This week, The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles takes on a walk down memory lane with a look at Scream Factory’s latest spine-tingling release — ‘Return of The Living Dead.’ Here is a quick rundown on one of horror’s most beloved flicks:
Synopsis: On his first day on the job at a medical supply warehouse, poor Freddy (Thom Mathews) unwittingly releases toxic gas from a secret U.S. military canister, unleashing an unbelievable terror. The gas reanimates an army of corpses, who arise from their graves with a ravenous hunger… for human brains! And luckily for those carnivorous cadavers, there is a group of partying teens nearby, just waiting to be eaten!
“Did you ever see that movie, “Night of the Living Dead”?”- Frank
On August 16th, 1985, a movie released in the theatres that would change the modern zombie film forever. “The Return of the Living Dead” took the living dead genre, accredited to George A Romero, and turned it on its head. The film explored the genre further than it has ever been explored. These were not your typical, flesh-eating zombies. They wanted “BRRRRRAAAAAAIIIIIIINNNNNSSSSSS!” and there was a reason for it. I will never forget the first moment I laid eyes on the talking half-corpse. I was both horrified and intrigued by the zombies’ reasoning behind their unusual craving. So much so that this film will go down as one of my favorite films of all time. Lucky for me, “The Return of the Living Dead” has received the Scream Factory treatment, and it’s my job to take a look!
I’m sure if you’re reading this you’ve seen the movie but for those that need a refresher: we open on an old medical supply warehouse. Frank (James Karen) is showing Freddy (Thom Mathews) around as it is the young man’s first day on the job. Making casual conversation, Freddy asks Frank to tell him the craziest thing he’s seen while working at the facility. The old man asks Freddy if he’s ever seen “Night of the Living Dead”. In the basement of the old warehouse are the barrels filled with the remains of formerly “reanimated corpses” and the chemical that caused the chaos. What remains in these drums are the apparent inspiration for Romero’s classic film. Of course, as Frank is trying to impress Freddy, the men damage the barrel and unleash the toxic gas. What happens next must be experienced and, as I said, shame on you if you’re reading this without having seen this movie.
“Return of the Living Dead” is the unusually perfect mix of comedy and horror. Besides our two warehouse workers we have a group of rebellious punks (which includes the very attractive Linnea Quigley and Jewel Shepard), Burt the warehouse owner (Clu Gulager), Ernie the mortician (Don Calfa), and Freddy’s girlfriend, Tina (played by the gorgeous Beverly Randolph). Between the cast, script, set design, and effects, this movie is most definitely the best “punk rock zombie movie” ever made! Now the question is……did Scream Factory do this living dead classic justice? OF COURSE!
After taking a look at the beautiful, new 2K scan of the movie one must check out More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead. That’s right, the 2011 documentary, done by the crew behind Crystal Lake Memories, is included with this release! This documentary is the perfect behind the scenes retrospective on ROTLD. Everyone who worked on the flick, who was alive at the time of creation, is included. Notable interviews come from Clu Gulager and James Karen. Every time those two popped up on the screen I couldn’t help but crack up. Also included in this release are two new commentaries; one of which includes actors Thom Mathews, John Philbin, and make-up artist Tony Gardner. There are three new featurettes, including: FX of the Living Dead, The Music of ROTLD, and…..no Scream Factory release would be complete without our good buddy Sean Clark’s Horror’s Hallowed Grounds. Along with these new features are all of those from past releases, making this the definitive “The Return of the Living Dead” release.
As stated, this is one of my favorite films of all time. It is the perfect film for not only a cool autumn night but also a hot July afternoon. If you buy any Scream Factory release this year, I highly recommend this one. Where else can you get not only a beautiful transfer of an amazing movie but also the definitive documentary based on that movie?! There’s not much more I can say about this release. It’s fantastic………….now…..SEND MORE PARAMEDICS…..