Derek Warren

CULT CORNER: Go back to ‘Return of the Living Dead’ for a perfect mix of horror and comedy

CULT CORNER: Go back to ‘Return of the Living Dead’ for a perfect mix of horror and comedy
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The 1980s gave us a seemingly endless array of great horror films. It was a true golden age for horror, with many movies still being discovered by horror fans now. However, one film that was an immediate hit and continues to grow in popularity is the equally terrifying and hilarious “The Return of the Living Dead.”

Originally released in 1985, the film was both a critical and box office success, a rarity in the horror genre. This unique and enjoyable take on the zombie subgenre, along with heavy nods to the punk subculture, gives this film real character. Its character is what makes it stand out from the rest because it creates a world that is fun and not just full of attractive teenagers getting picked off one by one. The characters in the film are entertaining to watch and perfectly cast.

The story follows Freddy, played by Thom Mathews (instantly recognizable to horror fanatics as Tommy Jarvis from “Friday the 13th: Part VI”), as he starts his brand new job at a warehouse. Unbeknownst to him, though, his first day would become one of the worst days of his life. Freddy and fellow employee Frank accidentally release a toxic gas that reanimates the dead. If that wasn’t bad enough, the walking dead have a craving for human brains! This is not a true sequel to any of George A. Romero’s “Dead” films, so don’t worry about seeing any other movies before this one.

The best and easiest way to explain this film is with one word – fun. This is not a movie that is setting out to scare the audience but is instead a great thrill ride. There are some tense moments, but there is also immediate comic relief to keep the tension from building too high.

The special effects are great, and there are many memorable scenes throughout – see Linnea Quigley’s graveyard strip scene, along with an endless amount of classic lines like “BRAINS!” While “Return of the Living Dead” has been widely available on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray since its initial theatrical release, Scream Factory has released the definitive version of this classic.

Scream Factory’s Blu-ray has a beautifully cleaned up version of the film. It also has a second disk full of features that any fan would want. It includes documentaries, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and so much more. If you are a fan of this film and do not own this release, you are truly missing out!

One other thing that makes this film truly great is the soundtrack. The Cramps, T.S.O.L., 45 Grave, The Damned, and more make this a soundtrack that any punk-loving fan would want to collect. Thankfully, Real Gone Music released this on vinyl, and it is available in a many different colors to make any collector happy.

Is it worth seeing? “The Return of the Living Dead” is a classic in the horror genre, so there is little doubt that many of you haven’t already seen this film. The perfect mixture of comedy and horror has made it timeless and endlessly watchable.

While many horror films from the ‘80s have a visible timestamp placed upon them, “Return” seems like it could take place in the modern era (other than a few of those colorful punk rock outfits). Thanks to the beautiful job done by Scream Factory with their Blu-ray restoration, it even looks as though it was filmed recently, so there’s no better time to give it another watch.

Each week, Cult Corner shines a light on strange and obscure cult films you’ve never heard of but need to see for yourself… with the lights off and the doors and windows locked.