Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wrapping Things Up: The Return of the Living Dead

Please don't hate me, Internet!  1985's The Return of the Living Dead is considered a cult classic by just about everyone.  I'm not here to dispute that.  I am, however, going to talk about it since I've already covered the subsequent four films.  I'm all about being a completionist, after all.  If you don't know about the series, here's the gist of it: gas makes zombies and jokes ensue.  There's more to the story to that, but I think it's a pretty good summary.  It's an interesting mix of reality and fantasy, as it implies that Night of the Living Dead was based on real events.  So much for a crossover between them.  Mind you, Halloween is shown as a film in Halloween III, so I guess anything goes.  The point is that this series takes its own path, although it does go into silly territory by the fourth and fifth films, just like Romero's series (Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead).  In Dan O'Bannon's hands, the film manages to work in a lot of ways that it shouldn't.  To find out more, read on...
The gas that can reanimate the dead gets free thanks to one guy being an idiot and slapping the canister.  It's the end of the world as we know it's all due to you being a moron.
If a naked, yellow man ever runs at me, that's probably the face that I'll make.  Yowza!
Tar Man is here, making his first appearance.  Look at that- he actually is kind of important here.  Who would have guessed?
Linea Quigley brings a certain thing to this movie.  If only I could point them out...without stars everywhere.
Oddly, being exposed to the gas in the beginning slowly kills the two men and turns them into zombies.  I don't follow that science one bit...but I'm probably not supposed to.
Another key aspect of this zombie film that's different- zombies talk.  They seem pretty talkative actually.  Yes, they do say 'brains' a lot, but they also have a pretty big vocabulary.
My favorite scene- the Coroner being chased by a leg-less zombie, played here by a midget.  That's random...and I love it!  Why doesn't this 'guy' get more screen-time?
The remaining cast manage to get back to one of the film's four locations- budget limitations galore!- and all seems well.  I'm sure that they'll be just...
...dead.  On the plus side, they won't come back as zombies...right?  The End.
You're still the undead one.  The plot of this movie is fun, fresh and frenetic.  Alliterations aside, the movie makes the most of its silly premise.  They strain things a bit early on when they get into details about how the film is different from reality, but the story hits its stride soon enough.  I don't quite get why they were trying to be so precise about a fictitious narrative and a made-up story within the movie.  When the movie really gets going, the site gags and gore are top-notch.  As anyone who's read any of my writing before knows, I' m all about practical effects.  You may also know that I'm a major stickler for details and can't spot wires from a mile away.  I didn't really notice any major gaffes or effects mishaps here, so kudos to the filmmakers there.  The acting is quite good here, although it leans more towards comedy for certain characters.  Broad stereotypes aside, I loved the characters who were very 'matter of fact' like John Gulager's Owner and the Coroner.  They're like 'Well, zombies are trying to kill us- what do we do now?'  I'd like to think that I'd be 'that guy' in a zombie apocalypse, but I'd probably be the guy who locks his friends outside.  Sorry, theoretical people.  The bottom line: this movie is a classic.  It may not appeal to everyone with its silly comedy, but I liked it most out of the whole series.  For the record though, I still don't hate Part II- sue me!  Take us away, ironic lying...
Next up, the year-end review of a British Horror film.  Oddly, it's set around Christmas, despite the title.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. As far as I'm concerned, this is the only one really worth watching. The kids in the second one are annoying, the whole slow burn of the girl turning in the third one is just too dragged out, and the other two are barely worth mentioning.

    Great post!