Blu-Ray Review – The Return of the Living Dead 3

The original The Return of the Living Dead was a punk rock splatter zombie classic, with one of the best soundtracks of the era—featuring a theme by nobody more appropriate than The Cramps! The first sequel was panned by critics and fans alike, and only made a small profit. However, the series did get back to its roots with the third instalment, when Brian Yuzna of Re-Animator and Society fame was hired to direct.

This film is set in a military base where the father of Curt Reynolds (J. Trevor Edmond) works. is having a rough time with his strict military father, because he wants to move to Seattle and be a rock drummer in a band (it was made at the height of grunge). a Curt steals his father’s access card, and has look around the base. He discovers strange experiments that re-animate bodies, which become brain-craving zombies after they are exposed to Trioxin gas. Curt is informed soon afterwards that he is moving yet again, and he then storms out of the house and rides off with his girlfriend, Julie Walker (Melinda Clarke). However, they crash, and she breaks her neck and dies. So Curt does what any loving boyfriend would do—he takes her to the base and exposes her to Trioxin, but they soon are on the run. She is trying to not eat brains, but a chain reaction has already happened.

Yuzna decided to go with a much darker, grown-up take on the series. He actually asked the producers, “does it need to be funny?,” and they said “no.” Of course it has some humour, plus the blood and guts you would expect with one of the films in the series. The special effects are also as impressive as one would expect, Yuzna is a master at using special effects in his films. Julie’s transformation into something that looks like it came from the pages of the Re/Search book Modern Primitives is the highlight.

The two actors had real chemistry, and they needed it, because it’s actually an achingly romantic film disguised as a zombie gorefest. The screenwriter, John Penney, was actually the second assistant editor on the first film, and is still confused about whether they knew before he was hired. He is very happy that over the years people have come up to him and told him how romantic the film is, because that was his intention. Yuzna’s finest films often have a lot more under the surface—like Society, which is one of the better indictments of Reaganomics.

The disc is a port of the US release, which is under the “Vestron Video Collector’s Series” label. The disc is full of special features, including a commentary with Yuzna and other cast and crew. The highlight is a conversation between Yuzna and Penney, which is a fun watch. There are loads more interviews with various cast and crew members, and it’s finished off with trailers and a stills gallery.

★★★

Ian Schultz

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