Ready to Party: “The Return of the Living Dead” (1985) Review

key_art_the_return_of_the_living_dead

Another extremely delayed review by yours truly. Two weeks ago I watched The Return of the Living Dead (1985) for the very first time. This was just a random movie I picked out of my collection to watch, with a little help of the “Randomizer” feature on the MOVIST app. This movie is directed by Dan O’Bannon (writer of ‘Alien’). The cast includes: Clu Gulager (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), James Karen (Wall Street), Don Calfa (Weekend at Bernie’s), Thom Mathews (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI), Beverly Randolph (Freaks of Nature), John Philbin (Point Break), Miguel Núñez (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning), Brian Peck (X2), Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons) and Mark Venturini (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning).

The Return of the Living Dead has been labeled by many as the best (zombie) horror comedy of all-time, so of course I had high expectations. I ended up really liking this movie, but I wasn’t exactly crazy about it like some are. I’ll start off with the positives. It’s a fun watch with loads of clever humor that made me laugh instantly. The acting performances are good, but I was especially impressed by Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, Linnea Quigley (gained so much respect for her and I can’t wait to see her in more horror pictures!) and Miguel Núñez. The characters are interesting, but some are better developed than others. The soundtrack is fantastic and suits perfectly with the theme of the movie. The zombies looked absolutely outstanding and Tarman has to be the scariest and funniest looking zombie creature you’ll ever see. At first sight he looks scary as hell, but his actions feel comical because you won’t take it seriously. The Return of the Living Dead is much more a spoof/comedy than a straightforward horror/comedy. The script and dialogue are super 80’s and I must add that this movie had a strong first act. Having that said, there are some negative aspects that need to be mentioned.

The second act of the movie is extremely slow and messes up the strong pace from the first act. Scenes that drag on for long to the point where it feels repetitive. The ending is stupid and feels rushed. It’s a shame when you only know about the fates of the zombies and not about what happened to the main characters you were rooting for to survive. Such a weird note to end a movie with. The story got wrapped up in the most ridiculous way. The Return of the Living Dead is still a hilarious and at times thrilling (zombie) horror/comedy from the mid 80’s with many redeeming qualities. It’s far from perfect, but it’s definitely one you have to see at least once in your life. I’m more than interested in viewing the first two sequels after having seen the original for the first time.

–Ferdi Akkulak