“Do you want to paaarrrty!”
If one loves zombies, one loves The Return of the Living Dead. This wonderful, unofficial sequel to Night of the Living Dead seamlessly combined horror and comedy in a way that has rarely been achieved. I would say the only other movie which did that as well was An American Werewolf in London. I had often heard stories in interviews about the insane experience making this movie was, but never knew the whole story. Or should I say stories?
This is a documentary from the team behind us the excellent His Name is Jason and Never Sleep Again. More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead, directed by Bill Philputt and narrated by Brian “Scuz” Peck, is their best effort yet. Two hours of exhaustive, candid, uncensored interviews with everyone involved in the film reveal secrets behind one of the greatest zombie movies of all time.
One fact comes out of this; Dan O’Bannon was one complicated genius. Apparently he was incredibly difficult, overbearing, micromanaging, shortsighted and more than a little creepy, but one can’t argue with the final product he directed was a masterpiece. Keep in mind this is the man who wrote the screenplays for Alien, Dead and Buried, Total Recall and Lifeforce. Return of the Living Dead was his directorial debut, and apparently he was a royal pain in the ass. So much so, the great Clu Gulager perpetually wanted to kick his ass and carried a lead pipe around to remind Dan of that fact.
More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead covers the origin of the movie from the legal battles between George Romero and Night of the Living Dead writing partner John Russo (over the term The Living Dead) to the movie’s premiere and beyond. Incredible, in-depth interviews with everyone involved paint the picture of a low-budget perfect storm of a film. You find yourself amazed by the unabashed honesty of all involved and the incredible love each shares for this groundbreaking movie that spawned four sequels (none of which compare to the original).
Did you know that Linnea Quigley’s full frontal nudity forced them to make a genitalia plug that turned her into a living Barbie Doll? Or that Beverly Randolph was invited to a private audition at Dan O’Bannon’s house and was forced to flee due to loaded weapons and porn? That Jewel Shepard was cast from the strip clubs O’Bannon often frequented and went on to drive her castmates crazy from her uber bitch behavior (her rebuttals make her look worse than the casts comments). That Miguel Nunez kept secret from the rest of the cast that he was homeless when he was cast. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you loved Return of the Living Dead, you must see this documentary. Dan O’Bannon’s inclusion of punk rockers and their music into the narrative was an inspired choice. Many consider this not just a zombie horror movie, but a punk rock masterpiece. It forever associated zombies with a love for BRAINS!
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen DVD transfer is pretty good considering there is about 4 hours of stuff on one disc. Archival clips, photos and footage vary in quality, but for the most part the footage is sharp, with the colors bright and detailed.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is exactly what you would expect from documentary dealing mainly with talking heads. The music and SFX are well balanced with the dialog, which is clear and well captured.
There is an amazing slew of an ANOTHER two plus hours of extras.
- They Won’t Stay Dead: A Look at Return of the Living Dead Part II A 30-minute mini doc about the disaster that was the sequel.
- Beyond the Grave: A Look at Return of the Living Dead 3 20-minute mini doc about the far superior sequel directed by Brian Yuzna (Bride of Re-Animator, Society).
- A Conversation with Dan O’Bannon: The Final Interview Incredibly touching. Dan takes on very difficult questions dealing with sensitive subjects and answers intimately and honestly.
- Deleted Scenes 14 deleted scenes from the documentary that runs about 15 minutes. There is one scene with Clu Gulager where he says his farewell to Dan. It brought tears to my eyes.
- Stacey Q Live! Exclusive “Tonight” Music Video Very cheesy, but will entertain those who loved this song.
- Resurrected Settings: The Filming Locations Today Silly tour of the original locations that is elevated by charming tour guides Beverly Randolph and Brian Peck.
- Return of the Living Dead in 3 Minutes The cast recite memorable lines from the film.
- Trailer for More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead
This is an incredibly fun documentary. The cast and crew go into such candid and honest details about this production. You find yourself laughing and even crying at times. If you loved the movie, you will be amazed at the back story. In spite of his personality problems and lack of directing experience this documentary is a tribute to Dan O’Bannon who passed away in 2009. This is a must-own for zombie fans.