Return of the Living Dead III (1993)

There was a part of me dreading watching the rest of The Return of the Living Dead movies after the second one, Return of the Living Dead: Part II. I mean, Part II was absolutely atrocious and you can fairly safely assume any following sequels are going to be worse. But Return of the Living Dead III was definitely better! It’s not all that good, but it’s still better than the second one!

Our story follows star-crossed lovers, Julie (Ms. Mindie Clark) and Curt (J Trevor Edmond who was the young Butterfield in Lord of Illusions). But stopping their romance is Curt’s dad, Colonel John Reynolds (Kent McCord, who I know as John Creighton’s dad on Farscape). Also the fact that Julie dies in a motorcycle accident. But wait! The pair just saw Curt’s dad use Trioxin to reanimate the dead at his shitty little military base! Surely bringing Julie back from the dead won’t have any repercussions! But of course there are repercussions, like when Curt bumps into some Latinos and pisses them off, leading to a convenient store owner getting shot and Julie biting one of them, then eats the brains of the shopkeep. Fully realizing how fucked up things are she tries to kill herself, but survives. The couple is found by Riverman (Basil Wallace), an admittedly mentally unwell man living in the sewers, but he’s the best character and doesn’t deserve any of this shit. The Latinos find them all right as the one who got bit turns into a zombie. Julie–having figured out that pain dulls her desire to eat brains–transforms herself into what’s practically a Hellraiser cenobite, or director Brian Yuzna’s wet dream. Either or. But she still hungers, leading to all the Latinos turning, her eating and turning Riverman, and all the zombies’ subsequently getting captured by the military. Those idiots want to turn the zombies into weapons of war, but Julie still has her senses enough that Curt breaks her free, unleashing all the other zombies as well because holy hell this base is held together with Scotch tape. Riverman has been fitted into an exosuit that almost makes the already mostly unstoppable zombie nigh invulnerable, but he at least takes out the scientist lady who strapped him into this mechanical monstrosity before collapsing. Curt gets bit and, realizing they’ll never have a happy ending, the couple casually walk into an incinerator, immediately followed by credits. That was kind of abrupt.

My biggest complain is that the zombies in this one didn’t say “brains” nearly enough. I think the word is said like 4 times? Zombie Julie just hungers, sometimes not even going for a person’s brains. After that my complaints go: how poorly Riverman is treated, the Latinos bordering on being racist stereotypes, and then how crappy the military base is. Like sure, okay, I guess Curt and his ladyfriend could just get waved in by reminding the guard that he’s Colonel Reynolds’s son, but no one raised an eye when Julie was clearly dead and barely hanging off his back? One shove from a zombie and its steel cage opens up? And upon a serious breach the lockdown protocols take a minute before they kick in? I’m honestly surprised this movie didn’t end with the zombies escaping and threatening a nearby city.

Hey, while I’m thinking of that… Isn’t it kind of weird that the slow-moving, generally dumb zombies from Night of the Living Dead completely took over the planet in their franchise, but the nearly unstoppable, halfway intelligent zombies inn the Return franchise are more or less neatly dealt by the climax? Sure, the Night zombies are all over the globe, but we never got a follow-up on the supposed city-wide acid zombie rain from The Return of the Living Dead. We just nuked a city and never talked about it again. Odd choices, to be sure.

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