Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a vat of Trioxin leaks, Mr. Thom Mathews and Mr. James Karen get exposed and slowly become zombies, and the gas hits clouds which rains the chemical all over a nearby graveyard. Yes, that is the setup for The Return of the Living Dead, but it’s also a good chunk of the setup for the sequel, Return of the Living Dead: Part II. Look, I figured the later sequels I’d watch as part of October of the Living Dead would be bad, but I didn’t expect the first sequel to be so repetitive.
245-Trioxin this time is found by some kids after it literally falls off the back of a military vehicle. I think it’s against regulation to have headphones on while smoking pot and driving a government vehicle, but what do I know. The chemical douses two bullies as well as Mathews and Karen’s characters, who this time are working as graverobbers. They even include some of the dialogue from the first movie for… comedy, I suspect. Soon enough a graveyard full of unstoppable zombies rise up and start eating the brains of the living. But this time a group of survivors–including Dana Ashbrook from Twin Peaks–find out that massive electrical shocks seem to stop the undead, so they gather as many as they can at a power plant, drape the powerlines in the various puddles, and shock them into oblivion. The movie ends with a talking zombie head making a bad joke and suggesting there will be more movies. I mean, this is 2 of 5, so yeah.
Hoo boy did I not like almost everyone in this. Tom Mathews–who I forgot to mention was Tommy Jarvis in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives–and James Karen do the same schtick of complaining every step of the way to becoming zombies, but they’re louder and more in your face this time. Also Karen looks like a Jeff Dunham puppet and I don’t know what to do with that information. Mathews’ girlfriend this time is played by Suzanne Snyder of Killer Klowns from Outer Space and does the same bit of not wanting to believe her boyfriend is a walking corpse, but holy hell is she just so shrill and unpleasant. And I mean that specifically that just about every line she has is yelled, which does fit a zombie movie where she’s panicking, but it becomes so grating so fast. Her story ends when she lets her boyfriend eat her brains, so good riddance. Then there’s the fact that the child actors aren’t very good, the doctor that the other survivors pick up seems to think he’s in a different comedy movie, and on, and on. This was just tiring in a way the original wasn’t.
Also, are we… not fully addressing that a city got nuked in the first movie? And that the zombie-inducing rain had spread? No? I mean, it’s not like this movie cared about anything, so I guess that tracks.
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