Oct. 25: The Return of the Living Dead (1985):
'a0One of the best horror-comedies ever made, and one that delivers equally on both the horror and the comedy, The Return of the Living Dead will make you laugh and cringe simultaneously.
A group of misfit teenagers in Louisville, Kent., decides it would be fun to hang out at a cemetery and get wasted. There'92s a guy named Suicide, and a girl (icon of '9280s nudity Linnea Quigley) named Trash who randomly decides to perform an unbidden striptease while standing on a tombstone.
Meanwhile, a pair of bumbling employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally releases a vapor into the air which causes dead bodies to reanimate, hungry for brains. This is the only zombie movie I can think of where the zombies actually moan for '93brains!'94 After the zombie uprising, it'92s down to the teenagers, the warehouse'92s owner (Clu Gulager) and a shady mortician who may or may not be a Nazi (Don Calfa) to try to save themselves, and maybe save the day.
The movie vaguely references Night of the Living Dead, but it isn'92t intended to be a sequel. This is a comedy, giving a very darkly funny take on the subject matter and giving us one of the funniest horror-comedies ever made.
The zombies here seem to be smarter than the average bear. They can work together, and they'92re fast. There'92s no shambling here. There is a terrific sequence in which the zombies attack some policemen and paramedics, then get on their radio and say, '93Send more cops!'94
However, to be a comedy, the movie also has some of the most depressing material of any zombie movie. A person'92s consciousness seems to remain somewhat intact after zombification; when asked what it feels like, a zombie says, '93It hurts!'94 Also, these zombies are some of the hardest to destroy in any zombie movie. Even burning their bodies doesn'92t seem to work, for reasons I won'92t spoil here.
The movie was written and directed by Dan O'92Bannon, who wrote the original screenplay for Alien and co-wrote the darkly funny sci-fi film Dark Star, which was John Carpenter'92s directorial debut. O'92Bannon brought that dark sense of humor to bear here, in a movie that was one of the first to bring humor to the zombie genre, yet still works as a horror film.
The Return of the Living Dead is very funny, but it never skimps on the horror. With its relentless action, great special effects and gratuitous nudity (the best kind), this movie will be a treat for any fan of '9280s horror.
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'97'a0'a0'a0 Lifeforce (1985): More '9280s insanity, scripted by O'92Bannon and directed by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'92s Tobe Hooper, this concerns a group of astronauts who find a mysterious ship in deep space while on a mission, and bring its inhabitants, a group of naked space vampires, home with them. Marvel of modern architecture Mathilda May is the nakedest and spaciest. From there, things understandably spiral out of control.
'97'a0'a0'a0 Dead and Buried (1981): Another fun horror film scripted by O'92Bannon, this one'92s about the sleepy little fishing town of Potter'92s Bluff, R.I., where there seems to have been a recent wave of mysterious murders, but the dead people keep showing up later on seeming fine. As the sheriff trying to figure out what'92s going on, James Farentino leaves a little something to be desired, but the movie is filled with great supporting actors, most notably Jack Albertson (Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), playing the town'92s mysterious undertaker.