Plot: Ed (James Karen) has a most reviled method of income production, as he visits the tombs of newly deceased folks, then robs whatever he can find. He’ll take rings, watches, bracelets, skulls, or any other items of value, with minimal regard for the dead. On his latest treasure hunt, he has brought in Joey (Thom Matthews) to help him score as much loot as possible, while Joey’s girlfriend Brenda (Suzanne Snyder) waits in the van. A night like any other night, or at least that is what these two grave robbers think. At the same time, a young man named Jesse races out of the same tomb, after hiding there from some bullies. What Ed and Joey don’t know is that those bullies stumbled upon a military barrel filled with trioxin and a decayed corpse. After the kids kick around the barrel enough, the gas begins to pour out and by turn, the trioxin fills the cemetery rows. Soon enough, the dead begin to rise and of course, this spells trouble for Ed and Joey. Even after a narrow escape from the graveyard, more problems arise. The military has traced the barrel, thanks to a phone call from Jesse, so the town has been surrounded. That means that sooner of later, the undead will catch up to them and dine on their delicious brains. Can the band of ragtag survivors manage to fend off the undead, or will they become zombies themselves?
Entertainment Value: The shelves of horror sections are laden with zombie movies, but few deserve the space, as most are weak, shameless ripoffs. The Return of the Living Dead is one deserving zombie epic of course, but what about the sequel? Return of the Living Dead Part II is often overlooked thanks to the excellent original and Mindy Clarke’s breasts in the third movie, but without question, this is a fun, well crafted zombie adventure. I know a lot of folks dislike the slant toward humor, but camp is part of the horror landscape, so I see no reason to be up in arms. The staples of good horror are all here, solid zombie makeup, including some wicked featured zombies, a little blood and gore, and some decent cheap scares. The humor seems to upset some genre fans, but this is not all out slapstick, not even close. The sense of dread remains intact and tension is present, we just have some moments of comic relief. I mean, where else we can see a zombified Michael Jackson take in a massive jolt of electric juice? I agree that this isn’t as good as the original, but it is not as bad as a lot of people report. Maybe there is a bit too much humor, but even if so, Return of the Living Dead Part II is still a lot of fun to watch.
No nakedness. This movie takes a more broad appeal approach, so no sleaze is present in this one whatsoever. A real shame, since the first and third movies involve iconic nudity, but it is what it is. This trend continues into the gore department, where bloodshed is minimal and instead, the movie introduces a green slime that replaces most of the red stuff this time around. As genre fans know, once you turn the fluids green, the censors are more relaxed, so perhaps this was an effort to lure in younger viewers, but the film is still rated R. That said, it could easily pass for PG-13. The violence includes eye popping, brain munching, and a zombie being halved, the latter of which is the movie’s best gore sequence. The dialogue has some fun moments and the humor driven tone allows for some real silliness, with even the zombies angling for laughs. Some fun one liners and exchanges, though some of the humor hits with a real thud. The craziness here is more silly or wacky than over the top madness, but there’s enough wackiness to earn a couple points on the scale.
Overall Insanity: 3/10
The Disc: Scream Factory’s release includes a new 2k scan from the interpositive and it yields a good looking presentation. The image looks clean and produces strong detail, even in the darker sequences. One of this disc’s real draws is the inclusion of the original soundtrack, which is certain to delight fans and make this the definitive version of the movie to own. The extras include three audio commentary tracks, two of which are new and exclusive to this release, two new interview featurettes, a behind the scenes piece that was ported over, and the movie’s trailer.