Saturday, September 2, 2017

Return of the Living Dead

Freddy just got a new job working at a medical supply warehouse. While his boss Frank shows him around, they look at the military drums full of the remains of a failed experiment. Frank kicks a drum to show how solid it is, but it springs a leak, spewing a mystery substance everywhere including all over Freddy and Frank. Frank wants to try to cover it up so he won't get in trouble or lose his job and they keep arguing back and forth until it becomes clear that all the cadavers come alive. They try to incinerate one of the living corpses after conventional means doesn't destroy it, but they just spread the substance to a nearby cemetery. Now a huge horde of zombies is roaming the city,  eating anyone that crosses their path.

This film is a kind of sequel to Night of the Living Dead. Return of the Living Dead acknowledges the existence of the previous film, but claims facts had to be changed so the government wouldn't block its production. Zombies reanimate because of toxic gas from a failed military experiment. They can speak when fed and have the ability to run, the first to do either of these things. Each zombie feels unimaginable pain that is only sated temporarily by brains. Destroying their brain or any other part of their body doesn't destroy them. Only incineration is effective, but the smoke contains the gas that will animate even more dead. I don't mind the new zombie rules, but I do mind practically indestructible zombies with no real solution.

I only just found out that there are two series of film that offshoot from Night of the Living Dead. One is George A. Romero's "of the Dead" series that are much more serious and keep consistent with the rules of the original film. The other series is John A. Russo's "of the Living Dead" and follows these new rules. It's much more comedic and zany with over the top characters. Besides the two warehouse workers, the film follows a group of teenage punks who curse constantly, rage against their boring lives, and strip naked to dance in cemeteries. These characters are the type you want to see eaten by zombies because of how annoying they are. They were all one dimensional caricatures of punk types plus two preppy outliers. I felt no sympathy for them at all.

Return of the Living Dead is a fun ride with a different type of zombie, a lighter tone, and shallower characters than the original film it's based on, Night of the Living Dead. I much prefer Romero's films and the more serious tone with his spot on social commentary. This film is fun and much different than most zombie films. The effects are usually pretty impressive with some moments of obvious badness. I enjoyed the film even with its flaws and I wouldn't mind seeing the next one in the series.

My rating: 2.5/5 fishmuffins

No comments: