“Return Of The Living Dead #3” isn’t just my favorite zombie movie, it is also one of my favorite films of all time.
This film was directed by Brian Yuzna and written by John Penney. The heroine is played by Melinda Clarke and the hero is J. Trevor Edmond. (Melinda Clarke, of course, later portrayed Lady Heather on “CSI.”)
George Romero’s genre-defining zombie films all have had a political subtext. Most clearly, “Dawn Of The Dead” was set in a shopping mall and we see repeated images of the zombies continuing to stagger through the motions of consumer life. “Day Of The Dead” presents military men at odds with scientists while ‘regular’ people just try to make it through the day. Direct-to-video, low-budget zombie films usually follow Romero’s example and at least pay lip service to using the genre to make some statement about zombies as externalizations of the political corruption defining society at large.
“Return Of The Living Dead #3” comes out of the blue and pushes aside genre conventions by delivering a coming of age, Romeo-and-Juliet story! All the typical elements of a zombie film are in place but the entire focus of the story is on a young man and young woman trying to find their places in life, making choices and dealing with the consequences of their choices.
It’s a classic tragedy, told within the trappings of government, business and social corruption and, of course, cannibalism.
It’s a great film that does all those things avant garde cinema is supposed to do. There are things to think about. There is counter-point imagery challenging any thought process at all. There’s emotional content that is sometimes underscored and sometimes undercut. There is tension and resolution without fakery, tragedy without pathos, a challenging viewing experience that repays the effort by delivering a unique assemblage of—to use words of the zombie lexicon—chills and thrills.
And the ending makes me cry every time I see it.
My favorite zombie movie: “Return Of The Living Dead #3”