"The events portrayed in this film are all true. The names are real names of real people and real organizations."
-What a great opener for such a great film.
First and foremost know that The Return of the Living Dead isn't a sequel to Night of the Living Dead, and oddly enough it's not really a parody either. Although it definitely pokes fun at the original film and shares a lot of the same plot lines, it has its own unique story and its own exclusive blend of humor.
Written and directed by Dan O'Bannan and starring an ensemble cast of B-list stars, this zombie classic was a commercial hit that went on to spawn four sequels (unfortunately none of which nearly as good as the first).
Going into any zombie film you pretty much gotta take it with a grain of salt. Return of the Living Dead could be considered a spoof, but it's really not... it is its own film. Having some familiarity with zombie films however, especially The Night of the Living Dead, will help you appreciate it the way intended.
The plot: simple yet perfect:
The film starts off with two warehouse workers at some shop in Kentucky. After a conversation between the foreman Frank and newbie Freddie, Frank convinces Freddie that the movie Night of the Living Dead was based off true events that concerned a chemical accidently being released in a hospital that caused dead bodies to jerk around as if they were alive. He goes on to explain how the military was unable to take full control of the situation so they eventually just took the corpses and shoved them into sealed capsules. Frank explains that due to a government mix up, some of the capsules were accidently shipped to his warehouse and have remained there for years. Freddie, not knowing whether to believe Frank or not is soon lead to the basement where Frank shows him that the capsules actually do exist. Unfortunately for the two of them however, Frank hits one of the capsules which breaks (due to years of just sitting there I guess) and releases this deadly gas into the air. The two workers, too dimwitted to have realized the dangers of what they have just done, continue to go about their day. However, eventually the chemical gasses that were released into the air make their way back to the ground via a thunderstorm causing the dead to come to live, cheesy yes but whatever. Now it’s up to them and a group of their punk friends to get a wraps on the situation. Hopefully they won't call the number on the canister though or it's bye bye Kentucky.
There is really no attempt at being serious with the material in this film, which is another thing that makes it so enjoyable. It has plenty of gore, nudity, witty one liners, great characters, and an alright storyline. It has everything needed to make an awesome slasher zombie flick.
This film has one of the best openers and one of the best closers to any horror movie that I have ever watched. And let's not forget all the awesome material in between as well. Good from beginning till end.
Forget Freddy, forget Jason, forget Michael Myers, forget Candyman, and forget all those other 80 cliché horror personas. This is the horror film of the 80's worth remembering.