Return of the Living Dead III (1993)

2-4-5 Trioxin gas is the U.S. Army’s greatest weapon and will create nearly unkillable fighting machines, a fact that Curt Reynolds (J. Trevor Edmond, who is also in Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings and Meatballs 4) and his girlfriend Julie Walker (Melinda Clarke, Lady Heather from CSI and Jessica Priest in Spawn) learn as they snoop around the military base which is commanded by Curt’s father.

A SNAFU in the lab causes Curt’s military dad to be demoted and they need to move, but his son refuses and only wants to be with his girlfriend, who grabs his crotch while they’re riding a motorcycle and just like The Devil’s Honey, bad things happen.

Unlike that Fulci erotic madness, Julie is reanimated as a zombie and just when you think this movie is going to get silly, well, it gets pretty great. She’s consumed by ravenous hunger and is continually upset by the idea that she can no longer feel her heart beating inside her body. How does a sequel to a reimagining of another franchise end up doing the best job of explaining what it’s like to be the undead of any other film I’ve seen?

To keep the hunger at bay, she begins skewering herself with metal, leading to a fetishistic zombie dream — nightmare? — look, which totally makes this movie work. Plus, you have a cast with people like Kent McCord from Adam 12, James T. Callahan (Walter Powell from Charles in Charge), Sarah Douglas (Ursa from Superman), November 1988 Playboy Playmate of the Month Pia Reyes and Waxwork director Alex Hickox as a doctor killed in the bloody opening.

Man, Brian Yuzna has had some decent films. There’s Society, Bride of Re-AnimatorSilent Night, Deadly Night 4: InitiationThe DentistFaustNecronomiconBeyond Re-AnimatorThe Dentist 2 and he also wrote From BeyondHoney, I Shrunk the Kids and Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker. Writer John Penney also did the scripts for The PowerThe Kindred and directed and wrote the baffling Zyzzyx Rd.

Zombies with exoskeletons, doomed romance, movie punks, a lead heroine who hates who she has become and the military being as ineffective as ever. Man, this one has it all. It’s that rare sequel, the one that’s so much better than it has any right to be.

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