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Best of Frightfest: ‘Return of the Living Dead 3’ Dir. Brian Yuzna

Best of Frightfest: As the twentieth anniversary of Arrow Video Frightfest approaches, we at team THN take a look back at some of the best and brightest films that have screened over the last two decades. The next film on our list is Return of the Living Dead 3.

Now Frightfest doesn’t just screen new movies, they also like to give fresh big screen outings to long forgotten films. Sometimes these screenings are based around a particular guest attending, such as this year’s Tenebrae screening in honour of Dario Argento. Other times it’s to coincide with a new home entertainment release, which is exactly how Brian Yuzna’s Return of the Living Dead 3 screened in 2017.

Though technically the third Return of the Living Dead film, in many ways Return of the Living Dead 3 can be viewed as a stand alone feature. The only thing that links it to the previous two films is the chemical that reanimates the dead – Trioxin. This time around the military are experimenting with Trioxin, hoping to create a new weapon by utilising the dead. These tests are witnessed by Curt (whose dad works at the facility) and his girlfriend Julie (Melinda Clarke). As the pair race off in a panic, they are involved in a crash and Julie tragically dies. Unable to face a world without her, Curt sneaks back into the facility and revives Julie, but she hasn’t come back the same. Now she’s always hungry and there’s only on thing that she craves….brains.

In many ways Return of the Living Dead 3 is a twisted take on Romeo and Juliet. How much more star-crossed can you get than the love of your life becoming a zombie whom hungers for you flesh? The ending is most definitely Shakespearean, something that you don’t see in your typical zombie film. Most zombie films of the time were focused solely on death and destruction, so the decision to amp up the romance is a strange one, but it works beautifully. Curt and Julie’s love for one another being so strong that it can survive death is surprisingly emotional, and you may even shed a tear or two during the devastating conclusion.

The film is not all about love though, it is a zombie film after all, and there is a healthy amount of gore and carnage as Julie stalks her way through the streets desperate to satisfy her growing hunger. Julie herself offers something new (for the time) as she is a zombie with a conscience. As hungry as she is, she doesn’t want to eat people and resorts to rather drastic lengths to try and satiate her desires. After realising that pain causes the cravings to subside a little, she begins to self-mutilate in rather extreme ways. The visual of her reveal is an iconic moment of the film and demonstrates a lot of talent from the make-up and effects team. In addition to the ultimate version of Julie, we get a lot of typical Yuzna monsters, a strong stomach required for most, especially the sequence with Santos aka the spinal cord guy.

Yes the plot is watery (or should that be bloody), and the acting melodramatic, but what Return of the Living Dead 3 is, is endearing and entertaining. It might never win any awards, but Return of the Living Dead 3 is pure early nineties horror gold. It’s the type of film that was made to be watched by groups of friends, ideally with alcohol, as a fun night in.

Arrow Video Frightfest returns for its twentieth year on 22nd August 2019 . Full details about the event can be found on the Frightfest website

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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