Return of the Living Dead Blu-ray Review
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the cemetery, those brain-eating zombies are back and hungry for more tasty mortals. A fiendish mix of outrageous humor and heart-stopping terror, The Return of the Living Dead is a veritable smorgasbord of fun (LA Herald-Examiner) filled with skin-crawling jolts, eye-popping visuals and relentless surprise! On his first day on the job at an army surplus store, poor Freddy unwittingly releases nerve gas from a secret U.S. military canister, unleashing an unbelievable terror. The gas re-animates a corps of corpses, who arise from their graves with a ravenous hunger for human brains! And luckily for those carnivorous cadavers, there is a group of partying teens nearby, just waiting to be eaten!
Audio: DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Disc Spec: 1 BD50/ 1 DVD
Writer/director Dan O’Bannon cut his teeth while collaborating with John Carpenter on the latter’s quirky sci-fi/comedy debut, “Dark Star;” a few years later, he penned a script for an obscure movie that a few people have seen called “Alien.” O’Bannon has worked sporadically over the past few decades, screen writing with occasional success, but this spin-off of George Romero’s popular zombie movies is the only film in which he was able to convey his sick sense of humor and love of gore as he saw fit.
The result is impressive: “Return” is grotesque, cleverly plotted and very amusing, making the best of a tiny budget and third-rate cast. Hammy performances are abundant, and entirely appropriate for such a goofy script. Screen veteran Gulagher, who has plenty of experience in schlock productions, is particularly enjoyable to watch: when he calls a young punk “dick-brain,” it’s not unlike hearing your father when he’s in a foul mood.
I can’t fault the production design of this film. William Stout’s effects are as excellent as they are vile, and it’s clear that he shares O’Bannon’s sensibilities in creating monsters that are equally comedic and repellent. This was clearly intended to be just another drive-in flick, and while I wouldn’t call it a classic, it definitely ranks a cut above the average horror picture.
Movie Content: 10/10
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.”Return of the Living Dead” is finally on Blu-ray and the results are pretty good for this low budget and 25 year old film. There are some flaws throughout the print, having owned this film on VHS and several times on DVD this is the best it has looked yet. The image still looks dull and murky at times with some heavy grain coming into play. The grain never becomes intrusive, yet it is still there and noticeable in the darker scenes. Details are good at times and other times they tend to lack. With the print being cleaned up a bit in certain areas it tends to show off how fake the special effects were for the time. Overall I will say that I am very pleased with the film on Blu-ray albeit a few of the short comings
Video Quality: 8.5/10
The audio mix is presented in DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio lossless track. I found the audio mix to be pretty good when brought over to DTS-HD MA, even though it is mostly front and center. Whenever there is sound effects you do get some decent sound out of the rears. Most of the soundfield is filled with special effects even though they were working with a low budget film. The audio excels in this area with the hard/punk/metal soundtrack which will not disappoint fans of the film. Dialogue through the center channel was nice and clean without any issues.
Audio Quality: 8.5/10
- Audio commentary with Director John O’Bannon and Production designer William Stout
- Audio commentary Don Calfa, Linnea Quigley, Brian Peck, Beverly Randolph, Allan Trautman, and William Stout
- Return of the Living Dead – The Dead Have Risen
- The Decade of Darkness
- Designing the Dead Featurette
- Zombie Subtitles
- Theatrical Trailer: Bloody Version [HD]
- Theatrical Trailer: Even Bloodier Version [HD]
Special Features: 7/10
Return of the Living Dead is a film that really doesn’t require much in depth analysis since not much more can be said about it. It’s an excellent example of 80’s cinema, an excellent zombie movie, and perhaps most shockingly it’s a horror/comedy that actually works. Not to mention the nifty punk rock theme it has going and its soundtrack to match. A true classic of horror, Return of the Living Dead is one to be seen at all costs.
Overall Rating: 8/10