Return of the Living Dead

Return of the Living Dead

Back in 1985 I was 15 and things were rough at home. My sister was having problems, and my whole family was having problems. That year I drowned myself in two things: music (specifically Punk) and Horror films (specifically zombie flicks). So one night when I was sitting up watching TV, I saw a commercial for a movie that spoke volumes to me, it had a bunch of Punks in it, and a bunch of zombies!!! Was somebody stealing my dreams at night? Was somebody reading those pieces of paper I had lying around my house talking of zombies and Punks? I didn't know, and I didn't care! There was a film for me out there!!!

By now, most of you know the history of this film on video and on DVD. It hit video, then left video. It took forever to come out on DVD, then when it did last year, there were questions about it's ration. But now here it is, on the US shores, in a region 1 NTSC version. You would hope that if it was released in it's own country, then this one would be a correct presentation.

RETURN is the "true" story of what NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is based on. Supposedly the US Army came up a chemical that could re-animate the dead. The chemical, with bodies in storage tanks, were accidentally sent to a medical supply house, Uneeda Medical Supplies. The chemical is accidentally released into the air, and obviously, zombies crawl out of the ground and start to eat brains!!!

Really, do I need to talk about this film and it's plot? If you haven't seen it yet, then you have a serious problem and need to head on over to a different site.

If your still here, and have yet to see it, I will wait while you go out and rent it, or buy it. Go on, I'm not going anywhere.

O.K., now then, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD is one of those rare films that only comes along every so often. One of those films that while you watch it, you know it will last for years to come. It is a situation of a script, actors and actresses, director, set designer, everybody else, all firing on all cylanders. The whole film moves like few films do. All of the "jokes" work, as do most all of the scares. The performances by everybody, Clu Gulager, James Karen, and a cast of legends and unknowns, all do their part, and they all do that part to near perfection!

So how the Hell is this DVD? I love this film, if you can't tell, and with that love means that I watched my video very little. The last thing I wanted was for my video to play out. So I haven't watched it for a little bit of time. But, I can tell you that this disc looks great! There is some minor weakness to the picture, but that is more due to the budget, and maybe a little to do with the age. Though 1985 doesn't seem that long ago, to a Horror film, that could be an eternity since most studios don't consider them to be of much value.

This release gives us a "matted" picture at the 1.85:1 ratio, and a full frame ratio. So there ya go, argument over as to how the film should be presented. Take your pick and quit your bitching.

The sound is where I have a problem. When the film went into being worked on, Dan O'Bannon, the director, chose to tweak the soundtrack as he felt that the music was too loud in the original mix. Fine, but in one case the opposite happened. During Trash's strip scene, in the original mix Spider gave us an enthusiastic "YEA!", now though you can hardly hear him as the music blares. I liked his yell, and I dislike the song immensely. Oh well, in the end credits we can still hear him at least.

The other problem, the one that really stings, is that th song by The Damned (the greatest group in the world by the way) is no longer in the movie. We get the laugh in the beginning of the song, then a different song plays, then we get Dave Vanian's yell to close out the other bands song. The Damned have parted ways with old drummer Rat Scabies since this time, and it seems that Rat may have kept he rights locked up so the song couldn't be used. I would lay money on it being him before I would blame anybody who had something to do with the film, or the DVD.

The extras on the disc are great stuff indeed! Both the commentary track with O'Bannon and William Stout are entertaining to the very last second! Tons of info, tons of behind the scenes talk, and so much praise for the cast that you are actually surprised when they talk about the problems the film had. One thing to keep an eye and ear out for: while they talk, listen for them to mention when the "in" jokes appear, then try to find them for yourself! There is always something happening on the screen, even when you don't realize it!

This is the DVD release that we have all been waiting for! Well, with the exception of not having the deleted scenes put back in!!! But of the film that hit theaters, you really couldn't ask for a better disc! As a fan of the film since it hit theaters back in '85, I can tell you that for what little amount the disc costs, plus with the cool glow-in-the-dark cover, I could not have asked for a better disc for this film! GO BUY IT!!!

Review by Carl Isonhart

Released by MGM
Region 1 - NTSC
Rated - R
Ratio - Anamorphic widescreen
Extras :
See review