Time to introduce our 4th category #Zombies!
Today is October 6th
Today’s double feature films are
1985’s The Return of the Living Dead
1988’s Return of the Living Dead Part II
Originally horror movies about zombies depicted them as mindless slaves or henchmen controlled by hypnotism or voodoo magic (see White Zombie from 2017’s list).
I Am Legend‘s vampires and the living dead in Night of the Living Dead popularized the monsters we commonly think of when we hear the word zombie now – though neither called their monsters ‘zombies’ and at least in the case of Night of the Living Dead ‘ghoul’ might be a better name.
Any horror junkie can can tell you about the importance of Night of the Living Dead on today’s zombies but I Am Legend is often overlooked and was an influence on Night of the Living Dead.
Also overlooked is The Return of the Living Dead. The characters in it reference Night of the Living Dead as a movie and say that it was based on a true story but that they had to change the facts up not to be sued. This film takes an I Am Legend style take on zombies giving them a scientific/military origin. It also is the source of zombies wanting to eat brains specifically as opposed to flesh in general as well as the zombies moaning ‘braaaaaiiinns!’.
Its my opinion that Return of the Living Dead Part II isn’t really a sequel as much as it is a different plot that explores another way Trioxin could have gotten loose (canister falling off truck instead of being misshiped). Evidence against this theory is the military person saying ‘not again’ which implies that the events of the first film did happen. Evidence supporting my theory is that two characters from the first film are also in this film – alive and well. They also nod to this with a line implying a sense of déjà vu about both their fate at the hoards of zombies.
This time around there is a little less nudity, a bit more comedy and the cast now includes kids and teens.
Part II’s major contribution to horror history is that it was the first zombie film I ever saw (back in elementary school) and has stuck in my mind as the baseline that all other zombie films are compared and contrasted to.
These films are both fantastic and very worth your time and money. Soundtrack on the first film is quite famous – though several releases feature changes to songs due to copyright issues. Effects on both are top-notch with the man from the canister (Tarman) and the Trioxin seeping into the ground done particularly well. The first features mid 80s style movie punks and female nudity. No one’s collection is complete without both of them. Prime members can (at least at the time of writing) stream the first film for free.