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'Return of the Living Dead Part II' (R)

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 16, 1988

Like its predecessor, "Return of the Living Dead, Part II" is such a hoot and a holler that no one, least of all the people who made it, could take it seriously. In that regard, it's kind of like heavy metal. In fact, "RLDII" is the celluloid equivalent of an Ozzy Osbourne concert -- good effects, few surprises and the possibly comforting affirmation that the world is full of fools with similar taste (or lack of same).

Did somebody mention taste? This film is basic zombie chowtime, and the deeply departed emerge with only one thing on their minds: "Brains! Fresh Brains!" That's not only the ungrateful dead's refrain, but the movie's basic theme.

Plot? My, aren't we demanding! Suffice it to say that it takes our heroes about 10 minutes to get into trouble and about 80 to get out. The characters, hardly Pirandello-ish, include two young boys (one good, one dead), a teen-age girl and a teen-age boy, one ditsy redhead, one grave-robbing skunk, some soldiers and, of course, a gross of zombies, sleepers awakened by a hazardous waste accident. The not-yet-dead tend to do stupid things and to scream, whereas the dead tend to mostly stumble over each other, get smashed, squished, split in half and shot at, all the while engaging in their skull-drudgery with jovial depravity.

Since no one goes to these films to see the acting or to admire the story, we can quickly progress to the important question: How 'bout them zombies?

Well, they're pretty solid (so to spook). Ungainly in their move ments as always, they tend to fall into two camps, the dreadfully horrible and the horribly dreadful. Sloppy eaters all, they look like they're auditioning for "Thriller, Part II." In fact, "RLDII" is much closer to that video than to George Romero's original "Living Dead" films. Like too many genre directors these days, Ken Wiederhorn went for a mix of horror and comedy, and it's probably not his fault he succeeded mostly with the latter.

Return of the Living Dead, Part II is rated R and is full of bloody mayhem and gory special effects

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