Julie and Curt, a young couple, witness a corpse being reanimated in a facility in which Curt’s father is part of the government intelligence for. Witnessing this, Julie and Curt cannot get the image out of their mind. The facility then suffers a tragic event when the corpse being tested on bites and infects a scientist and causes the whole experiment to melt down. When Curt’s father, Colonel John Reynolds, is given the boot and told he is being transferred, Curt refuses to go, and he and his girlfriend, Julie, take off on his motorcycle. While riding away, Julie gropes Curts’ groin (yep) which causes Curt to swerve and crash, killing Julie and slightly scratching his forehead in the process. Obviously upset that his girlfriend has kicked the bucket, Curt sneaks her into the government facility and uses the strange mist, that has become a mainstay of Return of the Living Dead, to reanimate her and bring her back. She comes back to life, and the two get away. They encounter some antagonistic Hispanic ruffians who shoot a shop owner, and Julie bites one of them on the arm. We are then into the second act of the film in which Julie and Curt attempt to run from the small gang of middle-aged gangster-types, all the while Julie is starving and craving something good to eat. She also realises that pain helps her ward off the hunger somewhat, so she begins to stick glass, wire and nails into her skin as a way to cope with her overwhelming thirst for brains. The film goes from government facilities, to the streets and into the sewers under the city, where Curt and Julie meet Riverman, a homeless man who helps them hide from the very-persevering thugs that are on their tails.
That’s the basic premise here, for the third film in the cult Return of the Living Dead franchise. I am a fan of the first film, and while the second is flawed in many ways I still enjoy it, but this, a more serious entry into the series, is one I have always had a fondness for. I love the design of Julie later in the film when she appears with nails, chains, glass, wires and other appendages sticking out of, and into, her body. She looks like a female version of The Crow who happens to have a friend willing to give her free piercings and cool goth clothing. This, along with the over-the-top zombies, the frantic silliness (though toned down from the previous two films) and the barrel-loads of gore, brains and blood, make for a thoroughly entertaining zombie film that is, to this day, fairly original.
This was Brain Yuzna’s (Bride of Re-Animator, Faust) third feature film, and remains my favourite of his work. It’s an underrated film, in my view, and while the performances are corny for much of the film, they’re not bad, and the gore effects, though dated and a bit cheap-looking, fit with the tone of the film, and are a lot of fun to watch. It isn’t perfect, far from it, but the plot is interesting, and the ending is one I always appreciated. Melinda Clarke (Nikita) does a good job as Julie, and her eratic character, going from happy, to angry, to hungry, to agonised, to dead, is played well. She’s the best part of the film, acting-wise. J. Trevor Edmond (Higher Learning) had decent chemistry with Clarke, and while he was cheesy, I didn’t mind it, it’s almost expected when it comes to eighties and nineties zombie films.
I have always been a sucker for the zombie genre, from its early films, to the more recent ones, and for some reason this has always been a favourite of mine. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it has some damn good effects. I’d recommend it, for a simple horror cheese-fest, for sure.