Return of the Living Dead
Part 2

Starring: James Karen, Thom Mathews and Dana Ashbrook
Warner Home Video
RRP: 12.99
Z1 33534
Certificate: 15
Available 22 November 2004

A sealed drum falls from the back of an army lorry transporting it to a secure location. It is discovered by three boys near their new housing estate. Whilst the smaller boy runs away, the other two open the drum to discover an emaciated corpse. A choking green gas escapes and drifts across the graveyard where two men are stealing skulls from the mausoleum. Suddenly all hell breaks loose as all the bodies rise from their graves and go in search of brains. The little boy and his older sister team-up with the two men, another woman, a doctor and the cable TV repair man. When the town becomes overrun they attempt to escape its boundaries, but the army have roadblocks set up and aren't about to let anyone through...

Whereas the more recent zombie spoof Shaun of the Dead concentrated on the humans and their situations for the laughs, this film from 1987 takes the opposite approach, lampooning classic zombie flicks such as Night of the Living Dead by squeezing every chuckle it can from the undead. I've got to say, this is a fun popcorn movie. Right from the outset the format works, generally playing the other characters straight. When the zombies emerge from the ground we have one straightening its tie before lurching on, a female one putting on her glasses, a hand and then a head being stepped on by other zombies, and one of them falling into the hole another has crawled from.

There is a small amount of zaniness which could probably have been toned-down, but I suppose it does fit in with the structure of the film. The doctor acts foolish most of the time, and the essentially sound idea of the grave-robber fearing the zombies are divine retribution for his sins is a little overdone when he keeps harking on about it. There is also a scene where the group of survivors are panicking and shouting at each other until you just want to slap them all.

Don't let any of that turn you off from what is an excellent load of nonsense, if you get my meaning! The make-up and effects are very well-handled, and the overall product reminds me of the George Romero and Stephen King collaboration Creepshow, which is no bad thing. Think Michael Jackson's Thriller video and you'll have the right idea. In fact, there's a great tribute to that very video at the end of the film.

Ty Power

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