Release Date: August 16th, 1985.
Written by: Rudy Ricci, John Russo, Russell Streiner, and Dan O'Bannon.
Directed by: Dan O'Bannon.
Starring: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Beverly Randolph, and Linnea Quigley.
Plenty of hyperbole tends to get thrown around when people discuss or review movies:
"It's the best ever!"
"It's the worst ever!"
When it comes to The Return of the Living Dead though, the moniker of "Best zombie movie ever!" doesn't seem all that exaggerated.
You could definitely argue that there are other zombie movies that are better, or at the very least, just as good as ROTLD, but aside from Dawn of the Dead (1978), which ones are objectively better? Night of the Living Dead? Shaun of the Dead? Zombieland? Dead Snow? What does it actually take for a zombie movie to be considered the best? Are the zombies in 28 Days Later really even zombies? Does Re-Animator count as a true "zombie" flick? Do you dare tout a remake like Dawn of the Dead (2004) as being one of the best in its class? And what about the "Fulci-style" Italian zombie flicks of the late 70's/early 80's? You really can't watch something like The Beyond and tell me that it's not amazing in its own right.
In the end, it most likely comes down to taste and preference, and that's fine. Every zombie movie that I just mentioned, along with plenty of others, are all excellent entries into what is one of the most popular sub-genres in Horror, so who cares which one is "The Best." No need to argue. We can love them all.
That said, any "Best of" zombie movies list that doesn't include The Return of the Living Dead is invalid, because this little gem is in a class all its own.
*This is a re-post of our review from 2015, updated to cover the release of Scream Factory's new ROTLD Blu-ray.
Night of the Living Dead tie in), it's probably safe to assume that the shit inside is bad news.
|TARMAN: THE DRY VERSION.|
|THESE IDIOTS RIGHT HERE...|
|EITHER WAY, THEY'RE DINNER.|
|"SEND MORE COPS... WE'RE FAMISHED OVER HERE."|
There are lots of reasons why ROTLD is such a great movie, but here are the big ones:
- Tarman was brilliant, and stands to this day as one of, if not the best zombies ever put to film.
- Clu Gulager, James Karen, and Don Calfa were perfect in their roles, bringing both class and humor to the production.
- The zombies were fantastic, both in form and function, and the fact that they talked made them even more terrifying. The fact that the zombies in this movie run actually makes them scarier.
- ROTLD is the movie that introduced the idea that zombies prefer to eat brains as opposed to just flesh.
- The soundtrack was perfect.
Everything about this movie just works at a level that most movies of its kind never seem to be able to reach.
We also love how this movie evolved. It was originally intended by writer John Russo to be a sequel or follow-up to George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, until Dan O'Bannon came along rewrote his script, injecting humor into it, which made it into an even better film. Watching ROTLD, you can see how it could have been a serious sequel to Romero's classic (which Russo owned the name rights to), but we're glad it never went that route.
|HE'S GOING TO KNOCK HIS FUCKING BLOCK OFF!|
|THE SEQUEL MAY HAVE SUCKED, BUT AT LEAST THE TARMAN CAMEO WAS FUN.|
|"GIVE ME A KISSSSSSSSS!"|
|SHE'S ACTUALLY ON RUMSPRINGA.|
It's sharp, new transfer looks way better than the old MGM disc, which actually looked pretty good in its own right; it looks vibrant like it never has before, almost as if it were a brand new movie in some parts. The audio is solid too, with a DTS 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio options, but it's the 2.0 Mono track that shines, as it recreates the theatrical experience almost perfectly.
Aside from the movie itself, the real draw of this Blu-ray is its Special Features. There are zombie subtitles, interviews, and supplements galore, all of which are entertaining, but on Disc 2 of this set, Scream Factory has included a copy of the Documentary, More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead, which is the best of them all. This Horror Doc is every bit as good as the movie is, albeit in a completely different way, and it's worth the price of admission alone. As a Bonus Feature, it's stellar. In fact, we watched it before the movie this time, and it made for an extra cool experience.
Like the move itself, it's A+ material.
|ALL SHE WANTS IS LIVE BRAINS. IS THAT REALLY ASKING TOO MUCH?|
If you don't already own this movie, or even worse, if you've never seen it, then you owe it to yourself to give this new Scream Factory release a place on your shelf. It's a classic flick, and an excellent Blu-ray set.
Return of the Living Dead is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.
Linnea Quigley, let's take a moment to appreciate the ever-lovely Jewel Shepard instead. She was pretty awesome too.