Review: Return of the Living Dead III

Posted by Cory Casciato On May - 13 - 2009
Watch out, she bites

Watch out, she bites

Unlike the first two movies in the series, which planted tongue firmly in cheek for one great horror comedy (the original) and one below average one (the sequel, reviewed here), Return of the Living Dead III abandons the humor angle and takes a much darker tone. It’s a strange decision, considering that fans must have been expecting something in the same vein as the first two, but for a while it almost – almost – works. Then the admittedly meager promise of the beginning falls apart, leaving a tattered mess

The story this time around focuses more intently on the army’s involvement with Trioxin, the gas that reanimates the dead. Being the army, they are trying to weaponize it. Being the army in this series, they are utterly and completely incompetent, to a degree that is beyond ridiculous. The whole plot hinges on this incompetence and unfathomably lax security around base.

The leads are an army brat and his goth girlfriend. The two of them witness a reanimation test that goes awry, leading to some death and dismemberment. When she ends up dying in a motorcycle accident shortly thereafter, he decides to reanimate her. Once she’s back, they have a run in with some gangsters, she starts eating people, the army tries to catch her and bring her back, she tries to re-kill herself and things get more ludicrous by the second until it finally ends.

The film takes two serious liberties with the original. First, the bite of a zombie makes more zombies, which was not the case in the original — only exposure to Trioxin created zombies. Second, they introduce the idea that pain allows the zombie to control its need to feed. That’s in direct opposition to the original, where the pain of being dead was what caused the zombies to cave brains in the first place. These changes are extremely obnoxious.

On the plus side, the second change does offer an excuse for Julie — the girlfriend — to transform herself into the sexiest (yeah, I said it), most badass zombie you’ve ever seen. She pushes glass, scrap metal and chains though her skin, strips down to almost nothing and ends up looking like an extremely gruesome BDSM fetish model – which is kinda hot, admittedly. I assume that was the real reason for this movie.

The look of the zombies was wildly inconsistent. The original experiment zombie looked fantastic – dead, creepy and believable. Later, some zombies that get released from Trioxin canisters look subhuman, like trolls or goblins, rather than rotting, reanimated corpses. Most of the rest, such as the clerk Julie eats early on, just looked cheesy and bad. The credits list three different studios for the zombie work, which explains the inconsistency. Why they didn’t stick with the original studio and look is a mystery.

Considering the lack of continuity in tone from the first two movies and the extreme liberties taken, RotLD III would have been better served to abandon the connection altogether and set itself up as an entirely new movie. It would still be pretty crap, but at least it would have been more original crap then and wouldn’t have suffered from the comparison to the original.

Return of the Living Dead III/US/1993

After the break, enjoy a NSFW pic of Julie in all of her BDSM zombie-babe glory


6 Responses to “Review: Return of the Living Dead III

  1. Sid Pink says:

    I knew I loved goth-babes; but goth-zombabes crank it up to eleven.

    Also, when you do reviews, would you post release year and country of origin under the title, perhaps in future? For lazy humps, like me?

  2. Cory Casciato says:

    Sure, I could start. I compile all that info anyway, for my own purposes. Of course, the OCD in me will now want to go back and tag all of the existing reviews with year and country of origin… thanks for that.

  3. Jay Clarke says:

    I love, love, LOVE this movie! I only realized that I’d been watching a cut version of it until just a few years ago.
    Oh Mindy Clarke, you so fine!

  4. Cory Casciato says:

    What’s the difference between the cut and uncut versions? Major plot stuff, or just extra boobies or what?

  5. Jay Clarke says:

    There was a few minutes of gore shaved off. Namely footage from the lab where they keep all the zombies caged up and when the cops get eaten.

  6. […] 1) The Return of the Living Dead franchise has exactly two movies that aren’t actively hazardous to your mental health: the original, and the third one (yay Mindy Clarke!). Admittedly, the third one would be much better if it weren’t supposed to be a RotLD movie, but at least it’s moderately entertaining. The fourth and fifth ones are fucking awful, and if I ever interview Peter Coyote, I’m going to ask him how the hell he ended up in those pieces of shit.  (Read my Return of the Living Dead 3 review.) […]

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