The Return of the Living Dead: Collector's Edition Dan O'Bannon

The Return of the Living Dead: Collector's Edition Dan O'Bannon
Sequels aren’t meant to better than the originals, that’s a no-brainer. No matter what you hear, they exist solely to capitalise on the success of a previous film. But that doesn’t mean they can’t add something to a franchise. The Return of the Living Dead is not connected to George A. Romero’s 1968 classic but in a way it’s as enjoyable. Dumbing down Romero’s social commentary with a punk rock soundtrack and lots of deliberately cheesy gags, Return messed with the zombie model in order to deliver one of the genre’s most memorable films. Two incompetent workers at a medical supply warehouse unlock a sealed military container, releasing a deadly gas that awakens the dead in a nearby cemetery. Cue the zombies cornering some locals and punk rock kids, throw in the inimitable "Tarman” zombie (who introduces the catchphrase "Brains!”) and Trash, the naked-punk-chick-cum-naked-punk-zombie, and there you have it: an unforgettable zombie flick that simply keeps the cheap thrills coming. The split veterinarian puppy model reanimates, there’s an explanation from a zombie as to why they need brains ("Eating brains makes the pain go away”) and satirical screams of "It worked in the movie!” when beheading a zombie fails to stop it. Though it has some minor flaws — why don’t some of the killed (i.e., Suicide) turn? — Return is a rip-roaring romp that defied the rules in order to rock out and just have some fun. The cast/crew commentary is good times and informative — the best bit is learning that Tarman was actually covered in methocel (the substance that fills jelly donuts). O’Bannon and production designer William Stout are a lot tamer in their commentary but the two of them have incredible memories and give details for every little thing. There’s even a zombie subtitle stream, which is essentially just "ahhh,” "uhhhh” and "graaaagh!” Featurettes tell how the film’s script was rejected and camped up, and how they achieved the look of the almighty Tarman with trick photography and the right makeup. (MGM)