HTF REVIEW: "Return Of The Living Dead" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jul 23, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    Return Of The Living Dead




    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1985
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 91 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.78:1)



    More Brains! Send More Brains!
    While I have never been a fan of b-grade horror
    films, I have always enjoyed the films of Director
    George A. Romero. After all, how can anyone resist
    tales of dead people coming back to life only to
    recruit the living by eating on their flesh?
    It's surprising that Return Of The Living Dead,
    not only successfully satires the Romero series, but
    manages to be just as hauntingly beautiful yet
    chilling. In fact, the film has become so popular
    over the years that it has been elevated to a cult
    classic. And why not? The film offers humor mixed
    with horror as well as its share of split dogs,
    walking headless corpses, and brains.
    [​IMG]
    Freddy (Thom Matthews) has just started his first
    job at an army surplus store. His boss and Uncle,
    Frank (James Karen) is a humorous fellow that you can
    never take too seriously -- especially when he
    starts telling strange stories of re-animated
    corpses in the basement.
    [​IMG]
    When the two accidently break a seal on one of the
    canisters, the gas creeps up through cracks,
    re-animating butterflies, chopped in half dogs, and
    a cadaver. Decapitating the cadaver doesn't help
    much, so Freddy and Frank chop him into little
    pieces and take him to a crematorium next door.
    As the body burns to ashes, the pieces release gas
    into the cemetery, bringing back hordes of zombies
    hungry for brains.
    [​IMG]
    Meanwhile, Freddy's punk friends are partying in
    the cemetery next door. This gives the perfect
    excuse for Trash (Linnea Quigley) to remove all her
    clothes and entertain her friends. But these friends
    are soon to realize that they are surrounded by the
    living dead, being the first to discover the hordes
    of zombies, as they find themselves trapped with
    no way out.
    How is the transfer?
    I didn't quite know what to expect from a low-budget
    80s film like this. Imagine my surprise finding this
    transfer to be quite good.
    The print is in immaculate condition, sporting
    hardly any film dirt or blemishes. Transfer looks
    extremely clean, with noticeable film grain in only
    a few brief shots throughout the film. What is
    most surprising here is how accurate the film colors
    are -- especially in the skin tones. Colors never
    become oversaturated. Even the night shots look
    better than one would expected with lots of detail
    and (except for a few shots) a small amount of
    film grain. Fans are going to be overwhelmed by
    just how good this film looks over former video
    releases.
    [​IMG]
    The mono soundtrack is very robust, even a bit
    bass heavy, giving nice support to the powerful
    metal soundtrack featuring The Cramps and Billy Idol.
    One can't help but wonder how much better this film
    would have sounded with a stereo mix.
    Special Features
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    MGM has certainly recognized the cult following
    of this film, and as a result, included an
    interesting amount of added material.
    First off is the full-length audio commentary
    by Director/Writer Dan O'Bannon and Production
    Designer William Stout. Stout tells some interesting
    stories about how some of his film ideas were created,
    including the skeleton farm in India (which happens
    to be real). As we continue through the film,
    O'Bannon points out many of the flaws in his film
    including the overly clean embalming room and the
    fact that a corpse's shoes were too shiny. We also
    learn of some of the photographic limitations the
    director had, and how he worked around them. Stout
    sort of loses himself in admiring his work rather
    than talking extensively how some of the effects
    shots and gore were created.
    [​IMG]
    In Designing the Dead,Writer/Director Dan
    O'Bannon is quick to point out that while he is
    a great fan of Romero's films, the last thing he
    wanted to do was step on his toes. O'Bannon's
    goal was to take the essence of the "Dead" films
    and turn it into a comedy. One thing that I was
    shocked to learn was that this was the man that
    wrote the original "Alien" story that went on to
    be directed by Ridley Scott. In a very geekish
    manner, the Director talks about how the success
    of "Alien" led to other film offers, and ultimately,
    an offer from Tobe Hooper to direct Return Of
    The Living Dead. After checking out a comic
    book cover design, O'Bannon brought William Stout
    on board as Production Designer. We get a look at
    some of the early production designs for the film,
    which look quite good. Putting in 18 hour days,
    Stout did a lot of research on dead corpses in
    order to bring more realism to his mummy-like
    creations. Stout goes on to give a fascinating
    in-depth explanation of how many of the make-up
    effects were created, and why he preferred actors
    over stunt men to take on the role of the dead.
    (length: approx. 13 minutes)
    [​IMG]
    There are about 78 photos that make up the
    storyboards and Conceptual art work by William
    Stout. Using your remote, you surf through
    the many set designs and creature drawings, all
    of which were recreated for the screen quite well
    when considering the film's budget limitations.
    Two original theatrical trailers are included.
    The first is the "G" rated trailer designed for
    general audiences. The second is the "R" rated
    trailer that played as a preview amongst more adult
    orientated films.
    Final Thoughts
    Who would have ever thought that zombies and
    punk rock would go together so well? This
    highly enjoyable and amazing thrill ride takes
    on new "life" thanks to its wonderful DVD
    transfer. The dead have never looked better!
    Release Date: August 28, 2002
     
  2. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    Good man, Ron, the best review yet! Thanks very much for going over one of the HTF's Most Wanted! [​IMG]
    Any chance of Last House on the Left? [​IMG]
     
  3. Hakan Powers

    Hakan Powers Stunt Coordinator

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    Good review Ron.

    ROTLD is one of my favorite horror movies, I remember watching VHS dubs of it back in the 80s.

    I can't wait to finally own and watch it in widescreen!
     
  4. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

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    Great review. Looks sweet!
     
  5. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Screenwriter

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    I have never seen thsi movie before, but I already have it preordered through CDNow, and cant want to get it in my grubby little hands and see it in 16x9 for the first time ever! [​IMG]
     
  6. Michael Allred

    Michael Allred Screenwriter

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    Excellent review Ron, the best I've read on ROTLD so far!
     
  7. Todd_B

    Todd_B Second Unit

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    Thanks for the review.
    I can't count the times that I rented this puppy in my youth from my local Mom and Pop.
    Now I get to experience it again, for the first time [​IMG]
    Todd "I'll bus' it in the damn head" B
     
  8. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Made my day Ron, thanks! [​IMG] Imagine my surprise when I saw this thread on the topic list, it couldn't load fast enough for me! [​IMG]
    I will be buying two copies of this one!
     
  9. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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  10. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Yes that's exactly why. That's great news!
     
  11. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    This really does bode well for a Director's Cut.

    The pre-order rate has been high, not to mention the people that will pick this up right from the stores. MGM should have expected this, this movie is a huge cult classic, and at less than $10 at most places, it's a steal really.

    I had to buy a rental VHS of this from a closing video store, and then to my horror, the tape was wearing out!!! So I had to make a copy of that to watch.
    I can't wait to own this puppy, and retire my 2nd generation rental copy.
     
  12. Justin_S

    Justin_S Producer

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    Thanks for the review! ROTLD is an absolutely enormous favorite of mine, and I, like thousands of other horror fans, have been dying for it to be released on DVD! And by the way, Tarman is the coolest zombie ever! [​IMG]
     
  13. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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  14. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Oh, yes!

    Thanks for the great review Ron. MGM is turning into quite the mainstream studio for cult and horror films.

    Thanks MGM!
     
  15. Michael Allred

    Michael Allred Screenwriter

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  16. Chris M

    Chris M Second Unit

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  17. Beau

    Beau Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for gathering all those reviews Michael.[​IMG] And that's a GREAT review you did Ron![​IMG] I'm getting SO anxious for Aug 27th that it KILLING ME![​IMG]
     
  18. Todd H

    Todd H Go Dawgs!

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    Gimme gimme gimme!!! [​IMG]
     
  19. Michael Allred

    Michael Allred Screenwriter

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    Chris M, that site only had 1 review I had not yet seen.

    BTW, hey Ron, does the DVD have a booklet with it?
     
  20. Michael Allred

    Michael Allred Screenwriter

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    *bump*
    Just a reminder to everyone....
    go and buy "The Return of the Living Dead" DVD today! Yes, it's out! Go get it!
    /MGM advertising [​IMG]
     

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