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The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

When two bumbling employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to rise again as zombies.



(story), (story) (as John Russo) | 2 more credits »
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4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Spider (as Miguel Nunez)
Cathleen Cordell ...
Drew Deighan ...


When a bumbling pair of employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to re-animate as they go on a rampage through Louisville, Kentucky seeking their favorite food, brains. Written by Todd A. Bobenrieth <TAB146@PSUVM.EDU>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They're Back From The Grave and Ready To Party!


Comedy | Horror


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

16 August 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Return of the Living Dead  »


Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,403,000, 18 August 1985, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Workprint Version)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Thom Mathews got his ear pierced for his role as Freddy. See more »


(at around 46mins) When the two paramedics arrive on scene to examine Frank and Freddy, one asks the other about his stethoscope working because he could not find a blood pressure. The second paramedic has the same problem. However, neither are seen with the stethoscopes in their ears. See more »


Burt Wilson: I thought you said if we destroyed the brain, it'd die!
Frank: It worked in the movie!
Burt Wilson: Well, it ain't working now, Frank!
Freddy: You mean the movie lied?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits play over the hilarious scenes of the movie that involve Frank and Freddy. See more »


Referenced in Yes Man (2008) See more »


Eyes Without a Face
Performed by The Flesh Eaters
Composed by Desjardins, Don Kirk, Robyn Jameson, Chris Wahl
Produced by Chris D.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

It's not a bad movie, Burt.
30 November 2011 | by See all my reviews

In fact, it is indeed a freakin' classic, one of the most delightful 80's genre efforts, and a nice modern spin on zombie fare.

A deadly chemical leaks out of misplaced Army canisters and proceeds to infect various unlucky people, including the corpses that had been resting peacefully under the Earth at a nearby cemetery. An unlikely bunch of would be dinners end up having to team up in order to try and survive.

Marking the directorial debut for the late Dan O'Bannon, it injects a wonderfully quirky, comic sensibility into its raucous story, incorporating elements of farce into its mix with ease. It also populates its story with not the usual sex obsessed, personality deficient teenagers but a group of outcasts that is genuinely interesting and engaging. The pacing absolutely never lets up, delivering one riotous scene after another; this is energetic, spirited stuff. Even the zombies themselves - not the typical shambling kind, but relentless, speedy, and quite smart as well - are given a degree of personality. In addition to the movie's most popular zombie in the form of the foul, dripping Tar Man (Allan Trautman), we are treated to a Civil War soldier zombie, a half woman corpse with some of the most striking blue eyes one will ever see, and a midget zombie. The zombies even talk, and from one of them we're even given an explanation why they would crave brains in particular (this movie can take credit for introducing the "eating of the brain" idea into pop culture).

Highly quotable dialogue is another plus, as well as the kick ass soundtrack featuring such cool groups as The Cramps, 45 Grave, Tall Boys, T.S.O.L., and others, and the extremely catchy Trioxin theme (Trioxin being the name of the chemical). The nicely chosen cast all work incredibly well together, including the under-rated veterans Clu Gulager (as the corporate weasel who cares only for saving his business at first but eventually turns into a real take-charge kind of guy), James Karen (delivering a memorable, delicious comic performance as the warehouse supervisor), and Don Calfa (as the mortician with a possible Nazi past). The younger generation is represented by Linnea Quigley, in her break through role as the kinky "Trash", the hilarious Mark Venturini (who unfortunately has also passed on) as Suicide, the "spooky" guy who just feels misunderstood, Thom Mathews as the ill-fated Freddy, cute Beverly Randolph, sexy Jewel Shepard, and Brian Peck, John Philbin, and Miguel Nunez, all of whom are fun to watch.

The makeup effects and gore are excellently done, with some juicy gross 'em out moments. Culminating in an effectively ironic twist, "The Return of the Living Dead" is definitely one of those modern classics that veteran horror fans are sure to proudly display among their movie collection, and which newcomers to the genre really ought to check out. It's too good to miss.

10 out of 10.

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