on 21 June 2013
I have been waiting for this film to receive a proper edition to own. Fortunately that edition has finally come. With the original soundtrack, the outstanding "More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead" documentary, and several other outstanding extras on top of a well designed Steelbook packaging, this purchase was a must for me and any fan of the series. I only hope more horror films of the era receive a similar respectful treatment in the future.
on 25 September 2010
THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD Blu-ray Review
Distributor: MGM Video (US)
"How do you kill something that's already dead?"
For some time now, The Return of the Living Dead has been on Obscura's most wanted Blu-ray list. On first hearing of this release some months ago, we were very keen to see if the wait would ultimately prove worth while. Thankfully and just for the print quality alone, it was.
Having seen the film across countless video releases and DVD releases over the years, finally seeing the HD print proved to be a real treat. The film is presented with a strong 1080p 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which looks excellent considering the original low budgets of the movie itself. Colours are a real eye opener and look vibrant throughout, black levels appear strong and there is a definite increase on the available detail here. The transfer quality, really is a lot better than expected.
Audio is presented in DTS HD and dialogue is both clear and effective. Running through the whole film, the classic punk rock anthems are given a real boost. One point worth noting however is that the soundtrack on this Blu-ray is the same as the previous DVD release which has received some audio substitutions. These include a change to the pitch on Tarman's famous "brains" quotes and some lessening of the background music during certain scenes. Apparently these changes were director approved and although the Tarman of the 80's sounded funnier and yet more creepy than his new deeper voice suggests, this isn't enough to ruin an otherwise excellent presentation.
The extras offered on this release are ported over from the recent special edition DVD including a cast commentary track, a director commentary, a modern day making of documentary and a reasonably in depth feature about 1980's horror movies.
The only real negative in this release, is that yet again, the many deleted scenes and extensive workprint footage is nowhere to be seen. Any long term fan of the film will be aware that much alternate footage exists, including a very different ending. Instead of including a pretty much otherwise useless DVD disc with this package, it would have been preferable to have included a workprint version or at the very least, some deleted scenes on the second disc.
Still, all things considered, The Return of the Living Dead makes an impressive début on Blu-ray, the print quality here really makes a big difference over previous releases and it's safe to say that this is probably the best this film will ever look. For fans of classic 1980's zombie/horror movies, this is a must have title, and for everyone else, you could actually do a lot worse than adding this one to your collection. Be advised though, if the curse of region coding still affects your purchasing decisions, this release is locked to A.
The original fast running, brain munching, paramedic and cop calling living dead, have never appeared as intense.
Oh and "watch your tongue, boy, if you like this job!"
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on 11 October 2014
Medical supplies warehouse worker Frank (James Karen) are in the midst of showing his young trainee Freddy (Thom Mathews) the robes, when the pair quite be chance, manages to unleash a mysterious U.S. engineered military chemical, which has the ability to brings the dead back to life, resulting in the repositories’ various supply of cadavers running amok in the shop. Aligned with their boss Burt (Clu Gulager) the group tries to get a handle on thing by enlisting the help of Burt’s old friend and local embalmer Ernie (Don Calfa) by using his crematorium to dispose of the still animated but dismembered body parts. Unfortunately this plan of action comes to spell doom for a group of Freddy’ punk buddies who are in the midst of partying it out at the next-door graveyard, waiting for Freddy to get off of work. What transpires next sets off a chain of unforeseeable events which could very well lead to the end of civilisation as we know it!
Will this rowdy band of misfits be able to fend off the ever-growing army of positively famished corpses long enough to secure an escape route or are they destined to be gobbled up in the rain-soaked streets admits the tormented and hungry cries for brains?...”It's not a bad question Burt”
A testament to what a great horror-comedy ought to be, combining a smart antiauthoritarian script, great lively cast, fantastic SFX and kickass music to insure that a gory-fying good time is had by all.
Loyal readers of my reviews (all 3 of you) will undoubtedly know by now that I’m not the biggest advocate of comedy in the horror genre, mostly due to the fact that it’s such a balancing act getting the respective genres to mesh without undermining one or the other, some notable exceptions include films like Re-Animator (Stuart Gordon, 1985) Evil Dead 2 (Sam Raimi, 1987) and Dead Alive (Braindead, Peter Jackson, 1992) whom due to their loopy anarchistic antics and balls-out entertainment value had yours truly hooked from start to finish and The Return of the Living Dead certainly belongs in the stellar company of the aforementioned titles giving it’s credentials as an unapologetic good time, rarely opting for anything less than the most reckless of abandonment in regards to the narrative.
Breaking the zombie mould established by George A. Romero, the flesh-eaters presented here are of the sprinter variety that we’ve come to be so familiar with in the 21th century, they seem to be primarily interested in devouring brains, an idiom the horde howls endlessly ( which every comedian or sit-com/comedic show on earth seem to paraphrase whenever the zombie is alluded to, perfectly illustrating that the film is a comedic power house to be reckoned with as well as an pop cultural icon) Hell the undead even speak coherently; something that normally would constitute big no-no in my book, but the film has such a perfectly balanced facetious tone (the catalyst of the film is that Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead is real, after all) that it somehow works perfectly in the confines of this particular story, I’d even go as far as to dispute that none of these tongue in cheek mannerisms has ever been employed with the kind of skill and dedication on show here, which should be seen as a true testament to the filmmakers understanding of the material and it’s possibilities and even the most zealous zombie fanatic would have a hard time arguing otherwise... But with all that being said I still have to admit that the moment where one of the rotting brain-munches picks up an ambulance radio and demands that despatch should “Send more paramedics...” still makes me cringe albeit subtlety.
The comedic elements are for the most part night time black which adds beautifully to the offbeat nature of the first 2/3s of the film.
Luckily by the time the third act rolls around the film turns to doom n’ gloom and the intensity of these climatic scenes ensure that the film ends on a hell of a creepy and beautiful nihilistic high note.
O’Bannon’s script is an energetic power house and brimming with eminently quotable dialog which the actors fortunately seem to revel in. The comedic timing and delivery of actors Clu Gulager, James Karen, Thom Mathews and Don Calfa are positively off the page as they chew the scenery. Their respective delivering of wide-eyed fear and ever escalating sense of panic and despair as things get’s increasingly grim is simply a laugh riot.
So while the aforementioned quartet are obviously on top of the game here, the rest of the cast won’t raise much complaints either, in the roles of the various punks they do exactly what they’re suppose to and furthermore die accordantly.
An additional bonus is without a doubt the spectacle of watching Z-grade scream queen Linnea Quigley in her hard bodied prime delivering an absolutely mouth-watering striptease on top a gravesite (this bit was the most scratched and used up bit of my old VHS tape...You do the math) and then spends the rest of the film running around in her tight and completely flawlessly looking birthday suite or in layman’s terms buck naked. Thank you so much Mr. O’Bannon!!!
You can’t talk about The Return of the Living Dead without alluding to its awesome soundtrack layered with the music of the punk heavyweights of yesteryear such as 45 Grave, The Cramps and The Damned.
Normally I don’t like a pervasive use of song based music in horror film but in the spirit of The Return of the Living Dead rebellious nature it somehow works perfectly and is as refreshing to watch/listen to today as it was back then.
With all that being said, The Return of the Living Dead isn’t a perfect film, you wound learn anything new and you certainly won’t be a better person for watching it. But if you want a balls-out horror comedy that plays by its own rules and sticks by them throughout, than you won’t get a better film than this.
Do you wanna party...You bet your f::::g ass!
First and foremost this limited edition steelbook release of The Return of the living Dead from Second Sight Films is without a doubt one of the best home video releases of the year and here’s why.
The main feature is held in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and while the high definition transfer isn’t exactly mind-blowing it’s still a noticeable improvement over previous DVD releases. The various audio mixes are also well balanced, handling the frantic nature of the piece very well.
The Pièce de résistance of this release however is the absurd amount of special features on hand. As the main attraction, we have the entire two-hour retrospective documentary More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead, which is absolutely packed with juicy behind the scenes anecdotes, on-set footage, storyboards, various conceptual stuff, it basically covers the entire history of the film from idea to screen and is an absolute treasure chest of information and a must see for any fan of the film. Next up is a documentary which delve into the next two sequels and offers interviews with filmmakers involved, deleted interviews that didn’t make it into the final cut, a modern day revisit to some of the shooting locations, and a montage of the principal actors reciting their most iconic lines in Return of the Living Dead in Three Minutes. You also get a rather honest interview with director Dan O’Bannon, recorded shortly before he passed away.
Other extras include a discussion about the soundtrack with music consultant Steve Pross and 45 Grave’s Dinah Cancer. And a featurette about the special effects where production designer William Stout and the special effects guys involved go into further detail on the zombie designs and practical make-up effects.
Also included in the steelbook is Ernie’s Notepad, a replica notebook that contains a wealth of information about the film.
A quick word of warning to readers who can’t play region B Blu-Rays you’ll need a multi-region player to view this as the disc is sadly Region B locked.
on 4 November 2003
I enjoyed this film quite alot because of the fact that i am a b-movie
fan eg Troma movies etc.The living dead are brought back to life by 2 idiots that manage to break open a toxic barrel from the army and then havoc is caused all over the town by walking talking flesh eating zombies.This film certainly has its moments and i recommend this to any horror\b-movie fan out there.
Once you hav seen this you must see part 2 which has a silmalar
storyline but more silly.Have a watch of this film you might
like it......i did..........BRAINS!!!
on 13 February 2007
My favourite Zombie movie (and I've seen a lot!!) Brilliant performances, great post-punk atmosphere and soundtrack. It has tragedy ("It hurts to be dead") comedy that will seriously have you falling on the floor laughing, and in a bizarre way it's scarier than most Zombie films. The fact that you actually care about the dumb humans gives it an edge.
Also the ultra cynical ending is perfect (who says it's not political)
Personally I can't stand CGI effects, they always look the same and nobody believes their eyes.
In this film you won't believe your eyes either but for different reasons; the sheer grotesque imagination of the film makers will stun you!
A good twist on Romero's living dead. This time the dead are rising due to chemicals from chopped up living dead bodies being burned and their ashes combining with rain and falling onto a graveyard. Well, would you have made it that complicated?
The acting is not strong outside of Clu Gulager and James Karen, and Don Calfa plays a wonderful mortician with several clues as to a possible nazi past scattered around.
The punks are cannon fodder, only Linnea Quigley being memorable for obvious reasons. The sight of 2 of the male leads succumbing to rigor mortis is priceless.
The creatures themselves are a change from the hobbling zombies of yesteryear. Only the tar-man hobbles in his quest for "more Brains". The idea that they eat brains to take away the pain of decay is briliantly disturbing "it hurts to be dead". Add to that the classic line that has inspired at least one rock band "send more paramedics".
All in all this is a well crafted horror comedy.
on 13 December 2002
Been missing my video copy of this for nearly a year now so I'm glad to find it being released on DVD.
This is classic over-the-top gore/ black comedy/ horror, very much in the vein of Evil Dead 2.
The story is about a group of friends which gets smaller and smaller as the film progresses as is traditional in the 'schoolies go off to the log cabin for the weekend' type of horror films. Here, the first character has just got a new job at a medical supply warehouse. His new boss is giving him the guided tour, trying to spook him with ghost stories etc - gas used by the government went bad, remains of a test subject in a barrel downstairs, that sort of thing. Anyway the barrel is accidently cracked open and the gas escapes- as do the remains of the unfortunate trapped within. This gas then starts making the dead rise from their grave and its all hell on earth from there.
This is all fairly preposterous stuff but its meant that way. Theres not so much suspension of disbelief (ahem. zombie film...) as setting the stage for whats to come. The 80's seemed to spew these type of films out but apart from the Evil Dead bunch, the Romero classics and this they all seem to have disappeared (thank god!). But the cast do well to realise their characters with what they're given and they ARE characters, not the typical 80's almost-jock with a checked shirt and body warmer, looking either terrified ,angry or confused all through the film.
Director Dan O'Bannon (Lifeforce amongst others) has learned from his earlier releases and has gone straight for the comedy jugular with this one. Although the humour is never too in your face, the almost slapstick duo of the boss and his employee is hilarious as they complain of sickness and extreme pain due to the gas they were directly exposed to takes hold of them (I guess they become unalive rather than undead, but the eventual effect is much the same!). Nor do they shrink for the horror aspect. These zombies don't just shuffle and mumble, they want to eat your brains! And once the ambulance crew have been polished off as an appetiser, one blood soaked zombie gets hold of the radio as it requests a report and says simply '...send more paramedics' as though ordering the next round of drinks (to mix my metaphors).
Great B movie fun, silly plot, this has energy and pace to it as well, unlike most 'zombie' flicks, and the nearest we get to romance is the last words of the boyfriend who calls to his hiding girlfriend ' if you really loved me you'd let me EAT YOUR BRAIN!'
on 18 February 2013
When you put the disc in, it comes up with a message that says this disc will only play in another region, but if you hit the menu button, it goes straight to the menu and you can view the film and all extras.
This is easily one of my fav buys from the UK. The documentary covers this film as well as the sequels, and spans approx. 5 hours. There are other extras as well.
The film is mastered faithfully without any change in presentation. The original soundtrack is included, with all original songs.
The only thing missing is Dan O'Bannon's audio commentary, only available on the US version.
But this is a killer release to own. Very proud to have it.
on 13 May 2011
This has always been a favorite of mine, but I hadn't bothered to get it on DVD until just recently - my tape finally wore out. Reading some of the reviews, I discovered that the soundtrack has been tinkered with over the years because of copyright restrictions and so forth, but that the Tartan 2001 release had the original. So, I clicked over to amazon.uk (I live in the U.S.) and bought a copy. Sure, it's 4x3 and doesn't have a lot of extras, but the idea of watching it with the music (and it's some great music) all messed up really irritated me. I'm glad to say everything is where it should be. A good, funny, disgusting little movie.
Return of the Living Dead is considered, by some, to be the `unofficial sequel' to George A Romero's classic zombie shocker Night of the Living Dead. It isn't, but the writer owned the rights to the `living dead' part of the title (hence the reason all George's later offerings were simply `...of the Dead').
But, studio politics aside, RotLD takes the modern zombie genre that George is often credited for creating and refreshes it. In fact, it refreshes it so much that, to this day, it still hasn't been beaten.
It's about a group of punks who go partying in a graveyard one night, right next to a warehouse where a chemical leak resurrects the graveyard's sleeping occupants. There's nothing too original in the plot - in fact, it's pretty cheesy. However, it's the way the whole film is executed which sets it apart. There's so much right with it that what little bits that don't work are easily overlooked.
The characters are believable and, almost all the time, do logical, sensible things. Also, it's the `oldies' who steal the show. In a world where teenagers are normally the stars of horror films, it's the older, wiser characters that both get the better lines and come through as the heroes. It has some pretty interesting situations, where the zombies are `explained,' plus they're well and truly `pumped up' compared to George A Romero's `shufflers.' These guys don't die from a head shot and some of them can even solve puzzles.
Not only is the film littered with pokes at Night of the Living Dead, plus generally horror films, but there are also some genuinely humorous moments on their own. Not that this is just a strict comedy. The tone is overall very dark and depressing. The sheer strength and invulnerability of the zombies compared to the humans makes it an almost lost cause for our heroes to fight against.
There are so many zombie movies flooding the DVD racks these days, you may be forgiven for thinking that an obscure one from the mid eighties with no stars in it has much place in the horror genre. I think you'll find you're wrong. If half the modern zombie offerings had even a fraction of the class and originality of RotLD, they'd actually get out of the Bargain Basement bins in DVD stores.