But I am no common girl
I once slept with the devil, it was really no big thrill
Here's a good "what-if" question. What if Night of the Living Dead wasn't just a movie but a real occurrence and it was the subject of an intricate government cover-up? And what would happen if there was a little issue that caused it to happen all over again? And....more importantly, what if it happened during the New Wave era of the Eighties?
You'd get Return of the Living Dead, that's what. Along with a whole bunch of awesome.
Return of the Living Dead starts with normal guy Freddy (Thom Mathews) on his first day at a new job in a medical supply warehouse which comes complete with naked dead bodies, split dogs and the usual sort of things you'd find in a medical supply warehouse (well "usual" according to this movie.) Freddy's sweet girlfriend and his friends, made up of Eighties punk-looking riff-raff, decide to wait/party in an old cemetery until Freddy's shift ends. But Freddy's "shift" certainly hits the fan when he unwittingly opens up one a can containing a zombie from the great "Night of the Living Dead cover-up" and unleashes a toxin so potent, the dead start coming to life in droves.
Needless to say, panic ensues. The gang gets attacked. And it...is.... wonderful.
The movie is a lot of fun and the cast is certainly game, hamming it up like there's no tomorrow and having a good time while doing it. The varied list of actors include everyone from perennial b-movie favorite Linnea Quigley, to old veterans like James Karen and Clu Gulager. There really isn't a rotten apple in the bunch as the cast breezes through the cheese with ease, saying their lines with a wink and a smile as if to remind us of how silly this all is. It definitely highlights how droll the horror movies of today can be where the actors take themselves soooo seriously that they're absolutely no fun to watch. They could certainly learn a thing or two from this group.
Okay, it isn't a perfect movie. Those looking for true terror aren't going to find it here and the movie isn't particularly scary, nor is it trying to be. The gang simply exists as 'meat for the beast' so to speak and everything, including the WTF ending is way over the top. But there are some genuinely creepy moments that show a true love of the genre, my favorite being the captured zombie (half a rotting woman) who tells the heroes she eats brains because it "stops the pain of being dead." Thanks half-lady rotting zombie, now we know! And there's other pretty imaginative-looking zombies like everyone's favorite dripping monster, the Tar Man. Imagine a gooey, oozing Tales From the Crypt creature coming to life and you've got yourself a Tar Man. And if you haven't ever seen the movie or it's been awhile you need to watch it just for him.
Return of the Living Dead epitomizes everything that's great about '80s horror and and it's fun to go back and see what horror movies were like when they were being purposefully cheesy. So if you're craving something with no flashbacks, CW stars or the dreadful blue filter tint, watch Return of the Living Dead and inhale a bunch of that lovely green Trioxin.
Favorite Moments (may contain spoilers):
- Trash dancing naked on top of the mausoleum to SSQ while everyone below dances around wildly with torches.
- The interrogation of the rotting half-zombie complete with twitching spine (and spinal fluid.)
- Send. More. Paramedics!
- Freddy and Ernie slowly "dying" while screaming and writhing on the floor of the warehouse.
- Some of the extras were paid a small stipend if they were willing to eat real cow brains.
- The producers balked at Linnea being completely naked so the filmmakers created a "barbie doll merkin" to cover up her nether regions during nude scenes.
- John Russo, a writer from the original Night of the Living Dead, also helped to write this film.
- The glass window that cracks on top of the chemical drum as the stored zombie dissolves was actually a "happy accident" that occurred because of the high heat used to melt the wax face.
Agree? Disagree? Or just have a random string of curse words you'd like to share? Comment!