“Do you ever fantasize about being killed? Do you ever wonder about all the different ways of dying you know, violently, and wonder, like, what would be the most horrible way to die?” – Trash’s quote within Return of the Living Dead sets the tone for the film, exposes what to expect and is the first thing the character does to make Linnea Quigley an instant scream queen. Known for its sense of humor, its many quotable lines and establishing that zombies like to eat “Braiiinnns,” Return of the Living Dead is one of the true gems of the decade. Thomas Mariani, Doc Rotten and Christopher G. Moore tackle another gruesome horror film from the 1980s.
Decades of Horror 1980s
Episode 87 — Return of the Living Dead (1985)
When first announced, Return of the Living Dead was to be in 3D and directed by Tobe Hooper. Wow! By the time it came out writer Dan (Alien) O’Bannon took the helm and created an instance classic that has yet to be matched. The cast is incredible. Clue Galager, James Karen, Don Calfa and Thom Matthews lead a group of actors that includes John Philbin, Jewel Shepard, Miquel Nunez and Brian Peck among others. It made a star out of Linnea Quigley as Trash. But the film also took its own look at zombies referencing Night of the Living Dead as if it were a thinly veiled documentary, having its zombies be turned by chemicals, establishing they eat brains to make the pain of being dead go away and allowed the ghouls to run, talk and think.
The film also boasts some top notch special effects. The tar man zombie that comes out of the canisters is classic. And the lady torso zombie is incredible to watch, twitching away on the table as she spouts exposition. The tone of the film is lighter providing laughs without getting as jokey as the sequel would attempt. But the tone does not sacrifice the horror allowing the gore to shine through when needed. The blood literally sprays on the walls when the zombies attack. Far different than Dawn of the Dead, Zombie and modern contemporary zombie films, Return of the Living Dead is one of a kind, even the sequels failed to capture what makes this film so special.
Thanks to Neon Devils for our intro and outro using the song Bone Chillin’!
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