Let’s! Get! Into It! I decided to kick off this year’s Halloween Scene towards the beginning of September because, why not?! If you want to get an idea of what I’m focusing on when it comes to comics and books, read this real quick. For movies, I’m trying something somewhat complicated. I want to alternate between movies I’ve seen and those I haven’t, while also following some kind of connection between films! To start with, I perused the incredibly dangerous corner of my office with shelves of old Wizards bolted about an organized pile of DVDs and Blu-rays to watch. There I spied the Vestron Blu of Return Of The Living Dead 3 and decided to give it a go!
Why did I chose the Bryan Yuzna helmed Return Of The Living Dead 3 from 1993? As I mentioned, it was there. Back when I wrote for Blumhouse.com (RIP) and other more general sites, I would occasionally get sent review copies of films. That’s the space I was in when Lionsgate launched the Vestron Blu-ray line (which might be defunct now?). I was particularly excited about this film because it was a regular fixture at my beloved Family Video. All the movies there were in alphabetical order regardless of genre, so this on wasn’t too far from the place where I also discovered the Sleepaway Camp, Slumber Party Massacre and Texas Chainsaw Massacre series’. I can’t remember if they had the second film in the ROTLD series, but I do remember watching the original and this one on VHS back then!
In the original ROTLD, we learned that the events of Night Of The Living Dead really happened. The government rounded up as many of the bodies as they could and put them in barrels. If the bodies were let out, they’d become zombies again. If they were burned, they’d spread the zombie condition to others. I have no idea what happened in the second installment, but in the third the military has decided to take the zombies, thaw them out, drop them into a target locale, let them eat everyone and then refreeze them with a special bullet. What could go wrong? Teens, that’s what! Also, zombies.
One of the higher ups has a son by the name of Curt (J. Trevor Edmond). He’s heavy teen-in-love with his super-intense goth-ish girlfriend Julie (Mindy Clarke). They broke in to the facility to see the big project his dad had been working on, otherwise known as zombies. Later, Julie had an accident that leaves her…broken. Out of his mind with grief, Curt snuck her back into the base (he has his dad’s key card) and exposed her to the chemical that created the undead in the first place.
That’s when the story really picks up as Julie and Curt do their best to deal with her growing lust for brains. Along the way, the military finally got wise, the kids ticked off a quartet of people hanging out in a convenience store (things escalated when Julie bit one of them) and they wound up running through the sewers.
I remembered this film in the broadest of strokes from my first watching (and the one time I watched it three years), but the part that has always stuck in my brain is how Julie mutilates herself in an effort to stem her hunger for brains. These scenes are ROUGH to watch, not just from an emotional point of view, but from a special effects one as you really see it all happening! Those effects are matched by the more full-on undead scenes that feature melted, separating and even mechanically fortified zombies! The effects in this film are absolutely top notch. I just wish the sound effects matched instead of occasionally sounding like a bored Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to do a mutant voice on Thundercats.
I also really enjoyed the two leads in this film. They don’t always know how to hit the right emotional beats for the scenes and are sometimes a little off, but overall I thought they both managed to carry the intensity of those teen love feelings to a place where you buy that one would turn the other into a zombie out of love. (I almost put love in quotation marks, but who am I to judge?) It also helps that they look like so many TV teens I saw growing up. They could have been Sean’s bad kid friends from Boy Meets World, the stars of a Soul Asylum video or background players in Buffy The Vampire Slayer (the movie! – hey, maybe I should figure out a way to rewatch that…).
It’s funny, after watching this movie I was like, “Yeah, I liked that.” But now that I’m writing about it (a few days later) I find myself kinda falling in love with it. I’m absolutely not an expert in 90s horror, but I feel like this one’s a diamond in the rough that everyone should check out.
So, where did I go from there? I did some digging into Brian Yuzna’s filmography and saw that Bride Of Re-Animator — which he made a few years before this one — is currently on Amazon Video! I thought I was just following the director trail to that film, but they actually have a lot more in common!