Zombies have taken on many forms in film. Some are mindless shamblers, while others are ferocious hunters. Return of the Living Dead features zombies that need to eat brains in order to ease the pain of death. We’re talking like a drug need, which I always find fascinating. Some shamble, some run, and some even talk.
Many horror lovers consider this to be a cult classic and one of the first zombedies (zombie + comedy) because the plot is intentionally funny and the acting is over the top at times which only adds to the hysterics.
The gist of the movie is two bumbling warehouse workers find an old army experiment. It’s a simple metal drum containing instructions with what to do in the event one of the seal being breached. I believe the drums were dated 1969, which would make them from the Vietnam war. Needless to say, the two chuckleheads accidentally damage the drum and some kind of gas escapes. The warehouse full of cadavers where they work start coming back to life and their day goes downhill from there.
Throw in a group of punk rock teens, a mortician, and the warehouse worker’s boss, and you’ve got an eclectic mix of zombie chow that somehow works. The zombies themselves can be comical. At one point they call over a dead police officer’s radio for dispatch to send more cops, you know, zombie take out style. Watching the cast try to figure out what in the hell is going on is always funny.
If you’re looking for a zombie film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, then you may want to give Return of the Living Dead a try. Released in 1985, you’ll get plenty of 80’s cheese, music, and fashion. What makes this film extra goofy is the fact that the zombies have to eat brains. Let’s face it, it’s impossible for teeth to penetrate the human skull. But that’s what makes this film work, the goofiness and fun factor.
Even though this film isn’t the most serious of zombie films, the reasoning, and logic, behind the zombies is top notch. An old government experiment gone wrong and zombies who live to ease their suffering through brain consumption makes total sense. This film also poses the question of what the government would do if details about one of their secrets became public. How far would they go to cover things up?
Return of the Living Dead has plenty for hardcore zombie purists as well as casual horror fans to love. There’s something for everyone here, and that, I think, is what makes this film so special.
Until next time, hold on to your brain. You never know when you may need it.