Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)
By: Julian on August 24, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Rainbow (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English 2.0. 92 minutes
The Movie
Director: Brian Yuzna
tarring: J Trevor Edmond, Melinda Clarke, Abigail Lenz, Kent McCord
Screenplay: John Penney
Music: Barry Goldberg
Tagline: "She's To Die For."
Country: USA
I've never really been a great fan of George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead (I'm already prepared for the innumerable angry comments from horror fans) however there is one point I must give him credit on – regardless of whether it was good or bad, Dawn was massively influential, giving birth to further Romero-helmed sequels, Italian rip-offs, and parodies. One of the leading films in the latter category was the 1985 effort Return of the Living Dead, directed by Dan O'Bannon, who, most notably, was one of the brains behind the story of Alien. Return of the Living Dead was held in very high esteem among horror fans and sparked a global cult following. For Return of the Living Dead 3 (Part II came in 1988), Brian Yuzna takes the reins, and he knows a thing or two about the undead, having produced Stuart Gordon's enormously successful zom-com Re-Animator and directed that film's sequel.

Return of the Living Dead 3 is a vastly different film to its predecessors, primarily due to its exceedingly serious tone – there's no room for giggles here, despite everything that may suggest otherwise, including the presence of Yuzna. The film begins with a dollop of teenage romance, namely between Curt (J Trevor Edmond), the son of the widowed Colonel John Reynolds (Kent McCord), and Curt's wild child girlfriend Julie (Melinda Clarke). Curt is absolutely besotted with Julie and he has finally established himself after numerous relocations as a result of his father's work. One evening, Curt and Julie decide to sneak into the Colonel's place of work, a mysterious military experiment camp. After gaining access with a stolen keycard, they stumble upon a macabre research laboratory, where Curt and Julie see Colonel Reynolds and his team reanimate a corpse, then subdue it. Julie is fascinated but Curt is repulsed and they return home shellshocked. When the Colonel arrives back from work to inform his son that they must move yet again after an experiment goes horribly awry, Curt is furious and storms off with Julie. The two don't celebrate their freedom for long – after an emotional night time motorbike ride at high speed, they have an accident. Curt is unharmed but Julie dies instantly after being thrown against a telephone pole.

With the reanimation techniques of his father's laboratory firmly in mind, Curt races Julie back to the military base and tries his hand at bringing her back to life. He succeeds, and while Julie does not harm Curt (the love they shared was too strong, it is later revealed), her insatiable desire for brains cannot be suppressed. Before long, however, Colonel Reynolds and his cronies realise one of their creatures is on the loose and they begin a full-scale manhunt.

Return of the Living Dead 3 is one of those films you sit down to watch on an evening when you are awake but your brain curtain-called a long time ago. While many of the plot points require some strain of the imagination, there isn't much intelligent material crammed into the proceedings. This isn't necessarily a bad thing – the effects are above average, the acting is reasonable and Yuzna directs with flair. However, when the powers behind the film try to suck us in with a wanky Romeo and Juliet finale it takes a sharp downhill turn. Zombie movies are just that – zombie movies. Italian exploitation director Lucio Fulci had the right idea in 1979 when he made Zombie, one of the most unapologetic gore fests of all time and a film totally devoid of artistic pretension. The worst thing with a B-grade picture is when it acts upon allusions of grandeur, and the final frames of Return of the Living Dead 3 are so laughably conceited that it turns out to be a complete disservice to the gory fun the past hour and a half has offered. Regardless of any filmmaker ego trips Return of the Living Dead 3 may showcase however, this is a more than decent and highly entertaining way to spend a night in.
Admittedly, I wasn't expecting much from this disc but it appears discount distributors Rainbow haven't done a terrible job. The 4:3 presentation is far from optimum, but the picture itself is clear, free of static and relatively sharp.
One soundtrack – an English Dolby Digital 2.0, and it sounds great. Dialogue is clearly audible and the sound is crisp.
Extra Features
None, but that's to be expected for a budget disc. I couldn't find a listing of this release on any of Australia's leading online DVD retailers, so looking to the mysterious world of Region 1 would be the fan's best bet – a well-priced and far superior release with some decent special features is currently in print.
The Verdict
A good movie on a decent disc, Return of the Living Dead 3 is a very worthy - and perhaps superior - entry into the Return of the Living Dead franchise. While Part 3 lacks the comedy of the previous two films, it certainly isn't worse off for it – humour wouldn't be appropriate here and Yuzna pulls off the serious zombie film very successfully. The film loses a star almost entirely as a result of the masturbatory Romeo-and-Juliet-esque final minutes, which almost single-handedly crushes the heart and soul of the entire picture. Well worth a watch for fans of the franchise or zombie aficionados in general, but the S&M-fantasy promo of Julie on the DVD's sleeve may give some of our more conservative friends the wrong idea.
Movie Score
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