Film Review: Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)

Directed by Brain Yuzna, written by John Penney, and starring Melinda Clarke, J. Trevor Edmond, Kent McCord, and Basil Wallace.

"Colonel Reynolds and his group of government scientists continue their work on re-animating the dead for military use. His son Curt and his girlfriend Julie use Dad's security pass to sneak in and watch the proceedings. Later when father and son have a disagreement, Curt and Julie take off on a motorcycle and Julie is killed in an accident. Grief-stricken, Curt takes her body to the lab and brings her back to life. Curt must help Julie deal with her new existence as military agents and local gang members try to find them."

I know, call me crazy, but I found Part III to be more engrossing than its predecessor. Though not really by much. Return of the Living Dead III lacks the comedic elements of Part II, and in this case, it's for the best. The humor of the first sequel just didn't work for me. It wasn't funny, and actually, was just down right annoying at times. This zombie film is the answer to the 90's as the original was to the 80's, though not quite as lovingly (or delicately) done. It's much darker than the two previous entries in the series, and comes across as Romeo and Juliet meets zombies (which just so happens to be the story of an upcoming new film). Here we see a few more minor changes to the zombie rules (which seems to happen in each of the Return movies): "Getting bit by Trioxin zombies in the previous two Return of the Living Dead films did not turn the individual bit into a zombie. However in Return of the Living Dead III it does."

The most interesting character of the story, by far, is Riverman, played by Basil Wallace. Wallace has had bit parts in numerous TV shows, as well as Joy Ride, Blood Diamond, and even Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home. Not really an amazing rap sheet, but experienced none the less. The two main leads, J. Trevor Edmond and Melinda Clark, do their jobs, and quite well at times. Though the dialog was a bit too teen movie for my taste, the love story was believable enough to work. Clark, who was originally offered the role of Xena: Warrior Princess but turned it down, does admirably in her part, going from rebellious teen in love to brain-craving, S&M psycho in the latter half. The rest of the acting is hit and miss, the miss namely being the street thugs, and an annoying girlfriend, who are over-the-top and clich├ęd at their best. They really should have found more able actors or just completely rewritten that part of the script.
The music and score worked, though nothing stood out in my mind, and the overall feel of the movie was generally creepy and weird, which I appreciated. For the gore lovers, there's plenty to be had, especially in the unrated version. Some of the bloodiest moments take place in the military complex, which seems to be so easy to get in and out of. There are even a few scenes reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing towards the end, which also redeems Part II's ending. But this film isn't brain fodder. Zombie movies rarely are. Part III isn't perfect, by any means, what with it's plot holes, often bad acting, cheesy dialog, and poorly written characters. But it doesn't need to make apologies on its behalf. It put the Return of the Living Dead series back on track, and that should count for something. Just be glad that director Brian Yuzna didn't title the film what he wanted to originally: Kurt and Julie. I have yet to watch 4 and 5, which I hear are terrible. So this may very well be the last great Return of the Living Dead.

Best quote: "Julie, are you eating him? You should stop it."

1 comment:

Tower Farm said...

Truly, I have always loved this movie. I like it much better than the others in the series. I'm sure nostalgia plays a role. This seemed to always be on late night Cinemax when I was in middle school.