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Old 10-09-2004, 03:23 PM
Scored: 10
Views: 21,233
Return of the Living Dead Part II

Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: February 21, 2001

Released by: Image Entertainment | Lorimar
Release date: 1989
MSRP: $39.95 (OOP)
Full Frame 1.33:1

Time for another laserdisc review! This time it's for a movie that I consider to be a real gem (I'm serious - I'll go into more detail later) - Return of the Living Dead Part II. Unfortunately, this title has yet to make it onto domestic or foreign DVD. Which is too bad, because it really does need a DVD release. This laserdisc is from 1989, and it's not much better than a VHS release. Hopefully someday it'll get a better treatment on DVD. I'm not sure who owns the rights to it now. Lorimar, the company that released it to theaters, is long gone. I've recall hearing somewhere that Warner owns the rights to it, but I have no idea if that's true or not.

The Story

inline Image Jesse Wilson (Michael Kenworthy) could be labeled as a typical 10-year old boy. He likes to collect comics and, like many kids his age, has a few local bullies to deal with. In Jesse's case, the local bullies are Billy (Thor Van Lingen) and Johnny (Jason Hogan. After Jesse gives them a spiderman comic, Billy - the leader of the two bullies - tells him he's now part of their club. Jesse tries to get out of it but there's no use arguing - the two bullies have voted, Jesse is in. They bring him to their clubhouse, which is actually a crypt in the local cemetery. Jesses refuses to go inside and runs away, finding a place to hide in a nearby drain tunnel. The two catch up with him, however, but before they can give him a beating, Johnny points out a sealed barrel on the floor. Billy and Johnny drag the barrel outside and start playing around with it, despite Jesse's objections. When Billy turns a valve on the top of the barrel, a dead face is revealed inside. The three run off, scared by the face. Billy and Johnny aren't going to let Jesse tell anyone about their discovery, though. They lock him in the crypt and head home.

inline Image Meanwhile, graverobber Ed (James Karen), Joey (Thom Mathews) - Ed's assistant for the night, and Joey's girlfriend Brenda (Suzanne Snyder) arrive at the cemetery. The plan is for Ed and Joey to go inside the crypt to loot some jewelry and skulls while Brenda waits in the van. When they enter the crypt they discover Jesse, who quickly runs home before Ed can catch him. Elsewhere, Billy and Johnny decide to return to the drain tunnel and start playing around with the barrel some more. Billy starts pushing a few buttons on it, which causes gases to start spewing from the container and into the air. When the gases hit the cemetery, the dead begin to rise up from their graves, hungry for brains of the living.

inline Image Jesse returns to the cemetery, suspicious of what Billy and Johnny may have done, and to get the army's phone number of the barrel. He's dressed in protective gear so he won't breathe in any of the toxic gases. After writing down the phone number he looks up to discover a zombie right in front of him. He manages to escape, but when he returns home and tries to tell his sister Lucy (Marsha Dietlein) - who's busy with the cable installer Tom (Dana Ashbrook) - what happened, she locks him in his room. Back at the cemetery, Ed, Joey and Brenda are having their own difficulties with the living dead. They also manage to escape the cemetery, eventually arriving in front of Jesse's house where they have to fight off a group of zombies. The two groups become one and try to get out of town. They soon discover that they're stuck - the town has been sealed off by the military and there's no way out. With the dead closing in, they must find a way to escape town or destroy the dead before it's too late.

inline Image Everyone repeat after me - "Return of the Living Dead Part II is an unappreciated movie that is put down WAYYYYYY too often!!!" Do it? Good! I think the problem is that everybody compared it to the original, which is, of course, a true horror classic with a nice touch of humor added. Don't get me wrong, it's expected that people are going to compare a sequel to the original. That's fine. The problem is that people bash ROTLD2 way too much, simply because it isn't as good as the original. That may be true, but it's still a damn good movie in my book. It has great effects, and to me it's funny as hell. James Karen, who plays Ed in Part II and also has a role as Frank in the original, is a great comedic actor and I think his role in ROTLD2 is a big part of the reason why I found the movie so enjoyable. All of his scenes are hilarious; seeing him go through his own personal torture as he deals with the zombies around him and his own transformation from graverobber to one of the living dead is a real blast.

inline Image Of course there are bad aspects to the "story". The two bullies, especially Billy, are quite annoying. Even Jesse, the kid hero of sorts, I found to be annoying. The acting all around, minus Ed's group (Ed, Joey and Brenda), wasn't all that good either. But hey, I can name lots of classic horror movies that have bad acting. Are you going to tell me that The Evil Dead has great acting? I don't think so. So why don't people like the sequel? Too much humor when compared to the original? Ummm, speaking of The Evil Dead, what about Evil Dead 2? The sequel has tons of humor whereas the original was mostly a straight horror movie. Sure, comparing Evil Dead 2 to ROTLD2 may be a bit blasphemous. All I'm trying to get at is that ROTLD2 is blasted way too much, and really for no good reasons in my opinion. What other movie has a Michael Jackson zombie getting electrocuted?

If you haven't seen ROTLD2, definitely see it and decide for yourself whether it's a good movie. If you don't like it, fine. But don't NOT see it just because so many people bash it. That's just dumb. In my book, it's a classic and I recommend it to all zombie lovers out there.

Image Quality

inline Image Return of the Living Dead Part II laserdisc is presented in a Pan & Scan 1.33 :1 transfer. Can't expect all that much from a 1989 laserdisc in terms of quality. The picture is consistently soft and lacking in detail. The colors are washed out, and flesh tones seem too pale to me. Grain isn't too bad - some light grain is evident in various spots but not as much as I expected. There's a good amount of video noise that appears at various spots too. Not too good, huh? Could be worse, though, and it's better than nothing...right?


The sound is in stereo and is quite good considering the age of this laserdisc. Music and effects are very clear and is consistently strong. Dialogue is clear; no background noise or distortion of any sort was present.

Supplemental Material

No supplements, unfortunately!

Final Thoughts

Classic horror comedy - a must see for all horror fans. Hopefully a special edition will surface on DVD some day, but for now this laserdisc isn't half bad. Picture quality is slight better than the VHS version, but the laserdisc also has the advantage of not wearing down after multiple views.


Movie B
Image Quality D+
Sound B+
Supplements N/A

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 1 hour 29 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc, CLV
  • Stereo
  • N/A
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Old 07-30-2007, 06:36 PM
I always wanted these movies on laserdisc back in the 90's when they were still for sale, I remember seeing those giant covers with the artwork and drooling over them, oh and I like this movie, I recorded it off cinemax recently, and it was a fun film.
Robots do it better!

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