FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Feb 24, 2010

"I feel like we've been here before."


Return of the Living Dead Part II
(1988) is a sequel in the same vein as Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II, meaning it's kind of a sequel but it's also kind of a remake. Director Ken Wiederhorn goes so far as to bring back RotLD actors James Karen and Thom Mathews. The character names and occupations are different (here they're grave robbers, not morgue attendants), but their personalities are essentially the same this go-round. When they begin spouting lines from the original film, you may begin to wonder why you're not just watching the original instead.

A drum containing a corpse and a batch of 245-Trioxin falls off an Army truck and ends up in a sewage pipe. A few curious kids poke at the barrel until it cracks; a toxic green cloud rises into the sky, there's a convenient insta-rainstorm, and before you can say "This seems familiar...", the dead are rising from their graves.

A few survivors band together, James Karen and Thom Mathews turn into zombies...why, the only thing missing here is a naked Linnea Quigley. Of course, I say that about most movies- but you know what I mean. Return of the Living Dead II swaps kids for punk rockers, but otherwise...yeah, we've seen this.

And that's kind of okay. If RotLD is 70% horror and 30% humor, RotLD II is the opposite. Everything here is played for laughs, from the zombies to the non-zombies. The zombies look straight outta Thriller, bad wigs and all- an MJ lookalike even busts out some moves at the end. Karen and Mathews are given little to do but scream, whine, and mug, but it's funny. Mind you, I adore James Karen so your mileage may vary.

All in all, it's a pleasant enough diversion, an above-average horror comedy...or rather, comedy horror. Still, I'm not sure why you wouldn't simply watch the original- it's this film minus kids plus Linnea Quigley: math makes Return of the Living Dead the right choice. What are you, a weirdo?

18 comments:

Lee said...

I like this okay, but it really is missing all the meat the made the original such a classic film. I liked the electro-fried zombies at least. Part 3 brought back some fun to the series. I've yet to dare take a look out 4 and 5. I hear awful, nasty, bad things about them.

Craig Blamer said...

My main disappointment with RotLDII is that Wiederhorn came off of Shock Waves to deliver this. Maybe he was fed up with zombies at this point...

The Creep said...

I remember hating this movie. A lot. I think calling it a "pleasant diversion" is more courtesy than it deserves.

Midnight Fright said...

Dearest Stacie, since I am discovering in our blossoming e-relationship that you are a huge Linnea fan, I must beg the questions as to whether you've ever seen her VHS exercise wonder that is "Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout"? If you have not, we simply must get a copy in your hands pronto...and if you have, well, that just makes you all the more a fan, doesn't it?

Jo Amelia Finlay said...

I have to be honest, I really didn't like this film. And that redhead annoyed the hell out of me.

mgherring said...

I have this in my Netflix cue... perhaps I should just rewatch Zombieland instead.

Stacie Ponder said...

So much hatred! Maybe my standards were low last night...it's not nearly the film the first one is. I don't know...I laughed. There is an awful lot of yelling, though.

Stacie Ponder said...

Oh, and no...somehow I've never seen Linnea's workout tape. It's my biggest shame!

Randall said...

I certainly the like first much better, but I don't think you're going to easy on this flick. II is all about the fun.

With you on the lack of naked Linnea Quigley, though.

Midnight Fright said...

Well, see me in the parking lot...if we meet by the street lamp wearing trench coats and big shades, I will pass you a copy of said horror workout. I like to keep fellow Linnea fans hooked up. In other news, since it's sort of on topic with the post, I'm just going to say it: Thom Matthews is on tasty dish of an 80s horror icon. Mmmmhmmm.

Stacie Ponder said...

Ha, deal. I was wondering last night why Mr. Mathews wasn't in more genre pictures. Hmm. Now I'm wondering it today.

Chicken Wire, the Harbinger of Heavenly Annotation said...

The movie was laughable, certainly, but wasn't the poster totally radical?

Stacie Ponder said...

Indeed! It's always reminded me of the poster for Fright Night.

B-Sol said...

A watered-down kiddified version of the original. Like you said, why not just watch the original instead? I do like when they ask the zombie who the president is, and he replies, "Harry Truman".
And yeah, the Linnea workout tape is about 17 different kinds of awesome.

thomwade said...

I like the original better, but this one is still fun. I am surprised by the amount of hate.

math said...

I love this movie. I think there's an exact right time to watch it, something to the effect of two or three weeks after you've watched the original. The callbacks are funniest that way, the corny déjà vu jokes work, and it answers why you wouldn't watch the first one instead - because you just watched it. It's not a replacement, and it's definitely not an improvement, but it's a cute companion piece. And James Karen is having such a great time!

mrgordo said...

Not a big fan of this 1, but Part 3 is tops & totally underrated. Plus, it's got a surprisingly heartfelt romantic bent, making it possibly of the rarest of rarities: a zombiefied romantic drama! Plus the main chick is that cougar from "O.C." that was also in "Spawn." I think her name's Mindy Clarke. It's a must-see, even if it's not as good as the original! Don't know about the others though. Heard they weren't so good...

Kim said...

I just saw this movie for the first time recently and I LAUGHED a LOT. It has some real comedic moments, but is not scary....just a teeny bit gross in spots.