The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

When a mysterious military chemical gets into the atmosphere it ends up soaking into a cemetery down in bayou land and the bodies are brought to life. It seems that after their healthy snoozes, these creeps have developed quite an appetite, but not for just any old food. These hungry zombies want human brains!
Rating:
R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre:
Comedy , Horror , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
HBO Video

Cast

James Karen
as Frank
Thom Mathews
as Freddy
Don Calfa
as Ernie
Leigh Drake
as Dispatcher
Brian Peck
as Scuz
John Durbin
as Radio Corpse
James Dalesandro
as Paramedic
Mark Venturini
as Suicide
Cathleen Cordell
as His Wife
Thom Matthews
as Freddy
David Bond
as Radio Corpse
Robert Bennett
as Headless Tarman
Jonathan Terry
as Col. Glover
Ed Krieger
as Riot Cop
Derrick Brice
as Gunnery Sergeant
Cherry Davis
as 1/2 Lady Corpse
John Stuart West
as Riot Cop
Robert J. Bennett
as Headless Tarman
Jerome "Daniels" Coleman
as Legless Corpse
Drew Deighan
as Paramedic
Terrence M. Houlihan
as Yellow Cadaver
Bob Libman
as Tac Squad Captain
Cherry Davis
as 1/2 Lady Corpse
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Critic Reviews for The Return of the Living Dead

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (1)

The makeup effects are tremendous, and Calfa and especially Karen are hilarious as working stiffs (no pun intended) who end up fighting for their lives. It's just too bad the ending is so abrupt and unsatisfying.

Full Review… | July 24, 2016
Creative Loafing

Dan O'Bannon's The Return of the Living Dead is a classic of the zombie genre that delivers a good laugh with its silly, over-the-top nature, while also giving you several thrills along the way.

Full Review… | July 17, 2016
The Blu Spot

an icon of the 80s

Full Review… | January 18, 2014
7M Pictures

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

Full Review… | October 13, 2012
Cinema Crazed

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

June 8, 2012
Little White Lies

O'Bannon's film is fun, gross and gleefully gratuitous. Douses its audience with blood but does so with a fiendish smile

Full Review… | July 30, 2016
HollywoodInToto.com

Audience Reviews for The Return of the Living Dead

½

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.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

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.

Tyler Robertson
Tyler Robertson

Super Reviewer

½

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.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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