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Film / Return of the Living Dead Part II

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The 1988 sequel to The Return of the Living Dead.

A drum of Trioxin, the stuff from the first film that reanimates the dead, falls from back of an army truck into the town of Westvale. It is later opened by two bullies, and the stuff is soon all over the local graveyard, with comedic zombie hijinx as a result.

This film has the examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Played with. High-voltage electricity seemingly kills the zombies although the sequel retcons this as the military in said sequel claims it was unable to kill the Trioxin zombies, so presumably, the electricity just knocks out the Trioxin zombies long enough for the military to imprison them in some barrels.
  • The Alcoholic: Dr. Mandel. Him being deprived of alcohol because of the crazy circumstances of the movie are a Running Gag... and him willingly sacrificing the bottle of liquor he found to save a kid is a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Alien Blood: The zombies bleed green and black.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Ed beheads dead bodies and robs them of their valuables for profit and has a rather morbid sense of humor around Joey. Chances are you won't feel too sorry for him getting infected and turned into one of the undead. Same for Brenda, who made so many moronic decisions with the group and seemingly has no empathy for anyone besides Joey (and herself) that you'll probably be rooting for Zombie!Joey when he devours her brain (she even lets him do it too just after he tells her he loves her).
    • Billy and Johnny harassed Jesse by making him join their "club" and locking him in a morgue so he wouldn't tell anyone about the drums. Them getting a faceful of trioxin for their trouble seems like the perfect karma for them, though Johnny's fate remains a bit sketchy.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: When the group comes across a pet store that the zombies have picked to have dinner at, Tom angrily runs down a zombie just because it was chasing after a frightened chihuahua that managed to escape the carnage.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Zombie Billy has Jesse at his mercy when Doc Mandel smashes a bottle of whiskey over Billy’s head, distracting him long enough for Jesse to knock him into the downed transformer and fry him.
  • Blatant Lies: The opening narration states that after observing the effects of Trioxin, the military decides not to use it and, "as far as anyone knows, all Trioxin has been destroyed"... as the camera pans over a truck loaded with many barrels of same.
  • Bond One-Liner: This gem after Jesse gets Billy off his tail for the time being during the climax:
    Jesse: That's why you're dead, asswipe: no brains and a big mouth!
  • Brain Food: Once again, the zombies want brains for nourishment. There is also the instance of one victim willingly letting her zombified boyfriend eat her brains, in an inversion of something that happened in the previous film.
  • Brainless Beauty: Brenda spends most of the movie either screaming like crazy or generally being an idiot.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: A rare non-cellular version occurs. A boy who found a couple errant drums of Trioxin attempts to call the number stenciled on the side, but the panicking driver of a van takes out a utility box on the corner through which the phone lines for the entire neighborhood are routed.
  • Closed Circle: When the army gets wind of the town's zombie situation, they close its borders.
  • Cool Car: Doc Mandel’s cherry 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special.
  • Denser and Wackier: The film leans much more towards comedy than the last film.
  • Disappeared Dad: Burt Wilson from the first film is hinted very strongly to be either this or a Disappeared Uncle to Jesse and Lucy.
  • Distress Call: "Send more cops."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite some casualties, the protagonists stun all of the zombies, ending the zombie threat and allowing the soldiers to safely contain the zombies.
  • Evil Overlooker: The face in the fog formation in the poster.
  • Eye Scream: When the electricity starts hitting the zombies in the finale, one's eye is shown popping because of it.
  • Flipping the Bird: When the cast finally gets rid of the still moving zombie's hand by throwing it out of their car, it flips them off as they drive away.
  • Grave Robbing: Ed and Joey are at the graveyard to steal heads for people willing to pay for them. Ed also uses the job as a chance to steal valuables from the dead.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Dr. Mandel distracts Billy from killing Jesse by hitting him in the head with a bottle of whiskey.
  • Groin Attack: While the heroes are juggling around a severed zombie hand inside a moving car, at one point it latches onto the family jewels of the car's owner, Dr. Mandel.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Lucy shoots a zombie in half, and its two sides start acting independently from another.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After seeing Jesse running out of the tomb, Ed proclaims to Joey that he has no respect for the dead right before they start grave robbing.
  • Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: When all the zombies are being electrocuted, a one dressed like Michael Jackson in "Thriller" music video suddenly appears.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Doc Mandel pulls out a hip flask after the Groin Attack incident with the zombie hand. Unfortunately, it’s empty, and he tosses it out the window.
  • Kid Hero: Jesse is ultimately the one to save the day by shocking the zombies to death at the plant. He's also the one to make most of the best calls dealing with the undead while all the other characters are too busy being idiots and not giving him the time of day.
  • Large Ham: Ed and Joey spend most of the film howling about how much zombification hurts.
  • Laughably Evil: The zombies, due to them falling into Stupid Evil and one severed head who has been chatty and sassy up to the end of the film.
  • Lighter and Softer: Than the first film, to the point where it would have gotten a PG-13 rating if the part where a zombie was blown in half with a shotgun had been trimmed down, and where it could be considered a family-friendly zombie film in the style of ParaNorman. The gore is minimal, the foul language is toned down, the dark humor is up to eleven, there's no Fanservice unlike the first film, and there's a much happier ending than the first film's "Everyone Dies" Ending.
  • Love Makes You Stupid: Brenda for some reason agrees to have her brains eaten by her zombified boyfriend, instead of, you know, running away in a pretty open area
  • Militaries Are Useless: Although the military doesn't take Jesse's interrupted call for granted and arrives to the town to help, all they do is cordon off the town, shoot anybody trying to leave, send only one armed jeep inside (which is annihilated pretty quickly), and perform clean-up after the heroes electrocute the zombies.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • James Karen and Thom Matthews are once again exposed to Trioxin and are slowing turning into zombies. Only this time they’re grave robbers as opposed to warehouse workers.
    • Brian Peck also appears in the series for the second time, only now he’s playing multiple zombies, most infamously the Michael Jackson expy.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer of the movie made it look like it was gonna be just as dark as (or even darker than based on the way it was promoted in contrast to the first film's fun-emphasized promos) the first movie when, in comparison, it's actually pretty light-hearted.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Jesse repeatedly tries to tell the rest of the protagonists about the zombie situation at the beginning but is ignored, and his attempt to call the army by himself is stopped by the destruction of the neighborhood's phone junction. Later on he says a couple of times that they should try to find a phone, but is still ignored.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: The military quickly cordons the town and shoots anybody who tries to leave. The only people who we see (almost) suffering this is the heroes, though, making clear that they are stuck.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Doc Mandell's beautiful 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special. When a combination of zombies breaking in and a stubborn garage door opener forces Tom to smash the car through the garage door at the expense of one headlight, Doc laments that he's had the car since it was new and it hadn't had a scratch on it before smacking Tom with his hat.
  • Rise from Your Grave: The zombies starts busting out of their graves once the Trioxin gas has dissipated. Some humour is had as one zombie gets constantly stomped when it tries to climb out of its own grave.
  • Sergeant Rock: The sergeant played by Mitch Pileggi tries to present himself as this, boasting about how nice it is to go to war against the zombies, because you can legally inflict whatever violence you want against the undead. He survives all of ten seconds against the first wave of zombies he encounters, because against Trioxin zombies even an M-60 is insufficient firepower.
  • Shock and Awe: Revealed to be the most efficient way to kill zombies in-series thus far although Part III will retcon this weakness in various ways.
  • Shout-Out: When Jesse gets a hold on a revolver, he says "Make my night".
  • Species Loyalty: Zombie Billy shows this when he jumps over the fence and uses the control panel to open it, which allows the other zombies another chance at eating the heroes brains.
  • Spotting the Thread: A particularly clever zombie almost lures the protagonists into a trap, until Dr. Mandel asks him who the current president is. Having been dead for years, if not decades, he has no idea.
  • Title of the Dead: Plus Numbered Sequels.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: We're treated to a rare inversion where the monsters, in this case the horde of zombies, are wielding all manner of hand tools and trying to gain access to two protagonists trapped in the back of a meat truck.
  • Uncertain Doom: Johnny, Billy's fellow bully, is seen getting caught in the trioxin fumes but disappears from the film after riding away from Billy's house on his bike. Considering what happened to Billy, however, it's relatively safe to assume that he fared no better.
  • Undead Child: A twelve-year-old neighborhood bully Bill gets a faceful of Trioxin vapor.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Besides the Uncertain Doom with Johnny, the Tarman that the kids unleashed is never seen again after Jesse trips him off the aqueduct. Same goes for Joey, whose last scene showed him eating his girlfriend's brains but he did not turn up at the climax.
  • Zombie Gait: The zombies move slowly most of the time although this is subverted when they demonstrate that they can run after their victims.
  • Zombie Infectee: Ed and Joey slowly turn into zombies after they get a whiff of the trioxin at the graveyard. Same goes for Billy, who opened the drum containing it.