Following on from Owen’s recent recommendation on the Failed Critics Podcast for the Vestron re-release of Brian Yuzna’s 90’s cult classic zombie film, Return of the Living Dead 3, this article takes a look at the undying love found only in this weird but wonderful genre.
Rotting flesh and a love of brains (eating them that is) may not be the top requirements on most people’s Tinder profiles, but over the years certain movies have shown that a love affair between the living and the undead can sometimes be a beautiful thing.
Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993) was one of the first films to show a partner who couldn’t bear to see their lover go gently into that goodnight. While cult classic Return of the Living Dead added gross-out comedy, punk rock and an appetite for “Braaaaains” to the zombie genre, Part 3 mixes things up once again by throwing a little romance into the undead formula.
The film revolves around the relationship between young lovers Curt and Julie. After a violent motorcycle accident kills Curt’s beloved girlfriend, he uses the chemical Triox into reanimate her corpse. Unfortunately, she’s now driven to eat the only thing that will nourish her… human brains! Julie tries to stop her own feeding frenzy but a chain reaction has already begun, as hordes of undead are unleashed from their graves…
One of the many reasons the film has become such a beloved favourite of cult and horror fans is Julie’s unforgettable make-up design and the surprisingly affecting struggle as Curt tries to save his sweetheart from her increasingly uncontrollable appetite.
As the rightfully lauded Return of the Living Dead 3 hits UK shores for the first time ever in a restored and remastered Blu-ray edition as part of Lionsgate UK’s new Vestron Video Collector’s Series (which also sees the release of fellow cult horror favourites Blood Diner, Waxwork and CHUD II: Bud the Chud), we’re taking a look at the films that have warmed our still-beating hearts with their tales of reanimated romance…
My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)
Coming out the same year as Return of the Living Dead 3, horror-comedy My Boyfriend’s Back flips the script by having the boyfriend return from the dead in order to pursue the girl of his dreams. Johnny Dingle wants nothing more than to go to the prom with his high school crush, Missy McCloud. When his complicated plan to woo Missy goes wrong, he’s accidentally shot… but later returns as a zombie, coming back to school (where he eats the class bully) and getting Missy to slowly fall for his undead charm.
Cemetery Man (1994)
This Italian oddity stars Rupert Everett as lonely outcast Dellamorte who lives and works in a cemetery with only freaky assistant Gnachi for company. When the dead start rising from their graves it’s up to Dellamorte to deal with the zombie threat before they get loose in the local town. Romance arrives when the cemetery man falls for a young widow. Making love with the women on top of her husband’s burial place, admittedly not the best spot they could have chosen, the spurned husband rises and takes a bite out of his former bride. Of course it’s not long before she returns too. Not to be left out, Gnachifalls for the mayor’s daughter, who’s soon decapitated in a motorcycle accident. Digging up the reanimated head, the oddball assistant, who can only speak the word ‘Gna’, starts a touching zombie relationship of his own. Full of inventive effects and pitch-black humour, this inventive horror-comedy is ripe for re-discovery.
Boy Eats Girl (2005)
Irish popstar Samantha Mumba surprised UK audiences when she turned up in the Guy Pearce-starring Hollywood remake of classic sci-fi The Time Machine. The ‘Gotta Tell You’ singer returned home to follow-up her big screen debut with what could easily be considered a remake of My Boyfriend’s Back. Sharing a very similar story to our earlier zombie-romance entry, this Irish production casts Brit actor David Leon as the schoolboy who returns from the grave to pursue the object of his affections as the school begins to be overrun by zombies.
A Little Bit Zombie (2012)
Crowd-sourced indie effort A Little Bit Zombie sees mild mannered HR manager Steve head to a cabin in the woods with a couple of friends and his control-freak fiancé, who is rapidly turning into something of a monster with her over-the-top wedding planning. When an infected mosquito takes a bite out of Steve he begins to develop a taste for brains as zombification sets in, not that it discourages his fiancé who’s determined to have the perfect wedding go ahead… Despite its low budget, the slick stream of jokes and clear love for the zombie genre makes it a worthwhile watch.
Warm Bodies (2013)
In a novel a twist, Warm Bodies is told from the perspective of the zombies themselves. Nicholas Holt (Skins, X-men series) stars as ‘R’ – a corpse who spends his days shuffling around an airport, occasionally grunting at his undead best friend. This all changes when Julie and a group of survivors enter the airport on a supply hunt. R sees Julie and his heart beats for the first time since his death, after rescuing her from his fellow undead attack the two spend some quality time together and R’s humanity starts to return as a romance blossoms. Now they just have to survive Julie’s zombie hating military father (John Malkovich) and the ravenous ‘Bonies’ zombies who don’t look kindly on anything with a heartbeat…
Life After Beth (2014)
Zach is the bereaved partner in this one, losing his girlfriend, Beth, to a lethal snake bite while the couple are hiking in the woods. Overcome with grief, the young man takes to visiting his former girlfriends parents’ only to be surprised one evening when he sees her alive and well inside the house. Beth is back and Zach couldn’t be happier until he realises she’s not quite the same as he remembers… Young talents Dane DeHaan (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) and Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) take the lead roles in this romantic comedy with a zombie twist.
Burying the Ex (2014)
Gremlins’ director Joe Dante takes the helm in Burying the Ex as Anton Yelchin plays horror movie obsessed Max who moves in too soon with his overbearing girlfriend, Evelyn. Wanting to break up with her, he arranges to meet in a park, only for Evelyn (Ashley Greene, Twilight) to get hit by a bus. After burying his ex, Max begins to move on, eventually meeting and falling for fellow-horror fan Olivia (Alexandra Daddario, Baywatch) but Evelyn rises from her grave and she’s determined to have her man back…
This article was provided by Lionsgate UK who present Blood Diner, C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud, Return of the Living Dead 3 and Waxwork on Blu-ray from August 28th.