Return of the Living Dead II (1988)


Hey after “Return” ended, there was really nowhere left to go. The characters were dead, zombies were taking over the world, and the government nuked an entire city. And it’s heavily implied that the rain over head would carry the nasty zombification over in to another city and a whole new batch of zombies would come up to look for brain matter. Dan O’Bannon and co. really left “Return” with nowhere else to go as it sealed up the ending nice and tight. So what else for a studio to do when they want to sap more cash from a zombie film? Remake the first film! Sort of. That makes sense, I’m assuming. In some warped manner.

“Return II” is like the first film except kind of stupid, and bafflingly dumb, all the while dodging what made the first film so much fun. All the punk rock, heavy metal atmosphere is gone, the killer soundtrack is nowhere to be found, and characters from the first film return good as new for some reason. Instead of a city there’s a suburb, and an abundance of annoying child actors, not to mention a re-working of the hilarious running gag where the zombies call for more ambulance and police. It’s bad enough the government sent a group of zombie pods to the wrong place in the first film. But carrying a shipments of the pods again on a mysteriously rickety truck causes one of the pods to fall off and in to a cave.

Rather than two inept workers, a group of nasty kids stumble on to Tar Man in his pod and release the gas yet again on to an unsuspecting small suburban neighborhood. Tar Man is only in the film for a few seconds, really, and the story enters in to a lite remake of the original film. With zombies rising from their graves, endless scenes of zombies storming houses to feast on humans, and James Karen and Thom Matthews whom appear once again to become zombies yet again (by a lame accident involving a zombie head). Only to remind how good they were in the first film, and how bad they are here. But that’s not really their fault, when you consider how bad the movie tends to be.

The sequel feels like a rip off of the first film fitted to be a sequel, with the zombies now becoming goofy running gags, and not as horrifying as they were in the first film. I mean why did they get so frantic for human brains in the first film if we’re told they actually eat animal brains too? Why not feed them a bunch of parakeets and keep them at bay? And if human brains keep the pain away, why do they eat raw brains from the hospital? I thought fresh brains kept them happy? “Return of the Living Dead II” is one of those maligned sequels to a horror classic that fails to be scary or remotely funny. If you’re going to force a sequel on us, you could at least get creative rather than just cribbing from Dan O’Bannon’s original script.