Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Return of the Living Dead (1985, Dan O’Bannon)


In 2017 Best Buy still had a decently sized movie section that has since been gutted since everyone streams movies and physical media has taken considerable hits. I went there to find something for Halloween since I knew I didn’t have to work the day after and I would be able to stay up late viewing horror movies after work. They had a cool looking copy of Return of the Living Dead, which I hadn’t seen in years at the time and was due for a rewatch. I still own my copy and I love that movie because it is a punk zombie horror comedy that has plenty of bite and even some scary moments. I’m not sure if it is a great movie, however I’ve known plenty who could argue that it is and even convince myself. Return of the Living Dead is one of those films that could only have been conceived of and made in the 1980s-yes I’m going to be that guy-primarily since a lot of the styles and trends the movie features are very much out of date and now laughably retro. Also punk has been co-opted by Hot Topic and has unfortunately gone mainstream. Too bad.

One thing I enjoy about Dan O’Bannon’s cult classic is that the movie has some great comedy moments and also some really surprisingly creepy moments as well. Plus the flick works as an agreed to by O’Bannon and George A. Romero unofficial sequel to Night of the Living Dead (1968) where in this universe that movie actually really happened and the government covered it up. I also dig how the movie shows actual dates onscreen, acting as an unofficial covering of what happens one July 4th (yey holiday movie horror!) weekend. Freddy and Frank are two bumbling medical supply warehouse employees who accidentally unleash a zombie plague upon their home city of Louisville, making their city famous for more than just basketball. A group of young punks, friends of Freddy, end up breaking into a cemetery in what turns out to be the worst mistake of their young lives.

The cast for this film is excellent: I mean you have James Karen and Clu Gulager as the major heavyweight veterans, with Thom Mathews and Linnea Quigley headlining the younger cast. Quigley ends up stealing the movie with a freaky performance both as a living person and as the undead! I still chuckle at the “Send more cops” line, and admire this movie for having brain eating zombies, fast moving zombies, and trap setting zombies. Although technically the cult flick Nightmare City had zombies that moved quickly and were capable of using objects as weapons before Return of the Living Dead, and I’m sure it helped inspire O’Bannon’s film as well.

Despite not finding this movie very scary I still love it anyways, and I’m holding on to my Blu-ray copy as long as it still works. Return of the Living Dead is one of those movies that every horror fan should see, and despite being dated 1980s wise a lot of the material holds up incredibly well. Besides who doesn’t wanna party? IT’S PARTY TIME!

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