If you’re asking me for my list of best zombie movies ever, Return of the Living Dead comes in at a strong #2. Funny, gory and weirdly sad in spots, the film is probably best known for introducing the ‘zombies eat brains’ thing into the popular consciousness. For the young, VHS-devouring me it’s probably best known for Linnea Quigley’s nude graveyard dance.
There’s a lot going for Return - it presents itself as a quasi-sequel to Night of the Living Dead (which it almost sort of is. See, when George Romero and John Russo parted ways, Russo retained the rights to the title Living Dead. He wrote a novel that was a direct sequel to the original film, taking place ten years after the zombie plague. When Dan O’Bannon had the chance to direct the movie version (after Tobe Hooper dropped out to make Lifeforce, a previous Our Daily Trailer entry!), he demanded the right to change the whole story. Which he did. For the better), and it has the deft comic touch of writer/director Dan O’Bannon. It has a killer punk soundtrack as well as a cast of great older genre figures like the seminal Clu Gulager and James Karen, which lets the film have one foot in two generations of genre. The zombie designs are amazing, especially Tarman, who was puppeteered by a former Muppet operator! And then there’s Thom Mathews, who starred in another brilliant comic horror film, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
I love this movie so much I could go on and on about it at length, and maybe someday I will. In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful trailer, which hits many of the film’s high notes.