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I still remember how I got into this movie. The VHS cover was very
cheesy but at the same time it was intriguing. I remember avoiding this
one until it was the last VHS on my local video store Horror shelf.
When I rented it in the early 90's, I wasn't a bit disappointed but I
forgot about it pretty soon.
Years after, I watched it on DVD and the memories are still fresh! This movie isn't better than the original but still has it's own good moments. Thom Matthews reprises his lead role and delivers a great performance. The direction is pretty good for the movie's standards and I must admit that this is a visually stunning low budgeter.
The ending is among the best of any zombie flicks for it's unique cheesiness and non-stop action.
Watch this sequel only for fun purposes, do not watch it as a straight Horror movie because it might disappoint you.
In this sequel to 'The Return of the Living Dead', three neighborhood kids
stumble upon one of those army drums and accidently release the gas that
revives the dead. What follows is basically the same horror mayhem as its
predecessor. Zombies rise from the graveyard and remarkably manage to eat
the brains of everyone except for the few people within which the movie
revolves around. The two movies are pretty much similar in terms of content,
but what is lacking this time around is freshness.
The first movie took a satirical approach to George Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead', and it worked in terms of humor and creepy fun. In this film, which is basically a carbon copy of the first, it is not quite as much fun. Rather, it seems to be more silly than funny. The script strains for humor throughout the movie, particularly in a scene in which the movie mocks Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video. But its flaws don't really matter because this is not the kind of movie to be taken seriously. I guess that it can be a decent movie to watch on a Halloween night.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was an ok sequel to the original. Though I liked the first one much better. This time around one of those drums from the first one falls off a truck and these kids open it, once again awakening the living dead. This time around though, it is definitely more of a comedy than a horror. The first one had quite a bit of comedy in it, but in the end I would say it was more horror...this one has very little horror in it. A kid, his sister, and I think a TV or cable repairman must try to escape the living dead. There is also an old guy who was a doctor. There are also two grave robbers who are the exact two guys who released the chemicals in the first one and a girlfriend of the younger guy. Once again the zombies are seemingly indestructible, but this time a weakness is found in the form of electricity. So the conclusion to this one occurs at an electrical plant. The kid must face down the bully who released the chemical too. Would have been a better movie if it was more horror oriented, but it is still worth a look. The slimey zombie from the first one also makes a brief appearance.
Return of the Living Dead Part 2 is too cheesy, self-referential,
inane, and almost tries for so much (with more money and more
locations/zombies) it falls flat on its face. There are some very good
moments though underneath the very broad strokes from the script. The
make-up and effects almost try to one-up the first film, even if that
too sometimes lacks a certain demented sense of humor not tapped well.
The simple story this time follows the same set of cannisters that let
out the cork of the story, and once an 'egg hatches', as in the film
film, it lets out a wrath via acid-rain and smoke that rises the dead
and infects our heroes from the last film (played in performances not
as hysterically spot-on as in the first entry by James Karen and Thom
Matthews). This time there's also the heroic kid, a couple of
screamingly hectic girls, and an odd-ball doctor (among the living that
is). There's even a paper-thin sub-plot involving the boy and his soon
zombified brother. And, in the end, it all leads to the power station
where electricity now comes into play.
The soundtrack to the movie actually is one of the better parts of the movie (the original 80's soundtrack that is, not the new one on DVD)- some songs of course very dated, though still quite appropriate in their frozen 80s metal state of mind. There's also quite a good laugh hearing an unexpected Robert Palmer 'Doctor Doctor' song involving the soon-to-be-undead. And sometimes the little gags and puns thrown in, either through dialog of an obvious satirical jab (i.e. zombies stop everything that they do to watch a TV), do work enough to watch it from start to finish without having some good times. But there are downsides that do come with, almost, being too much like a goofy story than delivering genuine scares. The writer/director, Ken Wiederhorn, lacks the real skill of balancing more delirious and crazy moments that build on some laughs based on practically lampooning zombie movies, and doesn't have the same measured control as Dan O'Bannon did with Part 1. Little gags like driving zombies don't work as well as just simple insane looks from the actors- which for the most part is just average and banal (aside from the odd doctor who is just, well, odd).
I wouldn't rush to see Return of the Living Dead part 2, unless you're really a zombie-movie fan, or have seen the other 2 (discounting the direct to video sequels), OR want a couple of dumb tongue-in-cheek references to Michael Jackson's Thriller video. Good enough as a very standard zombie movie, but with potential that goes to waste. C+
Horror and Comedy have been blended together in so many films,
especially in the 1980 and 90s. Sam Raimi did it with his 'Evil Dead'
films and Peter Jackson, who has achieved blockbuster success in recent
years, with his earlier work. This is really tricky though because if
the balance between the two is off then it could fail in one or more
areas. One example of this is 'House II: The Second Story,' which lacks
that balance and the silly humor takes over. Had this been the case
with 1985s 'The Return of the Living Dead' it probably wouldn't have
turned out as well as it did, but thankfully it ended up being a genre
classic. Can the same be said for this first of four sequels?
Pros: Cast does a good job. A decent score and pretty cool soundtrack. Fast-paced. Excellent special and make-up effects. Some of the humor works. Like the first film, you get the feeling this was a labor of love. Writer/director Widerhorn adds some stylish touches and neat ideas. Has a fair share of camp value.
Cons: Some of the humor is just too silly and falls flat. Lacks the inventiveness of the original. The first one has humor too, but still managed to have some good chills, something sorely missing here. Even less plot this time.
Final thoughts: The first 'Return of the Living Dead' was a tough act to follow and though the makers of this first sequel tried hard, they didn't even equal it. Does that mean it's not worth a shot? No way because there's still a lot of good here and the movie is fun to watch. It's also the only sequel to the original that comes close to capturing it's essence.
My rating: 3.5/5
I saw this on the Sci-Fi Channel yesterday, and I was meaning to rent it for
a while, so I was glad I'd get a chance to see it. And despite how amazingly
mindless this was, it was so entertaining, and kept my interest the whole
duration of the film.
Young Jesse is going to be initiated into some club, led by bully and tough-guy Billy. They find a drum of toxic gas at the graveyard, and open it up, only for Billy to be covered in the stuff, and Jesse locked in the mortuary. Meanwhile, teenaged Johnny is leaving his ditzy girlfriend Brenda for a night to help out Ed, who needs to get the heads of some buried bodies for some museum or science lab, I don't remember. They find Jesse, who then escapes home, where his older teenage sister Lucy berates him for being out, and locks him in the room when the cable guy, teenaged Tom, shows up. This is all just the setup of characters when the gas from the drum escapes out into the graveyard, and even comes in contact with Ed and Johnny. Soon, zombies are rising up for fresh brains, and after the town is evacuated (except for the select few, who don't get away) and sealed off by the army, all hell breaks loose. With the help of Doc, next door to Jesse and Lucy, the handful of likable characters fights to escape and survive, all up to the surprisingly suspenseful climax.
This is by far one of the most brainless horror movies, seeing as that it has more comedy than horror, but my God, I could not get over how entertaining this really was. I mean, from start to finish, my interest was held. I liked all the characters, I laughed a few times, I was scared a few times, and really liked this. I recommend this, without a doubt, for anyone looking to just watch something fun and exciting, and not think, for about ninety minutes. Definitely rent, buy, or look out for this on TV. It's a great movie!
...I hate to say it, but this movie is nothing compared to the original, seriously. Thom Mathews and James Karen are back, playing different roles of course, as grave robbers, and there are also a bunch of young middle school kids, a teenage girl and another guy fleeing in terror from more brain-munching zombies, resurrected from their peaceful slumber yet again by the weird chemical from the original. This is missing the great punk/rock/metal soundtrack, humor, punk rock characters, and gore from the original, so basically it falls flat and never goes anywhere. I was getting really bored. If you want a rehash, this is your dish I guess, but otherwise this movie flat out blows. Watch the first one again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Second instalment of the Return films, kicks off with three boys
setting off a cannister of 245 trioxin gas (as seen in the first), that
has a slimy corpse packed inside like a tuna fish, as it turns out,
he's the returning Tarman from the original film, with his head
mysteriously attached back onto his shoulders! Did somebody actually
take the time to sew this poor guys head back on?. Like in the first
film, once the gas is out in the open, it spreads over the local
cemetery, awakening a throng of rotted cadavers that have definitely
been out of the freezer for far to long!, Once free from their graves,
they go into a new small town development project & munch on human
brains! While a small group of people set out to destroy them before
they too join the stiffs! RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD II, although
nowhere near as good as the original Dan O'Bannon directed first film,
is still plenty entertaining. Director KEN WIEDRHORN'S script is full
of humour & that's all properly displayed here, since just like in the
original, the casting directors were able to find some very good acting
talent, with each actor making their roles very believable &
interesting & not only that, the actors are also able to deliver on the
jokes in the script just perfectly. The zombie make-up is beyond
disgusting, as we see an army of badly decomposing corpses roam about &
eating the brains of the unwary. I'm not sure what the budget was for
the film, but if anything it looks to be higher than that of the
original film, simply because there are more close ups of the zombie
make- up & costumes than what the original exhibited. Returning cast
members THOM MATHEWS & JAMES KAREN (Along with JONOTHAN TERRY returning
as COL. GLOVER & BRIAN PECK returning to play a series of zombies) are
once again re-teamed with each other & as in the original, their
chemistry really works, these guys are hilarious & make one of the best
(but sadly) unrecognizable comedy duo in the history of cinema! MICHAEL
KENWORTHY (What ever happened to this kid anyways?) MARSHA DIELTEN,
SUZANNE SNYDER, DANA ASHBROOK & the late PHILIP BRUNS, all turn in
great performances & the kid playing the lead bully turned zombie, is
perfectly cast in the part & makes for a good villain. If anything it
could be argued that while the film is not as good as the first, it is
indeed funnier, the original's humour came from it's story & how it's
characters dealt with a real zombie invasion, as opposed to the ones
they seen in the Romero zombie films, as they quickly found out that
the rules on how to kill a zombie, established by Romero, sadly doesn't
work on these zombies. The jokes are all told in funny situations & one
liners. Perhaps the best moment comes from when JAMES KAREN & THOM
MATHEWS (who's dressed to look like Marty Mcfly from BACK TO THE
FUTURE!) are sitting down to eat in a mausoleum, after some grave
robbing, with Karen warning Mathews to watch his tongue if he likes the
job he is currently doing, & Thom gets upset, "Like this job! Like this
job..." I mean it was funny when it was said in the original, but here
it's extra funny, simply because in the first, both men had an ordinary
job, but here, their stealing body parts & jewelry! Other humorous bits
are derived from an badly decaying female EDDIE MURPHYeseque talking
severed head, that despite being dead, still retains it's sense of
humour & the MICHAEL JACKSON THRILLER ZOMBIE was hilarious! Another
thing I liked that they carried over from the first is the fact that
the z ombies all have personalities, unlike most zombie flicks, you
really believe that these stiffs were really alive at one time. At one
point Director Weiderhorn seems to be making a comment on weather or
not there's an afterlife or just dying & being re-incarnated as someone
else, especially in a scene where Karen & Mathews are driving along in
the car & Mathews explaining the feeling he has, that what their going
through feels strangely familiar, like they had been there before, both
of being sick & as zombies roaming about, but such a case is not really
made clear as it is never mentioned or referenced within the context of
the rest of the film & despite it's comedy tone, Director Ken
Weiderhorn is able to establish some pretty key effective scenes & jump
scares, along with a modicum of suspense & better yet, Wiedrhorn never
slows down, as his script always as something going on, both funny,
gooey, suspenseful, action packed & horrific. Despite the fact that the
original played heavy on the violence, Weiderhorn seems to shy away
from heavy violence, true the film has violence in it, but it's mostly
committed against the rotting stiffs who have various arms, legs, head
ripped off or have the zombies faces literally punched in or their eyes
& jaws extracted from their bodies (Don't watch this during dinner or
after...) Highly recommended to all zombie fans, especially fans of the
first, just don't expect it to top the first film & you should find
yourself being mildly entertained. Beware the DVD version released by
WARNER BROS. they have added dialogue, some of which plays out of sync
with the actors! & the original soundtrack has been stripped from the
film & replaced by a horrible sounding score & a somewhat interesting
narration, a different rock soundtrack used during the closing credits
(Which I admit, I liked better than "Monster Mash") Stick with the VHS
version if you still have a VCR & can find a copy. Followed by more
sequels, starting with the more serious minded & darkest entry in the
franchise, THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III
This film is Awesome!!! the zombies are creepy, and the film maintains that
"night of the living dead" feel to it....not too campy, just right....and
the electrocuted zombies is a classic scene!!!
I Really enjoy this film, this gorefest seems to hold its own with horror fans, and although it has a (part 2) attached,...it isnt really a sequel per se, its more of another telling of zombies attacking people!
this film is horror at its best! its campy, its fun, its Zombie time!
Did we really need a sequel ? We have nearly the same plot, some of the same actors, definitely some of the same lines and practically the same actors. Yet, right when Thom Matthews was about to be type-cast in horror movies, he said, "Sure, I'll do it." Later, you know he screaming, " They drove up to my house and dumped a truck load of money on my front porch......" I mean, what are the odds that two idiots who look exactly alike will befall the same fate ? Admittedly, Thom and James Karen could make a very funny comedy team, but not in the same roles saying the same things like some asinine Martin and Lewis series. That said, this movie is a lot funnier than the first. Phillip Bruns replaces Don Calfa and has some very funny lines. A sub-plot involves juvenile delinquency and acceptance as the zombies horse around, steal the scenes and get in the way. One in particular in a dark suit and a few others just keep returning in other scenes as if that wasn't really obvious. I guess there was a shortage in extras. Mitch Pileggi of the X-Files has a very obvious role and I'm sure I recognized the zombie on the hospital phone as from an old episode of the original Twilight Zone. If I had written the script, I would have tossed in a vampire to spar with the zombies because he sure would have been immune to that bite of their's.
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