Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Written and Directed by: Dan O’Bannon.
Plot: Two guys working at a medical surplus store (James Karen & Thom Matthews) accidentally disturb a canister in the basement which releases a gas, turning the corpses in the cemetery next door into brain-munching zombies.
Review: Much like Evil Dead and Re-Animator, this movie relies almost entirely on manic energy and ridiculous amounts of bodily fluids throughout. It’s really difficult not to like a movie as intense and insane as this one (although, oddly, I hated it upon first viewing. Go figure).
It’s still unbelievably stupid and painfully ‘80s - the clothes, the hairstyles, the music - but so hilarious. It’s like stepping into a time machine and realizing why the suicide rates were higher in the eighties than any other time in the 20th century.*
But yeah, this is a very fun movie, and well written. The dialogue and acting is sort of intentionally bad most of the time (at least I thought so), making fun of the conventions of the ‘80s zombie movie, at the same time becoming one of the best zombie movies made in the eighties. Actually, I can’t think of any other good zombie movies from the eighties… granted there are a lot of ones I haven’t seen and some of ambiguous genre (a lot of the time I refer to Evil Dead as a zombie flick when it really isn’t) but nothing really comes to mind. Interesting.
Also, the characters are weirdly likeable. I've generally found this to be the case in any movie I've seen written by Dan O'Bannon. They’re sort of stereotypes, and, though they are a little on the obnoxious side, I don’t particularly want them to get killed. The end of the movie is kind of a downer.
Actually, the end of the movie is pretty funny. They recycled a couple of shots from earlier in the movie making me think that perhaps either they just ran out of money or shot a different ending which didn’t work out (and ran out of money to shoot a new one. It always comes down to money).
Generally the movie is very low budget, but it manages without much. The FX are pretty good though for the time and that’s pretty much all I care about.
Yeah, I could watch this movie over and over again.
Favourite Part: “You can’t just burn the weasels. That’s cruel. At least let me take them out to the parking lot and shoot them” I love that guy.
Other versions: None, but the thirty year rule suggests that they will remake it by 2015.
Sequels: Return of the Living Dead 2 and 3, Necropolis and Rave to the Grave (the only one I’ve seen and not particularly good).
((*Note: That’s not true, I made it up, although apparently the suicide rate in America has decreased since 1980 from something like .013% of the population to .011% (again, I didn‘t check the math on that so that statistic probably isn‘t right either…)))
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