The Return of The Living Dead (1985)


It’s rare to see a sequel directly mention its predecessor in the dialogue. Dan O’Bannon’s film mentions the past, and because it recognizes its parents existence, it allows the filmmakers to have complete creative control to mock and satirize the original as much as they want.

Many of the sequences are flat-out hilarious, a tongue-in-cheek look at our view of typical 1980s horror teenagers and humanity’s innate ability to make really bad judgements.

The characters truly believe that the easiest way to get rid of the threat of zombies is to burn them. They repeatedly do this, even after zombies start rising from the soil, ignorant of the cause of it all: They’re burning the zombies into a gaseous dust-chemical-virus hybrid and sending it out into the atmosphere, tainting the characters oxygen on the surface.

The characters feel a little bit like John Hughes creations, a sense of spunk and youthfulness running through and energizing the young group.

It moves from scene to scene with palpable anxiety, a tinge of comic-relief spliced in hear and there. The little antics, such as the old morgue attendant, Ernie, trying to snuggle up with a young girl who’s in complete shock.

The film blends comedy with outrageous bodily gore seamlessly, like a premiere, gold-edition episode of Tales From the Crypt.  It wasn’t as much of a formula in the 80s, and is without a doubt a pioneer of the horror-comedy genre.

The sense of invention in horror cinema is lost when studios accept the formula as perfect and untouchable because it’s simply crowd-pleasing.

The Return of the Living Dead is a joy ride through a zombie infected town. Lovably stupid and impulsively watchable, the wide variety of characters defend themselves with limited knowledge and miscellaneous, random weaponry.

The morgue location provides a different perspective on the usual zombie defense-grounds. Most of the Night of the Living Dead rip-offs don’t realize that tense, well-lit atmosphere is the key. The Return of the Living Dead plasters on a thick layer of situational comedy and the ensuing results are hilarious.

Plan 9 from Outer Space

Plan 9 from outer-space is a passionately made film by a very, very incompetent director; his characters shout to each other in dramatic tones; the monster monotonously growls as his hands are extended far out his chest. Plan 9 is an uproarious movie that visibly gets everything wrong. The introduction is redundant and unedited, and with dialogue as laughable as a comedy. But the effort is there: through the tin-foil suits and the pretentious voice-overs, Ed Wood shines in the background, gleefully watching: and the idea of him designing these scenarios is what makes his films so loved, not necessarily even the movies themselves.

The film casts seemingly unknown stars, and has a continuum of poor voice overs, like the old man slowly walking out his house, fore-lorn of his wife’s passing.  The plot follows the arrival of a starship and their ability to rise the dead; grave-diggers from outer-space! In glossy purple and silver suits, the space-agents talk to their captain with soldier-like gesture, chin-straight. The attempt at nuance is very funny, with stern saluted faces, and a fantastic scene where the woman space-agent cant control her freeze-gun, and the ginormous ex-police chief now zombie heads straight for the kill, the homosexual-like male space-agent, who horrendously gasps in fear, arms flailing. Phew, that was close, they say. Too close.

The all American storyline of a pilot and his worry for his wife is entertaining, also; he first spots aliens as he points it out to the other man in the cockpit, flashing in the sky. It all ends with the man with the blonde hait with a little curl on the front re-appearing, re-assessing the importance of what we have seen today.  The importance of our place in: The worlds greatest cheese movies!