The Return of the Living Dead


return of the living dead title

The Return of the Living Dead is a 1985 American comedy/horror film written and directed by Dan O’Bannon (Alien; Dead & Buried). It stars Clu GulagerJames Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, John Philbin, Jewel Shepard, Linnea Quigley.

The film tells the story of how three men accompanied by a group of teenage punks deal with the accidental release of a horde of brain hungry zombies onto an unsuspecting town. The film is known for introducing the popular concept of zombies eating brains, as opposed to just eating human flesh, like previous zombie iterations, as well as its soundtrack, which features several noted deathrock and punk rock bands of the era. The film was a critical success and performed moderately well at the box office. It later spawned four sequels.


The Return of the Living Dead has proved to be a seminal zombie film, arguably reinventing the genre in the most dramatic way since the original Night of the Living Dead. This is, after all, the film that broke several established rules – the zombies here not only run, but also talk and are not killed by the trusty bullet-in-the-head method – but also the movie that first established the now-classic zombie trope that the living dead are hungry for brains. It’s also notable that the film was a big hit in the same year that Romero’s Day of the Dead crashed and burned at the box office – if anything seemed to symbolise the demise of serious horror in favour of the trivial and safe, this was it.” David Flint,
Strange Things Are Happening

“Unlike a lot of cult 80s horror, Return of the Living Dead has aged rather well, in spite of the director’s attempts to be up to the minute with the contemporary soundtrack and street fashions (probably because they were at least 8 years out of date by the time the film was released). More than anything, it is director and screenwriter Dan O’Bannon’s witty and innovative script that lifts it above the B-movie standard of most of its acting and special effects.” This is Horror

International poster artwork:

return of the living dead re-animator poster graham humphreys

British Vestron Video VHS sleeve:

Return of the Living Dead still0a

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Categories: 1980s, comedy horror, gory, living dead, zombies

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. Other than the film’s excellent use of it’s soundtrack and excellent FX, I don’t think this one has aged well. Loved it back in the day, but am pretty blah on it now.

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