If “Dawn of the Dead” was the Hulk Hogan of Zombie movies, then this right here is for sure the Ric Flair!
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Directed By: Dan O’Bannon (The Resurrected)
I won’t lie to you folks, this here is my favorite horror movie of all time. And as the old story goes about it John A. Russo wrote a script called “The Return of the Living Dead” at the same time that George A. Romero (who he worked with on “Night of the Living Dead”) was doing “Dawn of the Dead”. Tom Fox, bought Russo’s script and he set up production and gave the script to Director Dan O’Bannon who at first refused to direct it as it was written. He felt that it was too much of a serious attempt at making a sequel to “Night of the Living Dead” and did not want to “…intrude so directly on Romero’s turf.” It was re-written with more humor..which I think will go down as the best idea ever in the 80’s (yep the whole decade)in the long run because the world had way too many straight forward zombie films anyway..
But for what it’s worth they actually tried and tried to reach George A. Romero to offer him the choice of producing the movie, but he never answered..I suppose George IS a very busy man?
None the less while in the end Romero would go on to give us “Day of the Dead” (showing how long it took to get this movie made) on the same year this movie was released..no offense to Romero, but I dare say he didn’t have the best zombie movie of the year in 1985.
When a bumbling pair of employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to re-animate as they go on a rampage through Louisville, Kentucky seeking their favorite food, BRAINS!!..And the rest is history folks.
You know that whole thing about how Zombies wanting to eat brains? Well it came from this movie right here. A movie that at the same time broke and made it’s own rules in the zombie category of horror. I feel sadly that by the masses this film gets over looked in favor of Romero’s films and it’s really a shame because if there’s a master piece out there when it comes to Zombies this and “Dawn of the Dead” are neck and neck to me.
As I plotted out what I’d write here I found it a bit hard to think of something different to say about this film that B-Sol didn’t say over at The Vault of Horror when he did a commentary over the film. Cause honestly I agree with all his points. When I was a kid this movie scared the hell out of me because (as B-Sol said) when your young you really don’t “GET” what the joke is. This film came along and poked fun at it’s self and the genre in general long before it became “cool” with “Scream” in the 90’s. Also as mentioned in the said commentary, I feel the running here works because it’s not a serious horror. Running zombies always suck the life out of a serious zombie film for me because lets be honest, can someone that’s been dead for years even have enough of their body’s left to run? Not unless they recently died..here it doesn’t matter at all due to the fact it’s also a comedy.
The glue that holds this ship together is our cast of characters. Clu Gulager (a great actor you may remember from “Nightmare on Elm Street 2” and the more recent “Feast”) as Burt,
Don Calfa as Ernie, topped off with James Karen as Frank and as the old half of this funny duo Thom Mathews playing Freddy and you get enough alone to get a good film but you get a lot more that makes this a GREAT film. Linnea Quigley running around naked in a graveyard as Trash doesn’t hurt either, nor does the movies great effects and quotes that people still love to repeat to this day…”Send more Paramedics”. And the zombies look GREAT, I am a big fan of the Tar Man.
Oh yeah, and the music doesn’t hurt things at all here either
The movie’s ending really stood out to me as a kid because of how unsuspecting I was to have things end the way they do, however looking back now days I find it’s only appropriate for a movie of this nature to go out in the way it does.
I really think if your a fan of not just horror but films, you should love this movie and if you don’t then please tell me why because I’d really like to know.
So I’m sure I’m going to come across as a total hypocrite with my rating of this film, given the fact that the blog title here is “Zombies DON’T Run” and here we are giving a perfect 10 to a Zombie movie that actually has running Zombies but you know what? It can’t be helped.
The running works, the acting works, the dark comedy works, everything here in this movie down to the gore and a naked woman riding a tombstone works. To me it’s about as perfect as a horror film can get, and as a result it becomes one of what I believe to be only two zombie films I’d actually give a perfect score to.
The Rating (10/10)