Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Movie / Strollers / Comedy

Here’s a Zombie World historical “fact,” at least as Return of the Living Dead tells it: 

On July 3, 1984, at the Uneeda Medical Supply warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky, foreman Frank Johnson tried to impress his new employee Freddy by showing him some ancient storage drums from the U.S. military filled with toxic gas called Trioxin. Unfortunately, he accidentally leaked some of the gas, and it founds it way to some nearby corpses (?), causing the spawning of a whole new generation of stupid, semi-fast zombies – the real zombies, not the ‘fake’ ones from George Romero’s movie – with a small but useful vocabulary and a taste for brains.

Yes, it’s true: July 3, 2023 is the 39th anniversary of the ‘historical event’ that led to a whole string of ‘funny zombie’ action thrillers, beginning with the surprisingly entertaining Return of the Living Dead (1985) and stumbling, inevitably, into a string of increasingly unsuccessful and inconsistent sequels.

Return was directed by Dan O’Bannon, who by that point had directed only one other film, but had been involved, one way or another, in everything from Dark Star to Alien to Star Wars to Blue Thunder. He went on to great work as a writer and/or director on projects ranging from Lifeforce to Invaders From Mars to Total Recall to Screamers, Bleeders, and Alien vs. Predator, until his death in 2009. But this was his big break. And the movie is crowded with classic character actors of the day as well, including James Karan and Clu Gulager – two middle-aged men whose faces you’ll recognize the instant you see them (and Gulager’s son went on to be a horror director of some merit himself.)

The plot here is thin as the skin on a walker: toxic gas is accidentally released, converting some nearby corpses into zombies who, in turn, can convert the living with a bite or scratch. Hilarity ensues, at least for a few hours, until Louisville is overrun. Then, on the Fourth of July 1984, the military ‘solves’ the problem by destroying the city with a nuclear bomb… which, in fact, just makes matters worse, as the end-credit “ending” implies. Damn that pesky radioactive toxic rain!

How did all this come to be? Well, after a lengthy and too-boring-to-bother-discussing legal battle, the co-creators of the original Night of the Living Dead – George A. Romero and John Russo – finally came to an agreement that Romero could go make his own zombie movies and use the term “Dead” in the titles (and, as it happened, times of day) without any legal hassles from Russo. Russo, on the other hand, could make zombie movies with the term “Living Dead” and not get hassled by Romero. They had entirely different ‘takes’ on the creatures, as you can see from the various “Dead” vs “Living Dead” movies that ensued, and after a small but persistent rash of “Living Dead” films, the Russo line faded away in 2005. The first sequel, Return of the Living Dead Part II, showed up in 1988, and changed the rules about killing this version of zombies (electrocution works? Cool!). Return of the Living Dead III (1993) was produced and directed by Brian Yuzna, who’d done great work on the Re-Animator series. It goes more serious and goth-metal-punky, but it bombed big-time at the box office. 

It wasn’t until 2005 that Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis showed up, where the zombie-rules changed yet again (and they couldn’t even get the spelling of “Trioxin” right). A direct sequel to this masterpiece, Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave, was filmed in Romania at the same time and appeared later in the same year on the SyFy Channel – it couldn’t even get a decent theatrical release. 

There are a variety of other movies with “Living Dead” in the title during and after this set, as Russo gradually lost control (or interest?) in the brand – Flight, Day, Age, Virgin, Hell, City – but none are connected to this timeline and none are, frankly, worth the time. John Russo himself is still with us; he'll celebrate his 84th birthday in September.

There is, however, a pretty damn good documentary about the making of the first film, More Brains: Return to the Living Dead, with interviews from tons of people and some pretty amusing anecdotes. 

Today, Return (the first one, only the first one!) is still pretty damned amusing and has a legit place in zom-culture history. For one thing, this is one of the first times that we get a “scientific” explanation for the walking dead. The original NotLD made a two-sentence pass at maybe saying it was radiation or a satellite or somethin’, then retreated in “Dead” sequels to the religious/supernatural raison d’etre

“When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth.” 

But in Return and its sequels, it was clearly a toxic gas that caused it. Good ol’ Trioxin. Since then, toxic waste or industrial accidents in general has become a mainstay in ‘scientific zombie' movies, whether it’s gas or waste products or bad food, or even a downed satellite. The viral alternative, a la 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead, would come even later. But here’s where “it’s bad science, and it’s the government’s fault” began.

Additionally, the now-often quoted (often to a ridiculous degree) desire of speaking zombies yearning for, “Brains! Brains!” started with Return. Apparently, the brain-parts make the unendurable pain of reanimation slightly less… unendurable? Whatever: the hunger endures, and so does the quote.

For these reasons alone, 1985’s Return of the Living Dead deserves a spot on the “essentials” shelf of any zombie aficionado. Not the best zombie movie you’ll ever see, and certainly not the best thing O’Bannon ever came up with, but.. a keeper.

Click Here to Buy "Return"

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ZOM 100 – Manga and now Anime!

ZOM 100: Manga and now anime!

Anime / Sprinters / After the Apocalypse

ZOM 100 has been a super-popular manga for a long time (one of the few straight-on zombie manga out there), and it's finally becoming an anime as well -- early August on Netflix, in a dubbed version, yet. 

Here's the trailer. Mark your calendars. And take a look at the manga while you're at it ... 

Click Here to Buy the Manga!


The Rebuild Series

Review of the Rebuild Series


When I first came across Rebuild when it was originally ONLY offered as a PC – Browser based Flash game on a website like Kongregate (where you can still play Rebuild 1 & 2 FREE in your browser). Let me tell you, there wasn’t a whole lot like Rebuild out there. Created by Sarah Northway (For Tower Games, originally), the Rebuild game enjoyed cross-platform success over a span of nearly ten years that is well-deserved. 

This turn-based strategy game takes place right at the beginning or in the middle of (depending on what version you play, they vary slightly) the zombie apocalypse. For some reason, you have come to find that you are immune to the virus. Naturally, that turns you into a leader and you seek to rebuild (hence the name) society and civilization by taking back zombie-infested facilities, recruiting survivors, and, eventually trading with (or murdering) other factions that you discover along the way. You move from city to city with a select group of survivors of your own choosing, clearing the way for your new metropolis. As you progress, politics and survival knowledge will dictate how well you survive or adapt to certain situations, how happy your fellow survivors are, and if other factions hate or adore you. 

You can create and edit survivor’s using a limited character builder which allows you to change their look and name. During your character creation at the beginning of the game, you have the choice of different ‘career’s, ‘professions’, or ‘skills’ that you can select from that will decide how well you perform certain actions throughout the game. 

No matter where you go and what you do, zombies become an increasingly dangerous and pressing problem. While you don’t have to ally with other factions to defeat them, having them on your side is much easier than fighter both them AND the zombie hordes, particularly later on. Some of the factions in this game are hilarious, such as the Chosen Ones in Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville, that worship the zombie virus and repeatedly commit ritual suicides so that they can become a horde of ravenous undead that will inevitably attack your encampment. 

The battles in this game are passive and are completely based on the Fighter skill. You may select survivors to defend or attack tiles, scout, and scavenge them. Zombie hordes only appear once they’re close enough to be revealed, but you can always pre-emptively clear hordes from tiles before they amass into something more lethal. 

While you may be immune, your fellow survivors are not. Death is a common occurrence in this game – for children as well – which undoubtedly adds to the realism but some may find this aspect of the game unnerving. 

Because of the amount of variables in this game, the random generated maps, choices, survivors with unique skills and personalities, and the advancement of the game over time with the various version., I highly recommend it to those who enjoy strategy games and want something that they can play offline. This game is for sale on all platforms, including in browser format, and the sequels are available for purchase from the Rebuild home site as well as Amazon (At a discount!), Google Play, Itunes App Store, Steam, and on Kongregate.


  • Multi-platform play on mobile, console, PC, Mac, and in browser based versions
  • Various endings, events, and random generated content or choice based scenarios
  • Turn-based or Timer based playstyle with Pause / Stop features for both fast paced and lazy game play 
  • Customization and Mods available, games are still supported by the Developer 
  • Offline, Free or One time purchase – no microtransactions or subscriptions
  • Not too graphically intense, easy to run and play on most devices 
  • Different Difficulties for casual and challenging gameplay 
  • Multiple sequels with upgrades to gameplay, content, choices, and additional outcomes / events in each 
  • Support a female game developer! 

What Could Have Been Better

  • Some devices may not display dialogue windows entirely, particularly wide screen or full screen devices like the Motorola Edge when playing the app version 
  • The graphics progressively get better throughout the series, but still on par with standard Flash graphics. I personally enjoy this comic-book / flash style, but don’t compare it to more graphically intense survival simulators like the zombie apocalypse survival sim on Steam
  • Combat system is non-existent, entirely based on stats and RNG 
  • Can be challenging even on normal or easy modes due to the randomly generated maps often lacking resources or buildings required for advancement 
  • Can get somewhat repetitive. Each city often requires the same amount of challenges, allies / enemies, or has the same requiements to advance to the next stage 

Pricing & Tech Specs

This game and all sequels can be purchase directly from the developer’s website https://rebuildgame.com/ using Paypal. It is a one time purchase and does not require a subscription and does not have in game microtransactions. 

Rebuild 3 on  Kindle / Amazon App store for $4.49 

Rebuild on Kindle / Amazon App Store for $.2.99

Otherwise, Rebuild and its sequeals are available on Ios and Android for $4.99 and may be played on PC / Mac or in browser on Kongregate. 

*Rebuild 2 is essentially the mobile version of Rebuild 1, available for purchase on the Rebuild Website and for PC / Mac download on Steam. with Steam workshop support for mods 

This game can run on any PC or Mobile Device running any of the operating systems above, Windows XP Minimum requirement for XP. Can also run on Chromebooks, Netbooks, and Browser based computers / laptops without modern processors.due to the adjustable rendering settings. 

Final Thoughts & Review

The Rebuild Series hasn’t disappointed me since its last release (Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville) back in 2015. I still find myself downloading and playing this game on and off, playing through on different difficulties and trying new stategies with each new game I start. For the replayability of this game it is well worth the price and, since you can basically play it anywhere (except consoles), you can enjoy Rebuild at home or on your lunch breaks at work, save the game, and return to it as you please. 

The variables, randomly generated events and content, strategies, and storyline are intricate and engaging enough to make it worth every penny (and more.) I highly recommend this game to strategy nerds and those of you who also enjoy choice based games, survival simulators, or RPGs. If you’re an FPS or MMORPG fan, however, this game may be too slow-paced for you. 

  • There is a lot of written content and most of the events that are triggered are done so in a comical way versus using cinematics or cut scenes to tell the main story. If that is your cup of tea, you will absolutely love Rebuild. 

Evil Dead Rise

Evil Dead Rise

Movie / Stroller / One-on-One

The Evil Dead "franchise" (God, how we hate that term!) has wandered all over the map in plot, tone, and mythology, from energetically terrifying (like Evil Dead 2) to wonderfully goofy (like Army of Darkness) to consistently enjoyable, if not exactly groundbreaking (like Ash vs. Evil Dead). And though Evil Dead Rise has little or no direct connection to the plot of characters of the core story or the 2013 remake, it has some of the same manic energy and gleeful gore of the core films -- a welcome return to form.

Now we've got at least three separate Evil Dead 'threads' that could continue: Ash's original and continuing adventures (Come on, Bruce! More!) ... whatever happens next to ** of the 2013 remake ... and now the 'mother and daughter team (we know, we know) of deadite-destroyers from Evil Dead Rise. And we want it all.