The Return of the Living Dead
Tom Fox, John Daly (executive), Derek Gibson (executive) for Cinema '84, Hemdale Film Corporation, Fox Films
directed by Dan O'Bannon
starring Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, John Philbin, Jewel Shepard, Miguel A. Núnez jr, Linnea Quigley, Mark Venturini, Jonathan Terry, Cathleen Cordell, Drew Deighan, James Dalesandro, Brian Peck, John Durbin, David Bond, Bob Libman
screenplay by Dan O'Bannon, based on a story by Rudolph J.Ricci, John Russo, Russ Steiner, music by Matt Clifford, Francis Haines, Robert Randles
Return of the Living Dead
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Frank (James Karen) & Freddy (Thom Mathews) work at a warehouse
that specializes in storing dead bodies, of humans & animals alike, to
scientific institutions around the globe. But to scare his young colleague
a bit, Frank has the not-so-good idea of showing him a crate containing a
real-life (real-dead ?) zombie the army has mislaid in the warehouse some
15 years ago. Unfortunately though, the crate has grown a bit old &
rusty & soon enough releases some gas that re-awakens all the dead
bodies in the warehouse - and infects Frank & Freddy, who seem to look
deader by the minute.
Soon their boss Burt (Clu Gulagher) has to come, help them put the
bodies out of action (by sawing them into little pieces) and persuade his
friend Ernie (Don Calfa) from the next door mortuary to burn the
bodypieces in his incinerator. Which in itself is a not-so-good idea,
since that night it rains, & the smoke which is supposed to go up up
and away, pours down on the next-door cemetary, & with it the zombie
... & on the next-door cemetary, Freddy's girlfriend Tina (Beverly
Randolph) & her friends (including Linnea Quigley, who fortunately
spends most of her brief screentime in the nude) are partying ... but soon
ahve to notice that the regular tenants of the place have unexpectedly
woken up ... not all of them make it out of the cemetary & into the
In the mortuary though, it is not all that much better, as mortuaries
traditionally do accomodate corpses, & then there are Frank &
Freddy, who at one point really turn into zombies wanting to eat brains
(that's what the zombies do in this movie) ...
After much havoc & more deaths, much deads come back to life &
more brains eaten, somehow army general Glover (Jonathan Terry) has
fianlly gotten wind of the situation & orders the cemetary, the
mortuary, the warehouse & the whole village they are in to be nuked
from the surface of the earth ... which turns into a raving success, with
less than 4.000 casualities - but then, rain starts to go down
somehwere else ...
George A.Romero's Dawn of the
Dead & Lucio Fulci's Zombie
Flesh Eaters caused the zombie boom in the late 1970's, but it
came into full swing in the early 1980's, partly due to the advent of
home-video. In 1984, when this movie was produced though, the zombie boom
had considerably lost momentum ... & yet this is one of the best
zombie films of its era.
In fact, Return of the Living Dead succeeds in not so much being
an inventive genre film but a loving parody/hommage to the genre that
somehow manages to find the ironic aspects of genre mainstays, takes some
bizarre ideas of the genre to the extreme, but at the same time manages
not to insult zombie-fans ... & that's quite a feat in itself.