Return Of The Living Dead Part 2 is the sequel to Dan O’Bannons surprise hit, Return Of The Living Dead. Bringing back 2 of the stars from that film to play similar, but different roles, is this film a success? Or does it suffer from the fate of many a sequel? Read on to find out, Fiends…
Taken from the Scream Factory website:
The zombies have returned! The horror begins again as mysterious barrels bounce off an Army transport as it passes through a new housing development and land near an abandoned cemetery. Mischievous neighborhood boys discover the barrels and open them, unaware of the evil contained within. A deadly green vapor escapes and turns the living into flesh-eating zombies and causes the dead to rise from their graves. As these hideous living dead hunt down the fresh human brains they need, man is pitted against man, and the living against the dead. It is a macabre struggle for survival!
Now, that is a pretty succinct summary of the plot. The plot itself owes a significant debt to the original, replacing the streetpunks with suburban teens. Other than that, though, it follows similar beats to the first film.
Return Of The Living Dead Part 2: Analysis:
Unlike the original, which skillfully blended comedic beats with serious gore, this film attempts t take a different approach. Amping up the slapstick comedy, Return Of The Living Dead Part 2 feels more kid friendly. The effects work is still superb, but it is more slime and goo rather than blood and guts. Indeed, with some judicious editing, I dare say this film could easily be classified as a 12/12A here in the UK.
Despite this increase in kid friendliness, there is still an enjoyably silly zombie movie here. Yes, the plot is derivative, but show me a zombie film that isn’t.
With the bulk of the film being carried by it’s young cast, the acting comes in for some serious scrutiny. Whilst not the most accomplished set of actors you will see, the young leads all acquit themselves really well. A lot of the film rests on the shoulders of Michael Kenworthy as Jesse, and he tackles the role with aplomb. He would later be seen in the same years remake of The Blob. The returning Thom Matthews and James Karen essentially play the same characters, but in a more exagerated fashion which suits the overall tone quite well.
The films effects work is of a pretty decent standard, considering the low budget nature of the enterprise. The shift away from the darker tone of the first feature allows for more exagerated and fun looking zombies. The redesign of the infamous “Tarman” zombie is a bit of a bust though, lacking the weird, disjointed menace of the original.
Scream Factory have put together an very impressive package here:
- 2K Scan From The Interpositive
- Audio Commentary With Actress Suzanne Snyder
- Audio Commentary With Gary Smart (Co-author Of The Complete History Of The Return Of The Living Dead) And Filmmaker Christopher Griffiths
- Back To The Dead: The Effects Of “Return Of The Living Dead Part II” – Including Interviews With Special Make-up Effects Creator Kenny Myers And Special Make-up Effects Artists Andy Schoneberg And Mike Smithson
- The Laughing Dead – An Interview With Writer/Director Ken Wiederhorn
- Undead Melodies – An Interview With Composer J. Peter Robinson
- Interview With Actor Troy Fromin
- Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Ken Wiederhorn And Co-star Thor Van Lingen
- They Won’t Stay Dead: A Look At Return Of The Living Dead Part II Including Interviews With James Karen, Thom Matthews, Brian Peck, Kenny Myers, Susan Snyder, Michael Kenworthy, And More…
- Archival Featurette – Live From The Set
- Archival Interviews With Ken Wiederhorn, James Karen, Thom Matthews, And Kenny Myers
- Behind-the-scenes Footage
- Theatrical Trailer And Teaser Trailer
- TV Spots
- Still Gallery Of Posters And Stills
- Still Gallery Of Behind-the-scenes Stills From Makeup Effects Artists Kenny Myers And Mike Smithson
Image quality is surprisingly good. The image has a softness to it, which is a result of the artistic choices made during production. It can also be quite grainy at times. Audiowise, you are in for a reasonable time. The mix is acceptable, if a bit heavy towards the score over dialogue. It is great to have the original soundtrack present after all these years, though, as the redubbed DVD version is awful.
Return Of The Living Dead Part 2: The Verdict:
Overall, Return Of The Living Dead Part 2 is a decent, if somewhat slight, film. Gorehounds won’t find much to their liking here, but those after a fairly simple comedy with horror elements will feel right at home.
3.5/5 Fiends. Good, but not great.
Buy Return Of The Living Dead Part 2 Blu Ray: Scream Factory