THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) Reviews and overview


The Return of the Living Dead is a 1985 American comedy horror feature film written and directed by Dan O’Bannon (The ResurrectedAlien; Dead & Buried).

The movie stars Clu Gulager, James Karen (Part II; Time WalkerFrankenstein Meets the Space Monster), Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, John Philbin, Jewel Shepard, Linnea Quigley.

return of the living dead title

The film tells the story of how three men accompanied by a group of teenage punks deal with the accidental release of a horde of brain-hungry zombies onto an unsuspecting town. It is known for introducing the popular concept of zombies eating brains, as opposed to just eating human flesh, like previous zombie iterations, as well as its soundtrack, which features several noted deathrock and punk rock bands of the era. A critical success, it performed moderately well at the box office and spawned four sequels.


Scream Factory released the film on Blu-ray on July 19, 2016.

Disc 1:

  • 2K scan of the inter-positive
  • Audio Commentary with Gary Smart (co-author of The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead) and Chris Griffiths
  • Audio Commentary with director Dan O’Bannon and Production Designer William Stout
  • Audio Commentary with the cast and crew featuring Production Designer William Stout and actors Don Calfa, Linnea Quigley, Brian Peck, Beverly Randolph, Allan Trautman
  • The Decade of Darkness – featurette on ‘80s horror films (23 minutes)
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery – Posters, Lobby Cards, Movie Stills and Behind-the-Scenes photos
  • Still Gallery – Behind-the-Scenes photos from special make-up effects artist Kenny Myers’ personal collection
  • Zombie Subtitles for the Film
  • In Their Own Words – The Zombies Speak

Disc 2:

  • The FX of the Living Dead with Production Designer William Stout, FX make-up artists William Munns, Tony Gardner, Kenny Myers and Craig Caton-Largnet, Visual Effects artists Bret Mixon and Gene Warren Jr. and actor Brian Peck (Expanded Version) (30 minutes)
  • NEW Party Time: The Music of The Return of the Living Dead with music consultants Budd Carr and Steve Pross and soundtrack artists Dinah Cancer (45 Grave), Chris D (The Flesh Eaters), Roky Erickson, Karl Moet (SSQ), Joe Wood (T.S.O.L.), Mark Robertson (Tall Boys) plus musicians Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks) and John Sox (The F.U.’s, Straw Dogs), (Expanded Version) (30 minutes)
  • NEW HORROR’S HALLOWED GROUNDS – revisiting the locations of the film
    Return of the Living Dead Workprint – includes 20 minutes of additional footage (in Standard Definition)
  • More Brains: A Return to the Living Dead – The definitive documentary on The Return of the Living Dead (120 minutes)
  • A Conversation with Dan O’Bannon – His final interview (28 minutes)
  • The Origins of the Living Dead – an interview with John A. Russo (16 minutes)
  • The Return of the Living Dead – The Dead Have Risen – interviews with cast members Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Brian Peck, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, Linnea Quigley and more… (21 minutes)
  • Designing the Dead – interviews with writer/director Dan O’Bannon and production designer William Stout (15 minutes)


The Return of the Living Dead has proved to be a seminal zombie film, arguably reinventing the genre in the mid-’80s in the most dramatic way since the original Night of the Living Dead.

This is, after all, the film that broke several established rules – the zombies here not only run, but also talk and are not killed by the trusty bullet-in-the-head method – but also the movie that first established the now-classic zombie trope that the living dead are hungry for “brains!”

It’s also notable that the comedic – albeit still gruesome – The Return of the Living Dead was a big hit in the same year that George A. Romero’s solemn Day of the Dead crashed and burned at the box office – if anything seemed to symbolise the demise of serious horror in favour of the trivial and safe, this was it.

David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

“This film, one of the greatest horror comedies of all time and simultaneously one of the best movies about punk rockers of all time, has been visited and revisited over the years to the point that you’d think that everything has been said. However, leave it to Scream Factory to turn up the volume and create a new marker by which home video releases should be measured.” Screen Anarchy

“A great display of practical special effects, it has some truly iconic scenes such as the bisected dog biology exhibit that comes back to life. Also featured: “Tar Man,” maybe the coolest-looking zombie ever.” Paste magazine

” …Return of the Living Dead has aged rather well, in spite of the director’s attempts to be up to the minute with the contemporary soundtrack and street fashions […] it’s director and screenwriter Dan O’Bannon’s witty and innovative script that lifts it above the B-movie standard of most of its acting and special effects.” This is Horror


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