I just watched this movie and this was so unbelievably refreshing. Recently there’s been a resurgence of zombies that has been such a snooze fest to me. If I have to hear about one more zombie survival plan I might hurt myself, but fuck was this movie good. Not only was it hilarious and campy, it added a whole level of story and intellect to zombies that I had not previously experienced. Nowadays it’s usually some virus outbreak that infects the dead and then zombies shuffle around and attack people. In this one the zombies run, scream, talk, and plot, and frankly it’s fuckin awesome. On top of new zombies, the movie has a bumpin soundtrack, incredible special effects, unnecessary nudity, and an incredible twist on horror movie characters. This movie, in my opinion, is a must watch for anyone who enjoys horror movies that don’t take themselves too seriously.
(*semi spoilers*) One of the best parts of this movie was that the characters are losing their goddamn minds throughout the entire thing. Usually in horror movies the characters are bizarrely calm about the situation their in and face their attackers with quiet fear and the strength to get the job done. In Return of the Living Dead, however, we have some characters who scream their way through scenes or start bawling when something particularly horrific happens to them. It’s incredibly refreshing to see characters who react the way any normal person would in these terrible circumstances.
(I’d say spoilers past here, probably)
This movie had an incredible soundtrack, not only the punk and metal songs but the score as well. The score that plays throughout really makes the movie. The punk songs seem to connect the teenage characters to the audience since we are listening to the music that they are literally listening to in the film. There are also awesome correlations between what’s happening on screen and the music, like the first scene where the zombies come out of the ground and “It’s party time!” is playing. Things like this happen a lot in this film where the music perfectly syncs with the action of the scene.
This movie does a cool job of explaining why zombies act the way they do, which is awesome. There’s a scene where the characters have tied down an undead and she explains that she is in constant pain because she’s dead and that eating brains gets rid of the pain, if only momentarily. This gives zombies a whole depth that I’m honestly not used to seeing. It also gave them a more interesting backstory than just “a virus”. They are really some government-based chemical spill that revived veterans in a VA hospital. Instead of being sent to the government base after being contained they’re sent to a medical supply warehouse? Sure. Why not? And instead of calling the number on the side of the bins they just leave them in the basement for decades? Of course. When the main character bumps the bin and gas bursts out that’s when the real fun begins.
We go on a wild ride from the moment that canister is disturbed. A corpse in the warehouse comes alive and the characters rush to destroy it, believing that destroying the brain would kill it. This doesn’t work out too well, however, and they end up burning the zombie in a crematorium across the street in the center of the graveyard. Meanwhile there are a group of teens running around in the cemetery. The ashes of the corpse spread through the sky, rain starts to fall, then all hell breaks loose. The teens and the guys from the warehouse are now trapped in the cemetery with the hordes of undead. From there on out it’s pretty much just a shit show of humor, horror, and the dead.
The ending of this was ingenious, honestly. A few of the characters manage to get back to the warehouse and are trapped in the basement where the cases containing the first zombies were and call the government number. They believe they’ll be saved when they hear the whistle of a bomb, but really an atomic bomb is being dropped on the city. The government officials say it goes off without a hitch and that the rain will get rid of all the ashes. It ends with rain pouring over most of the country, which we as an audience knows means they’re fucked.
Return of the Living Dead was an absolute treat to watch and I highly recommend it.