Zombie-holics and horror hounds need no introduction to Return of the Living Dead, the 1985 splatter film that grandfathered the current zom-com craze. Those of you less versed in the history of the walking dead, however, might need a brief recap. After George A. Romero sired the modern zombie film with 1968's Night of the Living Dead, he split ways with his writing/producing partner John Russo. In the subsequent legal wrangling, Russo obtained the rights to the Living Dead title√ëwhich is why Romero's 1978 sequel is simply called Dawn of the Dead√ë with eyes on creating a franchise of his own. He eventually wrote a novel called Return of the Living Dead, with plans to have Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper adapt it for the screen√ëin 3D no less. When Hooper bowed out, he was replaced by Alien co- writer Dan O'Bannon, who drastically rewrote the story to avoid any similarities to Romero's ongoing films. O'Bannon essentially turned Return into a zombie comedy√ëone of the first of its kind√ëbut that's not to say he skimped on scares. Return of the Living Dead is both funny and spooky, a "splatstick" spoof of Reagan-era America and a ghoulish, EC Comics-inspired horrorshow
REGION A ONLY
The disc includes two commentaries tracks for curious fans. First up is director John O'Bannon and production designer William Stout, who share a track that's understandably heavy on production details, the look of the film, its origins, and the day-to-day shooting process. The second track, featuring Don Calfa, Linnea Quigley, Brian Peck, Beverly Randolph, Allan Trautman, and William Stout, is lighter and looser√ëmore nostalgia-centric√ë although not always entirely energetic. Early in the track, Calfa asks, "I'm not in this scene. Do I have to talk?"
Return of the Living Dead - The Dead Have Risen (SD, 20:34)
A decent retrospective, featuring several members of the cast reminiscing about the film.
The Decade of Darkness (SD, 23:24)
This doesn't have much to do with Return of the Living Dead, but it's a welcome addition nonetheless. Here, horror insiders like Stuart Gordon, Joe Dante, John Landis, Tony Timpone, editor of Fangoria, and Elvira√ëyes Elvira√ëdiscuss the state of the genre in the 1980s, using examples from numerous films, including ROTLD.
Designing the Dead Featurette (SD, 13:39)
Director Dan O'Bannon and production designer William Stout give a history of the project and discuss the specifically realistic look they envisioned for the film's zombies.
There are actually two zombie subtitle tracks, one that spells out the various grunts and occasional real words, and another that tells us what the zombies are thinking. Both are pretty silly and pointless, but hey, why not?