Return of the Living Dead II (1988) Review: Second Time Dud
“They’re Back, And They’re Not Happy!”
Synopsis: Curious kids unearth the barrels that helped revive the dead of the first film, which proves the second time’s an undead charm.
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Return of the Living Dead II is pretty baffling as sequels go. It’s as though the filmmakers made a list of everything that worked about the first movie, and then deliberately decided not to include any of those things. Where Return of the Living Dead shone was the adult humor and music, both of which are in short supply here. The sequel is more family-friendly kid’s movie than zombie comedy, and it really doesn’t work.
Most bizarre of all is that the one thing kept the same between the movies is two of the actors. James Karen and Thom Mathews aren’t playing the same characters, or twins, or brothers – these new characters have no relation to the ones in the first movie. But they act very similar and undergo similar transformations… and in fact, Mathews even exclaims at one point that all of this feels too familiar. Huh?
Even worse, the zombies aren’t consistent. I admit to having some gripes with the fast-and-smart-zombies of the original movie, but really: if you’re going to go against horror tropes, at least be consistent in your own series. The zombies in this flick still talk a bit, but generally don’t say much more than “brains.” They are slow and stumbling where the previous undead were fairly fast. And there’s really only one moment of intelligence from any of the zombies in Part II, unlike the frequent traps and tricks in the first movie.
The first entry to the franchise has a lot of appeal, but Part II always leaves me wondering how the franchise continued on from there. Still, we generally like to watch franchises in order, so we made a drinking game to go along with this less-than-stellar addition.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: D+
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