Return of the Living Dead


All notes and summary below by Chris Fischer (1998).

Notes: 92 minutes.
Bert: Clu Gulager
Frank: James Karen
Ernie: Don Calfa
Freddy: Thom Mathews
Spencer: Miguel Nunez
Scott: Brian Peck
Chuck: John Philein
Trash: Linnea Quigley
Tina: Beverly Randolf
Casey: Jewel Shepard
Suicide: Mark Venturini

Directed: Dan O’Bannon
Produced: Tom Fox
Story: Rudy Ricci, John Russo, Russel Streihner

It’s the good ol’ days with bad hair and punk rockers; it’s theearly eighties–1984, to be exact, in the town of Louisville,Kentucky. Freddy and his uncle, Frank are touring the local medicalsupply warehouse. At the same time the Freddy’s girlfriend iswith her fellow punk rocking friends looking for something todo. What’s the first thing that pops into their minds? Why don’twe go fool around in the cemetery?

Freddy has just been hired by his uncle to help him in the medicalsupply business. Bed pans, wheel chairs, dogs cut in half, andgood old cadavers: this place has it all. During the processof Freddy’s orientation, Frank mentions that back in 1969, thegovernment along with DOW Chemical developed a mixture which wassupposedly designed to destroy marijuana plants. A leak developedin one of the holding tanks releasing a large cloud of the chemical. It drifted to the cemetery and brought all the dead buried thereback to life. The army caught these reanimated creatures andplaced them in sealed canisters which were to be shipped to somecontainment facility. Unfortunately, the shipment got screwedup and was sent to the medical supply warehouse where Freddy wasworking.

Curiosity gets the best of Freddy as he and Frank go down to thebasement to look at the “corpse in can.” To speed thingsup, Frank smacks the side of the canister and releases some ofthe lovely chemical right in their faces. When they finally awakefrom their gassed siesta, Freddy and Frank waren’t feeling sogood. After gagging up the stairs and performing some prettygood bazooka barfs, Frank has the boss come to the warehouse totry and straighten things out. When the boss arrives, he triesto cover up the incident by cleaning up all the evidence. However,remember Mr. Cadaver in the meat locker? WWF breaks out withFreddy, Frank, and the boss versus the walking dead guy who istrying to eat their brains. With a mighty meat saw the corpseis bagged along with his little half-dogs, too.

So, now with corpse in hand, what the hell do you do with it? I know, let’s go to the embalmer next door. Within about twentyminutes of story time, Mr. Cadaver and the half-dogs are flamebroiled, Burger King style. Great. No more walking dead guy,no more problems. Wrong. Remember all that nasty chemical Freddyand Frank inhaled? Turns out this stuff will turn a living beinginto a walking, blood-hungry zombie. Now that Freddy and Frankare slowly going into rigor mortis, the fumes from the crematoryfloat into the sky and start a downpour of burning acid rain,which is now dumping on the punk rockers. They take refuge inthe car which brought them to the keen place for a party, butit springs a leak. The rain eventually soaks into the groundand before you know it, a bunch of brain-hungry zombies are tryingto devour the punk rockers. Somehow Freddy’s girlfriend escapesand manages to find him, after a few of her friends come and saveher from the canned corpse in the basement of the medical supplywarehouse.

Just about all of the characters are dead by now. Freddy andFrank have turned into zombies. The uncle has enough sense tothrow himself into the incinerator and end his contribution tothe movie. Freddy decides that it is time to suck out his girlfriend’sbrains and corners her and the mortician in the attic. The bossand a few of the remaining punk rockers make it back to the warehouseand call that magic number on the side of the canister. You know,the one labeled “in case of emergency.” The army comesto the rescue all right, with a small nuclear weapon which clearedout about 20 square blocks of the town. But hey, problem solved.

Return of the Living Dead takes me back to when I was alittle kid in the early ’80s. When was the last time you watcheda movie with puck rockers in it? If there is any theme in thismovie, other than walking dead guys trying to eat out your brains,it’s the familiar background where the army oopsed and made somenasty stuff which caused all hell to break loose. Gosh darn thatarmy anyway!

Beer Factor: 4

Zombie Films
Zombies Frontpage