Saturday, 9 September 2017

Return of the Living Dead 3

Curt, the son of an army colonel, sneaks with his girlfriend into his father's base to witness tests being conducted on resurrecting the dead for militaristic purposes.  Later on they are both involved in a motorcycle accident, fatal for Julie.  Recalling what he saw at the base, Curt takes the body over to the lab and uses the same techniques to bring life back to the fresh corpse.  The only trouble is, Julie now has a propensity for eating live meat, and perpetually suffers.  Much to the lad's disgust, she finds that the only way of curbing her pain is to actually inflict pain on herself.  The two run into trouble with local thugs and battle ensues between the group as they make their way down into the sewers.

Eschewing the comedy of the first two films, essentially borrowing one or two core elements only, Return of the Living Dead 3 actually proved to be a pretty good film made at the tail end of the prosthetic make-up and gore golden age.  Mindy Clark as Julie puts in quite a fascinating performance of endless suffering mixed with a strange orgasmic response to self-harm (quite a brave theme to tackle, and approached in an unorthodox manner).  In her early twenties at the time, she has mostly moved on to TV work since.  Director Brian Yuzna himself made a number of nice genre entries around the period, including this one, Necronomicon, and Society alongside a moderate sequel to Re-Animator - all worth checking out on Blu-ray.  Of course, in Return there are issues that one has to put to the side (most notably the ease with which Curt is able to sneak into and around the army base, although comment is made early on that security is somewhat lacking), but there are plenty of good set-pieces and surprisingly effective drama along the way.  It also contains a great turn by Sarah Douglas as Colonel Sinclair, who is competing for command of the base and experimental project.
Lionsgate have decided to bless the UK with its Vestron Video range that has recently been pleasing fans in the US.  The Blu-ray package comes in a neat glossy slipcase and features the film (uncut as far as I can tell) in a widescreen ratio with DTS HD MA Stereo sound.  It also includes a commentary and some interviews.  The image quality is okay, but I somehow feel that Lionsgate are palming fans off with an ancient master here, with marginally-better-than-DVD results.  I feel conflicted about it - on one hand it's the best the film has ever looked (aside from any projected screenings back in the 90s no doubt), but on the other we've seen significantly better results from the likes of Arrow when this kind of cult material is re-scanned and mastered properly.  In some respects I guess we can't complain too much because it's better than the film not being released at all.  The audio is clear whilst showing its age and budgetary restrictions, however, I would recommend switching to Pro-Logic if you are watching with a home cinema receiver - the stereo track splits quite nicely, with pleasing rear speaker activity.  In summary, a film that has aged well finally appears in a reasonable HD edition for UK fans to pick up.

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