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 6 November 2015
For years i've only had the awful VHS of this film, so it's nice to finally get the Blu-ray. It was worth the wait as the film is still as enjoyable as it was when i first saw it way back in the 80's!
The picture is pretty good, a bit grainy in places but otherwise good for a film of this age. For anyone who hasn't seen it, it's a very funny Zombie film, featuring fast Zombies that can also hold a conversation (and use a Police radio!) The film also has some really good performances from a cast of familiar faces and unknowns.
The documentary 'More Brains' which is feature length really makes this worth getting. It's informative and very funny and features nearly all the cast in very entertaining interviews. They all have wild memories of making the film.
So well worth getting and at a great price too!
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!
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 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 26 October 2015
I have loved this film since the 80s so was horrified when I bought this on DVD to find that several scenes had been ruined by soundtrack changes - zombie voices were changed and songs were moved or removed, most unforgivably Roky Erickson's Burn The Flames was faded out during a cremation scene.
Second Sight's UK blu ray restores the soundtrack and contains hours of special features so it's a real no-brainer if you're thinking about buying it.
on 31 July 2001
Forget any idea that this movie is anything to do with a more famous series of zombie films. This stands alone as a terrific, inventive, disturbing and - yes - funny addition to Hollywood's ever popular "dead people chase scared humans round graveyards" canon. The premise is simple and weird: two mortuary attendants unearth a lost cylinder of deadly gas mislaid by the US Army some years before. They inadvertently open it, only to find that it has a very peculiar effect on those who breathe it.
Given that Return of the Living Dead has such a ridiculous premise, it's surprising that by the end you genuinely sympathise with the surviving cast members, which makes the unexpected climax all the more shocking.
The 1980s spawned a whole series of zombie films from various directors, but this was by far the best, if lacking some of the pompous social comment others tried to convey. "Return" was followed by a couple of very poor sequels, which shouldn't detract from the wit and originality of this classic.
on 26 January 2013
"Return of the Living Dead" is a terrific tongue-in-cheek 80's horror spoof that has developed a rabid and devoted cult following and with good reason. Realesed in 1985 and written directed by Dan O'Bannon who was responsible for other great flicks like Dead and Buried, Alien 1979 and Dark Star. This is the most fun you will ever have with a horror film. It refuses to take itself too seriously yet the blood flows freely and the effects, considering the cheap budget this film was on, are very well done. It brags a wonderful cast that consists of James Karen, Clu Gulager, Don Calfa, and the legendary scream queen Linnea Quigley and has a couple of hilarious quotes when one zombie uses a radio dispatch "Send more paramedics!!!". It seems that two bumbling workers at a medical supply warehouse inadvertently open up a tank that wound up at their warehouse years earlier through government error. This tank releases a toxic chemical that starts a chain reaction that is impossible to end.
Everything they do seems to make matters worse! The corpse inside the tank comes to life and when another corpse inside the warehouse comes to life panic begins to set in. It is soon discovered that these zombies, unlike those in the movies, cannot be killed with a mere blow to the brain. They also have an insatiable appetite themselves for human brains (apparently eating brains helps to stop the pain of being dead, who knew?). To make matters worse, they chop up the zombie into pieces and decide to take the pieces into a large furnace burning the reanimated remains, but end up releasing the reanimating gas into the atmosphere through the resulting smoke. A torrential thunderstorm carries the gas into the soil of the local cemetery releasing a horde of unstoppable, brain-craving zombies. We also have a group of punkish teenagers partying in a local cemetery nearby. These younger characters are most definitely a product of the times, sporting a mishmash of giant 80's hair, leather jackets with chains, and styling mohawks. Of special mention is 1980's scream queen Linnea Quigley who plays Trash, spends most of the majority of the film completely naked.
Return of the Living Dead departs from the standard Romero-Zombie mythos in several significant ways. Amongst the most noticeable to horror fans may be the ways that the zombies act and are dispatches. They run fast and seem to be much more intelligent and are much harder to kill. The Return of the Living Dead helped reset the standard for what a zombie movie could be. If it weren't for some of the miserable sequels that followed, the brand name might not have been tarnished forever, but this single film will always stand near the top of the list for cult horror fans.
First, the high definition transfer isn't exactly mind-blowing - but it's a noticeable improvement over previous DVD releases and the fuzzy VHS images that is burned into my memory. The image can be rather murky on occasion, with rare downward fluctuations in overall quality, but for the most part it's solid. Besides the movie, this thing comes with such an absurd amount of special features that it would be incongruously time consuming to go into each in minor detail but to start off the main feast we have the entire two-hour retrospective documentary More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead. The best reason to buy this Blu-ray in my opinion, packed with interviews, juicy behind the scenes info, on-set footage, storyboards, various conceptual stuff, the history of the film's entire trip to the screen and much, much more.
Not only do we have the main documentary, but we also have the special features of the documentary itself which delve into the next two sequels complete with interviews with filmmakers involved in those, deleted interviews that didn't make it into the final cut of the doc, a contemporary revisit to some of the shooting locations, and a montage of the principal actors reciting their lines in Return of the Living Dead in Three Minutes. A candid interview with director Dan O'Bannon, taken shortly before he passed away.
Other extras on the disc include a discussion of the soundtrack with music consultant Steve Pross and 45 Grave's Dinah Cancer. John Russo expands a little more on the origins of the title and story of the film, meanwhile production designer William Stout and the special effects guys involved go into further detail on the zombie designs and practical effects creation. There's easily around 5 hours of extras here, making it an essential package if you don't already have the More Brains documentary on your shelf. This is a fantastic cult classic 80's horror film that every horror fan should add to their collection.
on 7 June 2012
An excellent package. A beautiful HD presentation of this timeless work of art, with three audio tracks (original 2.0 mono, 2002 remixed stereo, 2002 remixed 5.1, I like the latter best), the huge and brilliant MORE BRAINS documentary in HD, three smaller but interesting documentaries in SD, features on the first two sequels, a behind the scenes booklet disguised as Ernie Kalfenbruner's notebook (modelled on Anchor Bay's 2004 Day of the Dead Divimax booklet, which was made up as Doctor Logan's notepad), all wrapped up in a beautiful steelbook.
The presentation is outstanding, I can't imagine ever watching the film another way now. The 5.1 might put some people off as it's not director approved and is made from the director approved (but oft detested by fans) 2002 remixed soundtrack, but I was in awe. I can actually hear parts of the score I did not know existed and make out the melody, I can hear atmospherics and details never revealed before! Wow! I recommend you do what I did and pump up the rear (audio channels that is, not an Elton John kind of "pump up the rear") and the bass and be very impressed.
If there's any negatives, it would be that the disc is missing some of the extras from the US releases (2002 MGM DVD, 2007 DVD Collector's Edition, 2008 Blu-Ray), but I don't mind since they are on discs I already own and the information covered in it is almost all here anyway in one documentary or another. The documentary on those discs with the cast and crew pales in comparison to More Brains, believe me, so really it's just the Dan O'Bannon commentary, cast commentary and Dan O'Bannon interview missing.
The booklet is quite superfluous - it's nice and I like it, great illustrations etc., but it's basically distilled from the early chapters of the excellent THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, which I already own and you should too. It's by the same authors so I didn't feel cheated and most of you will probably, uh, EAT IT UP! Plus, it features the first two pages of Don Calfa's exciting script for a sequel called REVENGE OF THE LIVING DEAD, set the moment the first film ended, here rendered in serviceable comic book form.
Well worth your dime, people.
As for the movie, well if you like eighties horror films (John Carpenter's, for example), or zombie movies in general, this is definitely a must see. It's a terrifically written film, one which still has a lot to offer and reveal on repeat viewings (I should know, I've seen it hundreds of times!). Performances and characters are atypical for the genre - the film seems to both love and loathe rebellious punk types, and makes a rather novel point of turning an older gentleman (think a Southern, foul mouthed Jimmy Stewart) in penny loafers and a baige jacket into a poor excuse for an action hero. Funny thing is, it works! Clu Gulager is actually my favourite part of the movie. The film allows for a lot of comedy and irony - I would argue irony is the film's strong point (and Dan O'Bannon's, too) and it can prove both grim and hilarious, often at the same time.
The real genius stroke of the film, if you'll excuse me using the "G" word, is to so relentlessly push adversity into the character's (and audience's) faces, to the point of absurdity, so that it becomes both funny and intense. The villains are zombies, of course, but unlike Romero's more gothic zombies, these are born of science and spread much more virulantly. Much like John Carpenter's THE THING, this villain's threat comes from a lot more ways than just reaching out to grab and kill you. (Come to think of it, Dan O'Bannon's other famous monster, the ALIEN/Xenomorph from the ALIEN films was also a multi-faceted threat). These zombies can not only not be "killed", their destruction will almost certainly bring forth more of the same (like the mythical Hydra's heads). This relentless attacking really does get to you and bring the audience a lot of intensity, if not fear. However, these zombies also scream "brains!", use police radios like calling for takeaways and make begging/pleading speeches to loved ones, trying to reason why they should be allowed to eat their brains. The funny strokes are funnier because the absurdity is being played more for dramatic power more than pure comedy, and the intensity is funnier because it keeps piling on irony after irony. When they made the first sequel to this picture (and I do like parts 2 and 3 more than most), they did the more obvious thing of playing it all for laughs - and it doesn't work at all. Unlike Romero's heroes in, for example, Dawn of the Dead, who dealt with the end times at the hands of zombies with humour and courage, the heroes of ROTLD behave like you and I. Some of them scream, panic and get hysterical. Some of them need a slap. What makes it so much fun is the contrast between this ridiculous situation and a well-reasoned and intelligent response.
on 8 July 2004
The title is true, this movie has to be one of the best i have seen. It takes the whole zombie genre and makes it amazing, but not only does it have the standout funny bits, there are so many subtle humour moments throughout the entire film you can watch it over and over again and still get something new from it.
I have watched this film so many times, and yet i could still go watch it now, especially amusing when drunk with friends... etc haha.
The film could be classed as a sequel from Night Of The Living Dead (although its not) as it claims that the barrels of Trioxin on the film were from NOTLD. Two unsuspecting warehouse workers accidentally unleash the chemical into their medical supplies warehouse, which brings one of the "cadavres" back to life which they burn to dispose setting the chemical all over the convieniently placed nearby graveyard which sets up the story. Hilarious moments throughout, this film is the best out of the trilogy, followed by Return Of The Living Dead 2 (which you can pick up on DVD but its hard)
I suggest any fan of zombie/horror films but also has a good sense of humour would enjoy this film because basically, its mint.