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The Return of the Living Dead
The Return of the Living Dead
Actors: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph
Director: Dan O'Bannon
Genres: Comedy, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
R     2002     1hr 31min

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the cemetery'those brain-eating zombies are back and hungry for more tasty mortals. A fiendish mix of outrageous humor and heart-stopping terror, The Return of the Living Dea...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph
Director: Dan O'Bannon
Creators: Dan O'Bannon, John A. Russo, Rudy Ricci, Russell Streiner
Genres: Comedy, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 08/27/2002
Original Release Date: 08/16/1985
Theatrical Release Date: 08/16/1985
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 4/3/2021...
Best zombie film of all time. A cult classic that delivers all the fun, excitement and gore that you could ask for.
Chad B. (abrnt1) from CABERY, IL
Reviewed on 2/22/2012...
This film is a true masterpiece of 80s horror. When Dan O'Bannon (screenwriter Alien) replaced Tobe Hooper he rewrote the screenplay in order to make it original. John Russo's original screenplay was almost a xerox of Night of the Living Dead and O'Bannon didn't want to make a film that was, for all intents and purposes, a rip off. Russo has a story credit on Night of the Living Dead and was given the right to use Living Dead in future films (Romero got the right to use Dead which explains why his later zombie films are called of the Daed and not of the Living Dead).

O'Banno brought an EC comics influence to this film which makes it stand out among the numerous zombie films. The ideas of zombies wanting to eat brains,maintaing the ability to speak & run is also from this film. This film works because it never takes itself seriously. It maintains a dark sense of humor throughout.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
James B. (wandersoul73) from LINDALE, TX
Reviewed on 6/16/2009...
This one has it all... comedy, nudity and zombies! What else could a horror fan ask for?
4 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

"It worked in the movie!"
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 10/28/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Re-animated corpses, swearing, blood & gore, full-frontal female nudity, iconoclastic jabs at American culture, and lots of gallows humor--what more could a horror fan ask for?Any genre fan who has a morbid sense of humor is sure to enjoy 1985's THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. In the same vein as other tongue-in-cheek horror shtick such as the Chiodo Brothers' KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE and Sam Raimi's ARMY OF DARKNESS, this one's specifically a spoof of George Romero's classic and highly revered zombie film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Director/Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon, probably best known for having penned the original ALIEN movie, does a fantastic job of lovingly poking fun at the Horror and SF genres while at the same time satirizing everything from the U.S. Military to Punk Rock. This movie is not only funny, it's got plenty o' "brains"!And you can't beat the financial value of the DVD edition. Not only does it cost less than a lot of other full-length, widescreen DVD thrillers--including some that are hardly worth the plastic and aluminum it took to make 'em--but it also includes these cool extras: an optional audio commentary by O'Bannon and production designer William Stout; both the G-rated and R-rated theatrical trailers; over 5-minutes of various TV spots; some storyboard-like production stills; and a really cool "Designing the Dead" featurette, in which O'Bannon and Stout discuss the evolution of the final look and feel of the movie (lots of great shots of Stout's EC-Comics-like designs for the zombies offered in this one)."
A Classic Horror Film Returns at Long Last!!!!!!
Jesse Baker | Wise, VA | 07/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After over a decade of being out of print (do to legal wrangling in regards to the film's punk rock soundtrack that is prominently featured throughout the film) the classic 1980s zombie film that turned heads with it's dark humor, witty script, and original zombie design is now available on DVD!Freddy is a typical early 1980s punk rock fan who, on his first day at work at UNEEDA Medical Supply, learns that the movie "Night of the Living Dead" was based on an actual event involving zombies and that UNEEDA one day came into possession of one of the zombies which is now being held in a cylinder in the basement. A non-believing Freddy is shown the container just as it explodes, filling the supply company's building with a toxic green gas. The gas causes the sole human body in the body to come to life (as well as freeing the zombie from it's cylinder prison) and after failing to destroy the zombie the tradition way (cutting of it's head) they take it to the local crematorium to be cremated. Unfortunately this makes things MUCH, MUCH worse as the smoke laced with the toxic chemical mixes with storm clouds that rain down on the city at night and resurrecting the bodies buried inside the town's cemetary where ironically Freddy's fellow punk-friends are having a little party.The kicker for Return of the Living Dead that makes it a classic film and makes it one of the most well loved zombie movies is the fact that the film's zombies aren't your typical movie zombie. They are smart (luring police to the crematorium after killing off several cops who come to investigate all of the strange activity going on), are fast and agressive instead of slow and dumb and the zombies have the most hilarious banter involving their thirst for brains that can have even the most squeemish movie viewer laughing.Featuring a great punk rock sound-track and a great mix of humor and violence, this film has sadly been out of circulation for over a decade do to the it's punk soundtrack. Now it's back on the market on DVD. This is a must buy DVD for any true horror fan...."
"Watch your tongue boy, if you like this job!"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 08/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Rework, remake, homage, tribute, call Return of the Living Dead (1985) whatever you'd like, I just think it's a damn good film which achieves something not a lot of movies of its kind manage to do in successfully mixing two genres, those being horror and comedy, to create a third, which I call a `hormadey' (look at that, I just invented a new word right before your eyes...patent pending...quick, call the people at Webster's...I bet they pay good money for new words)...Sam Raimi did it in Evil Dead II (1987), although he called it `splatstick', Peter Jackson did it in some of his early like films Bad Taste (1987), and even more so in Braindead (1992) aka Dead Alive, and Stuart Gordon did it in Re-Animator (1985), just as Dan O'Bannon has done so with this film. Co-written and directed by Dan O'Bannon (Alien, Dead & Buried, Blue Thunder), the film features an excellent cast including Clu Gulager (McQ, A Force of One), James Karen (Poltergeist, Apt Pupil, Superman Returns), Don Calfa (Chopper Chicks in Zombietown, Weekend at Bernie's), and Thom Mathews (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Alien from L.A.). Also appearing is Beverly Randolph, John Philbin (The New Kids, Point Break), Jewel Shepard (Hollywood Hot Tubs), Miguel A. Núñez Jr. (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Carnosaur 2), scream queen Linnea Quigley (Creepozoids, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama), Mark Venturini, who sadly passed away in 1996, and Brian Peck, the only actor to appear in all three Return of the Living Dead films.

As the film begins, we find ourselves at the Uneeda Medical Supply company `You need it...we got it'. It's Freddie's (Mathews) first day as a stockboy, and co-worker Frank (Karen) is showing him the ropes, along with the prosthetics, bedpans, skeletons, and yes, cadavers (man, they weren't kidding about having what I need, particularly in a nice bedpan). A curious Freddie inquires as to what's the weirdest thing Frank has ever seen during his long tenure at the company to which Frank relates a fantastic tale about how some years ago, a chemical created a chemical for the military that had a strange side effect, namely, it brought the dead back to life. The resulting mess was cleaned up, and the reanimated corpses were stuffed into sealed containers. Many of the supposedly true events were then turned into a film that we know as George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (nice acknowledgement), although a number of facts were changed to avoid litigation. Anyway, due to a military snafu, some of the containers were accidentally shipped to Uneeda, and have been sitting in the basement ever since, undisturbed...until now...while showing Freddie the containers, Frank slaps the side of one, a seal breaks, and the gas squirts out all over the two men knocking them out, and also into the air ducts, which, in turn, revives the corpsicle in the freezer. The boys begin to freak, and decide to call the owner Burt (Gulager), figuring he'll know what to do...after some debating, then end up hacking the lively decedent into parts, stuffing the parts into garbage bags, taking said bags across the street to the crematorium and asking the resident mortician Ernie Kaltenbrunner (Calfa), who Burt's been friends with for a long time (get it? Burt and Ernie? Ah well...) to burn the evidence. Ernie finally agrees, and the parts do burn into ash, but an unforeseen result is the smoke from the burning of the body is released through the chimney. This, coupled with the quickly approaching thunderstorm, causes the fumes to seep into the ground, causing a...reaction among the long dormant residents of the graveyard, the same graveyard Freddie's friends are hanging out at while waiting for Freddie to get off work...well, I think you can put two and two together and surmise, like the South, the dead shall rise again, and they do...and they're hungry...for juicy, juicy brains...

I think this is a great movie, for someone who can appreciate of the best aspects of the film are the colorful and distinctive characters, played very well by the actors. There isn't a whole lot of development, but they're still interesting enough to keep you watching. Perhaps my favorite character of the film was that of Burt, the boss and owner of the medical supply company played by Clu Gulager. His pragmatism played off extremely well off the exponentially growing horror of the animated corpses, and created a sort of bizarre sense that he was more worried about how all this was going to affect business, rather than for his own mortality. Eventually he does realize the grievous nature of the situation, but up until then it was pretty funny, particularly because he didn't overplay favorite scene involved the sequence after Burt and the boys hacked up the spastic corpse and then brought it across the street to the mortuary, in an effort to get Burt's friend Ernie to get rid of everything by burning it up in his crematorium. At first Burt tries to explain the wiggling bags as a shipment of rabid weasels, rather than tell Ernie the truth. After awhile, and many questions from Ernie, Burt finally does come clean, but his initial attempts at subterfuge are hilarious. A couple of other great performances are given by James Karen as Frank, the long time warehouse employee seeming happy to have a new apprentice, even to the point of showing off a little, and Don Calfa as Ernie, the gun toting mortician who develops a scientific interest in the corpses. Thom Mathews also did very well, especially near the end of the picture, as the sickness from inhaling the noxious gas earlier finally overtakes him. The walking dead were much more lively and active in this film, more so than I had seen in films previous, which added a nice spin to the notion that the reanimated dead are only capable of lumbering about. In terms of special effects and make up, the detail in the corpses was most excellent, especially that half woman corpse the group captures and Ernie questions in the latter half of the movie. Also, the Tarman corpse, the one that was released from the military container, was exquisitely detailed and the actor who played the part had his movements down perfectly, or at least in terms of how I thought a recently released from his barrel, rotting, festering, slimy corpse would move about. Everything worked so well together here, the directing, the script, quotable dialog, the humor, the nasty bits, the acting, all tied together with a carefully chosen soundtrack featuring bands like, among others, T.S.O.L, The Damned, The Flesheaters, Roky Erickson, and The Cramps. All in all, a completely harmonious balance and truly fun entertainment for the sick and twisted. Oh yeah, there's a couple of great nekkid bits featuring Jewel Shepard, who plays a punky girl obsessed with all things gruesome and morbid.

This DVD release features both the widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16X9 TVs, along with a fullscreen version, both looking sharp and clean. The Dolby Digital audio also comes through very well and clear. As far as special features, there is an audio commentary track with director Dan O'Bannon and production designer William Stout (I was kinda surprised they didn't get any of the actors involved), along with a featurette titled `Designing the Dead' (13:37), conceptual artwork by William Stout, TV spots, and both an G rated and R rated trailers for the film.