Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Taking a punk-rock approach to zombies, Return of the Living Dead tries valiantly to combine horror and comedy with, well, variable results.

Supposedly, this is a follow-on from Night of the Living Dead, though the two films could hardly be more different. Barrels of gas are being kept in a basement, and when they're opened, hideously decayed zombies tumble out and wreck havoc. Bafflingly, the gas the zombies are kept in causes anything it comes into contact with to turn into a zombie: from living human beings to preserved half-dogs. Quite why the barrel zombies stay sedated and immobile inside the barrels with this stuff is a mystery, but it's probably not worth worrying about.

Across the street from the zombie outbreak is a morgue. Which is clearly a recipe for disaster - while it initially seems like a good idea to incinerate the zombie parts, it soon becomes clear that this is a horribly bad plan as the zombie ash turns into acid rain and infects a group of punk teenagers partying in the graveyard. And that's where the real havoc begins.

On the bright side, zombie gas is a pretty interesting way to create zombies. And the acid rain is a brilliant touch. But the zombies themselves are weird, and not in a good way. Gone are the shambling, rotting, moaning ghouls of Night of the Living Dead, and in their place are sprinting maniacs with a wicked sense of humour. ("Send more paramedics" is a great line, but it's not worth sitting through talking zombies for.)

See, zombies should be scary because there are lots of them, and they don't die easily. Not because they can chase you down and eat you. How are human beings ever supposed to fight back when they're fighting supernatural marathon runners?

Well, the film's answer is a blatant bit of Cold War paranoia, so let's leave that at that.

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