Wednesday, October 5, 2011

UNDEAD REVIEW: Return of the Living Dead III

TITLE: Return of the Living Dead 3
YEAR: 1993
DIRECTOR: Brian Yuzna

UNDEAD REVIEWS feature a look back at zombie movies that may have been in the video graveyard for a while, but that I either hadn't seen yet, or had to bring back from the grave for another viewing (which is the case with this selection)...

Aside from being noteworthy as the first true sequel to the zombie classic, Return of the Living Dead (which was released in 1985, and itself was originally envisioned as a sequel to 1968's classic , Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead had it's own sequel in 1988, "Part II", that was sort of a remake/reboot, utilizing some of the plot from the first while changing most of the setting and situations), Return of the Living Dead III also features a couple key actors who were or became relatively famous for roles in television; Kent McCord - famous for his role in the late 60's TV show Adam-12, and Melinda Clarke who regularly works in TV to this day - most famous for her role on The OC, but also recently appeared on Entourage and currently is a regular on Nikita, and it's director also was known for his Dentist films, and some Re-Animator sequels. Additionally, the film is somewhat notorious for Clarke's role and her bizzare self-mutilation. It's also. like the first in the series, a rather original zombie tale, with a decidedly different, and campy yet cool story.
The first Return of the Living Dead is one of my all time favorites, and this series, is one more born from video rental success than any sort of creative follow-through in the sequels. By that I mean, while some elements may carry through from film to film, there's not much carry-over from anyone behind each installment, be it writer, director, or cast. So, the films can be pretty hit or miss. RotLD III however, is stronger than any of the other sequels in my book though, and that's mainly because it stays keyed in on the Trioxin barrels that turn people into zombies, but spins it in creative new directions. This time we get to see the military trying to weaponize said zombie creating toxins, and some of the many creations that can spawn from such dark experimentation. The film itself has a darker tone to it than the original, which was decidedly humorous, but still maintains a touch of campyness... mainly in it's gonzo freak-show zombie stylings, and tragic zombie love story plot.

TYPE OF ZOMBIE, OR ACTUAL ZOMBIES?: These are your classic Romero zombies, with a decade or so of special effects evolution, but what's great here is that they're not your faceless horde, but an imaginative rainbow of individual mutations and augmentations!

GORE: Mostly moderate, but there are some really graphic things at play too (along the lines of the Saw movies - see self mutilation and augmentation references above)... there is an unrated cut, with more gore, but I'm not sure if it's been released on disc. So while most the gore is intentionally campy or schlocky, this is not for the trepidatious zombie viewer.

EFFECTS: The effects here are good, again pretty campy at times, as they definitely fall on the dramatic or cartoonish side rather than photo realistic.



Return of the Living Dead III maintains the over-the-top spirit of the original, with a solid story (and love story at that), and plenty of zombie fun. While it can drag a bit in spots, the love story is pretty weak, and things can miss their target, there's plenty to stick around for and enjoy. It's not a top tier zombie classic, but it is a fine cult favorite.

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