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If you still have seasons where you live, the leaves may at this point have changed color and fallen to the ground. Three to five aisles at your local Walmart may seem a lot more "with it", shifting the focus to the ever needed universal constants of candy and spooky shit.  Maybe even a few horror classics have popped up at Best Buy(they still sell movies right?)or, if you are really lucky and you have a local media store, a display showcasing the employee's favorites has manifested. Yes it's finally October and you know what that means. Thats right, romance. Nothing gets those chemicals in motion like the spookiest month of the year. Maybe it is the freedom that comes from the masses annual acceptance of horror as a medium. A time when some of our overzealous genre love becomes a resource as opposed to a quirk. For you single folks, it means being able to break out Re-Animator (1985) on a date without fear of possible persecution. Maybe it's the feeling you get while picking out and watching horror flicks with your favorite person. Deciding on classics and close quarters comforts, while watching mother fuckers get hacked up. No matter the reason I can not think of a more romantic setting. The horror genre is no stranger to the arrow of cupid, its roots steeped in gothic love triangles and burning passions but for those of us that like our not-so-tender relations with a side of 90’s angst the obvious film choice for this years devils date night has to be Brian Yuzna's Return of the Living Dead III (1993).
Yuzna's entry into the Return series was released on the 25th anniversary of its great grandfather Night of the Living Dead and 5 years after a faint almost child friendly sequel Return of the Living Dead II (1988).   Ken Wiederhorn's film had opted for a child lead, exchanged the dark humor of the first entry for slapstick chuckles and as a result lost a large part of the fan-base. With a smaller budget and shortened time the reigns would fall to Brian Yuzna and John Penney , who would drop most of the comedy altogether and instead include romantic and science fiction undertones. Although it did little favors for the series at the time it has been getting some deserved love lately. The film carries over no characters from the previous two, sports a darker tone and has a noticeably different style of special FX but fits nicely into cannon, adhering to universe rules previously set down.
The story is a loose and grungy re-telling of romeo and juliet at its core. A couple of leather clad star-crossed lovers break away early from their friend's and a night of brooding in the desert for some adventurous trespassing at the local secret military base. The young lovers( and ) gain entry using a key card the boy swipes from his father (). While they are playing some real life Metal Gear Solid in the top secret government building the two happen to witness the fathers doomed zombie rehabilitation project in action. When all the excitement is over Julie and Curt climb down from their hiding spot, escape the facility and return home for some love making, 90’s style. Unfortunately date night is cut short by the news that the Curts father had been reassigned due to his zombie taming being a bust, as they had witnessed earlier. There is a frustrating teen drama moment between parent and child that ends with the couple storming out. Having decided it’s better to run away than face separation at the hands of another relocation from the Air Force, the duo descends on rebellious and sexy trek. Unfortunately during the dramatic ride on Curt's motorcycle, high speed foreplay causes a near collision with an oncoming semi truck and Julie is thrown into a telephone pole. Curt awakens to find Julie deceased and stricken with grief, he sees his fathers super top secret government ID card in the dirt and decides to bring her body to the base. Unable to resist, he uses his father's experimental process to resurrect his love and the two go back to running away, now with the added burden of Julies increasing zombie-ness. After the base, the two piss off a group of gang members and then Julie bites some fools. At some point in their adventures it's discovered that her hunger for brains can be temporarily subsided by pain which leads to an awesomely brutal scene where Julie takes up arms by shoving glass shards into her skin. If you refuse to watch this movie for any reason, watch it for the zombie DIY glass-shard armor, super mega-evolution at least. There is some undead exo-suit action, some more fools get bit and everybody lives happily ever after (Shakespeare style, which means not really).
Along with the dramatic tone, the film also attempts something else the other films in the "Return" avoided: character development. A dark love story and mediation on "the turning" can be picked out between soapy dialog and awesome gore. At points in the film I feel for the doomed couple, despite the cheese and retro moodiness. I am not a fan of Hollywood's constant injection of romance into every cinematic tale and a lot of mainstream films could do just as well, if not better, to lose the bullshit boy-meets-girl set up, but ROTLD 3 is a trashy example of special case. It takes zombies, Shakespeare, some Rebel Without a Cause and rolls it into a nice doobie-blunt, in my opinion. Cliches are plentiful but varied in source and played well through Yuzna’s gruesome lens. The zombie effects, while noticeably different from the first films, work particularly with the more dramatic flavors of the film well. The effects, executed by various teams(including Steve Johnson  and Wayne Toth) pairs with the colorful lighting to push the soap opera feel to an enjoyably trashy and safe place.
 plays a whiny version of the same character from the other 90s flicks that instantly come to mind (Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Lord of Illusions). It's that terrible but awesome feel you only got from the era, and every time I see him I can't help but wonder what he's up to. Most of the cast is made of tv veterans, which may have added to the soapy feel. Ursa () herself makes a cameo sans kryptonian powers. Without a doubt  is the powerhouse over all. No stranger to over-drama she rides the cheese out well as well as her reactions during the “arming” scene that help make it difficult to watch. Her performance combined with some wonderful practical effects make the film memorable.
Love is a fucked up feeling, I assume slowly turning into a zombie is a pretty bad trip too. What better way to spend the most romantic of months than snuggled up around a corny but ultimately tragic love story involving the undead? Its a underrated classic date night flick. Then again, I did once include Hellraiser (1987) on a list of “good romance films” so you might not want to take relationship advice from me.
1h 37min | 1994

Director: Brian Yuzna
Writer: John Penney


Review by

(Writers note: I originally typed a whole review on this film for last week but I'am a fuckass and lost it to the √¶ther. I tried to rewrite it but couldn't really remember what the fuck I had been writing so this one is probably different and not as good. That one would have been the shit, I just know it. Best one I ever wrote. Too bad its gone forever.)

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