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SEQUELS

          Before I get into these I want to mention that in 1974 there already was a film called Return of the Living Dead. It was an alternate titling of Messiah of Evil (which was also called Dead People). It actually contained scenes that would inspire Dawn of the Dead. It was shot in Carpenteresque California. And also 1981's Night of the Wermacht Zombies was also called Battalion of the Living Dead. I don't recommend either film but thought I would mention them.

For four years now, there has been periodic updates and rumor surrounding the next entries in the franchise. Reason it has not happened yet? Big studio lack of interest in the franchise, in the ideas, etc. There are simply better investments these days. And with the last sequel making less than $100K at the box office to date, who'd want to take a chance?

Sure all true fans wish there could be a resurrection of ROTLD popularity but we know it won't happen. The DVD was not a smash for MGM (they will not be afraid to admit that!) The latest spoof Shaun of the Dead we shall watch closely to see what kind of impact it has. By now, we have heard and seen all the zombie jokes.

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD V

Not a finished script. Not in production. Just a notion.

Story regards a zombie battalion on an island. Yep...yawn..a nice secluded island. Lakeshore Entertainment is not involved.

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD IV

Just something to remember. Nothing is engraved in (tomb)stone yet on this...there is only discussion. 

One idea that is being pitched to Warner Bros. for a sequel is to take the franchise and make it a TV series using the 4th movie as a springboard (if it does well). 

The concept includes of course, commercial and far-fetched: a martial arts take on zombies. That's it! Can't kill them but you can karate them till they can't come after you. Actually this one was going to be an actioner with college frats taking on a zombie outbreak. Basically your Ghouls Go to College concept we've seen in other places. No scares, just Abbott and Costello style zombie goofs with teenager mentality.

William Butler is behind the idea, and was in the 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake and Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III . Butler has worked for children's shows so he knows that sort of thing real well. He is also an idea thief - so don't get too chummy with him and blab any ideas around him. Want proof? I can send correspondence (saved emails) to you and you can see his personal admission to this practice. 

Guys, I was just as disappointed as you were - it pains me to report that this is even being considered)...but if you don't like it...write me! I will make sure the prospective producers know that the ROTLD fan community thinks it's not a good idea. On the other hand, if you think it is a good idea - write me and tell me why. I won't argue. 

But after all these years it is too late to do damage control on this wildly inconsistent franchise, some things are better left buried is my latest thinking. We have the original, we have our imaginations, and that's good enough.

Here's a brief aside on the two others:

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PART II

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writer/director Ken Weiderhorn

Plot  A military drum falls off the back of an Army truck in California and falls into a sewer area. This opening sequence devoid of any tension or style (generic title sequence for instance instead of the original's clever set-up of the plot). A nearby neighborhood's pre-pubescent punks recover the drum and move it to their clubhouse - which happens to be near a cemetery. Grave diggers visit this same cemetery and start removing jewelry from one such corpse in a small mausoleum. The kids somehow break the code on the electronic box on the tank (a detail not in the original and made up for this film). This leads to the predictable  gas leakage into the air over the cemetery...blah blah. 
  The dead rise up and BANG! The film becomes slapstick. BAD slapstick. ...Unwatchable slapstick. A comedy all the way.

Cast Michael Kenworthy, Dana Ashbrook, James Karen, Thom Mathews, Marsha Dietlein, Suzanne Snyder, Phil Bruns. Allan Trautman, Jonathon Terry and Brian Peck all return. Cameo by Forrest Ackerman as a zombie.

Crew
Written and Directed by Ken Wiederhorn,  Produced by Tom Fox, Music by J. Peter Robinson, Effects Makeup by Kenny Myers.

Distribution Released Jan. 15, 1988 by Lorimar Pictures to immediate box office failure much deservedly. Did air on free TV, HBO, Cinemax (spring/summer 1989), TBS, TNT and Scifi Channel aired it in the 90's.

Posters One sign of problems with this production is the US Poster art - a rip off of Fright Night's face in the sky...spoof? No. Same artist? Don't think so. Just more unoriginality on the production. The advance tagline was Tom Fox's creation (just when you thought it was safe to be dead!) and the studio came up with "Creepshow split your sides...ROTLD will scare your brains out." The German posters were cartoonish, depicting a bride and groom zombie, a police officer zombie, etc. In Spain, the film was called "Fun Night of the Living Dead".  

Soundtrack
Island Records got the license to the rock score which consisted of  80's metal bands like Anthrax ("I'm the Man" is on it, yet not even in the movie!); really bad bands like Zodiac Mindwarp, and J. Peter Robinson's ultra cheesy grave rising music stolen right from the original Trioxin Theme.  It has been pressed in US and Japan as far as I have seen with identical cover art.

A few very tacky shirts, stickers, promo statuette (seen here) and mug were created for the release. The Japanese used the half lady in their promotional art for no reason at all. And the Battalion title carried over for the third as well.

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RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III

Cast
Mindy Clarke, J. Trevor Edmund, Susan Douglas.

Crew
Directed by Brian Yuzna. Written by John Penney. Special Effects by Wayne Toth.

Plot Military experiments continue with the chemical Trioxin in the 1990's(!). Why? They're trying to make zombie soldiers! After an ok opening with a very realistic cadaver reactivating and attacking technicians at a facility, things get stupid really fast. The acting is horrid for one, and just about everything (makeup, sets, props, etc.) look cheap or stagey. The son of one of the military men takes his girlfriend to see one of the experiments. How they sneak into the warehouse is an insult to the audience in itself. THEN she dies in a forced motorcycle accident on the way home. So the son is back to the lab and reactivates her with the chemical.  Throughout the movie she does not attack her boyfriend, and feels the need to pierce herself (this aspect of her behavior may be intriguing but is 100% forced and unnecessary to any DEAD creature).

So without graveyards, no morbidness, no comedy, no style, no rock music, no E.C. atmosphere, we're left with another terrible sequel that has no identity. The writer failed to realize that the drums were only made for the 1960's Pittsburgh corpses, and not part of a military strategy for making them weapons. Too bad half the genre fans out there know that this was basically George Romero's concept for DAY OF THE DEAD in one of his original drafts. Not to mention the Tar Men don't resemble the one we come to know and love...see the pictures.  

Distribution
Released theatrically in October 1993 in California by TriMark and in February 1994 in the East. Poor business on both coasts. In and out the same week.

Posters All based on the American art. Did not have an international theatrical run.

Collectibles A soundtrack CD was issued.

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See what I mean??