Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Return of the Living Dead - 1985

Dan O'Bannon wrote the movie Alien along with Ronald Shusett.  It's just a fact, that's all.  O'Bannon didn't write a whole lot of other movies, surprisingly, and directed even less.  He has 2 movie credits to his name as a director, this movie and Shatterbrain.  This movie is actually almost a direct sequel to Night of the Living Dead in multiple ways.

Wikipedia tells me that they let George Romero keep the right to make sequels if they didn't use those words "Living Dead" and they would keep those words for themselves.  They being whatever company was involved.  So George made Day of the Dead etc, and then this movie was keeping the Living Dead name, hence Return of the Living Dead.  And this is a the sort of way where it's twisted from concept, re-imagined....sort of the bastard twin brother of that classic horror film.

This movie is a true horror comedy.  It pushes the envelope in every way, and in my opinion completely defined horror comedies as they are now.  Just as Night of the Living Dead defined zombie movies, this movie is just as influential and I truly wish that more movies had been made with this type of zombie.  These zombies are unstoppable in every sense of the word, they are smart, they are fast, use weapons, and they want to eat your brains.  Yes, this movie started the whole thing that zombies want to eat brains.  I remember when I was a kid pretending zombies were around, we were quoting this movie even though we didn't know it when we made the zombies say "Brains!"

It's completely over the top in every way.  The rot of the zombies, the extreme and excessive violence, the ample full nudity, the mix of classic actors and the thug like punks as main characters.  O'Bannon showed in Alien and in Dark Star that he really could write well for humans.  He knew how to make humans appear to be real, and he could exploit their weirdness, their eccentricity, their base desires.  He also knew how to present situations which force people to react.  It's a great gift to be able to imagine places, situations, that make people react in specific ways.

The best thing about this movie, in it's over the top celebration of everything insane is that it feels so real still.  The movie doesn't feel like a comedy horror.  It feels like just some awesome flick that you could see time and time again.  It feels like the late night, sleeper cult classic that is not self aware, that didn't care about it's long term impact, that was just making fun for the sake of fun.  It never takes itself seriously for a second, and yet is extremely well shot, acted, detailed, high budget, and smart.  It's extremely well balanced.  This is the type of movie you tell people about, that you buy, that you go to a theater to see on Friday night with a crowd.

Enough about my love for this.  I'm not doing a plot synopsis either.  Just leave it to say this is the definition of a 5 star horror comedy, and it is made all the better by Linnea Quigley.

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