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The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

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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.


Dan O'Bannon


Rudy Ricci (story), John A. Russo (story) (as John Russo) | 2 more credits »
3,491 ( 21)
4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Clu Gulager ... Burt
James Karen ... Frank
Don Calfa ... Ernie
Thom Mathews ... Freddy
Beverly Randolph ... Tina
John Philbin ... Chuck
Jewel Shepard ... Casey
Miguel A. Núñez Jr. ... Spider (as Miguel Nunez)
Brian Peck ... Scuz
Linnea Quigley ... Trash
Mark Venturini ... Suicide
Jonathan Terry ... Colonel Glover
Cathleen Cordell ... Colonel's Wife
Drew Deighan Drew Deighan ... Paramedic #1
James Dalesandro ... Paramedic #2


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 | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

MGM | MySpace





Release Date:

16 August 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Return of the Living Dead See more »


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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (workprint)

Sound Mix:



Color (CFI)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The character of Tina was originally written as wearing a plastic mini-skirt. Beverly Randolph went through a variety of prissy outfits with skirts and bows and sweaters for her character, but nothing 'felt like Tina'. The white and blue outfit she wound up wearing for the movie was Miguel A. Núñez Jr.'s outfit. See more »


When the movie shifts from the graveyard to the funeral home, it clearly states that the time is 9:20 on the screen. Yet when you look at the clock behind the dead body and Don Calfa (Ernie) the clock clearly shows the time is 10:20. See more »


Col. Horace Glover: [on a secure military line] Sir, this is Colonel Glover. I'm sorry to disturb you at this hour, sir, but we're at Q-2 status. It looks like we've found that lost consignment of Easter eggs. Yes, sir, pretty sure. They've turned up in Louisville. I'm getting confirmations on this from the Louisville Police Department. Louisville, Kentucky, sir.
Col. Horace Glover: Well, sir, it would be good news, except that the eggs have hatched.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

The phrase "F*ck You" is written on the back of Freddy's jacket. When some of the scenes were re-shot for television, the phrase on his jacket was jokingly altered to "Television Version." See more »


References Night of the Living Dead (1968) See more »


Love Under Will
Performed by The Jet Black Berries
Composed by Gary Trainer
Produced by The Jet Black Berries
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

It's not a bad movie, Burt.
30 November 2011 | by Hey_SwedenSee 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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