Movie Review: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD Part II (Collector’s Edition) Blu-ray

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD Part II was written and directed by Ken Wiederhorn who churns a fun-and-gory spin on the zombie apocalypse that stars stars James Karen, Thom Matthews, Dana Ashbrook, Marsha Dietlein, Philip Bruns and Michael Kenworthy.

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. It is a macabre struggle for survival!

In Return of the Living Dead Part II, some kids accidentally open up a few lost canisters of 2-4-5 Trioxin and that’s all it takes for a whole new undead nightmare to happen again. This fun horror-comedy follows a small group of people who end up running for their lives against hordes of brain hungry zombies and in the midst of this group are Ed (James Karen) and Joey (Thom Mathews), two familiar faces who also appeared in the first Return of the Living Dead but as different characters. The fan favorite Tarman zombie also makes a brief appearance in this 1988 sequel but unfortunately they didn’t use him much at all and that’s a shame.

What happens is, the group of survivors run all over the small town they’re trapped in but with each wrong turn their numbers slowly diminish. Sadly, even Ed and Joey get exposed and slowly but surely transform into a couple of undead knuckleheads who keep on adding comedic elements to the movie long after they get infected. The crazy thing about this new batch is that they can still talk and that helps a lot with the heavy dose of humor that this movie possesses. It also features the slow old school zombies as well as the berserker fast movers. Heck, there’s even a fun cameo by the King of Pop who looks like he just stepped out of the “Thriller” music video. In the end, the small town gets a little help from the military and they find a way to stop the outbreak from spreading any further even though we all know there’s a Return of the Living Dead 3,4 and 5. Hey, gotta watch those canisters!

The packaging comes with a slipcover/o-card. The front features all-new artwork by Graham Humphreys that you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and the impressive list of special features. Graham Humphreys also did the artwork for Scream Factory’s RotLD Collector’s Edition 2-disc Blu-ray set back in 2016 so it’s fitting that he return to do the work for this awesome companion piece. The reverse sleeve features the original artwork and movie credits so you have your pick which side you want to use as the front cover. The Blu-ray disc also features its own individual artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. This release includes a brand new 2K scan of the film and also features some alternate audio courtesy of Scream Factory. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio for this release.

Bottom line is, I had a blast revisiting Return of the Living Dead Part II which adds a lot more humor to the undead mix than the first movie has. Even though the story is pretty much a rehash from the first one, with a few small tweaks, it’s still entertaining because it’s a horror-comedy that is a little more family friendly than its predecessor. The first one had some nudity in it and this one doesn’t and that’s pretty much the big difference. The cast did a great job with their characters and the highlight was the return of James Karen and Thom Matthews who also c0-starred in the first movie. Ken Wiederhorn captured what he needed to bring his own unique vision to life on screen because he wanted to take a much lighter approach to the horror genre and succeeded. There’s plenty of funny moments but there’s all kinds of creepy cool zombies walking around that are brought to life by some impressive looking old school makeup effects and the combination of both make this one a really fun movie. Return of the Living Dead Part II will be available on a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray on August 14th.

Distributor: Scream Factory

Run Time: 89 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: Good Stuff! The impressive list of extras include three audio commentary tracks, new and vintage interviews with some of the cast and crew, an archival featurette, behind-the-scenes footage, two trailers, four TV spots and two image galleries.

  • NEW 2K scans from the interpositive
  • 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
  • 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 (25:01)
  • NEW The Laughing Dead – a new interview with writer/director Ken Wiederhorn (19:22)
  • NEW Undead Melodies – an interview with composer J. Peter Robinson (12:48)
  • NEW interview with actor Troy Fromin (02:10)
  • Audio Commentary with writer/director Ken Wiederhorn and co-star Thor Van Lingen
  • They Won’t Stay Dead: A Look at RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD II including interviews with James Karen, Thom Matthews, Brian Peck, Kenny Myers, Susan Snyder, Michael Kenworthy and more… (29:45)
  • Archival Featurette – Live from the Set (05:35)
  • Archival interviews with Ken Wiederhorn, James Karen, Thom Matthews and Kenny Myers (02:36)
  • Behind-the-Scenes footage (04:14)
  • Theatrical Trailer (01:41)
  • Teaser Trailer (01:44)
  • TV Spots (02:10)
  • Still Gallery of posters and stills (05:59)
  • Still Gallery of Behind-the-Scenes stills from Makeup Effects artists Kenny Myers and Mike Smithson (01:46)

 

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