Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Return of the Living Dead

This is a great zombie movie that came forth from the 80's with dazzling intensity. This film has absolutely no affiliation with George Romero or his legacy of zombie films (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and Land of the Dead). To keep from stepping on Romero's toes, the idea and the execution of such were radically changed and some view this new interpretation to be much more sinister and scary. To name just a few of the changes: unlike Romero's films, which explained that the brain of the ghoul must be destroyed in order to kill it. In Return of the Living Dead there is no way to kill the zombies, only by reducing the body to ashes proves successful in killing it. In other words, if you chop up a ghoul into several pieces, the pieces will still come after you. Also, Romero's zombies were very slow and unsteady, in contrast to Return's zombies which can run like hell and are strong. The story starts with two employs named Frank and Freddie who work at a medical supply warehouse. Freddie (the trainee) asks Frank what the weirdest thing he ever saw was at the medical warehouse. Frank explains that in the 60's, several canisters that were intended for a military destination were accidentally sent to the warehouse by mistake and are now residing in the warehouse basement. As Frank explains, the army was developing a chemical substance called Trioxin to spray on marijuana fields or something and the substance accidentally leaked down into the morgue and made the corpses move around as though they were alive. The army put the corpses in airtight canisters and accidentally sent them to the wrong place. Why the army wasn't notified is anyones guess, and therefore the canisters have remained at the warehouse ever since. Frank and Freddie go down to the basement to check them out. After bumping into a canister, it cracks and spews chemical gas right into their faces, knocking them unconscious. While unconscious, the gas slips into the ventilation system and brings many biological samples to life, including everything from butterfly displays to a ballistics cadaver. They call Burt, the owner of the warehouse. After some serious bitching, he decides that they must destroy all the evidence around the warehouse and keep their traps shut. Burt's friend Ernie (they were named Burt and Ernie on purpose) runs the crematorium across the street. They convince Ernie to let them use his crematorium to get rid of the evidence. He reluctantly agrees. When the smoke from the burning bodies rise up from the chimney, it carries the chemical with it, mixes with a bad storm coming and produces acid rain that drenches the local cemetery making hundreds of corpses come alive and slither forth from their graves with only one thing on their decaying minds... live brains. A group of Freddie's friends that are waiting for him to get off work are hanging out in the cemetery to pass the time and are therefore at ground zero when the shit hits the fan. They freak and try to find Freddie at the warehouse, but have no luck since he's at the crematorium. Instead they come face to face with the slimy corpse that has obviously recently emerged from the canister that Frank accidentally cracked. Eventually, most of them end up boarding themselves into the embalming room where Frank and Freddie are getting really sick, as well as a very stressed Burt and Ernie. Swarms of zombies are outside and every attempt by the police and EMT's fail while trying to figure out what's going on, much less help those trapped inside the funeral home. After realizing that Frank and Freddie are not breathing and have no pulse, yet are still very much alive and conscious, it's assumed that they are slowly becoming one of the zombies that are now roaming outside in search of some tasty fresh brains, and are therefore locked in the chapel for safekeeping. Wanting desperately to figure out what the hell is going on, they capture a zombie (well, the upper half of a zombie) and are surprised to find out that they can hear and speak. When asked why they ate brains, the zombie explains that it hurts to be dead, they can feel themselves rotting and live brains are the only thing that relieves the pain. After several unsuccessful attempts to escape and the police blockades being overrun, the remaining few survivors see a number stenciled on the side of the canister that housed Mr. Green and Slimy. They call the number, it turns out to be the military who explain that they have been waiting for this call for some time and have a plan devised to deal with it. Unfortunately, the plan is to nuke the entire area (in this case, the entire city of Louisville, Kentucky) thus leaving no margin for the survival of anything. Just before the nuke, we see Frank, who is a zombie but has not yet been overcome with a taste for human brain consumption. He commits suicide by throwing himself into the crematorium. This again releases the Trioxin into the atmosphere, turning to acid rain and starting the cycle all over again. Really great zombie flick with just the right amount of shock, gore and even some rather unexpected comical scenes. A must see for any zombie fan.

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