The Return Of The Living Dead - Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

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Reviewed by Chris McEneany, 16th September 2010.
One of those much-loved 80's cult faves, The Return Of The Living Dead is a real ghoulish pleasure to revisit. Great visual and makeup effects, a tremendous cast, an eclectic soundtrack (albeit slightly modified now by O' Bannon due to copyright reasons for a song and a couple of voice-tweaks) and a deliciously witty and subversive script all go hand-in-rotting-hand to create a mini-masterpiece of mayhem and dark gallows humour. Linnea Quigley strips off and dances on top of a grave. Skulls are regularly bitten-into and brains ooze merrily out. Dan Calfa induces hysterics just with his eyes whilst James Karen has a nervous breakdown on-camera, and Clu Gulager does a fantastic Texan Groucho Marx routine of trying to keep a lid on things. The film is fast, frothy, fun and full of gags.

MGM's transfer is surprisingly good. For some reason I had expected a bit of a mess with this. But there's no obvious DNR and no edge enhancement to spoil the gruesome goings-on, and the print looks nice and vivid and delightfully colourful. The audio does reasonably well, too, without being made a mockery of with any bogus-sounding effects being flung about. And fans will definitely enjoy the extra features. Solid and interesting featurettes are capped-off with a marvellous group commentary, and you've got the fun of the zombie subtitles too. Something for everyone then, living or dead.

Return Of The Living Dead sits right alongside Re-Animator as the best of the tongue-in-cheek horrors from the 80's, and it even earns a great ranking in the overall zombie league-table, despite being massively liberal with the usual conventions. It didn't beat Romero at his own game, but then it didn't try to. Romero was the undoubted foundation-stone, but Dan O' Bannon and William Stout and their wacky cast really put their heart and soul into it. And it shows.

Awesome entertainment and very highly recommended.

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