Director – Ken Wiederhorn
Cast – Michael Kenworthy, Thor Van Lingen, Jason Hogan, James Karen, Thom Matthews, Suzanne Snyder, Marsha Dietlan
Release Year – 1988
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Three years after the success of one of the best zombie films ever, The Return of the Living Dead, a new writer/director took on the franchise and gave us a positive sequel. Not nearly as good as it’s predecessor, Return of the Living Dead II still managed to be a fun watch for those who love the zombie sub-genre. If you thought The Return of the Living Dead had a lot of brain-eating carnage, this film will blow your mind. I mean…brains.
The US Army has just finished cleaning up the events that occurred during the first film, and while transporting the toxic experiment that caused the dead to rise and crave human brains one of the canisters falls from the back of a transport truck and into a local river. Soon after a group of curious young boys come across the container in a sewer, and after messing with the container, release the toxic gas once again. The gas makes its way to local cemeteries, and the dead rise again. A group of survivors must now battle the undead while being quarantined in the city by a very overzealous US Army.
This is one of those films that is made to be appreciated by fans of the first film, and zombie fans overall. The first flick had a slight comedic feel to it while keeping a mostly serious tone throughout the film. This sequel raised that comedic tone a lot, and although it has its fair amount of seriousness, I can see why some would find this flick a bit silly. I still enjoyed it because I appreciate a funny-ish zombie film being put out way before it became the recent fad it has become. We also get a lot more zombie action and more sets than we did in the first flick, thanks mostly in part to a bigger budget. I can say without a doubt that writer/director Ken Wiederhorn reaped the benefits of the original film, and he did do a fine job with those benefits.
I really liked how he put a strong emphasis on the zombie’s lone instinct to consume brains. We get lots of brain carnage in this flick, including a scene of the survivors using brains from a medical facility to lead the zombies in a certain direction. Hah! Pretty creative, because I have never EVER seen that in another zombie film. Another element I found pretty fun was the fact that two of the main actors from the first film are in this film, with very similar characters. Hell, we are even given shout-outs to their characters from the previous film. As if this film couldn’t sound any more ridiculous, we even get a “Thriller” zombie thrown in during the zombie carnage. Heh.
I have no complaints for this film, but just keep in mind that this is a much sillier effort than it’s predecessor, and its more along the lines of a pizza-beer-buffalo wings night with friends type of horror film.
Overall, this is a positive watch that I recommend to fans of the first film, and zombie fans overall. If you love watching zombies chomp away at brains then this flick is for you.