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The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)
Director: Dan O'Bannon
review by Jeff Young
If you saw George Romero's classic zombie horror Night Of The Living Dead, and so reckon you can guess what this one's about, think again...
Yes, it's a horror thriller, and it's about zombies - but there the similarities end. Writer and director Dan O'Bannon has fashioned a ghoulish and extremely gory SF comedy that supposes Romero's film was based on a true story, and there was a cover-up to protect a lost consignment of toxic chemicals, revealed here as the agent that reanimates corpses and gives them a hunger for live human brains.
There's hilarious black humour in this rock 'n' roll chiller as the young friends of a warehouse staff trainee are attacked during their party in a cemetery, and chased by hordes of the undead. Pursued into the medical supplies depot, and a nearby mortuary, the kids and staff find themselves besieged by a class of ghoul altogether different from Romero's familiar somnambulistic mutes. Here we have fast-moving, talkative, and smart zombies, capable of tricking the authorities into sending paramedics and cops into the area - just like ordering a pizza delivery!
Despite the headless bodies, the rabid cadavers, the transformation of healthy victims into drooling killers, and the unrelenting pace of the action, this shocker's played strictly for laughs. Some may find the level of gallows humour unpleasant, but if you can take the violence of stabbings and shootings (not to mention all the brain-eating!) and don't mind that sleazy Linnea Quigley spends most of the film running about naked, this wickedly bad taste comedy is for you.
previously published online, VideoVista #25
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