Adamantium Bullet
26Oct/18

31 Days Of Horror: THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD

For the next 31 days, we here at Adamantium Bullet will be reviewing one horror film a day leading up to Halloween. Each film will be horrific, terrifying, chilling, pulse-pounding, or flat-out awful. All will be endured in honor of the season. Expect SPOILERS. Welcome to Adamantium Bullet’s “All 80s” edition of 31 DAYS OF HORROR.

In this episode, J Bryant and AngieBee discuss the zany 1985 zom-com THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD starring Thom Matthews, James Karen, Clu Gulager, Jewel Shepard, Linnea Quigley, and Miguel A. Nunez Jr.

When foreman Frank (James Karen) shows new employee Freddy (Thom Mathews) a secret military experiment in a supply warehouse, the two klutzes accidentally release a gas that reanimates corpses into flesh-eating zombies. As the epidemic spreads throughout Louisville, Ky., and the creatures satisfy their hunger in gory and outlandish ways, Frank and Freddy fight to survive with the help of their boss (Clu Gulager), a mysterious mortician (Don Calfa), and a group of teenage punks just looking to party.

Forty one …maybe? THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD was a tricky flick to tally up seeing as some of the BODY COUNT consists of zombies who were already dead. That means they shouldn’t really count even though we, the audience, saw them get killed. The dead can’t die again. Right? Well, maybe. Not sure. We’ve included them in the official count, even though we probably shouldn’t have. Oh, and a nuke goes off at the end killing everyone. We have no f*cking clue how to count that. An off-screen voice mentions the death toll was “less than 4000” but that could be any number between 1 and 3999. Let’s just say there’s a lot of deliriously deviant deaths for you to devour and move on, shall we?

The ‘Tarman’ zombie (Allan Trautman) giving the old brain chomp to Suicide (Mark Venturini) still packs a punch today. Same goes for the ending. Not too many movies opt to kill everyone off instead of properly wrapping up all the various plot threads. Come to think of it, this might just be the first appearance of the “Military Nukes Small Town To Stop Virus From Spreading” ending in the horror genre. It may be cliché today, but it certainly was a shocker back at the time of release.

Trash (Linnea Quigley) sort of went fully nude (more on that down in the USELESS KNOWLEDGE section) and, if you’re into it, there are numerous naked zombies and corpses.

The first appearance of ‘Tarman’ is still both hilarious and frightening, as are the lines “Send more paramedics!” and “Send more cops!” from the zombies. Zombies are already creepy enough, but talking zombies that are able to radio in and order up a new wave of snacks are doubly creepy. Funny too, but mostly creepy. We like zombies because zombies are zombies and are easy to spot. Talking zombies can fool you and that’s how you end up getting brain chomped.

Nothing too egregious, but it was definitely NOT a good idea for the gang to keep Frank (James Karen) and Freddy (Thom Matthews) around for as long as they did what with them slowing transforming into zombies. There was nothing they could do for them. Best to just say a prayer, deliver a quick ‘double tap’ to the back of the head, and move on.

Speaking of Frank and Freddy, they were the ones that kicked off the zombie apocalypse in the first place. How did they do this? By banging on twenty-year-old drums full of Trioxin and infected corpses. WTF?!?

> When shooting Trash's grave stone dance, she initially was completely naked and showed pubic hair, as was more the norm in the early 80's. However, producer Graham Henderson visited the shoot that day, and according to himself and others, threw a fit, yelling at Dan O'Bannon that "You can't show pubic hair on television". Dan sent Linnea away and had her completely shaved, which coincidently, Linnea herself found to be the most embarrassing part of the whole thing. Then they did another shoot, to which Graham Henderson cried out "Oh god it's even worse, you can see everything!". At this point they sent Linnea Quigley over to Bill Munz and William Stout, where they made an alginate crotch piece, resembling the bottom of a g-string and glued it on. According to Linnea, this was a bit of a problem, since every time she had to go to the bathroom, they had to remove it. Because of this, there are no shots of Linnea with a completely naked crotch area.

> According to Jewel Shepard (Casey), Dan O'Bannon met her at a strip club where she worked as a stripper. He initially wanted her in the role of Trash, but she was at the time fed up with being naked. She then suggested to Dan O'Bannon that she could audition for the role of Casey - the party girl, since she liked to party.

> On the back of Freddy's jacket, in the theatrical version, the words "Fuck You" are displayed. After realizing that the shot could not be used in case it was ever shown on TV, a second jacket was made that says "Television Version" and can be seen in the TV version of the movie.

> The character Ernie (Don Calfa) is thought to be a Nazi due to him sharing his name with Ernst Kaltenbrunner. There are also character details that provide an indication of his past: Ernie listens to the German Afrika Corps march song "Panzer rollen in Afrika vor" on his Walkman while he embalms bodies, carries a German Walther P38, has a picture of Eva Braun in his morgue, refers to the rainstorm coming down like "Ein Betrunken Soldat" (which means "A Drunk Soldier" in German), really knows his way around a crematorium, and seems surprised and ashamed when he learns that the dead can feel pain. Dan O'Bannon, in the DVD commentary, mentions that Ernie was intended to be an escaped Nazi in hiding.

> According to the book 'The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead', THE SIMPSONS creator Matt Groening came up with the tagline "They're Hungry and They're not Vegetarians" which appears in some trailers. Another tagline he came up with, "First they want to meet you, then they want to eat you", was rejected by the studio.

> The USELESS KNOWLEDGE portion of this review was sourced from IMDB.

Posted by AngieBee

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