The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)
A tank containing a "Night Of The Living Dead" zombie is accidentally cracked open by two bungling employees at a medical supply warehouse. It releases a noxious gas that gets into the atmosphere, and causes the corpses in the neighbouring cemetery to rise from their graves and attack the living.
Released the same year as Day Of The Dead, this film was set up as an unofficial sequel to the original Night Of The Living Dead. Though the tone shifts to more of a dark slapstick comedy, and it gains a kick-ass 80s soundtrack and some cleverly created gore effects. And while it pays homage to Romero's original, it adds some touches of its own too. The zombies here are the running kind (19 years ahead of Zack Snyder's Dawn Of The Dead remake) and can also speak and think for themselves. And they specifically want to eat human brains, rather than random flesh and guts.
When this was released at the cinema, I absolutely adored it. The combination of gory horror and silly comedy was unusual at the time, and there were enough funny set-pieces to impress a horror-mad teenager like me. But since then we've become more used to films like Braindead and Evil Dead 2, and the impact of gruesome humour has become far less shocking. Having said that, there's still fun to be had here, and the film moves along at an entertaining pace. It's not all that frightening, but the horror effects are well done (including some impressive puppetry work), and there's even the odd jump scare or two. The mid-80s fashions are exaggerated to the point of looking ridiculous (even at the time). Scream queen Linnea Quigley appears as a pink-haired punk, and manages to keep her clothes on for a full 19 minutes before running around naked for the rest of the movie.
There's a surprisingly down-beat ending, which I liked. And although parts of the film may feel slightly dated, or even exploitative, it's still seen by many as a classic of its time.