The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead

“More brains” is one of the more memorable lines in writer/director Dan O’Bannon’s 1985 cult classic THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, and that’s exactly what their book could use.

In THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, Christian Sellers and Gary Smart provide a comprehensive overview of the entire franchise, which currently numbers five. That the last two sequels aren’t worth viewing raises the question whether they’re worth discussing, too β€” and they are, but certainly not at this depth.

In general, the book is structured as an oral history, which means that Sellers and Smart don’t have to write much on their own; instead, they let the quotes do the talking, but all too often, those quotes are just too long, too repetitive or fail to yield anything interesting. A number of principals in the various entries have their say, including James Karen, Don Calfa, Linnea Quigley, Jewel Shepard, Clu Gulager, Brian Yuzna and Ken Weiderhorn (who’s “a tool,” according to Thom Matthews).

Although there are a ton of color photos throughout, it’s all laid out in an amateurish, unimaginative design, using headline fonts that went out of vogue a good 25 years ago. The entire affair resembles an article from a magazine β€” or a film zine, more likely β€” where all the effort went into research, and next to none in presentation. HISTORY is a major disappointment, to say the least. β€”Rod Lott

Buy it at Amazon.

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Comment by J.T.
2011-01-14 08:16:04

I’m reading this at the moment, and am enjoying it more than you did. It’s more like a full cast & crew DVD commentary than a book. It is riddled with errors (DUNE credited to JAMES Herbert, Tobe Hooper’s LIFEFORCE is listed as a remake of INVADERS FROM MARS etc), it’s strictly fans only detail about the movies (I love the first one, haven’t dared watch any of the sequels), and it looks like an 80’s fanzine.

BUT: it’s colorful, so far (50+ pages into it) chronologically clear and lucid, and reads fast, and it doesn’t seem like a sanitized version of the events. Whether that’s worth $20+ depends on your interest in the subject.

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Comment by Allan
2011-01-16 15:43:06

I’m actually a big fan of the second sequel. It has a fun Romeo and Juliet angle that sets it apart from the zombie genre and Melinda Clarke is great as the unwilling zombie who tries to fight her cannibalistic cravings with increasingly unusual piercings. It’s nowhere near as funny or polished as the first film, but still definitely worth checking out (unlike parts 2, 4 and 5).

Comment by Just Sharon
2011-01-15 11:28:33

Wow i find this review so off base. The interviews with informative, the presentation was excellent and the book was a great read. Exactly what do you expect from a book if this is not it? Each to their own I guess

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Comment by Rod Lott
2011-01-15 13:28:55

I expected something edited much tighter and laid out in an up-to-date fashion that did not look like, as the previous commenter said, an ’80s fanzine. Peter Bracke’s CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES book on the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise is a good example of that.

Comment by anthony glenister
2011-01-15 19:16:57

I actually loved this book and thought the style was very fitting for the actual film, its very colorful and I enjoyed the cast comments… I can forgive the odd error here and there as there are lots of references to other films. A great book and by the look of all the other reviews on sites and magazines others seem to think so too.

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Comment by Josh Jabcuga
2011-01-16 12:59:06

One of these comments seems planted. No? JUST my opinion.

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Comment by Flash
2011-01-17 09:24:42

Thanks for sharon’.

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