REVIEW: Return of the Living Dead: Part II
For the longest time I never wanted to see Return of the Living Dead Part II because I always thought it could never be as nearly as good as the original Return of the Living Dead. Well, I was right but despite that it was a pretty fun film. There were so many things wrong with it that it qualified as a C-movie but all these mistakes were completely unintentional. The film had really over-the-top acting, the gore was great and the zombies were much more different in here than in the original. For what it was worth, it was pretty decent.
Thom Mathews and James Karen both have parts in this movie and they were also in the original film as well and like the original… they get exposed to the Trioxin and slowly become zombies themselves. To watch them act like a couple of goof balls in such an exaggerated way again was a treat but I think James Karen steals the cake with his over-the-top depiction of a robber who finally breaks down under pressure. He is such a warped character in the beginning of the film and then he turns into a paranoid, frightened old man who begs God to forgive him. The rest of the acting is just really bad and most of the time I found myself laughing at the dialogue. Michael Kentworth from the remake of The Blob is in this film and adding the cherry to this wonderful cast is Philip Bruns who plays the alcoholic, lovable, oblivious doctor. I have to say, despite all the flaws it seems like the cast had a great time together.
Now lets talk about the zombies. They come in all different designs in this film from rotting corpses, to freshly pale zombies all the way down to the shriveled pruney type. Some of them were an homage to Romero’s pale-faced zombies of Night of the Living Dead and some were sort of paying tribute to the zombies of Fulci. Although, I didn’t care too much for them in this film because they seemed too human. They drive cars too fluidly, they talk to clear and they make very bad jokes. The zombie in the original seemed more like zombies through their movements and their body language. Also, the zombies in this film are really stupid. Case in point: one zombie tells the survivor group over the radio that Hoover was the president. I wouldn’t have had a problem with this had the zombies from the original been like this but that isn’t the case. They were smart, in terms of zombie, whereas these zombies relied purely on dumb luck.
However, I think the greatest part, or should I say parts, of this movie are the unintentional mistakes that you can only find in b-movies of this caliber. The most obvious I noticed was when a zombie opens his mouth, you can see the silk wall in the mask’s mouth and the actors tongue wiggling around. In another instance, when one of the zombie’s hand is severed you can obviously see the staff that is mounted to the hand that controls the fingers and the movement. Poor James had to try to cover it up with his hands so that nobody notices it. See, I don’t base the movie on these mistakes because it adds to the films ham-handed nature… I find that if it weren’t for these mistakes the film wouldn’t be nearly as funny as it was.
Part II of the Return of the Living Dead series was a great sequel and was what it was. It was 80s cheese at it’s best and though it can’t really hold a candle to the original, it’s still fun to watch. It’s one of those movies where you have to leave your brain at the door, take a step back and enjoy yourself. However, the one thing that I really missed that this one didn’t really have was the hard rock soundtrack. It perfectly parodied the metal subculture and I felt that the original did such a good job with it, it could have been continued here. Oh well. I guess I can settle with a big bowl of melted zombie cheese and… I’m okay with that.
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