Return of the Living Dead is quite a gem and is one of my favorite horror movies; this movie does exactly what you want a zombie movie to do. The acting is completely sub-par and the story is so full of holes that it makes me just laugh the entire time. There are tons of things in this movie that make me appreciate it more and more every time I watch it. I really like the details, for example I like that in one shot there is a poster in the background that says Burt is a slave driver and a cheap son of a bitch who's got you and me here. I like that the zombies can talk and interact with people. It is completely poking fun at the entire zombie genre and they get away with it so well.
The story is really simple, a group of people (punks and three blue collar workers) are terrorized by zombies after one of the workers accidentally lets toxic gas out of a sealed Army barrel. The zombies in this movie are reanimated once this gas touches them, apparently the gas seeps into everything and when you burn a zombie it releases the gas into air. Now you have this airborne cloud of reanimation gas making dead bodies come back to life all over the place. The zombies are really smart too, at one point in the movie they actually set up an ambulance and ambush it, killing the paramedics and then use the ambulance's radio to call for more paramedics. Normally I would have a really big problem with these zombies, but this movie is too ridiculous and great to get mad at.
This movie is classic 80's all the way to the end. Even through the end credits, I just enjoy the ending music; you have groups like The Cramps, 45 Grave, T.S.O.L, The Damned, and SSQ. The movie stars Return of the Living Dead series alums James Karen and Thom Matthews who would go on to star in ROLD II & III; then you have scream queen Linnea Quigley who was also in Night of the Demons. The movie just makes you love it up to and including the cop out ending.
This movie also has one of the greatest zombies of all time: The Tarman. I have never seen a zombie more well done than this. I do have problems with the holes in the movie, and you'll have to watch it to understand what I am getting at here. I don't really know if they purposely wrote the movie in this way or if they were just lazy, regardless it is definitely the best of the entire series, and by series I mean 1 & 2. The rest of the movies suck. You have to add this movie to any horror movie play list that you have going on. I couldn't pass up watching it this year, it gets better every time I see it.
Director: Dan O'Bannon
Style: Zombie Comedy
Did ya know...
The history of the movie is really interesting. John Russo and George Romero teamed up and came up with the original Night of the Living Dead. Then they split over differences and Russo ended up getting the rights to any film with Living Dead in the title. So Romero had to end up calling his zombie movies Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, etc. In a way this movie is the true sequel to Night of the Living Dead. This movie is based partially on the book Return of the Living Dead by John Russo. Tobe Hooper was supposed to direct this movie and put it out in 3D but he left the project to work on Lifeforce.