RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III (1993) – The Dungeon Review!
I am a huge fan of Dan O’Bannon’s 1985 film The Return of the Living Dead. I think it is one of the best horror comedies ever and it has long held a position on my top 100 favourite horror movies of all time. It is admittedly a hard act to follow! I have seen The Return of the Living Dead 2, Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave and Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis in the last few years and all three were bloody awful! The latter two are bordering on unwatchable! It is not surprising that I haven’t been in a hurry to revisit Return of the Living Dead III. That is a shame, because Return of the Living Dead III is really entertaining! Unlike the original it is not a horror-comedy but rather straight up horror served with a side of love story. Love stories in horror films are generally a big turnoff in my book; but in Return of the Living Dead III it actually works. Return of the Living Dead III has very little in common with the first two films, but don’t let that turn you off. Return of the Living Dead III is a sequel that can be enjoyed on its own merit.
To impress Julie the girl he loves, Curt steels his father’s security key card. Curt’s pop is a high ranking Colonel working on a top secret project at a nearby military base. Julie and Curt sneak in one night and witness what appears to be a dead man being brought back to life. The couple leave the facility undetected. Later that same evening Colonel dad informs Curt that he has been transferred and they will be leaving at the end of the week. Curt decides to runaway with Julie and start a new life. Unfortunately they are in a motorcycle accident and Julie is killed. Faster than you can say “I didn’t see that coming” Curt has Julie inside the military facility. This place could use a serious overhaul in the security department! After getting a mere glimpse of the reanimation process Curt has it all figured out. Okay, it turns out Curt didn’t quite catch the whole process. He does manage to unseal a barrel which emits a toxic steam and abracadabra Julie is back from the dead. Needless to say being in love with one of the living dead is not all sunshine and lollipops.
While the story uses the well-worn military experiment scenario it manages to make it fresh as a daisy. Besides the military connection with the original The Return of the Living Dead, they bring back the barrels which were so relevant in the first film and of course Trioxin is back as the means of re-animating. In this fun and unique twist on the story the military figure out a way to debilitate the zombies and revive them. And apparently zombies can feel pain! Julie comes back from the dead and is able to speak coherently and does not look too much worse for wear. It is all rosy except her skin is ice cold; she is in agonizing pain and is overwhelmed by a voracious hunger. The only thing that stops the hunger is intense pain. The longer she is dead the more agonizing it is not to eat. It would appear that it is Julie’s love for Curt that prevents her from nibbling on his delicious brain. Julie is the only zombie in the film who is affected in this manner. The other zombies are of the classic mindless, hungry type we are accustom to although perhaps speedier and a little more rabid.
Melinda Clarke is a real show stopper as Julie in Return of the Living Dead III. She is sassy, sexy and full of spunk. Only pain can stop Julie’s overwhelming hunger and save Curt’s brain. She however begins to become resistant to pain and really has to up her game to avoid brain munching. Julie’s transformation is spectacular. Complete and utter body mutilation! Julie uses shards of glass, impromptu piercings, metal hooks, chains and any other gnarly piece of sharp and pointy trash she can find to jam into her body. Julie manages to look horrifying and sexy all at once. I really can’t say enough about the awesome effects and makeup in Return of the Living Dead III! The zombies are all nasty, creative and grotesque and the gore effects are beautiful. Watch out for giraffe neck zombie…he was fan-freaking-tastic!! Just look at the screenshots I included of the handiwork on Julie’s mutilated body! Practical effects that good really turn me on! The effects are a huge part of Return of the Living Dead III’s appeal.
Return of the Living Dead III is not without its flaws; specifically the sections featuring the army personnel. The entire lot were unappealing and the dialog and interaction was stilted and painful. Let’s hope the government never puts a group this daft in charge of a military run zombie experiment. We would all be completely fucked!! The acting is especially wooden from Kent McCord who plays Colonel John Reynolds (Curt’s dad). The good news is these sections do not linger long and were not all that much of a distraction. Bloody hell! I am at the end of this review and I nearly forgot to mention J. Trevor Edmond who plays Curt! The Curt character is so overshadowed by Julie’s awesomeness I almost forgot about him. Edmonds is likable enough and not hard on the eyes as Curt. Julie and Curt are not a couple of whiny bitches I wanted to slap senseless nor is their love story sappy or obnoxious. What a concept for a film about two high school students. Return of the Living Dead III has excellent action sequences, intensity, great effects and beauty gore. Have I mentioned how much I enjoyed the finale? I really enjoyed the Finale! I really enjoyed a lot of things about Return of the Living Dead III! Return of the Living Dead III is a very entertaining zombie flick that comes highly recommended!
Dungeon Rating: 4/5
Directed By: Brian Yuzna
Starring: Kent McCord, James T. Callahan, Sarah Douglas, Melinda Clarke, Abigail Lenz, J. Trevor Edmond, Jill Andre, Michael Decker, Billy Kane, Mike Moroff, Julian Scott Urena, Pía Reyes, Sal Lopez, Dana Lee