The Return of the Living Dead (1985) Review: Naked Mayhem

“They’re Back From The Grave and Ready To Party!”

Synopsis: When two bumbling employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to rise again as zombies.

The Return of the Living Dead (1985) Review Poster
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Calamity Brains:

Dan O’Bannon flick The Return of the Living Dead is chock full of campy ’80s fun. It’s also, for zombie enthusiasts, cinematic blasphemy. This unofficial sequel to Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead (1968) references the events that take place in the iconic classic, but puts its own spin on the story… and the undead. These zombies are fast, chatty, and smart. They also range from newly dead to skeletons, held together by who knows what.

But if you can put your snobbish tendencies aside and try to ignore all the zombie rule-breaking, The Return of the Living Dead is plenty fun. The overly stereotypical characters (including a band of punks, a Nazi, and a good girl) are still entertaining – perhaps moreso because ’80s punks are entertaining in and of themselves. Linnea Quigley also spends most of the movie nude, which helps a lot. And despite my dislike for smart zombies, I have to admit that the brainpower of these living dead leads to some hilarious moments. Zombies with cognitive function also means Return of the Living Dead gets to explore scenarios unheard of in this subgenre: zombies with emotions; being able to interview zombies; manipulative zombies.

The campy, over-the-top attitude, combined with the odd zombies won’t endear this franchise to everyone. I wouldn’t recommend it to serious zombie fans or those who prefer creepiness to campiness. Still, if you go into it with an open mind, expecting levity and an excellent soundtrack, you’ll probably like it well enough.

Calamity Brains’ Rating: C+
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Calamity Brains

The Codex Mortis Horror Hosts (Ludwig von Stroodle and Calamity Brains) are married and live in West Virginia. Pretty much everyone who sees their cabin agrees that it would be an ideal setting for a horror movie. Their pets include a black widow spider, a smart dog, and a stupid dog. When they aren’t watching horror movies, they can be found at whiskey festivals, Renaissance fairs, and board game nights.

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