196 of 230 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2002
Before we start. I want to affirm that I love this film. Great script, great performances, great soundtrack, great directing.
Also, regardless of the negative feedback I give this DVD, we are unfortunately obligated to buy it, if we ever want to see a special edition DVD.
Ok, here goes. Yeah it looks great. But it just felt wrong. I couldn't place the reason. I thought maybe it was a visual matter. But I quickly realized that what was bugging me was the soundtrack. It was inexplicably, utterly mangled.
Will someone tell me why? Why were the vocals for whole songs removed? I am sorely disappointed and angered by this. I am outraged by the George Lucas style of re-working your film for DVD, and abandoning the original theatrical cut. If you feel the need to improve your film, fine, provide an alternate cut, or additional scenes, or whatever, that's great. Give me the option on the menu to see the "improved version, or the regular cut. But don't alter a classic, and not even mention it and try to pass it off as the original.
There are so many examples of this butchering, that I can't name them all. I only watched it once last night, and am at work now, but a few definitely come to mind.
#1 The scene where Trash and Suicide and the gang are speeding towards the cemetery used to have the Damned song Dead Beat Dance as the background music. Well, not anymore! You get the inital maniacal laugh, and then nothing, a completely different song. Why?!
#2 The scene where the zombie says: "send more cops", with a thick new york accent. A classic scene right? We all loved it right? Well did you notice that they changed the voice? Did you notice that is was awful in comparison, and not nearly as funny? Was there a good reason for this sacrilege? Has Dan O'Bannon lost his mind, or was this the studios fault? In the end credits, where the best-of scenes replay a second time, we hear the "send more cops" line in all its original glory. So I know I am not imagining this.
#3 What's his name, the Pathmark guy (no slight intended, his performance was excellent), takes his own life by placing himself in the crematorium. In the original version of this scene is accompanied by the song Burn the Flames, which sports a haunting guitar solo at the exact moment the door shuts and we hear the man's tortured screams. It is actually one of my favorite scenes in the film. The haunting music enhances the sadness of the moment.
But not anymore. Now the music is faded out in a particularly unartistic way, and the scene plays silent. Sorry but this is a disgrace. I waited years for this film to be re-released and I feel betrayed. The soundtrack was perfect the way it was. In a different film it would not be as a big of a deal. But when you are the ONLY zombie/comedy/horror film with a punky soundtrack, and a damned good one, and everyone loves you for it, you don't go around meddling and altering, deleting and rewriting, compiling and defiling.
It go to the point where I held my breath with every song change, worried sick that they would ommit lyrics or do away with the track altogether. Waves of relief washed over me when I reached the scene where the zombies are attacking the funeral home (and our heroes are furiously nailing doors and windows shut)and I discovered that the Cramps song "Surfin Dead" was left intact. Thank god, or the devil, for that one.
Could I be wrong? Did I miss some sort of soundtrack feature, where mistakenly clicked something off or on? Or is the sad fact that this movie has been permanently altered...?
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This cut of the film sucks: The soundtrack has been reedited and remixed. Its not the same as the version we grew up with. The songs have been edited. Most notably the creepy song "Burn the Flames" played when
James Karen cremates himself has been almost totally removed. This stinks.
41 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2002
After over a decade of being out of print (do to legal wrangling in regards to the film's punk rock soundtrack that is prominently featured throughout the film) the classic 1980s zombie film that turned heads with it's dark humor, witty script, and original zombie design is now available on DVD!
Freddy is a typical early 1980s punk rock fan who, on his first day at work at UNEEDA Medical Supply, learns that the movie "Night of the Living Dead" was based on an actual event involving zombies and that UNEEDA one day came into possession of one of the zombies which is now being held in a cylinder in the basement. A non-believing Freddy is shown the container just as it explodes, filling the supply company's building with a toxic green gas. The gas causes the sole human body in the body to come to life (as well as freeing the zombie from it's cylinder prison) and after failing to destroy the zombie the tradition way (cutting of it's head) they take it to the local crematorium to be cremated. Unfortunately this makes things MUCH, MUCH worse as the smoke laced with the toxic chemical mixes with storm clouds that rain down on the city at night and resurrecting the bodies buried inside the town's cemetary where ironically Freddy's fellow punk-friends are having a little party.
The kicker for Return of the Living Dead that makes it a classic film and makes it one of the most well loved zombie movies is the fact that the film's zombies aren't your typical movie zombie. They are smart (luring police to the crematorium after killing off several cops who come to investigate all of the strange activity going on), are fast and agressive instead of slow and dumb and the zombies have the most hilarious banter involving their thirst for brains that can have even the most squeemish movie viewer laughing.
Featuring a great punk rock sound-track and a great mix of humor and violence, this film has sadly been out of circulation for over a decade do to the it's punk soundtrack. Now it's back on the market on DVD. This is a must buy DVD for any true horror fan....
46 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Re-animated corpses, swearing, blood & gore, full-frontal female nudity, iconoclastic jabs at American culture, and lots of gallows humor--what more could a horror fan ask for?
Any genre fan who has a morbid sense of humor is sure to enjoy 1985's THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. In the same vein as other tongue-in-cheek horror shtick such as the Chiodo Brothers' KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE and Sam Raimi's ARMY OF DARKNESS, this one's specifically a spoof of George Romero's classic and highly revered zombie film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Director/Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon, probably best known for having penned the original ALIEN movie, does a fantastic job of lovingly poking fun at the Horror and SF genres while at the same time satirizing everything from the U.S. Military to Punk Rock. This movie is not only funny, it's got plenty o' "brains"!
And you can't beat the financial value of the DVD edition. Not only does it cost less than a lot of other full-length, widescreen DVD thrillers--including some that are hardly worth the plastic and aluminum it took to make 'em--but it also includes these cool extras: an optional audio commentary by O'Bannon and production designer William Stout; both the G-rated and R-rated theatrical trailers; over 5-minutes of various TV spots; some storyboard-like production stills; and a really cool "Designing the Dead" featurette, in which O'Bannon and Stout discuss the evolution of the final look and feel of the movie (lots of great shots of Stout's EC-Comics-like designs for the zombies offered in this one).
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2005
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Rework, remake, homage, tribute, call Return of the Living Dead (1985) whatever you'd like, I just think it's a damn good film which achieves something not a lot of movies of its kind manage to do in successfully mixing two genres, those being horror and comedy, to create a third, which I call a `hormadey' (look at that, I just invented a new word right before your eyes...patent pending...quick, call the people at Webster's...I bet they pay good money for new words)...Sam Raimi did it in Evil Dead II (1987), although he called it `splatstick', Peter Jackson did it in some of his early like films Bad Taste (1987), and even more so in Braindead (1992) aka Dead Alive, and Stuart Gordon did it in Re-Animator (1985), just as Dan O'Bannon has done so with this film. Co-written and directed by Dan O'Bannon (Alien, Dead & Buried, Blue Thunder), the film features an excellent cast including Clu Gulager (McQ, A Force of One), James Karen (Poltergeist, Apt Pupil, Superman Returns), Don Calfa (Chopper Chicks in Zombietown, Weekend at Bernie's), and Thom Mathews (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Alien from L.A.). Also appearing is Beverly Randolph, John Philbin (The New Kids, Point Break), Jewel Shepard (Hollywood Hot Tubs), Miguel A. Núñez Jr. (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Carnosaur 2), scream queen Linnea Quigley (Creepozoids, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama), Mark Venturini, who sadly passed away in 1996, and Brian Peck, the only actor to appear in all three Return of the Living Dead films.
As the film begins, we find ourselves at the Uneeda Medical Supply company `You need it...we got it'. It's Freddie's (Mathews) first day as a stockboy, and co-worker Frank (Karen) is showing him the ropes, along with the prosthetics, bedpans, skeletons, and yes, cadavers (man, they weren't kidding about having what I need, particularly in a nice bedpan). A curious Freddie inquires as to what's the weirdest thing Frank has ever seen during his long tenure at the company to which Frank relates a fantastic tale about how some years ago, a chemical created a chemical for the military that had a strange side effect, namely, it brought the dead back to life. The resulting mess was cleaned up, and the reanimated corpses were stuffed into sealed containers. Many of the supposedly true events were then turned into a film that we know as George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (nice acknowledgement), although a number of facts were changed to avoid litigation. Anyway, due to a military snafu, some of the containers were accidentally shipped to Uneeda, and have been sitting in the basement ever since, undisturbed...until now...while showing Freddie the containers, Frank slaps the side of one, a seal breaks, and the gas squirts out all over the two men knocking them out, and also into the air ducts, which, in turn, revives the corpsicle in the freezer. The boys begin to freak, and decide to call the owner Burt (Gulager), figuring he'll know what to do...after some debating, then end up hacking the lively decedent into parts, stuffing the parts into garbage bags, taking said bags across the street to the crematorium and asking the resident mortician Ernie Kaltenbrunner (Calfa), who Burt's been friends with for a long time (get it? Burt and Ernie? Ah well...) to burn the evidence. Ernie finally agrees, and the parts do burn into ash, but an unforeseen result is the smoke from the burning of the body is released through the chimney. This, coupled with the quickly approaching thunderstorm, causes the fumes to seep into the ground, causing a...reaction among the long dormant residents of the graveyard, the same graveyard Freddie's friends are hanging out at while waiting for Freddie to get off work...well, I think you can put two and two together and surmise, like the South, the dead shall rise again, and they do...and they're hungry...for juicy, juicy brains...
I think this is a great movie, for someone who can appreciate it...one of the best aspects of the film are the colorful and distinctive characters, played very well by the actors. There isn't a whole lot of development, but they're still interesting enough to keep you watching. Perhaps my favorite character of the film was that of Burt, the boss and owner of the medical supply company played by Clu Gulager. His pragmatism played off extremely well off the exponentially growing horror of the animated corpses, and created a sort of bizarre sense that he was more worried about how all this was going to affect business, rather than for his own mortality. Eventually he does realize the grievous nature of the situation, but up until then it was pretty funny, particularly because he didn't overplay it...my favorite scene involved the sequence after Burt and the boys hacked up the spastic corpse and then brought it across the street to the mortuary, in an effort to get Burt's friend Ernie to get rid of everything by burning it up in his crematorium. At first Burt tries to explain the wiggling bags as a shipment of rabid weasels, rather than tell Ernie the truth. After awhile, and many questions from Ernie, Burt finally does come clean, but his initial attempts at subterfuge are hilarious. A couple of other great performances are given by James Karen as Frank, the long time warehouse employee seeming happy to have a new apprentice, even to the point of showing off a little, and Don Calfa as Ernie, the gun toting mortician who develops a scientific interest in the corpses. Thom Mathews also did very well, especially near the end of the picture, as the sickness from inhaling the noxious gas earlier finally overtakes him. The walking dead were much more lively and active in this film, more so than I had seen in films previous, which added a nice spin to the notion that the reanimated dead are only capable of lumbering about. In terms of special effects and make up, the detail in the corpses was most excellent, especially that half woman corpse the group captures and Ernie questions in the latter half of the movie. Also, the Tarman corpse, the one that was released from the military container, was exquisitely detailed and the actor who played the part had his movements down perfectly, or at least in terms of how I thought a recently released from his barrel, rotting, festering, slimy corpse would move about. Everything worked so well together here, the directing, the script, quotable dialog, the humor, the nasty bits, the acting, all tied together with a carefully chosen soundtrack featuring bands like, among others, T.S.O.L, The Damned, The Flesheaters, Roky Erickson, and The Cramps. All in all, a completely harmonious balance and truly fun entertainment for the sick and twisted. Oh yeah, there's a couple of great nekkid bits featuring Jewel Shepard, who plays a punky girl obsessed with all things gruesome and morbid.
This DVD release features both the widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16X9 TVs, along with a fullscreen version, both looking sharp and clean. The Dolby Digital audio also comes through very well and clear. As far as special features, there is an audio commentary track with director Dan O'Bannon and production designer William Stout (I was kinda surprised they didn't get any of the actors involved), along with a featurette titled `Designing the Dead' (13:37), conceptual artwork by William Stout, TV spots, and both an G rated and R rated trailers for the film.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2004
"Return Of The Living Dead" is basically one giant homage to George Romero's infamous "Night Of The Living Dead," and a loving one at that. It pokes plenty of fun at the horror genre, is stocked with stupid characters, and has plentiful helpings of gore. During his first day on the job at Uneeda Medical Supplies, Freddy (Tom Mathews, you may remember him as Tommy Jarvis in "Friday the 13th, pt. VI: "Jason Lives") and his bumbling supervisor, Frank (James Karen), accidentally crack a tank containing a corpse that was previously a zombie (ala "Night Of The Living Dead"). Problem is, this tank was filled with toxic gasses, and not only does it make the two very ill, every dead creature in the building comes back to life (even some split puppies (?)). Up until this point, there is only one zombie to worry about, until the two decide to cremate it, which spreads more gasses into the air and re-awakens the dead all over town. Big mess. And caught in the middle of it all are a really obnoxious group of teenagers, coincidentally, Freddy's friends (one of whom stays nude pretty much for her entire screen-time, problem is, she's one of the first to go) and some very unlucky and downright stupid paramedics. From here on out, it follows standard zombie flick procedure, with an abundance of shocks and laughs thrown everywhere, all capped off with a surprising ending that will leave you scratching your head and wondering what you just saw. Nevertheless, "Return Of The Living Dead" is pure fun. It may go over the heads of horror snobs, but if you are looking for a good time this Halloween, it can't be beat (I'm sorry, but I couldn't stop laughing when they were trying to tackle the original zombie). The DVD edition supports the movie with audio-commentary by director Dan O'Bannon, a few technical featurettes and TV spots and trailers. Recommended for those who want to have a bloody good time.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2002
"How was your day,dear?" "Usual,crap." I love that line. This is my absolute favorite movie of all time and I am extatic to hear that is finally coming out on DVD. The reason why I love it so much...couldn't tell ya. It's just one of those movies that keep you forever. I loved it. It's a unique zombie flick. With the portrayal of younger adolescents, I think it gives the movie a certain edge that no other zombie, or any other horror film for that matter, has ever had. Past, present and I will boldy say future. With combinations of laughs, scares, and gore, it surpasses every horror movie ever made. The character of Suicide and Trash are my two favorites. Unfortuanately for me, they are the first two to be devoured by brain starved zombies. But I always looked at it this way, Trash got what she wanted..."A bunch of old men to surround me. And start bighting, and eating me alive." I see. Trust me, if you are an avid horror fanatic like myself and love zombie films, check this one out! And if you are in to Punk music at all, the soundtrack for the movie rocks. With bands like The Cramps, The Damned, The Flesheaters, and TSOL, you'll be in pure heaven...Or hell. Whichever you prefer! I give this movie 2 THUMBS UP...and one half eaten brain!!!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This has got to be the best zombie film outside of the Romero trilogy. It's a wonderful example of what a good director can do with a limited budget. O'Bannon really knew how to properly mix the humor in with the horror, better than most horror/comedies if you ask me. Most horror/comedies seem to get lost lost in the comedy aspect, basically making the movies comedies(Army Of Darkness, Dead Alive, etc. Don't get the wrong idea here, I like those too.). One thing I love about this movie is that the acting of the main characters is superb for this kind of B film. The cast of unknowns is extremely convincing, and the movie benefits so much from this. James Karen is hysterical. I tell ya, there is a scene in this film that has my nearly wetting myself every time. The scene where Clu Gulager is sawing the head off of a restrained zombie while James Karen sobs and whines, and Clu says to him: "Be a man, Frank, be a man!" ROTLD is B movies at their best, I suggest running out and getting it now. Most dvd retailers carry this title, so it's quite easy to find. You'll be back home in time for your ginseng.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2002
"Return of the Living Dead" is a hilarious horror/comedy inspired by George A. Romero's classic "Living Dead" movies. I saw this movie when I was just a small kid and loved it. This is about as Camp 80's as horror movies get.
The movie's premis is a nice homage to Romero. Apparently, the movie "Night of the Living Dead" was based on a true story, and it was covered up by the US government. The bodies of the zombies were sealed in oil drums and dispersed. Two workers at a medical supplies warehouse find one of these drums, puncture it be accident, and unleash a gas that brings the nearby dead back to life. As luck would have it, the warehouse is right next to a graveyard. The rest writes itself, and the movie has some of the funnist moments in horror movie history: A cadaver running amok in the warehouse, a zombie's head being hit out of the park with a baseball bat, a zombie who orders "more paramedics" like he was ordering pizza. And above all, a stylish 80's hard rock soundtrack.
This is one of my favorite party movies, because it get everyone (even the non-horror fans) howling. It is sometime bloody, but the comedy overshadows the horror elements. The DVD in question is a bit light on the extras, save for a documentary that is fun, but tepid. But the big perk is the best picture and sound quality I have ever seen this movie in. The DVD really makes a difference. Get yourself a copy and see what I mean, you won't regret it.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2002
If you're buying this, you already know the plot so I won't bore you with a review of that. Instead, the good stuff.
An absolutely PERFECT blend of horror and comedy. I honestly cannot think of any other film that pulled it off so well. Unlike George Romero's zombie trilogy, "Return of the Living Dead", written/directed by Dan O'Bannon, it didn't take itself seriously. It had FUN. It never dragged, zipping you from one moment of dread to another and when it got too gory or intense, O' Bannon brought in the laughs. Not slapstick but genuine, over-the-top gags. Whether it be a hungry zombie asking to "send more cops" as if he was ordering pizza or the bumbling warehouse employees who, after accidentally releasing a toxic gas that re-animates corpses, find that killing zombies by destroying the brains doesn't work. When they finally exclaim "WELL IT WORKED IN THE MOVIES!" you know the rules have been thrown out the window.
The film works on so many levels of gore and humor and the fact that it makes fun of itself and Romero's classic "Night of the Living Dead" come off as more self-aware than Wes Craven's "Scream" films of the 90's.
The film took it's chances and could've angered fans of Romero's original by actually referring to that movie within the first few minutes, saying it was all fictional and that "what really happened was..." well you get the idea. In fact, O'Bannon tried as hard as possible to make his film as different from Romero's. You see, O'Bannon's zombies could RUN after you, could think and plan ways to get at you, they could TALK to you and tell you what part they wanted to eat from you......"BRAINS!"
The film's punk rock soundtrack is excellent. Dare I say "goth punk"? Sure it fit in with the punk characters that got stuck in the horror but the tone of the songs fit in so well with the movie.
The cast was superb, all somehow finding the perfect way to play their parts. There isn't a single 'off' performance. Frank's over-the-top "freaking out", Burt's calm "this is what we're gonna do" attitude and Freddy's realization of what's happening to his body and mind all showcase the talent that made the film work.
When one of our heroes (who's been zombiefied) commits suicide by burning himself "alive" in the crematorium....it's not horrific but truly sad. Actor James Karen embodied 'Frank' with such an "every guy" quality, you couldn't help but feel for him. Thom Mathews played "Freddy". A new level was added to the zombie genre. We see a young man, full of life with lots of partying left to do, slowly get snuffed out. He was exposed to the gas you see and he's slowly dying.....yet already dead. He's conscious while feeling rigor mortis setting in.....and he describes every pain to you. It's unsettling. Clu Gulager plays the warehouse owner 'Burt' (his best friend who owns the funeral home next door? Ernie. Nope, not kidding!) who seemingly dead pans throughout the entire film. While the entire film is going crazy, he is the constant throughout and you feel that if you were in the same situation, you'd want him there helping to make crucial decisions. Linnea Quigley, the "B-movie scream Queen" plays 'Trash'. Her infamous, FULL FRONTAL strip tease has left many of my fellow 20-something's with fond memories of their childhood.
This film parodied it's sub-genre of horror YEARS before the junk that was the "Scream" trilogy. It also managed to be FAR scarier than Wes Craven's poor attempts which basically amounted to a "Boo!" a 9 year old attempts on Halloween. Dan O'Bannon, the film's writer/director (partly responsible for the classic "Alien") created a film that, in every way, perfectly blended horror and humor. I'm not saying it's the first, I'm saying it's the first at *doing it right.*
O'Bannon saw the genre in a way most could not. Treat it's subject with respect yet realize, this is incredibly silly. O'Bannon's script is self-aware yet understands it's fictional world is very real. We get the humor, the film's characters aren't so lucky.
The film goes the opposite of what you'd expect in such a subtle way. The hapless humans are caged in places normally associated with the dead (a funeral home, a medical supply warehouse) whereas the dead are free to roam around in the land of the living. Subtle. This is NOT a "dumb" film at all (as some uneducated people might mistake "zombie" films for.) It's an ironic, horrific, campy and witty take on a classic horror genre. A film I can watch over and over again and never get bored.
As for the DVD itself, MGM has remastered the film from the original negative ensuring a pristine print. The sound has not only been remastered but some sound FX have been "enhanced" or completely redone by O'Bannon. The soundmix is in mono which is prefered by O'Bannon. Both full screen and widescreen versions are available. An audio commentary is on the disc featuring O'Bannon and production designer William Stout. Other extras include a featurette called "Designing the Dead", a stills gallery of the movie's artwork and the theatrical trailer. Great movie, superb video/audio and some decent extras all for a LOW price!
MGM has said if this disc sells well, a "director's cut" will be released.
After almost a decade of being unavailable, the dead have come back to life!