Film / Return of the Living Dead

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Brains!

Return of the Living Dead is a series of zombie films, starting with a 1985 film. The original was a horror-comedy, but later films have varied tonally.

The films are, in order:


This movie series contains the following:

  • Ashes to Crashes: It's a bad idea to Burn the Undead, as more zombies come to life that way.
  • Berserk Board Barricade: The heroes do this in various locations. For the most part it works just fine, with only one failure shown to occur.
  • Black Comedy: The first and second films, in particular.
  • Brain Food: Ur-Example in regards to zombies. Here, the zombies eat brains because they give off endorphins that kill the pain of decomposition and rigor mortis.
  • Body Horror: The zombies in general are largely mutilated and heavily decayed, especially the page picture, Tarman, who is seen transforming from a relatively intact looking corpse into, well... Tarman.
  • Darker and Edgier: The third film drops the comedy completely in favor of a more serious plot revolving around a teen trying to revive his recently deceased girlfriend using the trioxin. The fourth and fifth films are also pretty dark and serious in their own way but to a lesser extent.
  • The Dead Have Eyes: Even the most decayed zombies have functioning eyeballs.
  • Dem Bones: A couple zombies, including Tarman. One shot of what is blatantly a skeleton with eyes rising is used the first and last times a contaminated cemetery gives up its dead in the first film.
  • Denser and Wackier: The second film leans far more towards comedy than the first film, which was more of an equal blend of horror and comedy.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Present and accounted for, a lot.
  • Fiction as Cover-Up: The original Night of the Living Dead was meant as a cover-up of a zombie outbreak.
  • Follow the Leader: This movie was unofficially spun off from Night of the Living Dead.
  • Government Conspiracy: Trioxin, the zombie-creating chemical, was originally developed by the U.S. government, and is only released once again through their carelessness by subcontracting its storage to people who don't know how to handle it. In the third movie, the military is still conducting trioxin experiments on fresh corpses.
  • It Can Think: The Return zombies show clear signs of intelligence, like puzzle-solving (Tarman rigs a chain winch to tear open the doors of a closet a potential meal is hiding in), speech (they know more words than just "Brains", but this one seems to be their favorite), stealth (when the paramedics and police arrived at the mortuarium, the zombies usually hid before charging at them) and awareness of their condition (leading to a couple Tear Jerker moments with infected heroes), traits not found in their shambling, mindless cousins from other zombie franchises.
  • Made of Plasticine: The zombies (the Tarman especially).
  • Mood Whiplash: The first and second movies are horror-comedies. The third movie completely drops the comedy in favor of being squicky and sad. The fourth and fifth movies return to the horror-comedy routes, while adding in some mild seriousness and sci-fi elements.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Crossed between Artificial Zombies and Flesh-Eating Zombies.
    • As seen in the workprint of the first film, zombie bites can be non-fatal depending on where they're inflicted; a peck on the nose doesn't seem to affect Burt, though he still freaks out over it.
    Burt Wilson: He bit me, that son of a bitch!
    • It really wasn't until the third film that zombie bites had an effect on their victims. Trash reanimates in the first film, but that's only because her corpse was left sitting out in the Trioxin polluted rain.
    • Starting with the fourth film, the zombies could now be killed through the old fashion way.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: Return was this to Night of the Living Dead, despite not being a true sequel to any of Romero's flicks.
  • Running Gag: "Send more..." This was only featured in the first two films, however.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The canisters of Trioxin that also contain corpses.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: The series features a rather perfect blend of both comedy and horror.
  • A Storm Is Coming/When It Rains, It Pours: Whenever trioxin gas or zombie ash gets into the atmosphere, it immediately starts pouring down raining. It's a rule.
  • Thematic Series: The series is loosely connected as well as being a loose Spin-Off of Night Of The Living Dead.
  • The X of Y: The Return of the Living Dead.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Zigzagged Trope. The first movie implies that the zombie hordes are unstoppable once released and will necessarily bring about the end of civilization, but in each of the sequels the situation appears to be under control until another canister of trioxin gets in the wrong hands.
  • Zombie Gait: Averted, the zombies here can run. Although this is played straight with the third and fourth films.
  • Zombie Infectee: Several people keep their wits about them once infected. They even find ways to stave off the desire to eat flesh well into the transformation phase, so as to not be a danger to friends and loved ones. This, unfortunately, makes them rather attractive to the government.
  • Zombify the Living: Trioxin can slowly transform someone into a zombie while they're still alive.


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