Remembering Return of the Living Dead

When I was six I went with my mother to a friend’s house.  This wasn’t unusual as the house belonged to her childhood friend who had twin sons my age who were now my friends.  I spent a significant chunk of my youth with and around that family, so being over at their house was business as usual.

What was not business as usual was the movie playing on this particular day.  Return of the Living Dead had come out the year before and their father had bought a copy of it on VHS just the night before.  And because he was kind of a sick twisted dick, he decided that playing the movie for a group of children ranging from three to 10 would be tons of fun.

The movie terrified me.  I mean, run out of the room screaming into my mother’s arms terrified.  And yet, it was also fascinating.  I’d never seen anything like it, literally.  I’d never seen what I now think of as typical 80s punk look:

A few years later I would try - and spectacularly fail - to replicate some of these looks in an attempt to look radical

A few years later I would try – and spectacularly fail – to replicate some of these looks in an attempt to look totally gnarly

I’d never seen a fully nude woman as Linnea Quigley’s character Trash does about 19 minutes into the film.

I’d never seen zombies or vast amounts of blood and gore and destruction.  I’d never seen a good guy, as I thought of dopey protagonist Freddy, turn bad and proceed to try to murder anyone around him.

The movie marked a lot of firsts for me, but perhaps it is most notable for being the movie that began my fascination with zombies.  Without seeing this movie 27 years ago, would I be working on my Zombies? Zombies! anthology today?  I really don’t think so.

And so when I saw today on Youtube that the entire movie is available streaming on the site, well, I couldn’t resist a walk down memory lane.  I watched the movie for a second time about 10 years ago and after watching it for a third time today I must say it holds up surprisingly well.  In my mind at least, but in my mind it’s been a hokey, silly experience since I was old enough not to be terrified of zombies anymore.

There’s really nothing hugely special about this outside of the morbid humor used at times, “Send more police” but it will always hold a special place in my heart.  It changed my life, which is kind of sad because it’s such a ridiculous movie, but I’m okay with that.  And so here it is in its glorious majesty, Return of the Living Dead

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