Tag Archives: 1985

The Return of The Living Dead (1985)

Okay, here’s the crazy thing about The Return of The Living Dead from 1985… I’d rate it as a Yellow Puss film, and while it’s kind of a cruddy film I’d also have to say that as zombie films go it’s kind of an important film of the genre.  Crazy, huh?!?

 

So here’s the gist…

 

Fifteen years ago a medical supply warehouse was contracted by the military to store some specialized barrels containing cadavers preserved in an experimental gas.  While two employees are in the basement — a young buck new hire and an old pro — they accidentally release vapors from one of the barrels which reanimates the corpse into a flesh-eating zombie.  After fighting off the zombie, they illicit help cremating the body at the mortuary across the street.  As smoke and ashes are expelled through the chimney, rain begins to fall outside … onto the cemetery … where a group of punk rockers (friends of the warehouse new-hire) are screwing around and killing some time.

From here the film turns into something not often seen in a zombie film….  MANY zombie films have what I call ‘The Journey’ — the human survivors have to get from Point-A to Point-B for one reason or another.  They can survive in the other location, the cure for the outbreak is at Point-B, whatever the reason they have to travel from one place to another usually failing to work together, occasionally being attacked by zombies to move the story along, and the survivor group loses its numbers through attrition. This doesn’t have The Journey.  In place of that, the punks and the professionals retreat into the warehouse and mortuary to try and stave off the attacking zombies.  Instead of a journey story line this film works in a siege setting, where there is B-film corny-ness and constant action.

Without giving anything more away, I’d like to touch on why this film is important…  Simply, it stands as an icon of the genre.  For a budget of $4M it was actually decently made in that it actually still looks pretty good.  I’ve seen The Return of The Living Dead II (1988) recently, and comparatively it was poorly made.  The original also has two of the biggest icons of the Z-film genre…

WHAT — you didn’t think I was going to post a graphic picture did you?!?! That’s a different website — look through your search history…

The Return of The Living Dead quite frankly has The Most Iconic Zombie Film Boobs … or in this case a completely naked dancing woman — delivered by scream queen Linnea Quigley playing a punk rocker girl named Trash dancing naked at the cemetery and selling loads of tickets at the box-office.  DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM WITH YOUR KIDS … or your parents.

Remember that cadaver in the experimental barrel I mentioned above?  The zombie that comes out of it is known within the zombie genera as “Tar Man” and made a distinct play on the zombie desire in saying “BRAINS!

Okay, now, things I’m not so good with from this film…

The zombies are fast moving — I’m cool with that. The zombies are cognizant, and 90 times out of 10 I’m not cool with that. In this film they can also talk and problem solve …. I’m not just talking about beating their way through doors and windows, I mean they can open doors, apply tools to barricades, it just doesn’t work for me…. But It Could Have…

The ‘How’ part of the zombies being cognizant wasn’t developed. Watching the film, I saw how this could have been done within the story but I’m not going to take the time to propose this about a decades-old film because what’s the point? I have better things to do. Seriously, were I to put that time and thought into this film I’d be no better than the people that claim to be major Star Wars fans and yet spend LOADS of time complaining about how wrong and poorly-done Star Wars is.

The way the film ends it should have created an unstoppable world zombie outbreak. The Part-2 film doesn’t start based off the ending of this film but it does draw from the military chemical barrels — but at least they did bring Tar Man (or another Tar Man) back onto the screen.

The Return of the Living Dead IMDbWikipedia, and Rotten Tomatoes

Day Of The Dead (1985)

Yellow Puss

Whaddayaknow — George A. Romero wrote & directed another zombie film!

What’s the significance of this film?  I’m still trying to figure that out myself.  Heck, 30 minutes into the film I asked “Where’s this film going?”  After an hour & thirty-seven minutes I asked myself that again and then the credits started rolling.

  • Music that was used in Shaun Of The Dead, which SOTD did intentionally drawing from a number of Z-films to pay homage to their predecessors
  • Yelling “Hello?” that sounds like the same delivery I first heard in 28 Days Later and suspect that Day Of The Dead was the origin
  • Experiments with cognizant zombies – most notable in the film is “Bub”, a male zombie who at a base level shows memory of things from when he was a human (ex applying a disposable razor to his face for shaving)
  • In some cases over-the-top campy acting, which can be characteristic of B/Z-films, but in this case struck me as poor acting &/or directing choices. I think the film could have had better execution & resonance in the same scenes (ALTHOUGH I NOTE – it was only the military AKA government characters that acted in this ‘ridiculous’ way, which may start to make some sense when you understand that this is supposed to be representative of a conflict between the public & the government.)
  • Questionably gay straight guy or straight gay guy
  • Oldest private in history, Private Steele – so did he join late, has this zombie conflict been going on that long and there was no one around to promote him, or is that he joined young and remained a career private?
  • Better make up & effects than Dawn Of The Dead
  • Instead of being held up in a shopping mall (Dawn Of The Dead) with a helicopter they’re holed up in an underground facility of some sort with a helicopter
Bub just got the latest BagpiperDon album.

I happened to have a collector’s edition of this film when I viewed it, so I also had all the extras — including the ‘interviews with the cast members X#-of-years later’ AKA ‘today’.  One of the things said (by Romero) was that the two parties of people in this film — scientists & military — stuck in the underground bunker was meant to represent the public and the government of the time (mid-1980s) and how there was a distrust between the two.

Some zombies are more handy than others.

Perhaps this film had that significance then (in 1985) but viewing it in 2017 it has no staying power.

This film could probably be good with a re-write & re-make, not unlike how Total Recall was grossly improved.

Day Of The Dead at IMDB

For those about to rock, we salute you!

Hard Rock Zombies (1985)

Red Blood

I like bad film… but not this bad.

I picked up this film a handful of years back while in a liquidation store for maybe $5.  It was on a DVD that had 3 zombie films — Night of the Living Dead, HRZ, and another title I can’t remember right now. Out of the three films, this one is such a POS that I think the other two films each cost half of the total  price and HRZ was thrown in for free — because this is the only way the folks who produced this film could get anyone to take a copy home.

Watching this film I get the impression that the producers and crew and the whole lot behind the film normally produce and shoot 1980s porn films.  In this case they got together outside of their usual work to do something different, or maybe they were trying to get a foothold in another part of the film industry other than porn.

The audio is bad, the songs are bad, the love affair between the lead-singer of the band and the local girl who seems underage clearly verges on having a pedophile element … maybe the only good thing about this is the outrageousness that someone thought to have a zombie film that included Hitler and Nazis.

BOTTOM LINE
Do Not Waste Your Time With This Film

I like bad film but this was so much of a train-wreck that I could only stand to watch it in 10-15 minute intervals.  It’s not one of those “It’s so bad it’s good” things, it’s just outright BAD.

Hard Rock Zombies (1985) at IMDB

HRZ at Rotten Tomatoes

HRZ reviewed at SomeThingAwful.com