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?