. Her spinal cord leaks fluid while it flicks and snaps onto the metal gurney in pure animatronic bliss. Inferior sequels have gone way off target, but The Return of the Living Dead remains a classic… scary, funny, gory, cynical, and sexy.
Related Topics: Horror