80s Fashion, Punk Music, and Zombies: A Review of Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead

I love all things horror. Be it film, books, video games, you name it – if it is horror I love it. So it is no surprise that even when I am looking for a comedy movie it has to also be a horror movie. One of my all-time favorites is 1985’s “The Return of the Living Dead” written and directed by Dan O’Bannon. This movie currently holds a 91% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it deserves it.

Plot synopsis: During the training of a new employee at a medical supply warehouse two of the main characters accidentally release a chemical gas that reanimates corpses. Zombie shenanigans begin. When a group of the new employee’s punk rock friends show up to see if he “knows of a place to party” things really kick off. Shutters are closed windows are boarded and a zombie siege is commences. Check out the trailer of this cult classic.

This movie has a great sound track. With artists including T.S.O.L., the Damned, and the Cramps, this one really embodies the 1980’s punk rock music vibe.

Needless to say this film is not for the faint of heart. It has a hard “R” rating for a reason so no kids in the room, but if you want a good laugh, a bit of scare, and one of the best punk sound tracks of all time (in my opinion) you cannot go wrong with this one.


Interested in other 80s classics? Check out the collection provided by Kanopy. Here are just a few recommendations:


A Tale of Two Cities

This Golden Globe and Emmy nominee is a glorious telling of Dickens’ tale of passion, intrigue, and revolution. Charles Dickens’ A TALE OF TWO CITIES comes to magnificent life in a lavish adaptation of the literary classic set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. Chris Sarandon (THE PRINCESS BRIDE, FRIGHT NIGHT) takes on a dual role as French aristocrat Charles Darnay and London lawyer Sydney Carton – both of whom are in love with the beautiful Lucie (Alice Krige, GHOST STORY). As the world around them grows more and more uncertain, one of them will make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of love and honor.


Attack Force Z

Mel Gibson commands an elite military team dispatched during WW II to locate and rescue the survivors of a shot down plane, stranded on a South Pacific island occupied by the Japanese. One of the castaways, a defecting Japanese official, holds the secret to ending the war, and must be saved at all costs. Boasting a top-notch cast including Mel Gibson (Mad Max), Sam Neill (The Dish), John Phillip Law (Barbarella) and John Waters (Breaker Morant). Attack Force Z is a fast moving, action-packed World War II adventure story in the tradition of “THE GUNS OF NAVARONE”.


Bride of Re-Animator

The success of Stuart Gordon’s hit horror-comedy Re-Animator meant that a sequel was all but inevitable. The resulting follow-up, BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR – this time helmed by director Brian Yuzna (Society, Return of the Living Dead 3) – would prove that there was a good deal more life left in the story of Dr. Herbert West and his ghoulish exploits. It is 8 years since the Miskatonic massacre. Unperturbed by the disastrous outcome of his previous meddling with the dead, Dr. West (Jeffrey Combs) continues his research into the phenomenon of re-animation; only this time, he plans to create life – starting with the heart of his young protege Dan’s dearly deceased, Meg Halsey. Nominated for Best Horror Film and Best Supporting Actor (Jeffrey Combs) at the Saturn Awards. Winner of Best Independent/Low-Budget Film and nominated for Best Makeup FX from the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards.


Class of 1984

Andrew Norris is a new teacher in an inner-city high school that is like nothing he has ever seen before. This school is so dangerous that the students have to go through a metal detector at the front door and almost everything is run by a punk posse lead by a delinquent named Peter Stegman. Soon, Norris and Stegman clash and Stegman will stop at nothing to protect his turf and drug dealing business.


Eating Raoul

This sleeper hit of the early 1980s is a bawdy, gleefully amoral tale of conspicuous consumption. Warhol superstar Mary Woronov and cult legend Paul Bartel (who also directed) portray a prudish married couple who feel put upon by the swingers living in their apartment building. One night, by accident, they discover a way to simultaneously rid themselves of the “perverts” down the hall and realize their dream of opening a restaurant. A mix of hilarious, anything-goes slapstick and biting satire of me-generation self-indulgence, Eating Raoul marked the end of the sexual revolution with a thwack.