The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

R | 90 mins | Horror, Comedy | 16 August 1985

Director:

Dan O'Bannon

Producer:

Tom Fox

Cinematographer:

Jules Brenner

Editor:

Robert Gordon

Production Designer:

William Stout

Production Companies:

Hemdale Film Corporation, Fox Films, Ltd.
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HISTORY

       According to the 20 Oct 1975 Box, a sequel was underway to George Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead (see entry), set for a 1976 release, to be produced by Russell Streiner of New American Films, Inc. Streiner produced the original Night of the Living Dead, but did not receive a producing credit on The Return of the Living Dead. Onscreen credits list Streiner as a story writer.
       Five years later, the 19 Nov 1980 Var announced that former banker Tom Fox planned to finance another film in the “Living Dead” series without Romero’s participation, for under $1 million. John Russo of the Pittsburgh, PA-based Market Square Productions was set to direct and co-write with Rudy Ricci. The film was scheduled to begin shooting in early spring 1981. Russo scripted the original Night of the Living Dead, and received co-writing credit for The Return of the Living Dead, but he was not acknowledged for writing the 1978 novel, The Return of the Living Dead, on which the picture was loosely based, according to the 13 Apr 1984 UCLA Daily Bruin. Tom Fox reportedly paid Russo $250,000 for film rights to his novel. On 18 Nov 1983, DV explained that Fox had been developing the project for several years, and a 10 Mar 1983 DV brief noted that Fox had acquired rights from George Romero. Also noted was an increase in the film’s budget to $4.5 million.
       According to Christian Sellers’ 2011 book, The Complete History ... More Less

       According to the 20 Oct 1975 Box, a sequel was underway to George Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead (see entry), set for a 1976 release, to be produced by Russell Streiner of New American Films, Inc. Streiner produced the original Night of the Living Dead, but did not receive a producing credit on The Return of the Living Dead. Onscreen credits list Streiner as a story writer.
       Five years later, the 19 Nov 1980 Var announced that former banker Tom Fox planned to finance another film in the “Living Dead” series without Romero’s participation, for under $1 million. John Russo of the Pittsburgh, PA-based Market Square Productions was set to direct and co-write with Rudy Ricci. The film was scheduled to begin shooting in early spring 1981. Russo scripted the original Night of the Living Dead, and received co-writing credit for The Return of the Living Dead, but he was not acknowledged for writing the 1978 novel, The Return of the Living Dead, on which the picture was loosely based, according to the 13 Apr 1984 UCLA Daily Bruin. Tom Fox reportedly paid Russo $250,000 for film rights to his novel. On 18 Nov 1983, DV explained that Fox had been developing the project for several years, and a 10 Mar 1983 DV brief noted that Fox had acquired rights from George Romero. Also noted was an increase in the film’s budget to $4.5 million.
       According to Christian Sellers’ 2011 book, The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead, Russo and Romero had a “gentleman’s agreement” concerning Night of the Living Dead, allowing that both could make sequels if they chose.
       The 2 Mar 1983 DV reported Hemdale Film Corporation had acquired rights to the Fox Films Ltd. Production, and the picture would be shot in 3-D, with principal photography to begin 1 May 1983. Tobe Hooper was named as the film’s director, and Dan O’Bannon was listed as scriptwriter.
       According to the 6 Apr 1983 Var, Night of the Living Dead director, George Romero, requested that filmmakers change the title of The Return of the Living Dead to avoid confusion or association with his original picture. Romero was planning to begin filming the final film in his “Dead” trilogy, Day of the Dead (1985, see entry), and did not want his films to be associated with The Return of the Living Dead. The 16 May 1983 HR announced that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had halted filmmakers from using the title The Return of the Living Dead until an arbitration hearing could be held, following Romero’s formal protest.
       According to the 18 Nov 1983 DV, writer O’Bannon was hired to take over directing duties after Tobe Hooper left to work on another project, and principal photography was set to begin on 28 Nov 1983. However, filming was delayed until 9 Jul 1984. The first-time director addressed the controversy with Romero and stated he had “no intention” of making a sequel, offering that he completely rewrote John Russo’s original script, changing locations and adding a “punk-rock” feel. Additionally, O’Bannon decided against making the picture in 3-D, and anticipated coming in under budget on the $6 million picture, with an expected seven-week shoot.
       The MPAA granted permission to use the title The Return of the Living Dead to Hemdale Leisure Corporation, et al, by unanimous decision, according to the 15 Mar 1984 DV. Filming was scheduled to begin within a month of the decision.
       Principal photography began in Los Angeles, CA, on 9 Jul 1984, according to the 24 Nov 1984 HR production chart, and finished in Oct 1984, as reported by the 15 Oct 1984 DV.
       According to the 22 Jul 1985 HR, the release date was moved up from 18 Oct 1985 to 16 Aug 1985 in an effort to cash in on the Summer film market.
       The Return of the Living Dead was followed by two sequels: The Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988), and with The Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993, see entries).
      Opening credits contain the following title cards: "The events portrayed in this film are all true. The names are real names of real people and real organizations"; "July 3, 1984, 5:30 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time"; and, "4:00 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time." Actor Miguel Nunez is credited as "Miguel A. Nunez, Jr." in end credits.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Oct 1975.
---
Daily Variety
2 Mar 1983.
---
Daily Variety
10 Mar 1983.
---
Daily Variety
18 Nov 1983
p. 6.
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1984.
---
Daily Variety
15 Oct 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 1985
p. 3, 56.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Aug 1985
p. 14.
New York Times
16 Aug 1985
p. 6.
UCLA Bruin
13 Apr 1984.
---
Variety
19 Nov 1980
p. 5, 31.
Variety
6 Apr 1983
p. 4.
Variety
19 Jun 1985
p. 25.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Hemdale Film Corporation Presents
A Fox Films Ltd. Production
An Orion Pictures Release
A Euro Film Fund Ltd. Enterprise
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Still photog
Lighting consultant
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy
Grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
2d asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
Addl asst film ed
Addl asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Ward set person
Extras cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus supv
Mus pod for Film Trax Pic
Mus consultant
Mus asst from Enigma
Mus asst from Enigma
Addl mus
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd eff ed by
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff equip
Fantasy II prod supv
Visual eff supv, Fantasy II
Visual eff supv, Fantasy II
Nuclear explosion
Model shop supv
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Matte painting
Opt eff
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Spec makeup eff
Punk makeup
Key makeup artist
Hairdresser/Makeup asst
Addl spec makeup eff
Addl spec makeup eff
Addl spec makeup eff
Addl spec makeup eff
Addl spec makeup eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod assoc
Prod des
Scr supv
Prod coord
Prod secy
Asst to the prods
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Prod asst
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Extras set coord
Craft service
Caterer
First aid
Consulting mortician
Transportation coord
Driver
Driver
Prod equip and services
Nuclear explosion
Model shop supv
Prod asst
Prod asst
Insurance provided by
Insurance provided by
Completion guarantee by
Prod finance
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
ANIMATION
Half-corpse anim
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
Main Title - “The Trioxin Theme,” performed by Francis Haines, composed by Francis Haines, produced by Simon Heyworth
“Nothing For You,” performed by T.S.O.L, composed by T.S.O.L, produced by Ron Goudie, Chris Gray and T.S.O.L
“Dead Beat Dance,” performed by The Damned, composed by The Damned
+
SONGS
Main Title - “The Trioxin Theme,” performed by Francis Haines, composed by Francis Haines, produced by Simon Heyworth
“Nothing For You,” performed by T.S.O.L, composed by T.S.O.L, produced by Ron Goudie, Chris Gray and T.S.O.L
“Dead Beat Dance,” performed by The Damned, composed by The Damned
"Eyes Without A Face,” performed by The Flesheaters, composed by Desjardins, Don Kirk, Robyn Jameson, Chris Wahl, produced by Chris D
“Tonight (We’ll Make Love Until We Die),” performed by SSQ, composed by Jon St. James, Stacey Swain, produced by Jon St. James for Formula One Music Productions
“Partytime,” performed by 45 Grave, composed by Paul Cutler, Dinah Cancer, Don Bolles, produced by Michael Wagener (of Double Trouble)
“Love Under Will,” performed by The Jet Black Berries, composed by Gary Trainer, produced by The Jet Black Berries
“Take A Walk,” performed by Tall Boys, composed by Nigel Lewis, Mark Robertson, produced by Mr. Fenstein
“Dead Surfin',” performed by The Cramps, composed by Ivy Rorschach, Lux Interior, produced by The Cramps
“Burn The Flames,” performed by Roky Erikson, composed by Roky Erikson, produced by Duane Aslaksen.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Return of the Living Dead
Release Date:
16 August 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 August 1985
Production Date:
9 July--October 1984
Copyright Claimant:
Cinema '84, a Greenberg Brothers Partnership
Copyright Date:
8 April 1986
Copyright Number:
PA286129
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Deluxe©
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27336
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On 3 Jul 1984 in Louisville, Kentucky, Freddy works late to train under his boss, Frank, at Uneeda Medical Supply warehouse, housing medical supplies. Freddy’s punk-rock friends are looking for a party to attend, and decide to visit Freddy at work to see if he knows of any. Freddy asks Frank if he has seen any strange occurrences at the warehouse, and Frank shares a story of a chemical spill that occurred at a United States Army-run facility, that dripped onto corpses, and caused them to come to life. After the bodies were disposed of, Frank tells him that a mix-up sent the contaminated bodies to their medical supply warehouse, and offers to show them to Freddy. While looking at a corpse inside a glass tank, Frank taps on the top, and noxious fumes leak from the tank and knock Frank and Freddy unconscious. Elsewhere, Colonel Glover agonizes over the missing tanks. Back in Louisville, the punk rockers arrive at Uneeda Medical Supply to see Freddy, but decide to wait for two hours at a nearby cemetery until their friend gets off work. Frank and Freddy recover from the noxious fumes, and find the body in the tank missing. They assume it disintegrated, but soon hear noises throughout the warehouse, and find that the human and animal cadavers have returned to life. The men lock themselves in the office, and Freddy suggests they telephone the number on the side of the contaminated tank. Frank refuses, since it is a number for the United States Army, and he does not want them involved. Instead, Frank telephones his boss, Burt, ... +


On 3 Jul 1984 in Louisville, Kentucky, Freddy works late to train under his boss, Frank, at Uneeda Medical Supply warehouse, housing medical supplies. Freddy’s punk-rock friends are looking for a party to attend, and decide to visit Freddy at work to see if he knows of any. Freddy asks Frank if he has seen any strange occurrences at the warehouse, and Frank shares a story of a chemical spill that occurred at a United States Army-run facility, that dripped onto corpses, and caused them to come to life. After the bodies were disposed of, Frank tells him that a mix-up sent the contaminated bodies to their medical supply warehouse, and offers to show them to Freddy. While looking at a corpse inside a glass tank, Frank taps on the top, and noxious fumes leak from the tank and knock Frank and Freddy unconscious. Elsewhere, Colonel Glover agonizes over the missing tanks. Back in Louisville, the punk rockers arrive at Uneeda Medical Supply to see Freddy, but decide to wait for two hours at a nearby cemetery until their friend gets off work. Frank and Freddy recover from the noxious fumes, and find the body in the tank missing. They assume it disintegrated, but soon hear noises throughout the warehouse, and find that the human and animal cadavers have returned to life. The men lock themselves in the office, and Freddy suggests they telephone the number on the side of the contaminated tank. Frank refuses, since it is a number for the United States Army, and he does not want them involved. Instead, Frank telephones his boss, Burt, who arrives, and yells at Frank for his incompetence. Hearing moans behind a locked door, they decide they must kill the creature on the other side. They remove the padlock, and release the cadaver, which lunges at Burt. Burt hits the corpse’s brain with a pick-axe, but it refuses to die. Burt decapitates the creature, but still fails to kill it. The men tie up the creature and decide to take its moving remains to Ernie, the neighboring mortician, and ask him to burn the body in his crematorium. Burt tells Ernie the wiggling inside the garbage bags is caused by rabid weasels, and asks Ernie to burn them. When Ernie declines, they swear him to secrecy, and reveal the truth. Sometime later, Freddy’s friend, Tina, goes alone to the warehouse to see Freddy. Ernie places the corpse inside the crematory oven, and the fumes from the chimney create a rainstorm. The falling rain burns Freddy’s friends who await in the cemetery, and they run to their car for cover. The contaminated rain seeps into the ground and drips on the buried bodies in the cemetery. Frank and Freddy have a delayed reaction to the fumes from the tank, and Ernie calls for paramedics. Meanwhile, Tina searches the warehouse for Freddy, and encounters the reawakened corpse from the tank. It chases her, chanting, “Brains!” The punk rockers enter the warehouse when the acid rain eats through their car roof, and the corpse attacks and eats one of their brains. Paramedics arrive and are surprised when they cannot find a pulse on the living and breathing Frank and Freddy. The teenagers flee and return to the cemetery, but are attacked by the reawakened corpses. They find their way to the mortuary to seek shelter, and tell Ernie about the undead. Outside, the paramedics are attacked and killed. The survivors barricade themselves inside the mortuary, and fight off the corpses who try to break in. Although still alive, Frank and Freddy show signs of Riger mortis, and fearing they will turn into zombies, the group locks them inside a chapel, but Tina refuses to leave Freddy’s side. Outside, police arrive and fight the undead. Freddy turns into a zombie and attacks Tina, and the others return to rescue her. Burt fights off Freddy, and they lock him back in the chapel, but Frank escapes. Burt and a punk boy make their way to a police car and drive to get help, but they crash the car and seek shelter in the warehouse. There, they meet up with two of Freddy’s friends, and telephone police for help. However, the police are under attack and cannot rescue them. At the mortuary, Frank removes his wedding ring, gets inside the crematory oven, and burns himself alive, before he turns into a zombie. Freddy breaks out of the chapel and chases Tina and Ernie. Burt telephones the Army, and Colonel Glover sends word to the president, who gives orders to launch a nuclear bomb at Louisville. Afterward, Colonel Glover reports that the mission was a success and only 4,000 people were killed. In Louisville, nuclear fall-out seeps into the cemetery ground, and more skeletons come to life. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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