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Return of the Living Dead 3
Release Date(s)1993 (November 22, 2016)
Studio(s)Trimark Pictures/Lionsgate (Vestron Video Collector's Series)
While it was initially lost on both critics and audiences, Return of the Living Dead 3 has managed to gain a minor cult following thanks to its name, its director, effects, and female lead. Released in 1993, it tells the story of another military operation gone wrong. This time, Colonels Reynolds (Kent McCord), Peck (James T. Callahan), and Sinclair (Sarah Douglas) are testing the animating effects of Trioxin on corpses. Spying on them are a pair of teenagers looking for thrills: Curt (J. Trevor Edmond), who is Colonel Reynolds’ son, and Julie (Melinda Clarke), Curt’s girlfriend. But when Julie is killed in a motorcycle accident, Curt exposes her body to Trioxin in a desperate attempt to bring her back.
Return of the Living Dead 3 is, in many ways, a beat for beat remake of the original, but one that abandons most of the satirical elements in favor of a darker tone and also fails in its pacing and plot. Fifteen or twenty minutes could have been cut from the film, especially during the middle section wherein very little happens other than the ridiculous love story, which just doesn’t work. Curt and Julie are annoying most of the time because they’re so lovelorn for each other and their characters lack motivation. What the movie gets right, however, are its special effects. It’s filled to the brim with terrific gore and makeup appliances, typical for a movie directed by Brian Yuzna. He always seemed to hire the best in the business to handle this stuff and, while it doesn’t all hold up, it’s the breadth of the work that counts.
The Vestron Video Collector’s Series Blu-ray presentation sports an excellent HD transfer. It’s not perfect, but it’s a definite improvement over previous SD releases. It’s also worth noting that this is the uncut version of the movie, which hasn’t been available in a digital format in the U.S. before. Grain levels are a little uneven in many scenes, but are mostly stable. Everything is a little on the soft side, but detail is generally good, particularly skin textures in close-ups. Skin tones look mostly natural, though the color palette is a tad washed out at times. Reds are the most accurate, so all of the gore pops quite well. Blacks and shadow details are solid, and both brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory. It’s a mostly clean transfer too, with little more than mild speckling and the occasional line or two running through the frame. The sole audio option is an English 2.0 DTS-HD MA track. Dialogue is clear and discernible, but the sound effects and score benefit most from the newfound clarity, while ambient activity gives the track some better spacing. Optional subtitles are available in English SDH.
Most fans will want to upgrade to this release for its terrific extras, produced by Red Shirt Pictures. Carried over from previous DVD releases are two audio commentaries, one with director Brian Yuzna, and the other with Melinda Clarke and special effects supervisor Tom Rainone. New to this release are several interview and retrospective segments, including Ashes to Ashes with Brian Yuzna and John Penney, Living Dead Girl with Melinda Clarke, Romeo is Bleeding with J. Trevor Edmond, Trimark & Trioxin, and The Resurrected Dead. There’s also a storyboard gallery, an additional still gallery, and 2 theatrical trailers.
Return of the Living Dead 3 may have its problems, but if you’re a gorehound, it’s definitely worth watching. This Blu-ray’s barrage of new extras and a solid transfer make it another Vestron Video release worthy of your hard-earned dollars.
- Tim Salmons