Sunday, October 20, 2013

Film Review: The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

The Return of the Living Dead (Review)
United States/1985
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"This isn't a film that takes itself seriously, yet it's a serious contender for the best zombie film of all time."

Frank and Freddy, two employees at a medical supply warehouse, accidentally unleash a toxic gas that reanimated dead bodies. The company employees try to contain the situation themselves but end up unleashing the dead to the unsuspecting town.

The Return of the Living Dead is a black comedy/horror zombie film. Along with the employees, we also see a group of young punkers, who were waiting for their friend to get off work in a nearby cemetery. When the dead wake, their paths cross and they must fight the zombies together; they'll build up their defenses, and use anything they can get their hands on as weapons; they'll even communicate with the zombies! It's a very straight-forward story, yet it's very effective and creative -- especially for its time. The very well balanced story continues with great momentum to a fantastic ending; an ending that feels satisfactory, despite simultaneous feelings of it being rushed.

I really enjoyed the story in The Return of the Living Dead. It's fun without being absurd, and it's scary without being too dark. The comedy is very effective and often subtle -- it blends very well with the rest of the film and delivers consistent laughs. The scares consists of mostly jump-scares and some great gore effects, along with a some tension. In this case, the comedy and horror blend well to create a very entertaining and creative experience; an experience that can be enjoyed by a wide audience. The Return of the Living Dead, and its superb blend of comedy, horror, and zombies, is very refreshing -- even today in an oversaturated genre.

The cast is all-around great, well above my expectations; in fact, I'd say it's impressive to see such great performances in an 80s horror film. The music also fits this eccentric film perfectly, playing the right song at the right time for a great time. The gore effects are superb; this film introduces the "zombies eat brains" concept, and there are plenty of brains. Dan O'Bannon has fantastic direction and writing skills, creating a great story with plenty of wit. Technically speaking, The Return of the Living Dead is exceptional in almost every way.

Overall, The Return of the Living Dead is a good time -- a zombie film with a lot of heart and creativity. This isn't a film that takes itself seriously, yet it's a serious contender for the best zombie film of all time.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, full nudity.

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