Return Of The Living Dead
Director: Dan O’Bannon
Stars: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa
Review by Brian M. Sammons
About a month ago I was so happy when I got the first BD edition of Escape From New York, but then I opened it up and I hated it. The movie was still great, and it always will be, but that Blu-ray was the barest of bare bones releases. For a film as wonderful and influential as Escape (was I the only one that noticed the Escape From New York nod in the new Robert Rodriguez flick, Machete?) that’s inexcusable, but what made it all the worse was that there already was a DVD fully loaded with extras. Why weren’t those extras carried over? I don’t know, but when I got this new Blu-ray of another great horror film, also in the same style and by the same company (20th Century Fox), I was all prepared to be disappointed again.
Well boys and ghouls let me say that I was as surprised by this BD as Kevin Bacon was laying on a bunk at Camp Crystal Lake. Not only was the movie great looking and never sounded better, but this time around they got things right and added a nice collection of bonus features to the package to make all the extra junkies like me happy. More on that in a second, but first let’s talk about the movie.
Return Of The Living Dead is one of the best, funniest, and all around enjoyable zombie flicks of all time. Oh, and let’s not forget about influential. Hey, you know how zombies eat brains? Yeah, that came from this movie. Yep, before this zombies were strictly flesh munchers, but after Return, well you go up to any Joe Schmo on the street and ask them, “what do zombies eat” and eight times out of ten they’ll say “brains.” Also, did you think that fast moving zombies started with 28 Days Later or the Dawn Of The Dead remake? Well wrong, that also began with this little groovy movie. Not to mention that these ghouls were smart wise-asses, and nigh indestructible. Yep, no lucky head shots to save the day here.
You add up all those things that turned the zombie genre on its head with a great ensemble cast of young punks (literally) and veteran genre actors, toss in some great punk rock, a bunch of great gory gags, and a great silly sense of humor and you have a movie that is the very definition of classic. All horrorheads need to not only see this movie but own this movie so they can watch it over, and over, and over again. Yeah, it’s that good.
Now for those extras. With this release Fox has taken some steps to make up for the abomination that was the Escape From New York Blu-ray. Just like before, this release has a BD and a DVD, so no matter what format you have you can enjoy this zombiefest. Additionally there are two audio commentary tracks, a retrospective featurette with interviews from many of the cast, another on the zombie makeup effects, a couple of trailers, and then there’s the really cool stuff. There are two different subtitle streams that allow the zombies to make comments on the film (no, really) that had me laughing more than a few times and there’s also a nice surprise: a pretty decent little documentary called “Decade of Darkness” about some of the classic horror films of the 1980s. I certainly wasn’t expecting that and it was a fun way to spend a half hour or so.
For all these reasons and for the fact that the video on the BD has been enhanced somewhat, I can give this edition a solid A. This is how classic flicks should be treated. Let’s hope 20th Century Fox continues to follow this path when they release their other titles to BD. If so, you can color me one happy horrorhead.