I watched it again for the first time since I was a kid. I appreciated it a lot more now, I have to say. As a kid, I enjoyed it, but I thought it was silly. It *is* silly, but I dismissed it back then as “fluff.” “Silly” does not equate to “fluff.”
This movie and Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD occupy the two poles of modern zombie cinema, but both are, if not equally important, close to it. So many of the classic tropes we all recognize today come not from Romero’s film but from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Talking, reasoning zombies, for example, and the zombie craving for brains.
There are plenty of laughs to be had, yes, but there’s some surprising, though muted, pathos as well. Why is it that zombies crave brains? We learn in this movie that it’s because zombies are in pain. They’re suffering, and munching on brains somehow works as an anesthetic for them. And that scene where Frank the zombie, realizing what he is, commits “suicide” by climbing inside the crematorium? That’s kinda heartbreaking, man.
Another thing that I did enjoy as much this go-round as I did the first time? Linnea Quigley running around for most of the movie nude. Probably I appreciated it more now, since I hadn’t fully hit puberty the last time.