Return of the Living Dead 3 [1993]

Return of the Living Dead 3 [DVD] [1993] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Release Date: August 28, 2001
Studio: Lions Gate
Actors: Kent McCord, James T. Callahan, Sarah Douglas, Melinda Clarke, Abigail Lenz
Directors: Brian Yuzna
Runtime: 97 minutes

Return of the Living Dead III is the third go-round for a premise intended as both a sequel to and a satire of the George A Romero Living Dead films. This could just as easily have been an entry in director Brian Yuzna's Re-Animator series, and indeed the plot nugget seems derived from the last shot of Re-Animator itself, as a devoted youth (J. Trevor Edmond) revives his freshly dead girlfriend (Mindy Clarke) with trioxin, a military zombie-making gas, and learns to regret his actions. Though it has some left-field ideas--the heroine turns herself into a DIY Hellraiser Cenobite poster-girl with extreme body piercing to distract herself from the desire to eat her boyfriend's brain--and effective action, it is still confined by its low budget and thus stuck with ordinary acting, a minimal plot and too many dumb developments.

The central thread is the necrophile/SM romance, which ends up in a liebestod clinch in the army base's furnace, but there's a sub-plot about a quartet of zombified gang members which serves mainly to get some violence going every few minutes. Clarke is a striking presence, studded with bits of metal like a punk porcupine, but her performance flat lines even before her death in a motorcycle crash and revival as a zombie, while the rest of the cast--with the honourable exceptions of Kent McCord as a senior officer and Basil Wallace as a mystical down-and-out--are typified by Sarah Douglas' strident militarist mad scientist, who wants to put zombies in armoured exoskeletons and deploy them as combat troops. Nevertheless, this is gruesome fun for the fans, with some imaginative zombie mutilation effects.

On the DVD: It's a no-frills full-screen transfer. The only extra is a 50-second trailer.--Kim Newman