Monday, October 05, 2009

Return of the Living Dead III (1993).

Loved the first one, started hoovering during the second. What was the third going to be like?

Not so bad, as it turns out.

With Brian Yuzna in the director’s chair this time around, the flick screams “nineties”, but not in a bad way. The effects are (from what I could make out) exclusively practical, which is incredibly satisfying. I know I always say it, but I can never say it enough.

We like mucky.

We also like effects which are obviously the actor's head through a hole in the wall!

The plot for this installment revolves around Curt Reynolds, the son of a military man, and Curt's biker chick girlfriend Julie. With alarming ease, the pair break into a base one evening and witness army scientists bringing the dead back to life, using the drums of 2-4-5 Trioxin gas that have featured in the last two films.

Unfortunately, later that night Julie is killed in a motorcycle accident. Feeling their love ought to cross life-death boundaries rather than be stopped by them, her boyfriend returns to the scene of the military death meddling, her corpse in tow (almost literally) and promptly reanimates her.

Looks-wise Julie is freshly dead, so she doesn’t resemble any of the horrors to be found in the drums – at least to start with. As her initially indiscernible blood lust takes hold however, she takes to self-harming in order to try to control it.
“The pain helps.”

It is at a moment towards the end of the film that she emerges freshly mutilated, instantly becoming the only truly recognisable, iconic image from the film. She has punctured herself silly with scrap pieces of metal, including piercing both of her nipples and ripping holes in her shirt so that we can see them. Well okay then.

She swiftly dispatches a group of hideously stereotyped Mexican gang members; the leader of which she manages to partially behead by yanking his spine out roughly two feet from his neck. Nice stuff.

This sequence produced an audible laugh from myself, which only got louder when the man-monster-thing reanimated and started walking around several minutes later.

Having sexy goth zombie Julie as the selling point is all very well, but I found myself waiting an age for her to transform. It feels like an awfully long process from her death to her eventual morphing into this vision - which, by the way, is always used whenever this film is spoken about. I think perhaps this could have been handled better (ie: quicker). Am I saying in a roundabout way that I wanted more screen time for the pierced zombie nipples? Yes, yes maybe I am.

It's interesting in zombie movies when the theme of the self-aware, “tortured” undead is introduced. Usually the territory of the vampire, this opens up an interesting can of worms. One of the scientists explains that the bond Julie and her fella had in life should be strong enough to guarantee his safety around her when she is brought back. This holds true, as throughout the film Julie shifts between pleading with him for help and eating the brains of unfortunates who cross their path. She explains how painful it is to be dead, how lonely she feels and cries an awful lot over it.

Not fantastic viewing for something the audience possibly expected to be a horror comedy with titties; but nonetheless it is a heartbreaking premise that I want to seek out more. I hear Zombie Honeymoon (which I own but have yet to watch) features it too? Any more suggestions, please comment!


  1. Nice review. :)
    I quite like this film, I'd say its the 2nd best one in the ROTLD series -sorry but you cant beat the original Tarman, even if your nipples are peirced lol. I especially like the 90's practical Effects. I hate overuse of CGI work.
    Zombie honeymoon is alright, from what I remember, though it has been a while.

  2. You really are too kind Steve, but thanks :D And thanks for the lend, of course!

    I love the original. Tarman is soooooo cute, have you seen this? :

  3. omg, do not watch Zombie Honeymoon on your own! I watched it with Eve and we both ended up crying! It's adorable. Well, we had really low expectations and it seemed a sort of realistic couple story xx