From the Vaults: Return of the Living Dead

Pardon the double whammy of Vaults posts. I’ve been really bad with archiving my old posts lately. No matter! Please enjoy a look back at a cheesy horror-comedy classic! (And yes, this is before I got rid of the weird spelling.)


“Very young, getting kicks
Cruisin’ around 56
Drinking beer, driving fast
This party is their last
They’ll dance on the graves
The lost souls, Satan’s slaves
They don’t know the acid rain
Is coming down to make them insane

Do you wanna party, it’s party time
We got to party, it’s party time” – 45 Grave, ‘Party Time’ (Zombie Version)

Necrotik Reviews returns with a trashy b-classic!

Return of the Living Dead is a 1986 horror-comedy made by Dan O’Bannon as a result of his legal deal with George Romero. Following Night of the Living Dead, Romero split agreements on movies with his film partner, John A Russo. Romero could use day/night times in his title while Russo can use “living dead” in his. His idea was later adapted into the cult classic phenomenon. Love it or hate it, this b-movie classic is a landmark in the zombie movie genre.

While Night of the Living Dead was a solid example of independent horror cinema, Return of the Living Dead is an example of schlock film gone terribly right. The Mythos of NotLD play directly into this film, albeit “changed” due to government intervention. And so, not only does this film have the guts to rip off from Romero’s classic, it makes it a part of the somewhat integral part of the plot!

In the world of this film, the events of Romero’s movie actually happened, unleashing living dead horrors. As a result of a delivery failure, UNEEDA Medcorp accidentally obtained several contained with the corpses. Needless to say, our dunderhead companions overestimate government funding and let the stuff loose. Meanwhile, the main’s punk buddies are tired of waiting and crash a cemetery, only for the dead to terrorize them. As the Uneeda staff get worse, the punks get picked off one by one by swarms of undead!

Now, is this film an example of stellar writing and/or acting? Nah! But, Linnea Quigley hamming it up while fetishizing death as creepy goth girl, “Trash” is both brilliant and hilarious. “Suicide” is the stereotypical “angry punk”, overacting and getting pissed off at a world of “poseurs” who don’t realize that it’s not a fashion, it’s a way of life! The other characters are of course fun too, but these stand out the most. Too bad they’re among the first to die off. But hey, better end a joke while it’s still funny.

As for the soundtrack? It’s a rocking good time full of ear blasting punk rock and retro synthesizer cheese! The perfect match for such a campy film. As for the bands who’ve lent their talents? All classic icons of goth rock, horror punk, and beyond! Personal favorites include Surfin’ Dead by The Cramps, Partytime by 45 Grave, and Nothin’ for you by T.S.O.L. Another cool thing about the soundtrack is it flows with the action of the movie and coming in at the right times, so it doesn’t feel like an ’80s music video. (Though, one could mistake it for Thriller at first glance)

The special effects add to the fun too! Half assembled dogs, squirming body parts, and two of the main characters becoming more and more ghoulish as the film goes on! And, while some of the zombie attacks aren’t on par with Savini, they come pretty damn close and look just as gruesome. Everyone’s favorite zombie of this film has to be mentioned too…

And that leads to one more thing I want to talk about…


That’s right! Because of this movie, we’ve solidified the walking dead as being obsessed with brains, albeit the cause has kind of washed away from popular culture. To deny that this movie didn’t have an impact is absurd. Hell, tons of people remember the movie for the lovable zombie menace, “Tar Man” alone. Also, while this wasn’t the first non-rock opera to have an all rock music soundtrack (that has gone on since the Elvis star vehicles of the ’50s and ’60s), it certainly helped give the music video movie a spot in cult status.

Overall, this movie’s stupid, awesome fun! Death obsessed stripping goth chicks, pissed off punks, and brain eating dead lead to one hell of a selection for movie night!


One thought on “From the Vaults: Return of the Living Dead

  1. Nice. There is a movie out called “More Brains: A return to the Living Dead.” It’s basically a documentary about the making of the movie and is pretty fun if you like the “Making of” side of things.

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