31 Days of Halloween – Day 15 – They want to eat BRAINS

return3Return of the Living Dead (1985) has every single 80s cliche and invents a few of its own, including zombies who run and want to eat BRAINS.  That’s right, 28 Days Later was not the first movie to having running, rabid zombies.  This movie was.  And neither one was the first zombie comedy, as that would probably be one of Romero’s films or Zombies on Broadway.  I think a zombie comedy could still work today, and something lighter could definitely be fun, as people are already crazy for more undead movies.  Return of the Living Dead works as dark comedy, but most of it is slapstick or stupid 80s jokes.  At least the zombies eat some punk rockers.

return2I never liked this movie growing up.  I always felt it was too immature for me, the serious movie connoisseur.  I liked Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and even Fulci’s Zombi 2, even though it was gross.  Return of the Living Dead doesn’t have much in common with those movies, except that all of them have zombies.  There’s no deep themes or social commentary in Return, much less good pacing and dialogue.  It does have a lot of nerve though.

It takes the so-called canon established by Night of the Living Dead and kicks it between the legs.  Now zombies can talk.  And run.  And eat brains.  Not to mention, they can’t be killed by piercing the brain or any other part of their body.  Because of this, the movie becomes total chaos after a while, and makes Dawn of the Dead look like a picnic.  The creators certainly had a lot of guts changing the rules and running with a wacky concept, with zombies who can’t be killed.

Roger Ebert gave this movie 3 out of 4 stars and I’ve got to wonder why.  For the second time during this movie marathon, I’m laughing.  I guess he liked it.  Maybe it’s the barf jokes.  

You’ve got to respect this movie for being creative, if nothing else.  Probably the best and most funny scene is when the paramedics can’t figure out what’s wrong with Frank and Freddy.  They have no pulse.  Their body temperature is at 70 degrees.  They should be dead!  But dead people can’t talk, right?  The paramedic warns them that rigor mortis could be setting in.  Pretty funny. 

return1As for the filmmaking, this movie is pretty standard.  The setting looks like the 80s.  The cars, the clothes, the buildings.  Sometimes I can’t even watch this movie because of how annoying the teen characters are.  They are walking cliches, with their pink hair and boom boxes.  They talk about sex, weed, and swear up a storm.  This movie doesn’t hold anything back, much less teen trends, but it exaggerates everything to the extreme.  

In all, this movie is average and try to avoid watching it if I can.  It’s a curiosity certainly, and I can’t think of any movie so farcical and low-brow as this one, except maybe Little Shop of Horrors or Weekend at Bernie’s.  I can’t watch those either without shaking my head.  Return of the Living Dead has a couple of things that it does well, like the make-up, but I think it has a lot more stupid characters than good jokes.  I wonder what the next zombie comedy will be like.  Hopefully it won’t be about the 80s.


31. Poltergeist (1982) vs Poltergeist (2015)
30. Blair Witch Project (1999)
29. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
28. The Wicker Man (1973) and The Wicker Man Remake
27. Tales from the Darkside, the Movie (1990)
26. Saw (2004)
25. The Prophecy (1995)
24. The Hills have Eyes (1977)
23. House of the Long Shadows (1983)
22. Creepshow (1982)
21. Phantasm (1979)
20. The Omen (1976) vs Damien: The Omen II
19. We Are Still Here (2015)
18. The Guest (2010) (2014)
17. Return of the Living Dead (1985)
15. The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
14. Army of Darkness (1992)
13. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
12. Friday the 13th Part III
11. Theater of Blood (1973)
10. House of Wax (1953) vs House of Wax (2005)
9. Hellraiser Inferno (2000)
8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
7. The Changeling (1980)
6. The Eye (2002)
5. The Hitcher (1986)
4. Paranormal Activity (2007)
3. 28 Days Later (2003)
2. Suspiria (1977)
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – This review will be published October 31st!