There are horror classics. And then there are horror CULT classics. For every Friday the 13th there is a Sleepaway Camp. For every Halloween a My Bloody Valentine. And for every Dawn of the Dead there is a Return of the Living Dead. Available previously as a bare bones Blu-ray release, the wonderful people at Shout Factory have seen fit to bless us with a new collectors edition of Return of the Living Dead and man is it hot!
Written by the co-writer of the original Night of the Living Dead (John Russo) and the man who played Johnny himself (Russell Streiner) in that film, Return of the Living Dead is the story of Frank (James Karen) and Freddy (Thom Matthews), two morons working at a medial supply warehouse who accidentally release a toxic gas that reanimates nearby corpses. Now along with the warehouse owner Burt (Clu Gulager) and a group of punk rockers they must all try to survive the night and stop the spread of the toxic contaminant.
Return of the Living Dead is loosely connected to Romero’s Living Dead series but it really stands on its own as being in a very different world. A much more over the top and hilarious world. While there are still crazy zombies and lots of gore, Return of the Living Dead is a much closer cousin to the work of Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon than George A. Romero. Films like Re-Animator and From Beyond. Tons of gore, way over the top performances and drop dead (pun intended) hilarious laughs. And the 80s vibe in Return of the Living Dead is the stuff of legend with the music, the punk rockers and one of the most beloved scream queens of all time, Linnea Quigley. Director Dan O’Bannon only ever directed one other obscure film but wrote a ton of great genre movies including Alien, Blue Thunder, Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars and Total Recall so this is definitely a guy who knows how to write cult favorites. Return of the Living Dead is a perfect example of an 80s cult classic horror movie.
The new Collectors Edition of Return of the Living Dead is the only version of the film you are ever going to need. Aside from some new kick ass cover art you get a new 2K transfer of the film that looks phenomenal, new audio commentaries, a new documentary of the FX as well as one on the music, and a new episode of Horror’s Hallowed Grounds in addition to tons of special features from previous editions. This one is a must own and is highly recommended.