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Dan O'Bannon's "Return of the Living Dead"
November 9, 2012 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Return of the Living Dead (NSFW) is one of the greatest zombie movies ever made. Not only does it have loads of great looking zombies in it, it's one of the few zombie movies, besides its sequel, that has a perfect blend of humor and horror.
posted by Egg Shen (43 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you've ever wondered why zombies crave brains, it's because Dan O'Bannon said so.
posted by Egg Shen at 11:56 AM on November 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


A lot of people don't realize this is a sequel to Romero's "Night of the Living Dead". Less people know that this movie is actually a dream had by one of the characters in "Return of the Living Dead II".

Nice to see another Samediologist out in the field and hard at work.
posted by jcterminal at 12:04 PM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I will attest that RotLD is basically the best zombie film ever made. "Send more paramedics" cracks me up to this day.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:04 PM on November 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's sort of the ideal '80s campy horror flick: lots of gore, completely non-threatening "punks", gratuitous nudity that makes absolutely no sense at all.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:04 PM on November 9, 2012


Isn't this the one that ends with Kentucky (I think) getting nuked? The 80's were a golden age of horror comedy, what with Reanimator and Evil Dead II and this.
posted by dortmunder at 12:05 PM on November 9, 2012


Send ... more ... paramedics (and cops, too)

To keep myself from spitting out too many quotes from the movie, I'll just link to the IMDb quote page for the movie.

OK, one more quote: "Gee... And now you made me hurt myself again! You made me break my hand completely off this time Tina! But I don't care Darlin', because I love you, and you've got to let me EAT YOUR BRAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIINS! WHERE ARE YOU!"

Here's an interesting discussion of the various modern iterations of zombies, including The Zombie Handbook, which says that brains are the most "nutritional" part of the human body for zombies.

Also: zombies crave brains, while babies crave boobs; otherwise they are quite similar.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:06 PM on November 9, 2012


And 'Rabid weasels!' oh man how could i forget that hahahahahaha okay I'm watching this again tonight
posted by FatherDagon at 12:09 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Return 2 is rehashed crap. Return 3 is about slowly losing your identity and being taken over by/turning into something horrible and inhuman, and is way better than the third installment in a low-budget horror series has any right to be.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:12 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can smell your brains. They smell so good!


This movie is a treasure. I recently watched the series for Halloween and the first holds up. The blend of gore and humor is spot on. I like my zombies brain dead and shambling but these quick, clever zombies is a remedy to Romero's self-seriousness.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:14 PM on November 9, 2012


For the life of me I can't remember if I watched this when I was younger. I think I did, but only one way to be sure.
posted by mannequito at 12:16 PM on November 9, 2012


Absolutely my favorite memory from high school: a local drive-in theater that summer had this movie playing in a double feature with "Fright Night". Me and a good friend of mine went to this damn show 3 times, enlisting larger and larger groups of friends to accompany us each time.

Anyway, there's a scene where the cast interrogates a zombie, and learns that the whole brain-eating thing is a way to alleviate "the pain!"

"The pain? What pain?"

"The pain...of...being...dead!!!"

There is a pause. And then one of the punks turns to another and says,"Look, man: fuck this."

I can tell you from personal experience: with the right herbal intake, and upon a third viewing, that joke is damn near fatal. I thought I was going to pass out for lack of breath from laughing so hard.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:21 PM on November 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


Return 2 is rehashed crap. Return 3 is about slowly losing your identity and being taken over by/turning into something horrible and inhuman, and is way better than the third installment in a low-budget horror series has any right to be.

And then there were the two "sequels" in 2005, the second of which included "a comedy cameo" of tarman. Oh, SciFi Channel and your cheap b-grade films.

I have't seen this, but it was mentioned in the OP article: The Return of the Living Dead - Decade Of Darkness (part 1, part 2, part 3)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:22 PM on November 9, 2012


What's weird is that even though the RotLD films have more humor than Night of the Living Dead, they scare me far more.

I guess I'm really bothered by how well-nigh invincible the zombies are in RotLD's mythos. I like to think that if I'm ever in a dire situation, the Universe will give me a sporting chance versus whatever foe is before me: armored trolls, xenomorphs, Daleks, or what have you. Like, if I can just pull off this critical hit or escape into a network of tunnels, I'll make it through the storm.

You get no such chance with trioxin zombies, and that terrifies me, no matter how lightly they attempt to play it. (Plus, I don't like the idea of zombies remembering that they haven't always been zombies, as that makes zombification truly a fate worse than death.)
posted by lord_wolf at 12:26 PM on November 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Return 2 is rehashed crap. Return 3 is about slowly losing your identity and being taken over by/turning into something horrible and inhuman, and is way better than the third installment in a low-budget horror series has any right to be.

Never saw 3 but now I want to. 2 was as you say, awful. 1 was (still is) so good it pretty much put me off zombie films forever. Nothing I've seen since has come close to it. Because it's so funny and hideous. Split dogs anyone?

Of course, I was on acid the first three or four times I saw it. The 80s were like that for me. I seem to recall during one of those viewings there being this odd, almost eldritch screeching sound in the cinema during the split dog sequence. At first, I just assumed it was part of the soundtrack that I hadn't noticed before. Then, a moment of paranoia, it was my brain turning on me, eating itself. Finally, I just realized it was the guy in the row behind me -- his brain turning on him, eating itself. I think he was the mayor or something.

The 80s were like that.
posted by philip-random at 12:39 PM on November 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


The trouble with zombies eating brains is that the average skull is resistant to the bite force that the average person could generate. Unless the victim is an infant or extremely osteoporotic, all you have are a bunch of toothless zombies and upset living people with chewed up scalps.
posted by Renoroc at 12:48 PM on November 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was going to make a FPP of the trailer to the new World War Z movie, so here it is instead
posted by growabrain at 12:55 PM on November 9, 2012


Oh man, I am going to watch this right now.
posted by koeselitz at 12:56 PM on November 9, 2012


That film has a lot going for it. The "Tar Man", Linnea Quigley, the guy from all the PathMark commercials, and a great soundtrack too.
posted by cazoo at 1:03 PM on November 9, 2012


I LOVE THIS MOVIE. And so will you if you like this job!
posted by Decani at 1:04 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


and a great soundtrack yt too.

I'm pretty sure it's the first time I really "got" Roky Erickson, speaking of which ...

this is roky erickson singing burn the flame over a deleted scene from return of the living dead in which the same track played in a very cut down scene in the movie
posted by philip-random at 1:11 PM on November 9, 2012


The trouble with zombies eating brains is that the average skull is resistant to the bite force that the average person could generate.

The undead are not average people.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:29 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


a great soundtrack too

Look for the "Trioxin Mayhem Edition" from Inferno Music Crypt.
posted by Egg Shen at 1:34 PM on November 9, 2012


Yes. Great movie. Superb soundtrack -- Roky Erickson, The Cramps -- the album has lines from the movie in between cuts. I've had Zombie Fatigue for a few years now but this is one movie I'd be willing to watch again.
posted by CCBC at 1:49 PM on November 9, 2012


My DVD is autographed by Linnea Quigley. Jealous?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:55 PM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's incredible how many films I haven't watched but remember from seeing the box on video store shelves.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:20 PM on November 9, 2012


One of my favourite Easter eggs in this film is that the eye chart spells out "Burt is a slave driver and a cheap son of a bitch who's going bald too haha".

More trivia at IMDB.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 2:21 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


HA! I saw Return of the Living Dead part 2 when I was about nine or ten years old. IT SCARED THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF ME. Like, scared me so badly I cried every night at bedtime for a week.

I watched it again when I was in my twenties, realized it was a comedy and laughed my ass off.

Oh, and despite the movie fucking TERRIFYING me, my brother and I watched it almost every day after school. I think until my mom got tired of my bedtime tearfests and took the tape away.
posted by Aquifer at 2:28 PM on November 9, 2012


Weird, I just watched this on YouTube.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:35 PM on November 9, 2012


This is one of those movies that I end up raving derangedly about when people bring it up. Until I make them watch it and they understand.

God, "Tar Man" scared the piss out of me the first time I saw that movie. (And all the other times.)

Best combination of funny and terrifying you can ever get. I think of that panting split dog more often than I should. And the way that one skeleton zombie is able to enunciate 'brains' and 'pain' with no lips. And such a fabulously grim ending!
posted by whitneyarner at 2:36 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also quite prophetic.

"Leak? Hell, no. These things were made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers!"
posted by Egg Shen at 2:51 PM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


This movie is a goddamn classic. It's the first movie I bought on Blu-Ray, if that tells you anything.
posted by Fister Roboto at 2:53 PM on November 9, 2012


In sixth grade when this came out on VHS, we watched it until the tape no longer worked. It remains one of only ten or eleven great zombie movies ever made.

(I do not put II or III on that list, but your mileage may vary.)
posted by damehex at 2:56 PM on November 9, 2012


I own this movie, too. Love the sound track, dialogue is campy-brilliant, I could watch it a thousand times.


"The pain of being dead!" creeped me right out as a kid, and the scene where the punk girl gets naked in the cemetery made me have feelings down there when I was a teenager. Still does, actually.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 3:25 PM on November 9, 2012


Is this film the first to have zombies that could run as fast as the living? I remember that being one of the things I loved about it way back when.
posted by orme at 3:27 PM on November 9, 2012


You had me at Dan O'Bannon.
posted by Splunge at 3:27 PM on November 9, 2012


I saw Return of the Living Dead part 2 when I was about nine or ten years old. IT SCARED THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF ME.

I was the same age, and the commercial for that movie scared the living shit out of me! (Admittedly, I was a pretty wimpy kid, and I absolutely hated horror movies until I was in my 20s.)

What confused me, remembering it later on, was that I could recall a couple shots -- several zombies menacing a cornered woman, a rampaging zombie on a car -- but those didn't seem so bad, and I couldn't figure out what about it had scared me so damn much. I was traumatized so badly that for months afterward I was terrified that I would see the commercial again!

Then, later as an adult, I saw the original Return of the Living Dead, and the minute Tar Man showed up and proclaimed "BRAINS!" I remembered...
posted by neckro23 at 3:34 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw RotLD in the theater when it came out, somewhere in LA I think. They were doing some sort of press push concerning it, and one way or another I ended up with a button that had "EAT MORE BRAINS!" emblazoned on it. I fucking loved that thing (and this movie).

And although it's in a completely different category, really, for my money I still think the Dawn of the Dead 'remake' from 2004 is the best zombie movie ever made. Less campy fun than RotLD, but still manages to infuse quite a lot of humor into a scary fucking movie.
posted by Pecinpah at 4:07 PM on November 9, 2012


For the rest of my life, I was never forget the half dog.

A favorite film for sure.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:17 PM on November 9, 2012


The Card Cheat: It's incredible how many films I haven't watched but remember from seeing the box on video store shelves.

Oh man, once you train your netflix instant account to constantly feed you crappy 80s horror films, not a week goes by that I don't see some totally weird cover I vividly remember seeing back in the halcyon Blockbuster days of the mid-90s that my parents would NEVER EVER let me rent.
posted by SomaSoda at 6:14 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Egg Shen, I cannot hear about the Army Corps of Engineers without thinking of that line, which made recent Sandy recovery efforts, uh, interesting in my head.
posted by whitneyarner at 9:33 PM on November 9, 2012


For me, I love the original and the third movie, and I seem to recall liking the second one.

I was hyped when I found out that Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis existed, and concerned when I discovered that Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave was a thing.

But then I watched them. They were worse than Lost Boys 2 bad, they were Creepshow 3 levels of awfulness.
posted by Mezentian at 10:52 PM on November 9, 2012


I just clicked the Youtube link to watch the first movie and realized that it was Return of the Living Dead that scared me so much as a kid. I remember the opening credit sequence of the zombie faces reanimating SO clearly. The IMDB page for the movie says that there was a "Based on a true story!" disclaimer and I remember that was partially what freaked me out so much. Nothing my mom could tell me would convince me that people could say that about a movie if it wasn't really based on a true story.

And hey! Miguel Nunez! I met him very briefly at a um, horror movie convention and was like, "I know you from SO many movies!" This was one of them and I didn't realize it then.

I'm not going to take the chance and watch it before bed tonight, but I'm so on this tomorrow!
posted by Aquifer at 11:26 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


"We have fresh ideas for how to revitalise the Zombie sub-genre and have created a story that combines modern elements with the classic premise. It is only fitting that “Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection” is to be made in a truly independent, low budget fashion, rather than become yet another glossy, sanitised Hollywood remake.”

So, it's Night Of The Living Dead, but in Wales.

Ooops - teaser.
posted by Mezentian at 11:29 PM on November 9, 2012


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