#184 -- Return of the Living Dead 2 (1988)

Rating: 3.5 / 5
Director: Ken Wiederhorn

When I reviewed the first ROTLD movie, I went on an on about how amazing it was, which is absolutely true. This will always be one of my favorite horror series. This one is your typical bad sequel. The first was a horror-comedy, there's no doubt about that. But it had a good balance of horror and humor. It seems like part 2 tried to top the first, but it just ended up being silly. It didn't live up to its predecessor--not even close--but it's not all that bad.

Thom Matthews, James Karen, and Jonathan Terry return for this second installment. Thom and James are no longer Frank and Freddy; now they're Ed and Joey. Jonathan is still colonel Glover, who just can't seem to keep his deadly chemicals under control. Everything starts out when a couple of troublemaking kids stumble across the 245 Trioxin. They're curious, of course, and they open up the container. There's a new, and less awesome, version of Tarman, and of course the gas leaks out into the cemetery nearby (you'd think the military would know enough not to dump the shit next to the cemetery, just to be safe). Of the three kids, one flees, and the other two breathe in the gas. One we never see again, but the other turns into a boring zombie who doesn't do much of anything except stare at Jesse (our main guy) menacingly. Meanwhile, a couple of graverobbers (Matthews and Karen) are in a crypt stealing a dead woman's head. They stick it in what appears to be a bowling ball bag, steal her jewelry, and then stumble out onto a graveyard full of zombies. Our group ends up being Jesse (the comic-book-reading kid), his sister Lucy, a cable installation guy, a doctor, Joey, Ed, and Joey's girlfriend Brenda. There's also Billy's (the boring zombie kid) parents, but they're unimportant and die pretty quickly. So, apparently the military evacuates the town without this group knowing about it. They're stuck in a desolate town, and every attempt to get out results in being shot at by the soldiers. Because apparently soldiers aren't taught to check out who they're shooting at before they shoot.
This thing is actually credited as Tarman. Oh, the shame!

One of the problems is that we can't really care about any of the characters. They're all pretty bland, and all they do is scream and cry until the end credits roll. The only characters we're really able to care about are Joey and Ed, and that's only because we saw the actors in the first film, and we're already attached to them. But Ed is fucking annoying, and I was really glad when he finally got his brains eaten. At least he stopped crying. The other problem is the over-the-top attempt to beat out the first movie in laughs. There were a couple of good laughs. One was the head in the bag. It got stabbed with a screwdriver and it wasn't happy about it: "Get this screwdriver out of my damn head!" That head also had the last laugh, saying, "Okay, no more brains, you win," right before the credits rolled.

A lot of sequels seem to have this problem. The first movie is amazing, and the sequel just turns out to be shit. I wouldn't really call it shit, but it's definitely less amazing than the first. Luckily, the series picks up again with Return of the Living Dead 3, which I absolutely love. But this one...I could take it or leave it. There's nothing amazing or memorable about it.

Some more screen caps, 'cause I can

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