Zombie Month part VIII: Return of the Living Dead

Directed by Dan O’Bannon

Speed:human running

Intelligence:very intelligent, on par with humans

Behavior:aggressive, vocal, capable of large scale ambushes. Eats human brains and nothing else, leading to practically all they attack becoming zombies themselves.Given their ability to seek out humans even when they shouldn’t be able to find them is either extrasensory awareness or plotholes

Longevity:immortal

Infection:bite. Incubation is a couple of hours

How to kill:nothing short of total and complete immolation, which carries its own risks

Return of the Living Dead centers around a couple of warehouse worker-like guys finding a vat of chemicals and finding that they spontaneously reanimate dead tissue. They panic, but eventually manage to throw it all in a crematorium. Unfortunately the fumes somehow endure the heat but are caught by the rain which makes it fall down on a graveyard, reanimating the dead into a full zombie outbreak. The story then tells of a small group of survivors stuck in a funeral home and the failed attempts to contain these invincible, ravenous zombies.

This film was created after the original writer John Russo had a falling out of sorts with Romero, and made his own chain of zombie films. What is up with people named Russo making whacky, weird and illogical write-ups for their crafts? As you can probably tell, I didn’t enjoy Return very much, or any of its sequels, which by anyone’s standards was a textbook example of diminishing… returns haha geddit‽ Anyway the film is campy, the zombies totally unbeatable and as a result its completely unrealistic throughout the film to expect any sort of “good” ending. That’s probably where the film falls hardest for me- zombie films might be predictable, but at least there is always a glimmer of hope until the very end; by contrast Return starts off impossible, finishes even more impossible, and is dealt with in an impossible manner that impossibly doesn’t finish the job.

The story itself is pretty dull. Emotionally there’s not much going for it as the vast majority of the characters are cardboard cut outs of 80s stereotypes- scared small town girl, bikie gangs, the local slut, dumb everymans. The love interests are equally mundane and ruined and their reactions to the zombies are so enmeshed in their stereotypes that they become even more useless as combatants. It wouldn’t be out of place to see a bikie combing his hair before taken on a zombie.

Another thing is that not a single, meaningful zombie is actually killed, people run away into bizarre places or split up for no real reason and, and… it’s got a positive review on Rotten Tomatoes!? Oh… so they liked the comedy?

Well the comedy for me isn’t really there. There are a few giggly(and jiggly) bits for the intensely morbid, and the costume design is somewhat.. amusing I guess? To call it anything close to a comedy is a far stretch though even when the combat reaches its hammy, silly crescendo.

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~ by freeze43 on May 18, 2012.

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