Terror Tuesday: Return of the Living Dead 2
Hosted by filmmaker/writer Chris Shields. Admission only $10!
If, historically, horror films have struggled for legitimacy, then horror sequels are probably considered the lowest form of mainstream cinema. There are exceptions of course. Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD is about as close as a horror sequel is going to get to THE GODFATHER 2 culturally and critically. Something like CRITTERS 2 on the other hand, isn’t even regarded as well as GODFATHER 3. Ouch. So, it was in this general climate that Jason took Manhattan, Freddy got his revenge, Ghoulies went to college, and the living dead returned…and then, in, 1988, returned AGAIN.
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 2 stands in the shadow of its pioneering predecessor, itself a defacto sequel of sorts to Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Dan O’bannon’s 1985 film caught lightning in a bottle with its utterly unique tone, by turns gory, cynical, and clever. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 2 trades the punk angst of O’bannon’s original for the tract homes of Spielberg and casts the zombie movie in the mold of a mainstream kids adventure film. A rogue barrel of the zombifying chemical Trioxin falls off a military transport and ends up in a storm drain near a suburban cemetery. Meddling kids break the seal and the Living Dead return to terrorize the town in goofball fashion—being mesmerized by aerobics videos, cruising the streets in a jeep, attacking pet stores, and, yes, even moonwalking.
Ken Wiederhorn, who gave the world both the nazi zombie offering SHOCK WAVES as well as another iconic sequel—MEATBALLS II—writes and directs this nearly platonic 80s horror sequel. James Karen and Thom Mathews return along with the dead, in roles that wink so hard at the original the actors probably suffered severe eyelid cramps.