Directed by Dan O’Bannon [Other horror films: The Resurrected (1991)]
One of the best examples of a movie firmly with it’s feet in the 1980’s, The Return of the Living Dead has long been a favorite of mine. I don’t usually go for zombie comedies, but this one is a classic, and I do rather enjoy it.
It helps that the humor isn’t usually too goofy. There are a few scenes I could have done without, but for the most part, while the film certainly has comedy in it, it’s a lot more tame as opposed to an all-out goof-fest, which I am quite happy about, and personally makes it an easier film for me to get behind.
Also, that music – those funky beats that pop up whenever something goes down are just great. After that body is cremated, and the ashes rise into the air as the rain starts, and that music starts up, it just sounds great. It has a dark vibe to it (which lends the movie great atmosphere at times), and related, you gotta love the movie’s conclusion, from the solution the general has to the rains afterward.
I won’t spend much time on the performances, because most of them are fair in this film. James Karen and Thom Mathews’ (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives) antics that started the whole thing were sort of funny (“This is completely solid,” slaps it and it breaks open – cracked me up). I didn’t care for Clu Gulager’s (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge) character at first, but he grew on me a bit throughout the film. Don Calfa played his role pretty straight, which was impressive, and I also liked him.
Most of the teen characters were interchangeable. I don’t know how Beverly Randolph’s Tina started hanging out with that bunch, but whateves. Jewel Shepard was rather attractive at times, but none of that matters when Linnea Quigley strips naked early on in the film and stays in stages of being undressed throughout. Her character was odd anyway (with some really interesting and memorable lines of dialogue), but boy, does she have a cute butt. I could watch her in the graveyard naked for longer than I care to admit.
This is just one of those easy films that you can throw on at almost any point and have a fun time with. There’s nothing too deep here – just pure 80’s fun, with a bitching soundtrack, decent characters through, solid zombie design (need I even mention my homeboi Tarman?), and a great conclusion.
Even if you’re not a typical fan of zombie films, I’d recommend checking this one out, as it really is a ton of fun.