The Return Of The Living Dead (1985) Review

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The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)

Directed by Dan O’Bannon

Starring:
Clu Gulager
James Karen
Don Calfa
Thom Mathews
Beverly Randolph
John Philbin
Jewel Shepard
Miguel A. Núñez Jr
Brian Peck
Linnea Quigley
Mark Venturini
Jonathan Terry
Allan Trautman

Running time: 91 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Return of the Living Dead is a 1985 American black comedy/zombie horror film that tells the story of how three men accompanied by a group of teenage punks deal with the accidental release of a horde of brain hungry zombies onto an unsuspecting town. The film is known for introducing the popular concept of zombies eating brains, as opposed to just eating human flesh, like previous zombie iterations, as well as its soundtrack, which features several noted deathrock and punk rock bands of the era.

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My Opinion:

Confession time: any regulars here will know that my first love when it comes to movies are those from the 70s & 80s and that I’ve seen my fair share from those decades. However, I never saw this one. This is a movie people like THIS GUY and THIS GUY love and one of them will moan at me for not being all like “Oh my god this is the best movie EVER!!!” like he did when I reviewed Night Of The Creeps HERE even though I gave it a positive review. 😉 I’ll probably compare the two movies a bit as they’re a similar genre from the same era & I didn’t see either of them until years later.

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I’m still trying to decide which film I prefer. Overall, I think I liked the story and characters in Night Of The Creeps a bit more but think The Return Of The Living Dead is actually the better movie and script & slightly more my thing as I do love my zombies. As with Night Of The Creeps, however, I won’t ever love it in the same way I might have had I seen it as a young teen and grown up with it.

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So, anyway – the director of this film wrote a few other obscure things such as the Total Recall screenplay and, um… the story for something called… Alien?

In The Return Of The Living Dead, one of the female characters rips her clothes off at the beginning and then runs around fully nude for the ENTIRE movie. I’m sure this made those two guys I mentioned earlier quite happy, especially as horny teenage boys. For an old lady watching this for the first time now, it was a bit of a chuckle at first then got a little tiresome. This is from the guy who created the story that gave us one of the strongest (and probably my favorite) female movie characters of all-time. Lol. No, I’m not being a prude – I just found it kind of funny. (I’ve looked into this as I was curious and he actually wrote them all as generic non-gender-specific characters for Alien so he wasn’t the one who created the final character of Ripley. FYI in case you’re curious too!). Hey – the naked actress in this follows me on Twitter which I think is kind of awesome so I’m not really complaining. 😉 This movie is a laugh and I did have fun with it. Ellen Ripley rules, though! I know which character I’d rather have with me in a zombie apocalypse – she’d be awesome fending off the zombies with her flame thrower.

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Summary:

I’m not being harsh – I enjoyed this movie quite a lot. I got a good few laughs out of it too (“send more paramedics…” lol! that was hilarious!). If anything, my main criticism would be that I felt this was too short and the ending was pretty abrupt. Being a typical horror movie, I’m assuming there may be longer cuts of the film? I’ve not looked into it but this is one case where I actually wanted the movie to go on for longer. So, that’s probably a good sign that I was enjoying it. I liked the “punks” and love how that ties the movie to an era I love but the characters I actually liked the most were all the older men in this. A bit more character development would have been nice but I know this movie is more about the fun, the cheesy gore, and the laughs. Hey, if “black comedy/zombie horror” is your type of genre, you should be watching this if for some odd reason you haven’t seen it. Yes, I think I’d rate this one above Night Of The Creeps. In fact, I think it probably doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. When you think about it, this was 19 years before Shaun Of The Dead but certainly doesn’t seem to get mentioned as often as that one does.

Actually, I’d really like to watch this one again…

My Rating: 8/10

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**FYI: This movie is waaaaaay better than Life After Beth. THIS is a proper zombie comedy.

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33 thoughts on “The Return Of The Living Dead (1985) Review

  1. Ah, this film is so much fun! I agree the ending is pretty abrupt, but I think going for the standard grim-last-stand ending of these kind of zombie movies (as opposed to – SPOILERS – woops, nuke it all!) would’ve sapped the film of some of its madcap momentum.

  2. Oh, sorry……

    WHY DO YOU HATE EVERYTHING I LOVE????????

    MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WHY DO YOU HATE ME????????????

    MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN

    MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN

    #moan

  3. The woman running around naked was Linnea Quigley, one of the biggest B-movie Scream Queens of the 1980’s (Night of the Demons, Silent Night Deadly Night, Creepazoids). Just thought I’d mention that 🙂

    • Hehe. I know – she’s one of maybe four or five celebrity followers I’m all proud of on Twitter. 😉 Don’t tell her I moaned about her being naked for the whole movie. Lol!! I should really watch more of her stuff. I’ve always wanted to see Silent Night, Deadly Night…

  4. Yaaaayyyy! Sounds like we feel very much the same about this one. Yeah the naked chick–wtf?!?! She bothered me, too. That’s so funny that she follows you on Twitter though. How do you befriend these randos?? Hahaha. I did like this one a lot…but Shaun of the Dead will always be my number one zom-com. 😉 Great job!!

    • Thanks! Yeah – looks like we both liked this one. Ha – I think she follows me thanks to Eric messaging her & me or something if I remember correctly… I do think Shaun of the Dead is great too but prefer this one now. 🙂

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