Return of the Living Dead
is a parody-cum-sequel spin-off from George Romero's superior Night of the Living Dead
films. A corpse-containing canister gets breached and releases an oily, loose-limbed, brain-eating zombie tatterdemalion and a gas that revives anything dead in the vicinity, even a bisected dog preserved as a vet's teaching specimen and a case of pinned butterflies. The dim-bulb leading characters--earnest Clu Gulager, goofy James Karen and Thom Matthews--burn up a mess of surplus living body parts, but the rains wash the ashes into the earth of a nearby cemetery and a whole crowd of brain-eating zombies claw their way out to terrorise a group of teens who sport the kind of 1985 fashions, hairdos, slang preferences and musical tastes that will never feature in a TV nostalgia programme.
There are plenty of in-jokes at the expense of the Living Dead films (learning that shooting 'em in the brain doesn't work, the appalled Matthews gasps, "You mean the movie lied?"), and director Dan O'Bannon, the writer of Dark Star and Alien, hurries things along through some gruesome action and terror-by-zombie bits until the surprisingly cynical anti-government conclusion. It's not as wittily outrageous as Re-Animator or Braindead, but it has an amiable, drive-in-cum-home video grunge about it. Frequently naked exploitation regular Linnea Quigley makes an impression as the punkette zombie who goes on the rampage wearing nothing but leg-warmers and body make-up.
The frill-free DVD is full-screen (boo hiss!) except for the titles, offers only the trailer and inadequate cast and crew notes as extras, but it looks okay. --Kim Newman
Tongue-in-cheek horror from writer-director Dan O'Bannon, the man behind 'Alien' and cult sci-fi classic 'Dark Star'. A pair of warehouse men unwittingly unleash a gas which can bring corpses back to life. They look to the owner of a crematorium to help them get rid of the undead but manage to raise the dead of a neighbouring cemetery instead - which puts their friends, waiting to party amongst the headstones, in grave danger... The ensuing chaos leads the world to the brink of destruction.