Coming off of the recent success of the stellar sequel BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR, Brian Yuzna was the perfect candidate to helm this third entry in the RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD series. 3 is a deviation from the other films in many ways. It offers a much more serious tone with only a few silly moments compared to the comedic nature of the first two installments. It also focuses on a much smaller zombie outbreak, with a single zombie character taking center stage over the massive hordes in the others. A rebellious teen brings his dead girlfriend back to life using the same chemicals his father and the military were experimenting with in an attempt to create an army of undead soldiers. As she slowly re-animates, she finds that self-mutilation and brains are the only two things that can dull the pain of living death. After a promising set-up, the plot is left with no where to go as the leading couple attempts to escape a group of angered gang members and the military by taking to the subterranean sewer system. This destroys all forward momentum as the characters (and the audience) are caught in a tedious game of cat and mouse. While the film often suffers from budgetary constraints and weak plotting, the arresting visuals brought on by the superior make-up and gore create some of the most unique and memorable moments in the series. Julie transforms from every rocker's dream babe in to a necrophile's S+M nightmare with a stunning character design. The tacked on ending also indulges the audience with glimpses of the mechanical bio-weapons that the military has been developing in a closing scene of zombie mayhem. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 is built on many strong ideas and excellent effects, but while it is the strongest of the series sequels, it is also a flawed film on many levels.
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