The Return of the Living Dead - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Return of the Living Dead Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ December 11, 2017
Return of the Living Dead is zany, gross and really quite messy throughout. A madcap, punk-fest of a zombie flick that isn't afraid to gross out it's audience and fling guts out of every corner of the screen wherever it can. Return of the Living Dead interesting coined the phrase, "braaaaains" associated with the zombie genre and is memorable not just because of this, but also because of it's cast of dedicated actors who go above and beyond to deliver some of the cheesiest yet enthusiastic performances seen in any mid-eighties horror film. It's almost a love letter to punk and Dan O'Bannon was just that in his attempt to make a zombie film that would stand the test of time. It's dated by today's standards, but the humour involved is timeless.
½ November 5, 2017
This was funny. So campy and cheesy and ridiculous. But it was meant to be. They knew what they were doing. A great zombie parody horror comedy. The gore and effects look pretty good but also goofy great. Brought some new ideas to the genre.
October 31, 2017
Best zombie movie ever!
½ October 10, 2017
As a fan of fast zombies, The Return of the Living Dead makes a great story between the desperate alive people locked indoors and combining such gory violence, spooky zombie designs and even spooky zombie personalities that they're protesting they only want brains to relieve of their pain, so in my opinion this movie was a very clever satire on society. Special effects are also impressive in addition to the outcome of fear. It took me a while to figure out why I enjoyed this movie and how this movie suits as satire, but it was kinda fun how long it took me to figure it out.

Return of the Living Dead obviously did some things a lot better than did George A. Romero, like creating an actual story that is 95% fighting and running from zombies and the movie was able to balance horror and tragedy very well.
½ October 7, 2017
The result of a creative dispute over how to handle the Night of the Living Dead sequels, Return of the Living Dead is a weird-ass movie. It almost feels like a very early meta-commentary on the genre, but coming so soon after the genres birth (at least in its modern form) it might actually be more like the creators saying "no, this is the real way zombies are supposed to be!" Whatever the case, the results are strange. These are not normal zombies. They run, they talk, they show intelligence enough to plan complex traps, and shooting them in the head does nothing since each individual limb will come after you. This really threw me off at first, and made the zombie purest in me shout foul. Once I got over that though, damn, this is a really fun movie. The different take on zombies leads to some really funny moments, and I can see that in a more serious movie it could even make them scarier since they're much harder to deal with in this form. It's arguably a bad movie with characters who are pure cliché, a jumbled tone, and a feeling of making it up as they go along, but these things just make it more memorable. The characters are actually really likable and fun to watch, the tone bounces between gorefest to horror to laugh-out-loud comedy, and I really wasn't sure where the movie was going to go next. Not to mention for being over 30 years old the effects are actually really good; some are a little dated, but for the most part they're on par or better than some modern effects I've seen. If I have any major complaints about the movie it's that it takes a little while to really get going, but even the early scenes still have that 80s charm, and once the s*** hits the fan it doesn't stop. The movie is just 80s exploitation at its most fun. Goofy characters, buckets of blood, pointless nudity, and a fast pace where anything goes make it one of the most enjoyable movies of it's type.
October 4, 2017
This film is a bizarre mix of elements that delivers on it's promise of schlocky fun horror. I don't mean that as a backhanded compliment, even if it sounds like one. In my opinion, one of the main strengths of this film lie with the tone carried throughout. The hokey tongue in cheek dialogue, the absurdity of the situation that they find themselves in, and the bloody slapstick all blend together rather well. Odd enough still is how effectively creepy and unsettling several moments can be. There is this naturalistic body horror that I attach to scenes of people being eaten alive, or when we are shown the bloody remains of the victims. Not to mention watching the slow degeneration of Burt and Freddy as rigor mortis begins to set in, which is its own form of horror. Like the horror of watching a loved one slowly die before your eyes without the means to stop it. This, combined with the eerie concept of the zombie's self awareness of their decaying state motivating them to seek out fresh brains, add another level of horror to zombies featured. I just love the way this film plays with previously established conventions of zombie films. By making the brain hungry ghouls virtually unkillable they are turned into a far more intimidating beast than your garden variety Zombie. One would think that it would be difficult to blend this horror with comedy, but the film pulls it off with a casual ease. The horror doesn't deflate the comedy and vice versa. The cheeky nature of the dialogue contrasts with the horrific imagery to create a unique blend of darkly humor and ever mounting horror. The sometimes rubbery look of some of the zombies does trigger some of what could be unintentional laughter but it never undermines the scares. At least not to the detriment of the film. What does hurt the film in my opinion is the air of cheapness that can pull me out of the film. The camerawork can be awkward, with the framing being a little too barren or too cluttered. Some of the editing choices come off as a little odd or erratic. Scenes don't always end up flowing together as I feel they might in a more polished production. The acting can be a little all over the place. With some actors playing a scene straight faced while others overact. This adds to the sense that of the actors coming off as directionless, just awkwardly standing around not sure of what to do with themselves. Some of the actors themselves, especially the younger cast, can also be scene as on par with a Slasher movie from the same era. (With one of the actors, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., actually popping up in the fifth Friday the 13th) Which while I don't see that comment as the kiss of death others might. It does go to show that this movie isn't exactly 'Oscar Calibre', which to be fair the film doesn't really ever pretend to be. It definitely plays into the whole B-Movie vibe with a sense of infectious glee. This would be a good time to mention the effects. The makeup and gore effects hold up pretty well even if they are not realistic per se. One particularly memorable effects shot springs to mind. There's something visceral and effective about this shot. I believe in what I'm seeing and it's disturbing. The remains of a paramedics chewed skull, dipping blood and gore. Other effect shots in the film come off as deliberately hokey, like the Tarman. Its an effect too absurd and goofy looking to be believably scary, but its trying dammit. In all seriousness, I can believe in the effects enough that they never hurt the film for me. Quite an accomplishment given the relatively small budget of the movie and how old it is. Of course this film has more to offer than effects. The tongue in cheek nature of the script breathes life into the characters and elevates them above your typical slasher fodder. I can't help but to laugh at moments a headless zombie bumbling around aimlessly or when the Tarman gets his block knocked off. So while this film is rough around the edges, I'm left smiling at a bloody good time.
½ October 1, 2017
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.
½ September 26, 2017
Stands on its own! A new twist to the old school 80's gore feast. It's a little goofy but the very well done!
August 22, 2017
This movie scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. And will forever be my all time favorite zombie movie. I saw this and Fright Night in the same theater.
½ August 20, 2017
A horror comedy film that is over the top, exploitative, cheesy but also damn good fun every step of the way. It has an eccentric script, excellent practical effects, plenty of laughs, a solid soundtrack/score, a well paced plot and plenty of style that aids its goofy tone. I could nitpick about the acting not being the best or the plot not being all that in depth but despite that this is a highly enjoyable film that lovingly parodies other films in the horror zombie genre.
½ August 14, 2017
With the perfect mixture of comedy, horror and creative use of practical special effects it leaves no question as to why this is ranked a favorite among fans of the genre.
½ August 12, 2017
I saw this sometime closer to its release date and Ayako reports that she saw it during its release in Japan. We own the DVD but hadn't put it on for a long time. I never realized that it was directed by Dan O'Bannon (writer of Alien and Dark Star). It is a superior zombie film, definitely of its time (1980s) with a number of punk rock characters and fashion and music to suit (not always punk but definitely 80s). I think we can agree that this is a comedy rather than a horror film, although the action and effects are as aggressive and gory as anything you would see contemporaneously. Unlike in George Romero's classic films (Night of.., Dawn of..., and so on), these zombies move quickly and have a degree of intelligence ("Call More Paramedics!"). The plot: Two inept guys working at a medical supply warehouse accidentally spill some tin drums of military origin stored in the basement. They release a gas which brings the dead back to life (and also infects them). Unfortunately, the warehouse is located next to a huge cemetery. Some punk kids are hanging out there. The whole group escape to a nearby mortuary with the head of the medical supply company (Clu Gallagher) and attempt to defend themselves. No real social commentary here (of the kind offered by Romero) but just some fast-paced gruesome fun with a light dose of cynicism (at the end).
July 19, 2017
May 23, 2017
One of my favorite horror movies,ever!
Great, campy, fun!
May 20, 2017
This is quite possible one of the best zombie movies to come out of the 80's! I remember watching it as a child (which in hindsight is way too young to watch this) and it scared me. It is still fun to watch today. It has a great musical theme, but the soundtrack is a bit dated and cheesy.
May 17, 2017
I can't believe I have never seen it a great fun zombie movie
½ May 9, 2017
Send more paramedics. One of the best of the goofy 80's horror movies and one of the best zombie movies of all time.
April 26, 2017
Hilarious punk rock zombie film. An 80s classic. Very funny and scary
½ April 23, 2017
Sure made an impression and inspiration to many would be like the movies.
March 30, 2017
Didn't expect this movie to be this good. Best zombie movie I've seen without a doubt. One word phenomenal.
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