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Film Review: Return of the Living Dead 3 @ FrightFest 2017

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Originally released in 1993, the third instalment in the Return of the Living Dead franchise has gone on to become a cult classic over the years.

Credit: The Screamcast

Made by the same director of Re-Animator, Brian Yuzna, the film is a fun undead flick with plenty of gore and some great looking zombies.

Return of the Living Dead 3 follows Curt (J. Trevor Edmond) and Julie (Melinda Clarke) who, after witnessing a dark government reanimation experiment carried out by Curt’s dad (Kent McCord), decide to run away together to Seattle. However, after a tragic accident hits the couple, they are forced deal with the consequences of bringing the dead back to life when their actions unleash a horrifying horde into the night.

Right from the off we’re given an idea of just how ridiculous Return of the Living Dead 3 will be. We’re introduced to a secret government lab that is undertaking shady and inhumane experiments that are overseen by overplayed characters. This kind of feel really helps to keep it entertaining though. If the movie took itself too seriously, it would be far less enjoyable.

The characters are all just stereotypes and are very well portrayed by the cast. Curt the rebellious, drumming hero, Julie his flirty, pierced girlfriend. Even Curt’s dad plays the typical military figure, wearing his uniform for the entirety of the film. The characters being written in this overblown way helps to cement the wacky tone of the film.

These characters being played so well is part of what makes them so memorable, with Melinda Clarke in particular excellently portraying Julie's downward spiral throughout the film. Another surprisingly great character is Basil Wallace’s Riverman. With his weirdly satisfying character arc and intriguing personality, Riverman is another character that adds to the film's goofy feel.

As for the zombies, Return of the Living Dead 3 offers up some great visual effects as well as a fair few bloody kills. The makeup and effects, particularly for Julie and the zombified version of one of Santos (Mike Moroff), are impressive for the time and give a far more gruesome feel to the film’s confrontations. The kills themselves are all out gore with heads and limbs flying off along with a lot of brains being eaten. For a film of this nature, the cringe-worthy deaths are incredibly satisfying.

However, the film is not without its issues. Despite Edmond selling the overall character of Curt, he’s not the greatest actor in this film with a lot of his line delivery, particularly during moments of tension, being flat and clunky. It breaks from a lot of the other actor's over the top performances which feel more in line with the tone.

There are also a lot of repetitive sequences found throughout. The most common consisting of Julie whining, Curt getting mad before eventually comforting her, and the two then continuing to move forward. This formula gets a bit tiresome in the latter stages of the film as other plot points and characters become more interesting than the couple’s relationship problems.

All in all, though, Return of the Living Dead 3 is a surprisingly fun horror flick. The campy, stereotypical characters, far-fetched, convenient plotline, and all of the gore make it a though roughly enjoyable zombie feature.

Return of the Living Dead 3 screened as past of the FrightFest 2017 schedule, and is available through VOD services.

 

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