A new generation of ghouls is spawned when a barrel of nerve gas, fallen off an Army truck, is cracked open by neighborhood roughs. The escaping greenish vapor turns the living into zombies and the dead into the not-so-dead. Of course, it seeps into the local cemetery... with groundbreaking results.
"Get that damned screwdriver out of my head!"
- Zombie Head
to Dan O'Bannon's entertaining original is more or less a retread of the
first film. Matthews and Karen return as bumbling grave-robbers who once
again get chased by those brain-eating ghouls. This time around, they are
really playing it for laughs. There are still elements of horror but the
comedy is the star here.
The movie opens
when the army once again loses a barrel of that top-secret chemical (245
Trioxin) they have been trying to keep under wraps. A group of kids find
it stashed away in the graveyard and play with it, resulting in the gas
being released once again. Enter Ed (Karen) and Joey (Matthews), two less-than-genius
thieves who have come to the cemetery to steal jewelry from the tombs.
When the dead awaken, it's trouble for everyone as the military quarantines
the infected town and a group of unlucky locals find themselves trapped,
trying to find a way out.
the Living Dead: Part 2 is nowhere near as good as the original but
it does have fun with its script. There are some lightly-hidden references
to the first film as well as downright robbing of lines from its script
but it's all in fun. It doesn't take such a ridiculous turn that we can't
enjoy it. Philip Burns, in particular, as the boneheaded drunk Doc Mandel
is really good. The film's leads Dana Ashbrook and Marsha Dietlin are a
little too "vanilla" at times but Suzanne Snyder as Joey's foul-mouthed
girlfriend is a definite plus. Genre fans may recognize Snyder from her
role in another great cult film, Killer Klowns From Outer Space.
She is more energetic in this one though as she plays the bratty Brenda
very well. She isn't quite a complete mean spirit but she is snobby and
self-centered enough that we enjoy hating her character.
of the Living Dead: Part 2 is missing in substance, it makes up for
in gore. This one definitely goes for the jugular or should I say, skull,
more than its predecessor. The original Return of the Living Dead wasn't exactly a light film either but this one really plays out its bloodlust.
If you hated the first movie, this won't make you a fan but those who loved
it will certainly appreciate it. It stays true to the series without really
offering too much new material and if you're expecting that, you will enjoy.
Mathews and James Karen nearly duplicate their roles from Return
of the Living Dead as a pair who are sickened by zombie gas. In both
films they have the exchange, "Listen kid, if you like this job..." "Like
this job? Like this job!"
- Thor van Lingen (who plays Billy
Crowley) got the role after reading about the try-outs in his local newspaper.
- The "brains" that are thrown out of the truck into the perusing
zombies is actually raw cookie dough covered in poison berry pancake sunup.
you watch closely at the bottom of the screen after the zombies are destroyed,
when the survivors are walking and talking you can see the boom mike slip
up into the shot.
of the Living Dead Part 2 was released January 8, 1988 into theaters
in the USA.
- If you watch closely at the bottom of the screen after Jesse runs
over Billy with the truck and says "Brains!", you can see the top of the
director Ken Weiderhorn's head as he pulls Thor van Lingen off of the front
- If you watch closely throughout the film, you will notice that
Michael Kenworthy (Jesse Wilson) has one blue eye and one half-blue half-brown
eye. These are his actual eyes.
- Jesse's and Billy's rooms in the film, although they look like
different sets, are actually the same room with the furniture moved around.
Weekend Return of the Living Dead Part 2 grossed $4.576 Million
on 1,467 screens. Overall it grossed $9.205 Million in the USA.
- The stuntman used for the 1/2 zombie (the one that gets blown in half then
burnt by the steam stem) was an American Veteran who was wounded in battle
and lost everything from the waist down.
- It cost $50,000 for an artist to draw the blue electricity effects
throughout the film. The director later comments that it was money carelessly
Kenworthy was nominated for "Best Young Actor in a Horror or Mystery Motion
Picture" for his role as Jesse Wilson and the whole movie was nominated
for "Teenage Choice for Best Horror Motion Picture."