The Return Of The Living Dead
Viewed – 19 June 2012 Blu-ray
Back in the eighties, I must admit I watched a lot of horror movies. It was where my love affair began and continues to this day. Yet back then in the age of the video nasty, horror had a sort of forbidden-fruit quality to it compared to the mainstream respectability today – which I think has taken away some of the allure. It was also a time when pretty much everyone was making horror movies, and some genuine classics were born.
This 1985 cult zombie movie spawned several sequels, most notably 1993′s Return Of The Living Dead 3, and has gained a huge following amongst the splatter crowd … and last night I was sitting down to it for the very first time. Billed as an unofficial sequel to George A Romero’s 1968 Night Of The Living Dead, this starts with two employees of a medical research company accidentally opening up a pair of containers that unleash a chemical gas. Then before long the dead start coming back to life … hungry for human brains! Oh, this really brought back memories of late night viewing in my teens with a gore-loving grin on my face as I flicked through the latest copy of Fangoria. Nostalgia!
However, time has not been kind to this flick, the acting especially coming off almost pantomime (where was the laughter track?) and the amateurish camera work and sloppy editing gave away its low-budget routes. I will say that the action is fun, there’s a lot of energy to proceedings and despite a slow start, when things kick off, they do so spectacularly. 80s scream queen Linnea Quigley (Night Of The Demons) appears as a vivacious punk haired gang member who looses her clothing very early on and never seems to get it back (no bad thing) and director Dan O’Bannon (writer of Alien) certainly seems to be having a great deal of fun with the material – which is clichéd, silly but enjoyable regardless. The effects work is also fairly decent (the tar man, the female corpse) so some talent did exist behind the scenes, but on-screen this is little more than an entertaining also-ran over shadowed by better movies of the era (Re-Animator, Dawn Of The Dead etc).
The Blu-ray in this limited edition release from MGM is fairly acceptable picture-wise and has a good but not especially diverting soundtrack (available in mono, stereo and DTS 5.1). The real value here is the extra features, that considering the movie’s cult following are exhaustive, with a brand new 2 hr documentary and a wealth of material covering not only this movie but also the sequels (parts 2 & 3, not the more recent ones). The set also contains a nicely illustrated booklet. An impressive treatment then for a movie that is probably more famous that it deserves to be.
(the movie) 3 /5
(the Blu-ray): 4 /5
- Best Unknown Horror Movies (oldgamereviewer.com)