Saturday, May 08, 2010
The Living Dead Returns
Return of the Living Dead III is perhaps the best 'third film in a series' going. Considering that the second one was so bad that I don't even have it in my DVD collection, that's saying something. What is so great about this film, is that it takes an idea promoted in the first film - that of humans being turned into Zombies - and takes it another step forward: if you knew that a gas existed which could bring the dead back to life, and you have a gorgeous teenage girlfriend who breaks her neck in a bike accident ... then wouldn't you be tempted? But then how would your girlfriend feel about that and how would you cope. The film presents this dilemma admirably, and the stand out star is Mindy Clarke (currently apprearing in The Vampire Diaries) as Julie, who goes from horny-go-getter teenaged totty to undead brain-craving monster over the course of the film. She is brilliant. Depicting all the emotions and needs and lusts of her condition along the way. She discovers that pain can dull the hunger that she feels, and so starts to fetishise her body with pins and nails and shards of broken glass, until she ends up looking like some sort of incredible Hellraiser demon, all ripped fishnet stockings, pierced and scarified body, and hungry eyes. That she is a good looking girl certainly works in the favour of the film, and her journey forms the core of the narrative. Along the way we also meet a bunch of hispanics who take offence to the boyfriend, Curt (J Trevor Edmond), after an accidental jostle, and spend the film hunting him down to punish him - somewhat singleminded behaviour perhaps, but in line with what has been depicted in the past about this sort of retribution (I'm thinking of films like Assault on Precinct 13 for example). That all of them are turned into blood-crazed zombies by the end is perhaps just deserts for their actions. However along the way, the innocent also suffer, and a homeless man calling himself 'Riverman' (Basil Wallace) also becomes a victim, despite being about the only sympathetic character that Julie and Curt meet. The film ends about 10 minutes after perhaps it should have, with the army people experimenting on the captured zombies, resulting in Riverman turning out to be the zombie with a heart after all. The creatures are all pretty neat, and I loved the one seen early on which rips its bones out of its flesh in order to get at its victims ... all nice ideas and well presented. So, this one gets a big thumbs up from me, especially for Mindy Clarke's performance, which is truly excellent.