Director: Ken Wiederhorn

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, PART 2 (1988)It seems like every movie, especially those of the horror genre, has a sequel. Such is the case with the 1985 cult classic The Return of the Living Dead. A sequel is what we got in 1988 with Return of the Living Dead 2, which should be one of the biggest reasons that not ever successful movie should be followed by a sequel.

The movie begins with a brief introduction to Trioxin, the gas that created all those zombies in the prior movie. Other than that, they pretty much ignore the prior movie. Regardless of the first movie's status in regards to the sequel's plot, we learn that some of these big drums of Trioxin from the prior film are still floating around in the Army's possession. You can imagine what happens next. During a military transport caravan, one of the drums falls out of the truck and rolls into a canal. And as you could imagine, bad things shall ensue.

Our story proper begins with Jesse Wilson (Michael Kenworthy), an annoying young boy bullied by some local kids. He gives the head punk in charge, Billy (Thor Van Lingen), some old Spider-Man comics, which I guess is supposed to be a twelve-year-old's answer to protection money. Upon acquiring said comics, Billy makes the announcement that Jesse's been inducted into the gang. The group is really just Billy and some other kid, so they're just not much of a gang. Jesse protests, but gets dragged to the clubhouse, which is really a crypt in the local cemetery. Before Billy and the other kid can beat an initiation into him, Jesse runs off, and ends up in a nearby sewer. They find the lost drum of Trioxin we saw earlier, and discover a corpse inside. Understandably freaked out, the three kids run back to the cemetery, where Billy and the other kid lock Jesse in the previously mentioned crypt to keep him from telling anybody what they found. Why? They just saw a corpse in a big metal container with "Property Of The United States Army" stenciled on the side. Did they think the corpse was hiding gold nuggets that were theirs for the taking? Or maybe chicken nuggets. Or the Denver Nuggets. But regardless, one would assume that an oil drum with a corpse in it would be something you'd report to the FBI.

After locking Jesse in the crypt, Billy and the other kid head back to the sewer and start poking around the Trioxin drum. That proves to be a bad decision, as toxic fumes shoot out and spray both kids in the face before wafting over to the cemetery. The gas gets mixed in with some clouds, which proceed to rain the Trioxin all over the graves and revives the zombies. In short, if you saw the first movie, you know how the zombies came to be in this one. Throw in a pair of bumbling gravediggers named Ed (James Karen) and Joey (Thom Mathews), Joey's bimbo girlfriend Brenda (Suzanne Snyder), Jesse's aerobics-obsessed sister Lucy (Marsha Dietlein), the all-looks-and-no-brains cable guy Tom (Dana Ashbrook), and the senile Dr. Mandel (Philip Bruns), and you've got a movie that ends up being absolutely horrid.

Seriously, this is not a good movie. At all. Anyone who says this is even a "so good it's bad" movie deserves to be punched in the face. This is one of the worst movies I've ever seen, no lie. It's not as bad as House of the Dead, but it's one of the most horrible pieces of cinematic garbage I've ever had the misfortune of watching. Almost all of the acting is crap, with the exception of James Karen and Thom Mathews. They were the brightest parts of the whole movie, but that's only because they played the same characters they did in the first Return movie. Why they're in the sequel, I don't know. Even if the character names are different, they're still the same. Some of their dialogue is identical to dialogue they had in the first movie. Maybe they just figured nobody would notice that they were in the first one. But I noticed. The script, written by director Ken Wiederhorn, is atrociously awful. The characters are all morons, and none of them are likeable at all. And casting a twelve-year-old kid as the lead guarantees that he'll live. The vast majority of horror movies wouldn't kill children, so that one's kind of obvious. In other news, J. Peter Robertson's music is also obnoxiously bad. It's definitely up there as one of the worst scores in movie history.

I hate this movie. Hate. The only good things about the movie are James Karen, Thom Matthews, and the new Tarman. That's it. Do not see this movie unless you absolutely HAVE to.

Final Rating: *