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The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

2:44 | Trailer
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 »
3,916 ( 304)
4 nominations. See more awards »





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 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 ... 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 »

Did You Know?


Linnea Quigley originally danced to the song "Nasty Girl" by Vanity during the filming of her famous cemetery striptease. "Nasty Girl" was later replaced by the song "Tonight We'll Make Love Until We Die" by Stacey Swain. See more »


As Ernie is about to hit the first reanimated body with the fire ax, the body moves, in the next shot, as he hits it, it's completely frozen. See more »


Burt Wilson: [as a missile heads towards Louisville] Hey, listen! You hear something?
Freddy: [cuts to Freddy breaking through the hatch to Tina and Ernie] Tinaaaaaaaaa!
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Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

Some more additional material in the "Workprint" version:
  • Extended footage of Ernie preparing the corpse (inserting a set of clamps, putting a rubber block under its chin, applying makeup, stapling its face)
  • Instead of calling Casey "Ballbuster," Suicide calls her "Chocolate Face" (presumably a reference to the chocolate bar she is eating earlier in the movie).
  • Trash, wandering by herself in the graveyard and crying, says "Hey wait, you guys, I ain't got no shoes!" The scene ends before she is attacked. Her actual attack by the corpses is moved to a later spot in the film.
  • When Ernie tries to use the phone in the office, the take is very different from the one in the released version: he doesn't close the steel shutters, leaving the window wide open.
  • When Spider demands to know what's going on, Bert calls him a "Black Bastard," and he goes into more detail about what the chemical does to the corpses.
  • Freddy's attack on Tina is extended and cut a little differently: they circle around the podium at the front of the chapel, which he knocks over. She runs to the door, he follows and slams into it. He pushes her down on a pew and she kicks him off (which is where the scene in the released version actually begins). Before throwing the candlestick at him she throws a folding chair, which he knocks aside. There is an additional shot of Frank running down the hallway.
  • Ernie comforts Tina by saying "Don't you worry about Freddy and Frank. You see, they've gone to heaven. Those things out there...they're just dead bodies that want to eat our brains."
  • Frank's cremation is much longer: it starts with a closeup of Frank staring at something. The camera slowly pulls back to show that he's staring at the furnace across the room. He stands and groans, the furnace tilts back and forth in a dreamlike way, he mouths a prayer just before putting his wedding ring on the furnace switch.
  • The scene where Bert and Spider are preparing to leave the mortuary is an alternate take, with different dialogue. Instead of telling Bert to watch his "ass out there," he says "no matter what happens, don't name it after me." Tina wonders what they should do if Bert and Spider don't make it, and Bert tells her to "think positive."
  • Bert's call to the police is longer: he is put on hold by the operator, and gives more details about what's happening and where he is.
  • After the nuclear weapon explodes, a voice-over explains that the disaster was "officially described as a petrochemical refinery accident," and that the contaminated dirt from the incident is "residing in 175 railroad cars, parked on an unused railway line in South Dakota."
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Featured in More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead (2011) See more »


Young, Fast Iranians
Performed by Straw Dogs, aka The FUs
Composed by Steve Grimes, Wayne Maestri
Produced by Steve Barry, and Straw Dogs
(Used in Hemdale's 1991 Release in lieu of Dead Beat Dance)
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User Reviews

F**k you, ball-buster!
25 May 2010 | by masondixonkidSee all my reviews

Okay, we have zombies, punk rockers, a punk rock soundtrack, violence, gore, nudity, one-liners, comedy, great special effects, gratuitous profanity, an old creepy/shady mortician, an old cool caddy, brains, cheesy acting(where needed), dissected dogs, three sweet settings, and an awesome plot...BOOM! What else do you need? This movie has been one of my favorites for the past 25 years. This is by far one of the most entertaining movies I have ever seen. Hilarious when it needs to be and sadistically chilling when the plot calls for it. This movie will be remembered for years to come. A definite cult classic. If you have never watched this movie then you are depraving yourself. Watch this movie...again and again!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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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:

$4,403,169, 18 August 1985

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (workprint)

Sound Mix:



Color (CFI)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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