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The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 1
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 0

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Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 54,427

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Movie Info

Middle-aged family man Frank (Jim Karen) trains teenaged Freddy (Thom Matthews) for his new job at a medical supply warehouse. In an effort to impress and frighten his young charge, practical joker Frank reveals that the warehouse basement contains a cannister full of a mysterious chemical capable of bringing the dead back to life. It seems that the cannister fell off the back of an army truck during an accidental outbreak of zombiedom. Frank and Freddy unwittingly inhale the chemical and

R,

Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy

Dan O'Bannon

Aug 27, 2002

HBO Video

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All Critics (36) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (3) | DVD (26)

an icon of the 80s

January 18, 2014 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

For pure eighties, punk rock, walking dead, brain eating mayhem, this is the film to watch.

October 14, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

this overnight zombie apocalypse is a tongue-in-cheek brainload of hard-rocking fun.

June 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Bastard Son of a Prodigal Son: Interview on The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead

March 30, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Ed O'Bannon and John Russo may have intended The Return of the Living Dead as a comedy, but it's just too damn gory, too scary and too good to be dismissed as a zom com.

September 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

An amusing, punk variation on the familiar zombie theme.

July 12, 2008 Full Review Source: ESplatter
ESplatter

Equal parts horror and comedy, Return of the Living Dead finds success on both fronts.

October 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Calgary Movies
Calgary Movies

Effectively announces itself as a horror movie deliberately pitted against customary cinematic values.

October 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

A tongue-in-cheek, splatter-laden homage to George A. Romero's zombie pictures.

September 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

A fresh and immensely entertaining take on the zombie genre

August 12, 2005
Film Threat

It's a shame that the franchise went straight to Campsville, because it had a good start.

January 25, 2005
Needcoffee.com

The definitive splatterpunk movie. Takes perverse delight in being disgusting. Dan O'Bannon's screenplay hits your funny bone with a meathook and doesn't let go.

October 27, 2004 Full Review Source: Juicy Cerebellum
Juicy Cerebellum

A funny, gore-spattered homage.

September 12, 2003
KFOR Channel 4 News

Great re-interpretation of the Romero series. Scary in its hopelessness, funny in its extremity.

July 14, 2003
About.com

A beauty of a cult classic.

February 6, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

Turns a satirical eye on Reagan's hawkish heart, the sprung logic of Italian zombie movies, and John Hughes' brat-pack films.

August 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

impressively ornate yet extremely cheesy

August 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

This isn't a sequel - it's a reinventing of how zombies had been seen on the screen

January 1, 2000 Full Review
rec.arts.movies.reviews

Audience Reviews for The Return of the Living Dead

The first and probably the best of the 'Return' horror comedies depending on your opinion of course (although the second is pretty good). I think most would agree the special effects and makeup do look the best and the most stickiest in this first one. Plenty of murky atmosphere with misty dank graveyards, being trapped in a single building, the small town being slowly overrun and taken over plus a great twist ending with no survivors which is quite unique.

This film unleashes the now classic notion of toxic gas or waste kick starting a zombie outbreak. The all too cheesy notion of some dumb punks messing with some dangerous looking canisters/drums that leak a weird gas/ooze that somehow awakens/reanimates the dead. This is also the film that gave birth to the classic notion of zombies lurching around hankering for brains to munch on, maybe even letting out the odd 'brains!' line. So yes this film is the original hokey zombie popcorn flick that inspired an entire modern pop culture.

The main course of this silly film is the terrific makeup and puppetry on display throughout the film. The zombies are on top form as they stagger around with limbs and faces flopping off left right and centre. All are really played well by a large cast of extras who really put a lot of effect into their performances.

If you think of 'Thriller' (1983) then you have a good sense of this film basically. Its an extended adult version of 'Thriller' but not quite as good in the makeup and effects department believe it or not. But its clear where the idea came from as a lot of the undead awakening sequences and overall visuals look very similar, a bit of a rip off really.

Still this has some great chuckle moments mainly from Karen and Mathews with their little double acts, whilst Calfa actually brings a sense of realism and believable acting to the fold with his performance. His final scene at the very end is actually quite poignant. Definitely one of the best horror comedies of the 80's with a surprising bonus of good acting to boot.
April 5, 2014
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

I'm still waiting for a zombie film where bathsalts are the cause for the living dead, but I guess we'll have to make due with what we have right now. Return of the Living Dead is a 1985 horror comedy about zombies. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't a sequel to Night of the Lving Dead, though it does pay homage to it in some scenes. The zombies are brought to life after two dumbasses working in a medical warehouse let loose a weird chemical into the air. Now the zombies have risen and it makes for one hell of a fight. The zombies in this film are different from the George Romero zombies in certain aspects. To start, the zombies in this ones crave brains rather than just human flesh. Their appearance is also different, but the special effects and makeup make them look fantastic. Some of the zombies in this one are completely mutilated and look disgusting. It really helps make for some really funny moments in the film. It's something of a comedy as well. A lot of the characters are really funny and memorable and it's partly due to the acting. Every actor in this movie is really good and a solid cast isn't something you come by too often in horror films. I was also surprised at how well written some of the dialogue was. Most horror films usually have average dialogue that isn't really interesting, but this movie doesn't really have its moments where I was bored. There's no contrived build up or forced characters, the movie just feels right. I don't really know how else to put it. This is the type of horror film that can please most anyone. If you like horror comedies, gore, naked chicks, and zombies, this movie will not disappoint you. It's my personal favorite zombie film ever made and I know that there are plenty of other zombie films to be made, but I doubt if they have the charm that this one has. I'd like to make this review longer, but it's one of those films where you just have to see for yourself instead of looking at reviews online.
October 9, 2012
Tyler Robertson

Super Reviewer

A pair of medical supply warehouse workers accidentally release an experimental toxin which causes the dead to rise from the grave and feast on the brains of the living. Written and directed by the script writer of Alien, Return Of The Living Dead was (like Evil Dead 2) unfairly vilified as a "video nasty" in the 1980s because of its gory subject matter but the fact is that this film is so damn silly its nearly impossible to be considered as "horrific". In fact it all seems rather tame in the these days where torture porn has become commonplace and there are laughs aplenty as The Breakfast Club dodge flesh eating zombies to a suitably cheesy 80s soundtrack. Rather than being a spoof or outright parody, O'Bannon just took the idea behind Night Of The Living Dead and ran with it to outrageous effect; in fact, apart from the classic Dawn Of The Dead, it's actually better than all of Romero's sequels Of The Dead. The effects are variable but some of the animatronics have held up really well and it has the kind of invention and sense of humour that makes this kind of thing work well. Dated in an amusingly kitsch rather than bad way, Return Of The Living Dead still stands up as one of the best comic horror films out there.
July 24, 2012
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

    1. Radio Corpse: Come in dispatch. Send more paramedics.
    – Submitted by Andy H (20 months ago)
    1. Casey: (talking to Burt) Mister, don't go in there. See, there's a thing in there. It ripped out the phone.
    2. Burt: There's another phone in the basement.
    3. Chuck: The basement's f**ked! You know what's in the basement?
    4. Burt: What do you mean?
    5. Spider: One of those f**king corpses man. A real ugly one; all black and slimy!
    – Submitted by Creep F (2 years ago)
    1. Ernie: (talking to Burt before he goes outside to make a run for it; past the zombies) Burt. That favor that you owe me...watch your ass out there.
    – Submitted by Creep F (2 years ago)
    1. 1/2 Lady Corpse: (as she's tied up to the table; crying) Brains! Brains! Brains! Brains!
    – Submitted by Creep F (2 years ago)
    1. Freddy: (talking to Tina, as he's just turned into a zombie) I can finally see the one thing the one thing that can relieve this horrible suffering.
    2. Tina: What Freddy? What?
    3. Freddy: (attacks her) LIVE BRAINS!
    – Submitted by Creep F (2 years ago)
    1. Radio Corpse: (on the police speaker) Send more cops!
    – Submitted by Creep F (2 years ago)
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