Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Return of the Living Dead

Return of the Living Dead is the epitome of the B-movie. It’s an honest-to-goodness classic, stuffed with campy humour, cheap yet effective special effects and the first appearance of now-ubiquitous zombie movie tropes like zombies that run rather than shamble and groan “Braaaaains…”

It’s full of funny moments: a young punk girl gets involved with the zombies mid-striptease and spends the rest of the film unclothed even after she is turned into a zombie herself; bags full of writhing zombie parts are described as “rabid weasels;” in a truly iconic moment, zombies get on the radio to call for more paramedics after feasting on the brains of the inhabitants of the first ambulance to arrive on the scene.

Tarman from Return of the Living Dead

What lifts the film above its B-movie aspirations isn’t the humour, though, but its attention to detail. Whether it’s the characters named Burt and Ernie (or one of those characters having an obliquely hinted-at Nazi past), or the impeccable design of the zombies (Tarman, pictured above, is easily the greatest zombie design ever), or the little background jokes and Easter eggs scattered throughout the film. All this, plus a well-written story that actually makes sense, complete with a brilliantly grim, satirical ending.

Rating: 181/200

19 thoughts on “Return of the Living Dead (1985)

    • Thanks – it’s a great film! It’s surprising how few films trying for the same thing actually put the effort into clever writing and imagination to go with the gory special effects and campy humour.

      • Your delicious, delicious brain…

        (I was only 1 year old when this film was in the cinema…I don’t think my parents would have dragged me along!)

      • Best served with Fava beans!!

        (I was 13 and my best friend and I snuck into the theater that summer every day for a week)

        (and I also had the rockin soundtrack on ——— TAPE!!)

      • Man, I would have loved to see this film at 13 – or own the soundtrack (which is pretty fantastic – so much great ’80s punk, and it suits the film so well)!

    • Thanks for the comment, Victor – for me, this wasn’t even really revisiting it! I only watched it for the first time recently (not entirely true, as I watched a good half of it at a club w subtitles, but that wasn’t quite the same thing!)

    • Such a classic line! I love the way the zombies just kinda force it out (“Send….more…paramedics.” etc), like they have a lot of trouble talking but just want those brains so damn much…

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