Return of the Living Dead II (Whose Got My Glove?)
Return of the Living Dead was a really solid zombie film. Its’ combination of humor, homage and horror made it one of the best zombie films from the 1980s. Unfortunately, Return of the Living Dead 2 lacks the punk rock spirit, comedy, and tension of the original. It tries to be funny with cheesy antics, including a “Thriller” spoof that comes off as really lame. Worse is the run of the mill story and flaccid atmosphere. The CGI is laughably dated now, but the cartoonish gore of the original is present. The ending is actually entertaining and enjoyable, at least compared to the rest of the movie.
I have no idea how long this movie really felt since I watched a solid amount of it on fast forward. Without a zombie partner in crime, many zombie works, which are already dull with a compatriot, become unbearable without one. Especially zombie films of the 1980s, a period of time not kind to many film genres. Excessive, over the top cheese wasn’t just a music thing. There was some good art made in the 1980s, but the zeitgeist of the decade ultimately wasn’t kind to some of the arts.
One reason I employed the time warp, was the repetitiveness of scenes. Going into it I already knew what I was going to get; lots of gags, cartoonish gore, and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. It is from the ’80s. Zombie films generally mix two of these three horror, comedy, and action. Return of the Living Dead 2 is a action-comedy blend, albeit one of mediocre comedy and uninspired action. There are some funny moments and good makeup and gore effects. Talking zombies, especially talking severed heads, provide sublime moments that straddle the line between ridiculously bad/good.
One problem I have with movies like Return of the Living Dead 2, and all of its’ sequels is the lack of depth. As I stated before, the first Return of the Living Dead was a clever, funny zombie romp. By the sequel, the series was already unoriginal. Still, I enjoy watching movies like Return of the Living Dead 2, but the crude cinematography, flimsy story, and all around brainlessness highly limit the aesthetic potential. Shaun of the Dead was filled with a lot of gags, but the gags weren’t a replacement for a story. The gags supported the story. Brainstorming some gags and filling in a story around them isn’t very difficult nor artful. If there was an element of satire to Return of the Living Dead 2, it could have gotten away with some of the bits, but satire was tossed out the door for the easy and obvious.
As I watch films I am always observing with an eye for potential shots. The only shot I remember catching my eye is near when you see ongoing action from the passenger side mirror. One thing I will take from Return of the Living Dead 2 is to never attempt to spoof Thriller. Although, I did enjoy the electrocution dance the MJ zombie did.
Following the logic set out by the original Return of the Living Dead, which changed zombie nature from its’ inspiration Night of the Living Dead, the zombies are fast moving, intelligent to the point of remembering how to perform tasks and even talk, officially precluding Romero’s Bubs and Big Daddy. Again they are created when 245-Trioxin canisters accidentally fall off a military truck carting away the last of the unused containers. Unlike the zombies of the original, which couldn’t killed by just destroying the brain. Return of the Living Dead 2‘s departs from the original in this regard when zombies are dispatched through electrocution.
There are already a sufficient number of reviews and plot summaries of this movie, and other zombie movies I have reviewed, so I am trying to figure out what exactly I will do on future reviews. Rehashing the details of the plot when it is already done elsewhere is a waste of words and time, which arguably is already being wasted just through the act of observing said movies. I am formulating ideas, including haiku reviews, so bear with me.
Return of the Living Dead 2‘s movie poster has always reminded me of The Never Ending Story‘s poster. It largely has to do with the swirl over the center of chaos below. See for yourself.