Friday, December 3, 2010

Partytime: The Fall of the Living Dead

I want to come right out and say that I enjoyed Return of the Living Dead: Part II but not nearly as much as the original. The original had something that this one lacked, and I guess it would fit more with the original than with it’s sequel considering the plot. The original movie was a satire on a new culture that was beginning to peak in the 80s, a culture of people that were ‘rebels,’ a culture that was based off of the popular musical genre of metal, a culture where chains, baggy black jeans, piercings, dyed hair and Doc Martens were the norm. Yes, the original not only parodied this culture but it had one of the greatest horror movie soundtracks.

The original had songs from The Cramps, 45 Grave, T.S.O.L., SSQ, The Damned and a few more. Hell, the main score was written by SSQ. To the casual movie watcher these bands are probably too obscure and in turn they probably never heard of them. I’ll admit that I never heard of them either and I only know them from the movie but they are all part of the indie punk scene that was forming around the mid to late 80s. Specifically, the scene in which the zombies break out of their graves to the hard rock track of "Partytime" by 45 Grave. After being shown a multitude of scenes of these punks defiling a grave, in an ironic twist of events the dead come back to life to seek revenge on them. It’s as though the creators of this film were saying that the punks of this generation are nothing but a bunch of brain-dead zombies. Given that the film blends 50s ideology and 80s punk movements, it’s funny how the score/music sort of compliments the decade that it was made in. It’s something that I really enjoyed from this movie.

Again, I’m not bashing the sequel but I felt as though the film could have furthered the satire but instead we get a ‘zombie rise’ scene set to a typical 80s synth score. However, this was one of the biggest problems that I had with the film and although it didn’t ruin it for me… I think it would have made the movie better. The zombies weren’t rebelling against the rebels and or they weren’t given much character. I don’t want to get into a discussion about the zombies per say but rather the absence of a hard rock soundtrack. It seems like something that is minor but it’s what made the original so good. It was still made in the 80s, back when young moviegoers wanted more pazazz with their zombies, so seeing the dead rise out of the ground set to a even louder hard rock tune would have made it all the more entertaining. Even if you take out the fact that the hard rock was intentional to serve a purpose, for most horror fans rock and roll is their choice of music. Blending the two together make for a great movie.

The absence of a rock soundtrack doesn’t make the movie bad or unwatchable but it gives the film brownie points, so to speak. I am fine with hearing a electronic synth score but I feel as though it’s not truly a Return of the Living Dead movie without some hard rock in the background. Still, though, it’s a great film that pays respect to the original and has some extra gags in it that I really enjoyed.


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