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Return of the Living Dead Part II: Collector's Edition (1988) - Blu-ray Review

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Return of the Living Dead Part II - Blu-ray Review

3 beers

Damn you, Trioxin 245!  I mean, seriously, again!?!?!?  Four years later, did we need a sequel to the original spoof?  Maybe not.  But it's hella fun to think we did!!!

Shock Waves is, hands down, one of my favorite zombie flicks.  There, I said it and I mean it.  That horror film was released in 1977 and, while available on blu-ray, it has been largely ignored.  It’s director, Ken Wiederhorn, would return to the zombie scene – after directing Jennifer Jason Leigh in Eyes of a Stranger, a slasher flick about a serial rapist living next door to an aspiring journalist – with Return of the Living Dead Part II, a rarity in Hollywood as it is a sequel (the first of four it turns out) to a spoof of the genre.

"Grow some funk of your own and let the search for brains resume! Return of the Living Dead Part II finally has a home thanks to the efforts of Scream Factory."


 

Critically panned and largely dismissed by fans of the original film, Return of the Living Dead Part II, has now risen to cult status.  Whether that’s because of its ridiculously poor handling on home entertainment devices (up until now the original soundtrack has not been included) or because of its Goonies vs. Zombies vibes, the film has long been a treasure for some and a target for others.  Acquiring it has been a challenge it seems. 

UNTIL NOW.

Thankfully, Scream Factory are up to the task of restoring this film to all its gruesome and groovy fury thanks to this new 2K transfer.  And, yes, even the tunes are back.  Fans can’t go wrong with this release.  Hell, even its haters are going to want a copy of this collector’s release of Return of the Living Dead Part II.

Dropping the punk rock swagger and middle finger antics, this freewheeling horror-comedy saves the attitude for the living dead and instead gives us a story about some kids - Michael Kenworthy as Jesse Wilson, Thor Van Lingen as Billy Crowley, and Jason Hogan as Johnny – messing around with some toxic chemical containers whose vapors resurrect the dead…again. Can you blame them though?  Bouncing off the back of a military truck, one container is enough – once opened – to spread its toxic funk across land and river.  And no stiff within its range is safe enough to remain in slumber.

But not even Jesse’s sister, Marsha Dietlein as Lucy Wilson, can stop her exercising long enough to hear his story about the living dead. Poor Jesse.  No one believes him.  At first.  They will, though, and it will be all too late for them to put a pause on the hilarity and the hijinks of the living dead in suburban America.  With roles from Twin PeaksDana Ashbrook and The X-FilesMitch Pileggi, there are some surprises in store from genre buffs.

Co-starring James Karen as Ed Mathews, Thom Mathews as Joey Hazel, and Suzanne Snyder as Brenda Herzog, Return of the Living Dead Part II is delirious in its handling of the humor.  Some of it works and some of it doesn’t as old cast members are recast in this one as different people with different professions fighting the same enemy.  The stage has been set for the somewhat gonzo antics to continue.

Return of the Living Dead Part II - Blu-ray Review

If this spoof feels familiar, well, it should.  It is practically the same version of what came before.  Maybe not as edgy.  Definitely not as funny.  The squeamish will duck and cover, though, so re-watch it with friends.  The good-natured zombie fans will cheer!  The script works well enough to be satisfying, even if it is wholly unnecessary.  This is a fun flick.  Fans of the original might dismiss it a bit more than they need to due to its stylistic and satirist departures but the film still gets a few gags over us.  It works. 

Grow some funk of your own and let the search for brains resume! Return of the Living Dead Part II finally has a home thanks to the efforts of Scream Factory.

Return of the Living Dead Part II - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
98 mins
Director
: Ken Wiederhorn
Writer:
Ken Wiederhorn
Cast:
James Karen, Thom Mathews, Michael Kenworthy
Genre
: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline:
If "A Nightmare On Elm Street" made you scream and "Creepshow" split your sides, then... "Return Of The Living Dead Part II" will scare your brain out!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Brains! Brains! I want, live brain! Brains! Brains!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Lorimar Film Entertainment
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 15, 1988
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 14, 2018
Synopsis: The horror begins again as mysterious barrels bounce off an Army transport as it passes through a new housing development and land near an abandoned cemetery. Mischievous neighborhood boys discover the barrels and open them, unaware of the evil contained within. A deadly green vapor escapes and turns the living into flesh-eating zombies and causes the dead to rise from their graves. As these hideous living dead hunt down the fresh human brains they need, man is pitted against man, and the living against the dead.

Return of the Living Dead Part II - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Collector's Edition

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- August 14, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD 5.1 lossless Master Audio
Discs: Single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Scream Factory’s NEW 2K scan from the original interpositive is fantastic!  The images on the 1080p transfer using the AVC MPEG-4 codec are presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio of its original release and absolutely explode with a crispness long since missing from the original presentations.   The tones are natural and amped up on saturation and dark tones.  Since this is primarily set at night, the dark tones are important and with this release they are dark and natural; effective in creating a sense of disturbing moodiness.  The Blu-ray is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 lossless Master Audio and contains a good mix of levels for multiple channels requiring no tweaking from its audience in order for dialogue to be heard.  And, yes, the original music is restored with this release.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • NEW Audio Commentary With Actress Suzanne Snyder

  • NEW Audio Commentary With Gary Smart (Co-author Of The Complete History Of The Return Of The Living Dead) And Filmmaker Christopher Griffiths

  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Ken Wiederhorn And Co-star Thor Van Lingen

Special Features:

With two new commentaries leading the charge (as well as an old one) and the new 2K scan to watch, this release from Scream Factory is already rewarding longtime fans.  The hits keep coming with the NEW interviews, the new making-of featurette, and the archival material, too.  

  • NEW Back To The Dead: The Effects Of “Return Of The Living Dead Part II” – Including Interviews With Special Make-up Effects Creator Kenny Myers And Special Make-up Effects Artists Andy Schoneberg And Mike Smithson
  • NEW The Laughing Dead – An Interview With Writer/Director Ken Wiederhorn
  • NEW Undead Melodies – An Interview With Composer J. Peter Robinson
  • NEW Interview With Actor Troy Fromin
  • They Won’t Stay Dead: A Look At Return Of The Living Dead Part II Including Interviews With James Karen, Thom Matthews, Brian Peck, Kenny Myers, Susan Snyder, Michael Kenworthy, And More…
  • Archival Featurette – Live From The Set
  • Archival Interviews With Ken Wiederhorn, James Karen, Thom Matthews, And Kenny Myers
  • Behind-the-scenes Footage
  • Theatrical Trailer And Teaser Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery Of Posters And Stills
  • Still Gallery Of Behind-the-scenes Stills From Makeup Effects Artists Kenny Myers And Mike Smithson

Return of the Living Dead Part II - Blu-ray Review

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