Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Return of the Living Dead Part 2
Return of the Living Dead Part 2
Get that damned screwdriver out of my head!
Jarv’s Rating: 1 Chang of 4
I hate it when this happens. I don’t want to come across as a miserable bastard when I’m doing these reviews (well, more miserable than usual) but this is just such a gigantic let down.
Return of the Living Dead was the film that took Romero outside and then beat him with one of his own shoes. It was a superb, hilarious, irreverent, gross horror comedy that took all the best bits of zombie films and added a few of its own. It was smart without being smug, nasty when necessary and one of the most genuinely enjoyable schlocky horror films of its’ time.
This, however, is not. It does, to be fair, give me a great chance to expand on one of Jarv’s golden rules of schlock horror, but in comparison to its incredible elder sibling and the inventive, shocking and superb second sequel it’s a massive, massive failure.
I can hear the thinking behind this. It sounds exactly like “KA-CHING”. The original was a highly successful little film, so a sequel was always going to be inevitable. To make matters worse, it deliberately sets out to compare itself to the original, and is lacking in every single conceivable way. It’s like Audley Harrison comparing himself to Mohammed Ali- just stupid and outclassed.
It is also as lazy as you can get. Dialogue, location, plot, and actors are all rehashed in a shameless and frankly bone-idle attempt to recreate the magic. To make matters worse, one of the returning cast members even drops a wink to the audience by saying “I’m sure we’ve seen this before”. You don’t say. I don’t ask for a lot from these movies, but please put some fucking effort in.
Not to mention the fact that the town was nuked in the original, and they even gave a route for a sequel that would have made sense. This isn’t so much Part 2 as “Part 1, but gelded”. The original is 18 rated in the UK. This is 15. As soon as you see a drop in rating then you know that it isn’t going to be anywhere near as good as the original.
Plotwise: 3 kids find a barrel of trioxin. Gas gets out, chaos and hilarity fail to ensue, before undead horde are defeated using the brilliant plan of a truck load of beef brains and enough electricity to power Kim Cattrel’s vibrator for 45 seconds. It’s moronic dogshit of the lowest order, stupid without being fun, and any momentary enjoyment is buried under the weight of it’s own self-regard.
The acting is not worthy of mention, and the direction is insipid and uninspired. The writing, on the other hand, is worth a mention- because it’s crap. Imagine the bastard lovechild of Kevin Williamson and Diabolo Cody scrawling on a wall in crayon and I bet they would come up with “zingers” like you get in this film. I can’t physically be arsed to go through them all, and the thought of doing so makes me depressed, but really, crap like “You’ve got a big mouth and no brains” really makes me want to kick the writer. All the characters are poorly thought out stereotypes, the set pieces have as much tension as the skin on a bowl of custard, and it manages to be dull, predictable and frustrating.
So, given all the above, is there any reason on earth to watch this lame rehash? Well, I’ve given it one solitary Chang, and that’s for the zombies themselves, who are hilarious. The brilliant exchange where the zombie tries to persuade the survivors to return to the hospital is very funny, and they are as a rule much more professional than the previous effort. They aren’t a patch on the glorious and hideous monster Julie in the second sequel, but at least the Tarman makes a welcome cameo. If you must inflict this tripe on yourself, they do briefly enliven things (before it slides right back into the crapper with the young couple whinging about something or other).
And this brings me on to Jarv’s 2nd rule of schlock horror: do not make a child the central character. The reason being, as soon as you do you neuter the film. Only truly vindictive and bad natured films kill children. Schlock is more playful and inept fun- so the presence of a child as the main protagonist automatically means that said child is not going to die (as much as he may deserve it), and if he/she does then it’s a horrible piece of shit that needs avoiding anyhow. Teenagers are great cannon fodder, but anyone under the age of 16 should not feature in a risk taking capacity at all.
Overall, would I recommend this? No, I most certainly would not. Watch the original for laughs and the third film for genuine horror. This is boring, ill conceived, downright lazy cash in with all the charm of a steaming dog turd on a summer’s day.