The Return Of The Living Dead - Blu-ray Review

'things perk noticeable when the group of pesky kids the film starts with stop waiting aimlessly around a graveyard and start doing something, in this case O'Bannon moving to full on exploitation mode with Linnea Quigley's naked gravetop dance'

Dan O'Bannon's influential 1985 zombie schlock-fest, The Return Of The Living Dead, arrives on rather natty steelbook blu-ray edition next week, complete with one of the most outstanding and insightful sets of extras you'll find without heading out and interviewing a zombie about 'brraaaaaaainnns' all on your lonesome.

Stick a microphone up a semi-decomposing nose and that's likely the phrase you'll hear if your un-dead of choice is from O'Bannon's film, this being, it claims, the first to introduce the world to zombies as hungry head noshers. It is also, several years before Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, one of the first to feature 'fast zombies', the director opting for the zippy predators, ahead of the shambling idiots of earlier works.

O'Bannon's self-penned script, influenced by frequent genre mover John Russo's book, flashes with occasional clever witticisms but needs a lot more to be as funny as it clearly wanted to be. This, understood through contemporary eyes, is a less hilarious Shaun Of The Dead, with lead characters played far too broadly and few memorable moments. The clear scripting highlight (Thom Mathews' incredulous line reading of 'you mean the movies lied?') is never followed up by anything half as funny although a suddenly more-cogniscent zombie requesting that an emergency dispatcher 'send more paramedics', does at least try.

Things perk noticeable when the group of pesky kids the film starts with stop waiting aimlessly around a graveyard and start doing something, in this case O'Bannon moving to full on exploitation mode with Linnea Quigley's naked gravetop dance and the subsequent introduction of Don Calfa's excellently paranoid embalmer, Ernie. From here, The Return Of The Living Dead stops shambling and starts running, right up until the end which, although the only natural solution to those experienced in zombie ways, is not without delicacy and subtle political finger-pointing. Not quite one of Horror's high and mighty but doubtless influential, as Edgar Wright et al will no doubt attest to.




The Return Of The Living Dead is released in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 4th June 2012.

Look further...

'O’Bannon knows full well that this is not a serious affair but with Gulager taking every measure necessary to rid the world of this plague of the undead the laughs come thick and fast' - Front Row Reviews, 4/5

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